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Michael R. Strain

Populism Will Probably Just Go Away Soon, So Relax

An economic study of the last 150 years shows that nationalism surges after a financial crisis. Ten years later, it recedes.

Blame the financial crisis.

Blame the financial crisis.

Photographer: Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Populism has become a defining feature of public life. It embraces a narrative of victimhood and grievance, pitting “people” against “elites.” U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionism and hostility toward immigrants are fueled by populist frustration on the political right. On the left, populism appears as resentment of the wealthy, and the Democratic Party’s presidential primary field is marked by proposals to penalize the rich. Compromise has become a dirty word. Political engagement with the other side is scorned. Taking half a loaf is worse than failure; it is betrayal.

How much longer will this last?