By winning his party’s nomination, Trump has rewritten the rules. Until this year, no openly racist candidate in modern times has reached such a height in American national politics. Trump has carelessly, perhaps jubilantly, maligned Mexicans and Muslims. ... His success results from sheer intuition. He realized, as others did not, that there are many thousands of people ready to vote for a candidate preaching anti-Mexican, anti-Muslinbigotry, while also blaming America’s failures on the Chinese and on free trade.
Isolationism as a stream of thought was hibernating. It was rarely articulated, but passionately held, waiting for someone like Trump to lead it. Isolationists were called the “silent majority” in Richard Nixon’s days — even though Nixon was an internationalist, who built a strong relationship with China. Trump knew how to exploit the silent majority’s mix of racism, grievances and xenophobia. He appealed to the vast national community of chronic blamers, anxious to locate the cause of American problems in China, thereby executing a double play of racism and xenophobia.
In truth, modern life requires many people of talent and intelligence to run big institutions, including governments. Others resent their quality wherever they find it. They see it as oppressive. Then Donald Trump came before them and sneered at government leadership, in a style that had nothing to do with talent or intelligence.... To accomplish this, his followers needed only to mark a ballot. Soon he looked like the man they always needed. In the future, this strategy may well be called Trumpism. For now, American journalists call it populism.