How Populism Will Change Foreign Policy

The Bernie and Trump Effects

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Shannon Stapleton and Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Washington’s foreign policy elites have been left just as disoriented by the rise of presidential hopefuls, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, as everyone else. In signaling the rise of populism as a dominant strain in U.S. politics, Trump and Sanders challenge the basic assumptions on which decades of U.S. foreign and domestic policy have been built. Although it is too early to determine the election’s outcome, it is already clear that the success of the next administration’s global engagement will turn on a correct reading of the mood at home.

The domestic conditions that Trump and Sanders have exposed are a yearning for a restored middle class, a sense of profound and increasing economic insecurity, and anger over wage stagnation and widening inequality. This dark mood carries with it serious implications for foreign policy, something the next president would be wise to consider. It will

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