Leave supporter by Tower bridge in London Jeff Spicer/Stringer
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Lessons from the Populist Revolt

Some denounce the populist rebellion in the US, the UK, and other countries as little more than a racist, xenophobic reaction against immigrants and multiculturalism. But to see only the bigotry in populist protest, or to view that protest only in economic terms, misses what the upheavals of 2016 were really about.

CAMBRIDGE – The election of Donald Trump in the United States and the triumph of Brexit in the United Kingdom – the two political earthquakes of 2016 – resulted from the failure of elites to grasp the discontent roiling politics in democracies around the world. The populist revolt marked the rejection of a technocratic approach to politics incapable of understanding the resentments of voters who feel the economy and the culture have left them behind.