Look at the supporters of both Trump and Sanders, and you largely find what we in the South would call “common folk,” a working class proud of their own individual independence and valuing liberty and freedom and the American dream. It’s the latter that has so many angry because it seems to be slipping away. Look at the middle class, whose shrinkage began around 10 years ago and continues today. The loss of jobs, of opportunities, of security and of dreams has driven people to demand more than just another example of the same kind of leader as in the past.
Put Sanders and Trump aside, and the remaining field includes U.S. senators and governors and lifelong politicians. Ben Carson’s uniqueness is what allowed him to surge and hang around, but he could not match Trump’s level of “uniqueness,” if that’s even an apt description. Even Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, owes much of his success to his past actions as an insider who never drank the Kool-Aid, so to speak, and continually poked his own party in the eye. Somehow, being a contrarian, refusing to seek middle ground and valuing personal political principles over actual governance has become an endearing trait in a leader.