Several conditions have, in the past, proved crucial. One is a widespread sense of national decline. That was certainly the case in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the United States was mired in Vietnam; in the early 1990s, when the United States faced a protracted economic slowdown; and again from 2008 to the present. When the sense of doom has lifted, as it did when the Clinton boom began in the spring of 1996, the MARS voting bloc has gradually weakened.Mr Judis suggests that there are insufficiently many angry voters to get Mr Trump beyond where Patrick Buchanan or Ross Perot got, let alone to Governor Wallace's electoral votes in 1968. But the contradictions are still there to be heightened.
The second condition is pronounced distrust of the leadership in Washington. Wallace’s MARS were angry about the federal intercession in race relations. In the early 1990s, many conservative voters felt betrayed that Bush had broken his promise not to raise taxes, while others were enraged by the administration’s seeming indifference to the recession and the growing clout of foreign lobbyists in Washington. That sense of distrust completely lifted after September 11, 2001, when Americans saw the national government as their protector. But it has returned during the Obama years: Middle American Radicals saw Obama’s recovery program and his health care plan as a sop to Wall Street and the poor—which the middle class would have to pay for.
With the world economy still in the doldrums, an ongoing crisis in the Middle East, and a polarized and paralyzed Washington, I doubt it. What’s most likely is that Middle American Radicalism will keep simmering, until it finds a new champion and boils over once again.Ultimately, it might be the disaffected voters who haven't been voting that will determine the outcome.