It has been a while since a strikingly populist candidate has been a major contender in a presidential election in the United States. Many think of William Jennings Bryan, the three-time nominee of the democratic party at the end of the 1800s, as one of the only other strongly populist presidential candidates in American history (Ramone, 2010). President Trump’s campaign can fairly be described as populist through his rhetoric against the elites on Capitol Hill, his appeal to working class voters, and most importantly his outsider status as a non-politician.
The Latin American left has experienced a steep decline in its fortunes in recent months. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in Venezuela. The precipitous drop in state oil revenues and the attendant decline in the government’s ability to fund social welfare programs, coupled with triple digit inflation and severe shortages of basic necessities, have led to increasing protests and a recall effort against President Nicolás Maduro.