The surprising strength of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in primary campaigns of both parties leads leading commentators to describe 2016 as the “Year of Anger” for the electorate. But a closer look at recent returns suggests that voters actually care more about another A-word: authenticity.
Whatever their faults in ideology or substance, both Sanders and Trump seem genuine and sincere. They defy political correctness by advocating socialism, or calling for a ban on all Muslim immigrants, rather than playing the cautious, inoffensive role preferred by most politicians.
Their authenticity, rather than their anger, appeals to the wary, weary populace. But analysts shouldn’t get the wrong idea: voters won’t respond to angry appeals if they are perceived as phony, while they will rally to an optimistic, pragmatic agenda if its advocates seem authentic.
This may not be the year when Americans reject optimists, but it is the year when we renounce frauds.