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Defusing danger of Trump's populism

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By Martin Schram

If you want to really get to know Donald Trump's fervent rally supporters, you'd better get there early. And I did just that.

I got there in September 1968. As a young correspondent for Newsday, I first discovered the unpredictable potential of presidential campaign rally-goers who were mad-as-hell and not-going-to-take-it-anymore when I was covering the independent candidacy of segregationist/populist Gov. George Wallace of Alabama.

When he took his independent campaign for president out of Dixie and into the north's Rust Belt, he drew large crowds. And contrary to conventional wisdom, my interviews showed Wallace's northern appeal had little to do with racism. Dozens of blue-collar Democrats shocked me by saying they had favored liberal Sen. Robert Kennedy until he was assassinated in June; but now liked Wallace. Why? Because, they told me, Kennedy and Wallace were the only two politicians who seemed to be "talking to people like me."

The next time I encountered similar populist clout was in July 2015, at Donald Trump's rallies. He'd been running for president for just one month. But folks who knew little about his stand on issues just knew he was the only one talking to folks like them! TV comedians........

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