Trump follows in the footsteps of man he claims to despise

tags: election 2016, Jimmy Carter, Trump

Bruce J. Schulman, William E. Huntington Professor of History at Boston University, is the author of "The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society and Politics" and "From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt: Federal Policy, Economic Development and the Transformation of the South 1938-1980."

A Washington outsider, anathema to his party’s establishment, rides a wave of discontent with politics-as-usual to an early lead in the presidential nominating contest.  Seemingly emerging out of nowhere — a year before the first caucuses and primaries not even the longest list of contenders included his name — this unlikely candidate pioneers new campaign strategies to catapult to the top of a crowded field.

Donald Trump in 2016?  The real estate tycoon and reality TV star shaking up the Republican primary race with his brash rhetoric, unorthodox agenda and disdain for retail campaigning in states like Iowa and New Hampshire?

No, Jimmy Carter in 1976. Forty years ago, an obscure Southern governor exploited changes in the presidential selection rules and post-Watergate disillusionment with conventional party politics to win the presidency. Nobody imagined Carter’s victory: Two years before he wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination, Carter didn’t even merit consideration on the Christian Science Monitor’s comprehensive list of 24 presidential contenders.

Yet Carter invented the modern outsider campaign that has come to define contemporary presidential politics. He laid out the blueprints for Trump’s unconventional candidacy.

At first glance, it may seem strange to point to Carter’s as the first outsider campaign. During the 19thcentury, American voters occasionally sought alternatives to conventional politicians by tapping such military heroes as Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant for the nation’s highest office. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1952 election represented a return to this tried-and-true pattern. But with the exception of war heroes, Americans normally elected chief executives with experience in government and the imprimatur of their party’s leadership. ...

Read entire article at Reuters

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