It may seem absurd to speak of Trumpism when Trump himself does not speak of Trumpism. Indeed, Trump's surprising popularity is perhaps most surprising insofar as it appears to have been attained in the absence of anything approximating a Trumpian intellectual persuasion or conventionally partisan organization. Yet, Trump's unique charisma notwithstanding, it is simply impossible for a candidate to have motivated such a passionate following for so long by dint of sheer personality or media antics alone.
Whatever might be said of the media’s treatment of Trump, it has been remarkable in at least one respect: Michael Brendan Dougherty of The Week, along with Rush Limbaugh, actually uncovered the closest thing to what could be described as the source of Trumpian thought in the writings of Sam Francis. This discovery is most importantly a rediscovery of themes quite prevalent in both academic and political discourse not many decades ago, specifically a critique of the managerial economy and global bureaucratic elite. Despite their conspicuous absence from political discussion in recent years, these ideas, especially in Francis’ writing, not only clarify the significance of Trump’s popularity but provide the best explanation and justification for the broader disaffection underlying politics today.