Trump and other populists just subtract the pretense of universalism and promise to enrich some different clients. Viewed this way, the rise of populism looks less like an inexplicable arrival of cancer than a painful form of shock therapy imposed on an unwilling patient.
Because the establishment was so good at engineering the kind of lifestyle it wanted, it also didn’t realize how many topics it had begun to withhold from democratic deliberation at all, notably immigration and political integration. The desire for a tight and controlled immigration policy, in Europe and America, is simply overwhelming, but among the establishment, unfettered migration into any rich Western nation was increasingly treated as a human right. Referendums in the European Union that didn’t achieve the establishment’s preferred results could be ignored or tried again until the correct result was given. This high-handedness produced predictable results, but you won’t find self-accusations among the establishment today. They’re too busy deploring the deplorables.
And although the establishment spent months jabbering about fake news stories and the necessity of accepting electoral results, it turns out that they can act like spoiled children, too. For all the pretensions at being the cool-headed types avoiding excess and radicalism, it was less than three weeks after the establishment’s toys were taken away that Foreign Policy ran an article that contemplated launching a military coup against Donald Trump.