Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

Donald Trump’s unexpected lead in the ongoing US presidential primaries has come as a shock to observers on the Right and Left alike. Bernie Sanders has also done unexpectedly well, casting doubt on the long-held assumption that a self-styled Socialist campaign is impossible in the United States. In this paper, I will attempt to gain a better understanding of these trends through a comparative-historical study of the United States and France; the latter recently elected François Hollande of the Parti Socialiste, but has also seen the steady rise of the far-right Front National now led by Marine Le Pen. Based on this comparison, I will argue that even though France has a stronger history of organizing politics along class lines, in both countries the left-wing candidate has struggled to balance radical rhetoric with the interests of upper-class liberals. This, in turn, has allowed right-wing populists to appeal more directly to the anger of working-class whites marginalized by long-term structural changes in the labor market.

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Sociology Commons

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