How did socialism come to be an increasingly legitimate political option in the United States? Why did Bernie Sanders emerge as a serious candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but ultimately fail to become the nominee? This analysis incorporates a cyclical theory of the presidency and evaluates pertinent changes in American political cultural opinions, social attitudes and economic trends, using historic data and 2016 election-cycle opinion polls and statistics. Increased receptiveness toward socialism and Bernie Sanders in 2016 occured due to the convergence of widespread economic hardship and discontent, and a desire for nontraditional political alternatives. There was not an overt increase in support for socialism. Similarly, standard electoral factors, and Sanders’ pursuit of a style of presidential authority and leadership that was ill-suited for the current political climate, were to blame for his loss in the nomination process.
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