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In a piece posted two weeks ago, “Donald Trump and the Twenty-Four-Year Itch,” I claimed to have seen this movie before more than once: Twenty-four years ago, when Ross Perot led an insurgency, and twenty-four years before that when, as a cub reporter, I covered the George Wallace campaign as it unfolded in Oklahoma. It was my contention, then, and is my contention now that, in American politics, things tend to come apart roughly every 24 years — which is to say, once a generation — when a neglected part of the electorate erupts in fury at our masters in DC.
In the interim, I have found myself musing about the Trump phenomenon time and again, and I am prepared to defend the following hypothesis — that something of the sort has recurred every quarter-century or so in this country now for nearly 250 years.
In 1776, for example, there was a real revolution directed at our masters in London. In 1800, there was, so Thomas Jefferson tells us, a second revolution, when his Republicans ousted the Federalist Party from power. There was another such event in 1824 when Andrew Jackson outpolled John Quincy Adams. That development did not reach fruition until 1828 when he replaced Adams, but the writing was on the wall in 1824. The era in which the grandees of the revolutionary generation dominated American politics was over.