Why the 2016 election has devolved into an authenticity sweepstakes

Whatever happened to policy?

Will the genuine candidate please step forward?
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

To paraphrase a quote attributed to everyone from Samuel Goldwyn to Edward R. Murrow and George Burns: Authenticity is everything in politics. Once you learn to fake it, you're golden. In no political cycle has that been truer than in the angry, populist environment of the 2016 election cycle. As the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries approach, authenticity — or at least the ability to fake it well enough — will likely determine which candidates survive the first crucibles of the two parties' nominating processes.

The demand for authenticity has reached fever pitch in both parties, turning initial expectations of the results from analysts a year ago on their heads. Voters in both parties see the establishment as the problem, the obstacle that not only blocks the path to victory but perhaps does so out of malice or contempt for regular people.

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