What to do about populism in politics? Populist impulses are always around. Sometimes they dominate as in inter-war Europe and Japan.
Specifically, what does one say to supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump? The New Yorker's James Surowiecki raises the question but offers no suggestions. He does say that both candidates are threatening what the writer thinks is a decades-old U.S. political consensus. The WSJs William McGurn says "Grow, Baby, Grow: The Republicans have a great message about economic growth for middle America. Why make it so boring?" Great question. His Exhibit A is the campaign of Mitt Romney.
There is very little debate that Barak Obama sought to be a transformational figure. Many cheered him on in this effort; others did the opposite. The brewing fight over the next Supreme Court appointment will be over this divide.
Transformational efforts are a big deal and very likely to have backlashes. So blame the popularity of Trump and Sanders on Barak Obama? There is no easy proof. Future historians will write the story.