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Trump, Sanders: More alike than you think

The past 10 months have brought many long simmering political trends to the surface of our democracy. It's clear many of the usual truths and typically predictable outcomes don't apply this year. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and their supporters, have turned politics on its head.

But one of the most striking findings this cycle is just how much Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have in common. And, with this, comes enormous implications for Wall Street and nearly all big businesses.


Republican candidate Donald Trump (l) and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders (r).
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Republican candidate Donald Trump (l) and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders (r).

I realize, on its face, comparing these two candidates may sound a bit nuts. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. Donald Trump is many things, but a socialist is not one of them.

But, if you listen to their speeches, they have more in common than any of the other candidates, current and former, in their respective primaries. While oversimplified, their message is as follows: The system is rigged; you, the voters are getting hosed; and, I'm going to make someone else pay to solve the inequity and crony capitalism in our system.

Sanders is most aggressive against Wall Street generally and speculators specifically. Donald Trump blames China and to a lesser extent Mexico. But both men have railed against trade promotion authority (TPA). Both have critiqued Wall Street. Both have supported universal health care, even though Donald Trump now says that isn't true. There is a strong protectionist sentiment in their comments. Both sets of voters are mad as hell.

Donald Trump's supporters often cite their attraction to him because, "he tells it like it is." Bernie Sanders fans see him as authentic. Both groups say they like their candidate's outsider status, the fact that he is taking on the party establishment, that he doesn't have a Super Pac and he is not beholden to special interests. Both men's supporters are mostly white, mostly male and express a strong disdain for the current political system.

If you draw a circle, eventually two ends of the same line meet. That is what's happening in 2016. Even if neither candidate is his eventual party's nominee, their supporters will play an important role in shaping policy for years to come. Candidates from both parties will put pressure on Wall Street and we're likely to see higher taxes and more regulation. Trade deals will be harder to pass, including by a Republican Congress. We're also likely to see these voters give rise to future independent candidacies as these folks are often less ideological and less concerned with party politics.

2016 has felt mostly like a race to the bottom, but there's no doubt there will be huge implications by the booming candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

Commentary by Sara Taylor Fagen, a partner at DDC Advocacy and a former Political Director for President George W. Bush. She is also a CNBC contributor. Follow her on Twitter @sarafagen2.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.