What Is Populism?
For years now. Populists have been popping up all over the globe from india and europe to the philippines in south america and of course into the united states politicians with populist leanings. And those who have gone full-fledged populist in their quest for power have been making a lot of noise and a good deal of trouble think marine le pen in france. Victor bon in hungary rodriguez do taste in the philippines. Former venezuelan president who chavez india's prime minister narendra modi end yes by many people's definition donald trump and the united states. But what is a populist. What is populism answering. That is notoriously difficult. A part of the difficulty arises from the fact that populists can come from all parts of the political spectrum. there are leftist populists around the world who combine various forms of socialism with their populist message. There are those on the right who push anti immigration and anti lgbtq plus platforms in their populism populism in general refers to a to ordinary people as a political ideology or approach it involves emphasizing. The wants needs voices and good qualities of the common people and it usually does so by contrasting this idea of the good common people with the bad elite working against them. Best case scenario a populist leader would be honestly looking at the issues that ordinary people face and helping create solutions for them bus making the will of the people law and that is what populist leaders tend to promise unfortunately what tends to happen and what political scientists have observed in the aforementioned places is these populist leaders bending the definitions of both the common people and the elite in order to gain power with an democratic system and then undermining the very fabric of that democracy in order to stay in power de emphasizing some of the crucial parts of the democratic process such as the articulation of varied interests and the thoughtful mediation of those interests it can be incredibly effective for the leader and incredibly damaging for the democracy that they're distorting and anyone who lives within that democracy who isn't in the group that the leader has defined as the common people so worst case scenario populism redefines the common people as a group with narrow interests and then insists only there will matters a we spoke with political scientists on a malla busa a professor at stanford university and the director of the school's global populisms project which published a white paper in march of twenty twenty called global populisms and their challenges addresses the threats of populism and identifies several possible solutions. According to the paper populism is growing across the globe because of the failure of major political parties to address the thorny issue that ordinary people face. today's world immigration economic inequality and globalism. Just to name a few. This gives populist leaders a sort of foot in the door to claim that not only. The elite members of those political parties are bad but that the whole system is bad. Populist leaders climb to prominence by dividing society splitting it into two not just separate but opposing factions the people and and the elite a university of georgia political scientist by of cast mood explained it this way in an article for vice quote. The key distinction between the people and the elite is not based on class. Our power but on morality is always the pure against the corrupt but again the people is often an exclusive group a to quote the stanford paper populists redefine the people often by excluding vulnerable ethnic or religious minorities immigrants and marginalized economic groups. The result is majority rule without minority rights. Once in power populist leaders attack not only the rights of individuals who don't fit into the defined majority but the very foundations on which the country lies that includes the paper's authors wrote quote the takeover and taming of courts and oversight institutions and new laws that limit the freedom of the media and civil society. We've seen this in the united states with trump calling the press the enemy of the people criticizing judges resisting congressional oversight claiming that elections are rigged flouting laws and claiming that a deep state of bureaucratic actors is out to get him to deny the will of the people he represents. It happens with other populist leaders all over the world schmila busa explained the mindset saying the position is the of the people. Why would you listen to them. The media is the swamp. Why would you listen to them. Everything is fake everything is suspect and no one is to be trusted except the populace end that populous remember does not include voices of the populations minorities or anyone who disagrees. With the labeled majority. Leader's malibu said this is not about making poor people wealthy. This is not about punishing me lead in redistributing wealth. There's almost nothing in the populist program that actually makes every day people's lives better populists don't do that. They simply don't. It's not the people who have suffered the most who support populist parties. It's really sort of the people who fear dropping further down inside of prestige and economic status. Populist leaders often don't spring from the working class roots of what's thought of as being the people though considered trump is a self professed billionaire real estate investor. Brazilian president shire dinar is a longtime congressman and military leader. Francis lapenne is the daughter of a career right wing politician. The philippines to therapy spent decades as mayor and lawyer and india's muddy came from humble beginnings. But he's been in politics more than forty years.