In the September 7 issue of The New Yorker,” George Packer discusses populism, specifically the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Packer writes:
Populism is a stance and a rhetoric more than an ideology or a set of positions. It speaks of a battle of good against evil, demanding simple answers to difficult problems. (Trump: “Trade? We’re gonna fix it. Health care? We’re gonna fix it.”) It’s suspicious of the normal bargaining and compromise that constitute democratic governance. (On the stump, Sanders seldom touts his bipartisan successes as chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.) Populism can have a conspiratorial and apocalyptic bent—the belief that the country, or at least its decent majority, is facing imminent ruin at the hands of a particular group of malefactors (Mexicans, billionaires, Jews, politicians).
About Sanders we read:
Sanders, who has spent most of his career as an outsider on the inside, believes ardently in politics. He views the political arena as a battle of opposing classes (even more than Elizabeth Warren, he really does seem to hate the rich), but believes that their conflicts can be managed through elections and legislation.
Packer writes that for Trump:
There’s no dirtier word in the lexicon of his stump speech than “politician.” He incites his audiences’ contempt for the very notion of solving problems through political means. China, the Islamic State, immigrants, unemployment, Wall Street: just let him handle it—he’ll build the wall, deport the eleven million, rewrite the Fourteenth Amendment, create the jobs, kill the terrorists. He offers no idea beyond himself, the leader who can reverse the country’s decline by sheer force of personality. Speaking in Mobile, Alabama, recently, he paused to wonder whether representative government was even necessary.
Packer concludes by noting that while populists seldom win elections, they can have an effect on the political climate for better or worse.
This short article is interesting–recommended.