Populism - Good or Bad?

Events occurring and how they relate/affect Anabaptist faith and culture.
Dan Z
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Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Dan Z » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:01 pm

I think there is good consensus that we in the west (Europe, the US) are riding a wave of populism - and that the Trump election is "exhibit A" here in the states.

I recently made this observation on the thread about Trump's inauguration speech:

Dan Z wrote:I also think the speech was very populist in nature - rightward leaning, but not consistently conservative in ideology. It is in line with a wave of right-leaning/authoritarian/nationalistic populist sentiment that seems to be rising in the western world these days (Brexit and Nigel Farage in Britain, Marine Le Pen of France, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, and Norbert Hoffer in Austria for example).

It would be interesting to discuss this phenomenon:
    Why it is happening?
    Where it is happening?
    Is it a good or bad thing?
    Does populism strengthen or weaken democracy, stability, and well-being?

To put us on common ground - here is the Wikipedia definition (we can debate that too):

    Populism is a political style of action that mobilizes a large alienated element of population against a government seen as controlled by an out-of-touch closed elite that acts on behalf of its own interests. The underlying ideology of Populists can be left, right, or middle. Its goal is to unite the uncorrupt and the unsophisticated (the 'little man') against the corrupt dominant elites (usually the orthodox politicians) and their camp followers (usually the rich and the intellectuals). It is guided by the belief that political and social goals are best achieved by the direct actions of the masses.
For those who want to dig in a bit, (perhaps ironically) here is the PDF of a working paper on the topic from the Harvard faculty that I'm reading.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Bootstrap » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:00 pm

Did you hear Strangers in Their Own Land: The 'Deep Story' of Trump Supporters?

The author says the narrative goes something like this ...

We're all waiting in line to get ahead. The American Dream says that if we work hard and obey the rules, we will get to the front of the line, but the line doesn't seem to be moving, and we're still stuck back here. And when we look ahead, it looks like some people are cutting in line. In fact, it looks like the government, which should be making sure everyone plays fair, is actively encouraging them to cut in line. We work harder than the people who are cutting in line, and we obey the rules that they aren't obeying. Someone should make sure we get what's coming to us.

I think that's the narrative Trump has tapped into.
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appleman2006
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby appleman2006 » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:24 pm

Bootstrap wrote:Did you hear Strangers in Their Own Land: The 'Deep Story' of Trump Supporters?

The author says the narrative goes something like this ...

We're all waiting in line to get ahead. The American Dream says that if we work hard and obey the rules, we will get to the front of the line, but the line doesn't seem to be moving, and we're still stuck back here. And when we look ahead, it looks like some people are cutting in line. In fact, it looks like the government, which should be making sure everyone plays fair, is actively encouraging them to cut in line. We work harder than the people who are cutting in line, and we obey the rules that they aren't obeying. Someone should make sure we get what's coming to us.

I think that's the narrative Trump has tapped into.


I think you have it about right.
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lesterb
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby lesterb » Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:29 pm

Populism is a political style of action that mobilizes a large alienated element of population against a government seen as controlled by an out-of-touch closed elite that acts on behalf of its own interests. The underlying ideology of Populists can be left, right, or middle. Its goal is to unite the uncorrupt and the unsophisticated (the 'little man') against the corrupt dominant elites (usually the orthodox politicians) and their camp followers (usually the rich and the intellectuals). It is guided by the belief that political and social goals are best achieved by the direct actions of the masses.

The Canadian election showed the same symptoms. As usual, Canadians don't become as obsessed with their politics as Americans, but this is basically what both Trudeaus (father and son) tried to do.

Of course the veneer is wearing off somewhat.
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joshuabgood
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby joshuabgood » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:32 pm

Populism, in the end, is basically just exactly what we mean by democracy. The people rule.
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Robert
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Robert » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:40 pm

It is a usual by product when good leveling mechanisms are not kept within a culture. They become a defacto leveling mechanism.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Bootstrap » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:54 pm

Robert wrote:It is a usual by product when good leveling mechanisms are not kept within a culture. They become a defacto leveling mechanism.


Leveling mechanisms? What kinds of leveling mechanisms are you thinking of?
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Adam
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Adam » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:59 pm

Looking at it in another light, populism would be absolutely terrible if it was the basis for how we ran our churches (although some might argue that that is exactly what is happening in many churches in America today). What people say they want and what they think they is good for them is very rarely what is helpful and beneficial for them in the eyes of God (Judges 17:6). I would argue that many people (including myself) do not understand the bigger picture of many (not all) political issues well enough to be able to really know what is best for the country or even for themselves. The populist politician knows this, and so he appeals to overly simplistic solutions that make sense to the people but probably aren't very practical in reality. For example, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico will solve the immigration problem. It sounds very good and makes sense to the average person, but it is probably not a solution that will actually work. Same thing as rounding up all the illegal aliens and deporting them. Sounds good to many, but I don't think it is feasible to carry out. I don't know that the alternative of paternalism (is that the right word) is any better, but this is a thread on populism.
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ohio jones
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby ohio jones » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:24 pm

joshuabgood wrote:Populism, in the end, is basically just exactly what we mean by democracy. The people rule.

Or, at least, the people think they rule.

Image
(he didn't actually say that, but it sounds like something he would)
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Robert
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Robert » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:32 pm

Bootstrap wrote:Leveling mechanisms? What kinds of leveling mechanisms are you thinking of?


Every culture has to have a device that levels the distance between the haves and have nots. It needs to have accessible ways for the have nots to become a have. If a society does not, the haves get so far away from the have nots, the have nots revolt.

Populism becomes a way to take the power away from the haves, the elites, through a democratic process instead of an armed or violent revolt.
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