Populism vs Populism

In its simplest form populism means the support for the concerns of ordinary people. In the 20th century that idea fronted movements that lead to much unrest, death and destruction, mostly because they were led by dictators such as Hitler. Even in the Soviet Union, the mass slaughter was all in the name of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Populism survives into our century as right-wing reactions to immigration in Europe and, of course, in President Trump and his “American carnage” and his natavistic appeals.

But is there such a thing as “good populism”

The insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders in 2016 may be an example of good populism. And when Elizabeth Warren recently campaigned in Iowa, she never mentioned Trump but talked about the growing difficulties of middle class families and young workers have in getting by in today’s economy.

There is a growing consensus, not only among progressives, that 2020 elections will see issues such as Medicare For All, a higher minimum wage, help for student debt, a New Green Deal, a more progressive tax system front and center. Among all shades of the Democratic Party there is the sense these days of get on board or get out of the way.


Louis Harpster