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True Populism VS Trumpulism

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It's been said many times in the media both by those who like Trump and those who hate him that he is a "populist". To those who hate him, this form or populism is said to be a dangerous form of collective manipulation that many have compared to the style that Hitler used, especially when whipping up his nationalistic base at rallies. Those who love Trump, see his "appeal to the people" as no different from the popularity among the democratic socialists for Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

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However, I think there is a serious distinction between the two and it came to me like an epiphany while watching Rob Kall's interview with George Hawley on the topic of the Alt-Right, which aired on September 18, 2017. (If you missed it I highly recommend it--https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/rob-kall-bottomup-radio-show/e/51522493.)

Being fairly new to OpEdNews, I have started to go back and watch Rob's podcasts and in this episode, Rob Asks Hawley a question (30:02) about why Trump is so careful of the manner in which he criticizes the Alt-Right/Neo Nazis who seem to back him and why he panders to them if they are in fact a small movement. Given their relatively small numbers, why would Trump be concerned about maintaining their support, especially considering how much criticism it would bring which could affect his larger plan/voting base (who already struggles to justify their support for a president who they say is not a racist).

Hawley said he wasn't sure what Trump's strategy was in doing this as it didn't really seem to make much political sense other than that Trump has bigger adversaries and wants to focus his energy in other areas like demonizing the press. Although that may be true, and I wouldn't disagree with that perspective, I have another theory to offer that might add to the picture.

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Globally speaking there is a drive towards so called populist movements, many of them which are right-wing in nature, but some are social democratic or socialist in nature. Our political divisions here in the US parallel the political situation around the world. In many countries the right and the left have gone farther to the extremes and the "middle of the road" parties are shrinking.

In a May 27, 2019 article "European Election 2019: Results in maps and charts", BBC reports that the two biggest voting blocks in the European Parliament have lost seats. Far right and populist parties gained seats, while the far left lost seats to the center left and the center lost seats to the center left. Looking at the chart, which shows the difference in turnout since 2014, the countries which had less turnout than 2014 had a very minor change, decreasing to just slightly less than 2014 levels, but countries where there were huge differences from 2014 there were giant increases in voter participation. In several countries right-wing "populism" gained ground.

These right-wing movements seem to be organic in the sense that they are direct appeals to the emotions of the audience. Much in the same way Trump's rants about immigrants and the "Make America Great Again" appeal to look to a former time of glory for the state, sometimes couched in a racist, ethno majority nostalgia. The socialist movements seem to be a secondary surge in response to the increase in supposed right-wing populism.

Although Trump uses many tactics that bear some resemblance to Hitler's propaganda and his popularity among right-wing groups has furthered this comparison, it was only in the question posed by Rob that something occurred to me. A true populist movement comes about when the populace begins to have a common feeling, a cohesive mind-set brought about usually through shared suffering and empathy for each others in their group.

For example many of the right-wing movements in Europe currently have their origin and find their momentum in the flood of immigrants. Right-wing movements prey on a nativist tendency to fall victim to fear-mongering of "invaders" under these circumstances and a collective scapegoating is encouraged. In fact, Trump and Fox News both borrowed from the "crisis" in Europe. Many videos that appeared on my since-deleted facebook focused on "No-Go Zones" in Britain, whole towns run by Muslims implementing Sharia Law.

Playing on this one particular human tendency, is terribly powerful and if people construct an ideology around this and blame immigrants for everything, if all media joins in to repress all evidence to the contrary and a megaphone is given to people like Steve Bannon, the movement can take on a "populist" appearance..

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But at the core of humanity if the movement is not organic it can't be maintained over time because it eventually is broken down by their own first-hand experiences.

When I think about true populist movements in history, I think of slavery. Slavery was an institution that made money for a particular elite group, a select minority who wanted to continue it. But the larger population saw it for what it was. They could look into the eyes of slaves and see them as fellow humans, children, mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers and as their empathy with slaves as fellow human beings began to rise up, the coalition of people who wanted to see an end to slavery was larger and more powerful than the minority who wanted to maintain it.

More notably, the abolitionists, in spite of not having the money and power of the pro-slavery group, were driven by a deep conviction of the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery. And eventually the elite knew they could not hold onto the system.

Another example night be in post WWI Germany when the German people were feeling, as a group, the disdain of the world and a horrible economy while at the same time being made to pay reparations for WWI. Many historians point to these conditions as breeding ground for Hitler's brand of populism.

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I was born in 1970 in Wheeling, WV and have lived here all my life. I come from mostly Irish Catholic coal miners and railroad workers. My original academic interest was in teaching foreign languages studying both French and Spanish in High (more...)
 

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Michele Goddard

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I hope in writing this it will get people to realize that Trump's weakness lies in his inauthentic appeals to emotion which pulls together people who are upset but who lack the true cohesive thought and collective empathy that a true populist movement has. This is a true advantage Bernie has over Trump. I didn't mention Biden in the article but Biden only appeals to a narrow group of voters and in my mind can not be defined in any way a populist. He has only gotten as far as he has due tona coddling press and massive corporate/banking support.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 4, 2019 at 3:02:23 AM

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Rob Kall

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great article. I also think Biden is doing well because people are afraid. They see him as the biggest name and a moderate who is safe. They are cowards and fail to see that Biden is just Hillary 2.0 and Trump will defeat him.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 4, 2019 at 4:21:03 PM

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Reply to Rob Kall:   New Content

Rob,


Thank you so much for your comment. And I agree with you wholeheartedly concerning Biden. I'm sure Trump's handlers will allow the escalation of his behavior prior to the elections soley for the purpose of making Democrats desperate just to play it safe and go with someone they know can beat him virtually ensuring Biden will be pushed as this person. (He is already being touted as the only one who can beat Trump). But if we are going to get a Democrat who is going to continue the same policies as the Republicans what makes the difference?


Take Care,


Michele



Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 12:59:22 AM

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What constitutes the voting components of Trump followers? Those who believe/hope/suspect/understand:

---Trump will press harder to end The New World Order and it's one-world government policies.

---Federalism generally leads to dictatorship by corporatism through banking,

---White Hats are for Trump in the military working to remove the Black Hats in the military. White Hats want American values protected by defense through strength, while Black Hats mean endless wars, pressing onward to WWIII for one world order, paralleling the hegemonic global interests of our privately owned and controlled Federal Reserve.

---Trump stands against the current privately owned Federal Reserve and will "do something to end its hegemonic powers," while Trump remains in office.

---Trump will pardon Assange, and if he does not pardon Assange, and/or do something to save Asange's life, Trump may not deserve a second term.

---See significance and depth of Trump's relationship with Trump's brilliant Uncle, Professor John Trump of MIT, opening the door to Tesla science, zero point energy, reverse alien technologies, split away civilization and why President Trump made the end run around the impacted military Black Hats for a new Space Force, in an attempt to finally give oversight to Off World activities that have always been kept above top secret.

---Trump has already toppled the Brennan-Klapper giant monster.

---By actually reading the science involved in Climate Change and realize we are in a break in ice-age normalcy and that CO2 is not a pollutant and immaterial to global warming.

---And respect his trade negotiating tactics for real free-trade leveling the playing field for American interests.

---See the mainstream media as corrupted through consolidation into a few from the many.

---UFO full disclosure and suspect Trump knows a lot of secrets first from his brilliant Uncle John Trump of MIT and now as POTUS.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 4, 2019 at 7:11:17 PM

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Do you believe this or are you citing what Trump supporters believe?


Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 1:09:52 PM

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Rich, I hear you but I keep a full saltshaker at hand stilll.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 1:32:15 PM

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"A true populist movement comes about when the populace begins to have a common feeling, a cohesive mind-set brought about usually through shared suffering and empathy for each others in their group."

This, of course, fairly neatly states the fundamental principle of socialism. Interestingly, it wasn't invented by any leader, or political 'scientist'. It simply emerged among early groups of prehistoric humans who were focussed on a few quite simple things to ensure their very survival - getting food, water, fuel for the fire, and a safe place to spend the night and rest, protected from potential predatory threats. As such, I've come to think that it is somehow embedded in our DNA. It has been a part of what we had to do to survive the millennia between then and now. It is even evident in small rural communities, some far off the Interstate, right now, where there is no local police, no clinic, no fire department, except volunteers, and few local businesses - perhaps a small 'convenience' store that stocks mostly convenience foods, basic pain relievers and bandaids, and some basic, non-perishable staples. There may still be a Post Office, that can process money orders, but no bank, as such. The residents all know what's necessary to keep their way of life going - mutually understood, and accepted, interdependence and responsibility. There are community gardens, to which each contributes what they can - perhaps seeds or compost and labor, and from which each can take as they need to. There may be a few reliable vehicles, none less than ten years old, that can make a 40+ mile trip to a larger town for medical needs, a grocery stop, and banking. Again, this is not an invented social construct. It is what we had to do to survive - and, I think, still is, given how we provide police, fire, and even emergency medical support via taxation.

Some of us understand this, on an internal, emotional basis - it just feels right. But there is, too, a rational, clear thinking, logical basis for it, IF one takes the time to think about it, and can wade through all the ill-informed, not to say ignorant, rhetoric against it. After all, it distributes social benefits according to needs, and provides them according to abilities. Marx understood this, which is why capitalists fear and hate him and his 'ideology'.

This leads to so many different, but connected, things, from pre-natal care to an earned death benefit, which follow on in such a natural sequence that it almost engineers itself, as long as avaricious narcissists are kept out of it. They are the true internal threat we have to control.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 4, 2019 at 7:30:43 PM

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Thank you for your comments. I think there are so many of us who share this mindset and you are absolutely correct that the capitalists hate Marxism becuase they parasitically feed off of the consumer base and the working class. The use every tool they can find to get us more addicted to stuff. I wish people would realize that we can't defeat a beast that we continue to feed. Do people not stop to think about the fact that literally every celebratory event in our lives involves buying gifts? It takes so much away from the emotional, spiritual and community experience.

I look forward to having more conversations with you.

Take care,

Michele

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 1:15:19 AM

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Also, I totally agree with you about this being part or our DNA. I have written on my theory this before , though I have since read other articles and they offer different versions my belief is that we started out as hunter gather tribes. Men were hunters and women stayed with the children so men evolved differently so be more aggressive and women developed more defensive instincts. The alpha male and hierarchical systems developed because the "best" hunter bore so much weight and was given so much praise for bringing home the food. This would provide special treatment or respect for this man as the leader. But as people moved towards agricultural communities the work was more collectivist and men and women's roles were not distinguished by aggression and pure physical strength but by stamina to work in the fields. In these communities, the male trying to assert his special status and dominance waa a liability not an asset. Also men would have had a morw integral and protective role iver children. I think in areas where women were free to choose men rather than arranged couplings there would have been a tendency to choose men who were less aggressive and more cooperative. Obviously both types of men always existrd but I think there was somewhat of a shift in thinking of which was more valuable. If you listen to a lot of fringe right wing groups the frequently lament how agreesion and violence in men should be prized not shamed. They are digustd by the "feminization" of boys. I think this is a reemergence of the repressed psychology of the primitive male hunter. Fascist regimes ate famous for stoking this feeling in men. Its like a secret weapon in their cult of donimance and hierarchy.


Thanks again for the comments,


Take care,


Michele


Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 11:45:26 AM

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Reply to Michele Goddard:   New Content

interesting perspective I haven't heard before.

One thing, most of human existence, people lived in small bands, not tribes.

And in my conversations with Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael and Beyond Civilization, he hypothesized that agriculture led to more hierarchy because of the creation of police and warriors to protect food surpluses.


You might enjoy Riane Eisler's book, Chalice and The Blade. I've done a few interviews with her too.


Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 1:15:43 PM

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I write about UC-- "unintended consequences" of societal changes....things that could not have been predicted at the time.

There have been 4 transformative eras in history. Every single one had unintended consequences, including the era when humans decided to stay put. Towns, cities and states grew at the nexus of rivers. Of course they needed protection. Forts and armies, and finally state military.

The next transformative era was one of industry. Steam engines, the cotton ginny, led to the growth of manufacturing hubs... and pollution etc...

The third was communication technology... beginning with the telegraph and telephone-- where people did not have to live near each other--within 50miles-- in order to stay in touch.

But the last transformative era, was one of a NEW INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY-- where images and memes could be passed down by the corporatists states. it only began with television. JFK was the first to use mad-men to sell a politician. The passing down of propaganda is the start of. fascist state. It allowed a visual barrage of violent behavior, so that our children, and our young adults, and our bored young men, are bombarded with images of aggression, where blood and violence solve problems, and where 'evil creatures' must be taken down at any costs... forget the collateral damage.

I was born in 1941, when the first tv programs were introduced; there were dramas based on the interactions between people, not the constant aggression & competition promoted today. MY grandson is 13 and we play Fortnite. I played Monopoly with my grandma. Even cooking programs are 'competitions' where there are losers... and children cry.

Finally, along came that invention that put information technology: --the internet-- into a place of anarchy-- cyberspace - where mendacity is the rule, and the worst human behaviors are shared.

Ralph Nader addresses this here ,too. "The campuses have really changed. They were among the first responders on the environment, women's rights, civil rights. Now they have conflicts over politically correct speech. People used to be invited to speak before large auditoriums full of rapt students ready to sign petitions. Those days are over. I really mean over. Done...You can't even look them in the eye. They walk through campus looking at their cellphones. They know less and less about history. I talk to students today whose priority is the environment, and they've never heard of Barry Commoner, arguably the most prominent scientist on the environment in the twentieth century. They are factually deprived, in part because they think they can access any fact at their fingertips anytime, anywhere. So why would they want to know the names of the Supreme Court justices, or the name of their governor, or the name of their member of Congress? The main way to get a rise out of students today is with verbal slurs about gender and race."

Ralph Nader says : "Knowledge of history is critical for life in the present. If you don't know U.S. history, you don't know about the farmers' revolt in the late 1800s, which created the People's Party and produced a lot of wonderful things we benefit from, such as the eight-hour workday and the popular election of U.S. senators.Civics has been downgraded in school. Children don't learn how to use the tools of democracy. They aren't given civic experience in the community under adult supervision. They just are told, "Sit down, look at the computer, and develop computer skills." We're going to lose a generation. "

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 3:54:51 PM

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Michele Goddard

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Thank you for such an in depth and informative response. The article I'm working on for next week.has to do with some of The things you mention here. I always appreciate additions to tue conversation and other perspectives, especially from someone like you who can pull it all together into a coherent strictured thought.


Take care,


Michele

Submitted on Thursday, Jun 6, 2019 at 4:50:58 AM

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Thanks for the additional information. I just read that in your book actually and found that theory intriguing as well. By the way, I'm a slow reader but what I've read so far fascinates me in the similarity of our thought processes. I really like that the style of your book is in itself "bottom up" and seems to draw from lots of perspectives which is truly, in my experience, is the best form of learning. When I finish it I will be sure to review it on Amazon. I could already say so much about it but I want to be able to be thorough.


I am always interested in the various factors physiological, neurological, psychological, socialogocal etc that comprise human behavior.


Thanks for writing the book,


Take care,


Michele

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 4:37:51 PM

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Half this population (approx) are females, and I can tell you that the majority of them, not just the young ones, are fed up with the male dominated legislatures and a Congress which refuses to do its job... which is not to legislate control over a females life... for that is what it does with its GOP pro-life agenda.It wants to kick it up to the Supreme Court hoping it will overturn Roe.

Our Congress does not work, or that incompetent. insane embarassement would not be President another day.

"As the historian Garry Wills once put it, "No matter what the sequence of action among the three departments, if the process is played out to the end, Congress always gets the last say (if it wants it)."

"But that final point "if it wants it" gets at the problem that now confronts our constitutional system: Congress doesn't want its power. Both executive agencies and courts have become more powerful in recent decades, and both now effectively make laws. But though critics of both trends tend to attribute them to excessive ambitions among judges, presidents, or regulators, more important has been the lack of constitutional ambition among members of Congress.

"Whether driven by partisanship, misguided by perverse media and political incentives, or simply put off by the burdens of responsibility, members of both houses are now reluctant to really legislate."

Wish I had said that but it is here.

Submitted on Thursday, Jun 6, 2019 at 2:17:11 AM

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Trump only appears as the non-authentic-populist to the materialist vested in the outer world of the third dimension. In other realms, the inner realm, Trump's group of deplorables are drawn from an eclectic mix of many factions that share one important characteristic: gravitational intuition that Trump is their antidote to tyranny... and the convoluted hand of God at work too ironic to judge.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 4, 2019 at 9:24:58 PM

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A basic dilemma with the concept of democracy is that people can be manipulated by propaganda. At the same time that some are manipulated by the propaganda, many others are able to see through that propaganda an are turned off by that realization. But can they act on that? Our traditional voting system allows voters to say only which candidate they like most. Opposition to a candidate or to an agenda are severely muted.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 2:12:55 AM

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You are right and the Facebook debacle was an example of this. Targeted, personalized advertising meets targeted, personalized propaganda. But this is why part of our revolution has to be one to one engagement. As we go forward and the people of the world through adanced technology become more interconnected and can develop a sense of global community, propaganda will be harder and harder to pass off. Those in the manipulation industry are already studying ways around this to prevent it from happening. Whether we like it or not we are in a war, an arms race of technology and the human use of it. The overt brainwashing going on in our country is astounding. I see people so literally under the absolute mind control of these programs of manipulation that it is reaching dangerous levels. The QAnon phenomena for example is one of the most obvious and recent examples. The cult style isolation of its members, the training they receive to reject any and all information no matter how much evidence there is for it if it comes from those outside the cult whereas they immediately accept and believe any information given by the cult leader even if there is proof it ia inaccurate is extremely dangerous. Anytime any group replaces critical thinking with devotion then any propaganda will suffice to matter how flimsy.

Thanks again for the conversation,

Take care,

Michele

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 11:54:47 AM

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Rob Kall

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Reply to Paul Cohen:   New Content

Trump has been very effective at persuaded his supporters to see all the mainstream media except Fox as fake news. They don't believe the reporting from CNN, MSNBC, or others. Think about how progressives think of reporting from Fox. We don't buy most of what they say and treat Fox with contempt. That means that Trump supporters are getting a very narrow sliver of truth and basing their decisions on it. When I have conversations with conservatives, one thing that gives me credibility is my dislike for and distrust for both parties.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 1:20:36 PM

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Michele Goddard

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Reply to Rob Kall:   New Content

I have a very small circle of contacts and the few conservatives I know react differently to what I consider my equal scrutiny of both sides. They are usually surprised when they bring up a criticism of Democrats and I agree with them. But they think by my agreeing with them on an issue of corruptuon on the left that they have "convinced me" or that perhaps there is hope for me to be saved from the Marxist brainwashing I have obviously been the victim of. I used to think my even handedness gave me credibility that would give my point of view on Trump and the Republicans some weight but as soon as I do they recoil and go immediately on the defense. They will chime in and agree with me when they think it means I'm confirming they are right but are not willing to even consider there is any reliability on the right. I'm glad to know they aren't all like that.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 4:48:35 PM

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Susan Lee Schwartz

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I recommend this wonderful article in The Sun. The Great Work where Ralph Nader and David Barsamian discuss with great intelligence, what is afoot today.

A few examples:

" Nader: Gerrymandering is basically a system in which the politicians pick the voters instead of the people picking the politicians. Democrats hate gerrymandering when Republicans control more state legislatures, and Republicans hate gerrymandering when the shoe is on the other foot. So who is responsible? I blame both parties." ..."We've got to change the voting laws. We need a universal voting requirement and easy access to the ballot. It is harder to get on the ballot in North Carolina than in eight European countries."

Barsamian: "Harvard University professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have a book out called How Democracies Die. They write, "We tend to think of democracies [as] dying at the hands of men with guns. But there is another way to break a democracy. . . . At the hands not of generals but of elected leaders." They go on to say that Trump's election was a step toward authoritarianism, but the erosion began long before Trump, and the problems will outlast him."

Nader: That was in a message to Congress in 1938 before World War II. And that's what fascism is: the merger of big business and government, so that big business not only has power over the private economy but uses the power of government to entrench itself. This usually brings violations of civil liberties, suppression of free speech, manipulation of elections to a point where they shouldn't even be called elections, and the concentration of wealth, income, and power in the hands of the few.

Barsamian: Would you include Trump's relentless attacks on the media and journalists as a warning sign of fascism?

Nader: Yes, of course. Fascism attacks any potential challenge from society. It attacks minorities who don't go along, which is what Hitler did, obviously. The fascist corporate state can brook no budding challenge. It can't allow challengers to get a foot in the door. There is a whiff of fascism in the air. I use that term with care, because sometimes it's invoked promiscuously. But Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism."

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019 at 4:03:50 PM

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Michele Goddard

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Reply to Susan Lee Schwartz:   New Content

Thanks for adding this. Great info!

Submitted on Thursday, Jun 6, 2019 at 4:51:57 AM

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Kenneth Morris

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I think you're putting too much emphasis on the fuzzy term "populism."

As best as I have been able to figure out, populism is just democracy that elites don't like. It follows that those denigrated as populists are usually of a lower social and sometimes economic class than the elites, but I'm not convinced that they're more emotional, more vulgar, or more self-interested than the elites.

Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, who was born to wealth. educated in England, and served two presidential terms, keeps criticizing Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, as a populist. The only explanations for this that I can see is that Arias doesn't like Ortega in part because Ortega was not born to wealth, intentionally rejects the affectations of the upper class, and enjoys disproportionate democratic support from the poor.

Trump, a billionaire rich kid from Queens, doesn't fit the populist stereotype by background, but he sure does by his appeal. His fame came from reality TV, barely a status step above wrestling, while his emotional appeal is to the less well educated.

Meanwhile, historically I've never heard the abolitionists called populists. My understanding is that the historic populist movement was a movement of farmers in the South and Midwest during the late 19th century, allied in part against railroad freight rates though probably also against the commodities exchange in Chicago and other instances of elites putting the screws to them.

Fascinating is that in South populist farmers initially joined forces across racial lines, though soon the whites split off and turned against the blacks. Apparently white pride or privilege or whatever was stronger than common economic concerns--although some say that elites fomented the racial division in order to crush the movement.

One thing that seems true is that successful so-called populists end up catering to the business class while simultaneously spewing a lot of platitudes about defending the "little guy." Hitler did this, Ortega does this, and Trump does it.

Maybe populism is some sub-type of democratic leadership, but it sure is a fuzzy sub-type.

Submitted on Thursday, Jun 6, 2019 at 3:32:18 AM

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Michele Goddard

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Reply to Kenneth Morris:   New Content

Thank you for the comment. I agree with some of your response but rather than looking at populist in terms of haves and have not which you are correct is a typical historical interpretation and application of the term populism, I was attempting to distinguish the differences between two different types of movements. One being a unified group of idividuals sharing a cohesive mindset and a shared empathy based on their experiences as a group and a hodge podge group of people who may have entirely different perspectives feelings and drives but are drawn to a figure like Trump who they each feel is there juat for them. Perhaps uaing the term populist confused my point because of its past use.


Thanks again for your input,


Take Care,


Michele

Submitted on Thursday, Jun 6, 2019 at 5:00:14 AM

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