What Is Populism?

What Is Populism?


Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald
Trump are both described as populist candidates. But the two are so radically different, how
can they share the label of populism? What does it mean to be populist? Well, populism is the political belief that
the underdog, hard working majority is undermined and exploited by a small, elite minority.
Populist politicians claim to represent the interest of average or working class citizens,
and work to unite the population against a common enemy. For right-leaning politicians
like Trump, that’s immigrants and the Republican establishment. For leftist politicians like
Sanders, it’s Wall Street, billionaires and campaign finance laws. Throughout history, populist ideas have often
coincided with charismatic demagogues, as these personality types are often successful
at galvanizing the masses. In fact, one of the earliest populists was Julius Caesar,
who undermined Rome’s ruling aristocrats by appealing to the underrepresented working
class. But populism isn’t necessarily good or bad. Both FDR and Adolph Hitler were decisively
populist politicians, by appealing to the frustrations of their respective countries. Today, populist rhetoric is pervasive throughout
the world. In Europe, it is generally more popular on the ideological right, which believes
that socialist or left-leaning policies negate the collective will of the people. This was
the idea behind the 2016 Brexit referendum, as many working class Brits felt that globalization
provided by EU membership was not to their benefit. Similar populist sentiments have
gained momentum throughout Europe in recent years, leading some experts to predict a string
of other similar referendums and, perhaps, the gradual disintegration of the EU. In the US, however, populism is widespread.
Liberal voters tend to resonate with issues that affect the poor and working class, like
income inequality. In fact, one of the most recent notable American populist movements
was 2011’s Occupy Wall Street, which blamed corporations and the wealthiest one percent
of Americans for creating economic instability for the rest of the country. Conservatives
like Trump, on the other hand, have used populist sentiments to tap into voters’ frustrations
with bureaucrats and general distrust of the federal government. For instance, the Tea
Party Movement formed in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis as a protest against
government overreach. So whether it be in the US or abroad, populist
politicians tend to operate the same way. That is, they choose a popular enemy, like
the establishment, immigration or criminals, and rally voters to get behind that cause.
Oftentimes this has led to popular movements and legal reforms. Other times it has cultivated
in widespread ultra-nationalism and nativism. Either way, populism is an extremely effective
political tool.

100 Comments on "What Is Populism?"


  1. I always find Trump's "charisma" odd. I can't deny he's charismatic. I hate everything he says yet it's still difficult to stop watching.

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  2. Europe is dying and it's thanks to idiots like Boris Johnson, Marine le Pen, Beppe Grillo and Geert Wilders. I get that people think a government should think of their own people rather than others, and maybe Europe should stop globalising, but european countries should still atleast keep working together. European countries are rich and strong compared to their size, but not strong enough to face the rest of the world. The European Union is not the demon people make it out to be.

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  3. What is populism? According to Donald Trump it's saying what people want to hear and then doing the exact opposite when you're getting ready to step into office. End of video.

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  4. Bernie Sanders is NOT a populist, he is for massive expansion of government power and diminishing power of the individual person.

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  5. “Comment about how bias seeker daily is” “I’m right you know, I found the opposite on my social media.”

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  6. There you go again with the politics nationalism nationalism is a belief in one's country that's it you don't have to believe in genocide or white supremacy to believe in nationalism in the KKK supporting Trump the KKK supported Hillary you don't control who supports you people have the right to vote whoever they want they have the right to support their candidate what does it matter what. Their views are

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  7. 1:15. MOST of right-wing Europe believes this. Facists are right-wing socialists, even though some of them believe that Fascism uses Capitalism at times.

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  8. I think it narrows the view (Paul Taggart) of populism if we assume that populists 'choose a popular enemy' whilst the enemies may seem popular in a sense, it's actually more of a creation of an enemy, simply because our feelings of what we dislike are far more potent than we approve of.

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  9. It is CAPITALISM, what did you expect?
    It helps us progress, but it helps the rich more than it does the poor, it was meant for this.
    Now that it's clear to many of us that our system is betraying us what do we do?

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  10. @ 2:20 "This [Populism] has lead to popular movements and legal reforms, other times its cultivated in ultra right wing nationalism and nativism."

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  11. What a load of bullshit you know nothing about the UK i live here in the uk and it is not how you have tried to pretend it is Go fuck your self…

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  12. You are right about the populism in theory but by content shown is a very narrow view of the idea. Populism does not mean an idea used my some to rally people on questions and fears people they have in mind. Populism as I perceive is taking into account the problems and fears a population is facing be it jobs, money, fear of immigration etc., and making policies, systems which address these problems for all, not for a few to take advantage of.

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  13. Thanks for the video. A little too quick though.. Could've used just a couple more minutes, i feel.

    Cheers, Seeker!

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  14. All these terms are separating people even more, the more we are separated the less power we have. Lets make something that can only be improved and stick together

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  15. So populist is just democracy and there is no great difference really. What people believe both in the elites and the people is equally as subjective. Remember that wanting a objective society is a subjective choice.

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  16. What do people think of this theory – the key component of these "populist" and far right movement shifts is anti-establishment sentiment. I was concerned the World was not awakening to the systemic financial extortion of the people and suppression of our identity as human beings. We are awakening but it's being miss branded/distorted as left vs right etc in the media – an effort to divide us.
    Treat people how you want to be treated <3

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  17. I took a test and it says I'm populist not left populist or right the one in the middle what's the difference between the 3

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  18. Obama was a populist and demagogue. After 8 years when he leave the office he actually did nothing from what he promised.

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  19. Whoa, whoa, slow down there white Hammer!

    So is a populist, a populist politician (professional liar) or actual populist, ie. somebody who agrees with the predominant belief? Comparing a populist, someone who agrees with the majority, to a politician, who APPEALS to the majority often by pretending to give a shit about them only to be able occupying some power center where he is so distant from his constituency as to not even live close to them, pretending he has everyone's interest at heart, is a little ridiculous at best. Why the need for such a confusing definition??

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  20. To simplify it more, populist are people who are more for government control in both economic and social values. They tend to be the foils to libertarians

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  21. celebreties, politcal yahoos, everyone comes out of the woodwork to to conflate the idea that if you're concerned for you're countries culture and way of life, that you're against accepting immigration and that you are a racist. it's malevolent, its vile and the left wing media giants have gotten quite good at masquerading their attempts to defame anyone credible, and reasonable for wanting to protect there country from certain change for the worse.

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  22. Nothing more than " fight the powers that be", for white majority. Clearly minorities don't run western democracy duh.

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  23. Technically Bernie is the only populist, because he's the only one who cares about the working class

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  24. Julius Caesar was an emperor? Seriously? No wonder people call you Americans stupid.
    All you had to do was open a Wikipedia article on the dude cmon.

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  25. populism is for dumb and many
    it is for the crowd
    but the crowd is powerful …. stupid but powerful
    the crowd will kill you in the end
    we need to protect the higher values and not the low values

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  26. Thanks for mentioning in the common light that everyone does, let's just forget that I brought a country out of it's own great depression.

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  27. Obviously, it's an extremely effective political tool. The only people who can make a REAL difference in this world are the people in the middle of the spectrum – not left, not right. The non-politicians. Dont try and convince me that 'making a difference' is equal to your selfish, political agenda. What has happened to the world? Where has the spiritualism gone? There is nothing inspiring to be found anywhere. Nobody tries.

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  28. Bernie is a Populist? Are you kidding? He wants the government to become more of a part of your life. The government sucks at everything… And Trump isn't a conservative btw.

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  29. Populism IS democracy. You do not get to change the name when it results on an outcome you didn't like.

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  30. Thanks! Now please tell me something about the Bible. I love the Bible dont care what others say. And dont dare call me religious!

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  31. IMMIGRANTS. AHAHAHAHA.

    Immigration is the word you are looking for. We don't hate people, we hate policies.

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  32. I AM a populist. It means taking power away from the arrogant that see themselves a superior to the plebs, and therefore justified in ruling on our behalf. This gents video post wreaks of that very arrogance.

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  33. The people that knows best should have the power. I don't see why people who have no idea of what global warming is or the economy should choose and decide how to deal with those subjects. It's just not rational (like my grammar).

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  34. Why does the media say populism is bad. Isn't the point of populism to vote in the most popular leader?

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  35. Just because you can give a name to a happening doesn't in the least make it negative. Many others CLAIM populist causes as if it WAS supported by the majority population when they really represent only a tiny fraction of the REAL population,.. the really about it is that "THE PLOY" has become a free for all just by MAKING this FALSE claim of popular support. And for the record,… President Trump DOES HAVE the POPULAR support of America.

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  36. No one is required to be the world's homeless shelter or piggy bank, a government who has abandoned protecting the interests and security of it's own people has no right to exist anymore and are traitors. They've stolen power merely to serve their own interests, global powers and foreign interests are poisoning the west.

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  37. Globalism represents free and open trade, which nearly all economists agree, is beneficial for everyone and I trust professionals in their field over general idiots who only think they know best.

    You people wear clothes you didn't stitch yourself, have cars and phones you didn't design yourself, eat food you didn't grow yourself, and because you live day to day with very little struggle you've bought into the dillusion that it's all because of you… why seek out verifiable evidence when the very success of your life is proof of your abilities and proof that your decisions are best?

    Tell you what, go to a third world country, where there's no pesky federal government to hold you back by providing infrastructure or education, and where your day job doesn't buy you the things you need and instead is when you make the things you need, then you can come back and enlighten me with all your tales of success.

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  38. What is Populism ? Very simple from the Latin word Populi, people. Vox Populi, voice of the people will continue to vote for Populists, those who are "from People".

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  39. Somebody pleasesseeeeeeeee tell the name of music in the back ground. Pleaseee pleaseee do write me if someone knows about it

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  40. The success of Brexit was a direct result of George Soros agenda of islamification of Britain and Europe. The far right is stirring because of this issue and it cannot rise fast enough. European folk have had enough of this invasion.

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  41. Uhh I feel like this is fake news. Populism is not necessarily an ideology it’s a political strategy and movement. It is basically the fluctuation of power between right and left politics a politician has to cater to the needs of the people.

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  42. Populism is demagoguery which the opposite of democracy.

    The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with your average voter.

    Winston Churchill

    The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.

    J.F. Kennedy

    Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.  The real safeguard of democracy is, therefore, education.

    Franklin D Roosevelt

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  43. Usually “Now This World” political videos are inaccurate but this one is accurate in my opinion.

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  44. Exactly 100% of democracy is populism. They all try to appeal the lesser class if you dont you dont get votes.

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  45. Trey gowdy is not a populist….YOU DO NOT RELEASE MUELLER REPORT..TO POPULIST …FOUND NO RUSSIAN COLLUSION..THERE FORE U DO NOT GO DOWN THAT ROAD WHEN NO EVIDENCE WAS FOUND…

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  46. 0:35 that makes no sense, those immigrants aren't an elite
    1:05 "by appealing to the frustrations of their countries" – so it's democratic as well

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  47. I thought populism is an ideology to endorse copulation so there are more people in the population

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  48. Hitler and FDR both being examples while saying Populism isn't always bad. Both of those are bad.

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  49. UGH!!! Trump is against ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION not “immigrants.” And he is against the entire establishment including the press, not just the Republican elites.

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