Populism Soon Fades

Posted on January 23, 2017

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It’s easy and popular to describe humanity’s journey  by concentrating on the great and powerful. However, the more realistic view of history is that these leaders are surfers, riding the waves that were already rising when they came along to power.

The wave that current leaders, most notably the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, and governor of Missouri Eric Greitens, have caught is 21st century populism.

Populism is a very old movement. Julius Caesar was among many talented politicians in history who tapped into it, using the power of the people to outmaneuver the Roman Senate.

Populism can be conservative or liberal, nationalistic or tribal. It can look like college kids with flowers in their hair or Middle Americans with red baseball caps.

When a portion of the population feels frustrated, alienated, or disrespected by those they consider elite and self-dealing, populism blooms, which makes it a fairly constant part of any society. Sometimes there are two opposing populist forces at work in society like there is today.

In its mild forms, populism is complaining about taxed and regulation. It gains energy when it turns into a protest movement like the Tea Party recently and the Women’s March today that promotes issues in society.

It takes power when enough people vote to throw the rascals out and cut government down to size on taxes and regulation or on social issues.

But no society can run for long on a revolutionary basis. Governments need smart people, scientists, economists, policymakers and a legion of civil servants who know how it should be implemented.

The politicians who have ridden today’s wave of populist discontent to power now enter the next, more difficult chapter of governing.

Populist leaders fade and a new wave comes along because the people’s discontent of those leader’s lack of results.

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