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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Trump's Populism and "Real Americans"


George Thomas at The Atlantic:
Unlike simple majoritarian democracy or a pure version of direct democracy where the people represent themselves and vote directly, populism proffers an imagined vision of the people. The Princeton professor Jan-Werner Müller explains: The “core claim of populism” is that only “some of the people are really the people.” Populists such as Trump pit “real” Americans against both a corrupt elite and those portions of the population who are suspect—usually for racial, ethnic, or religious reasons—and therefore not considered true Americans.

I won’t rehash the whole litany, but Trump delights in demeaning minorities who are not, in his eyes, properly part of the people. Recall Trump’s reluctance to distance himself from a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, even while those marching chanted “Blood and soil,” “You will not replace us,” and “Jews will not replace us.” Trump has characterized Mexican immigrants in ugly and divisive terms, spoken of immigrants and refugees as subhuman “savages,” called for the surveillance of Muslim Americans, and promised to ban Muslims from entering the country.