Populism

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Populism is a political philosophy that trusts the wisdom of the common man over that of elites. Populist movements may come from the left, as with the Populist Party and William Jennings Bryan, or from the right, as with the Tea Party Movement in the U.S. Canadian left-wing populism positions a coalition of wage earners, farmers, the poor, and the middle class against traditional political parties and large capitalist firms, supporting social democracy, while right-wing populism focuses on overregulation of the free market. [1]

Many U.S. populist movements define themselves more by what they oppose than having a specific plan for change. Henry Owen of the American Enterprise Institute observes that left and right, however, may be critical of a populist movement drawn from their own ranks. Speaking of the Tea Party Movement, he writes of critics on the center and right, such as 'New York Times columnist David Brooks, for example, has defined the activists as "a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against,' and who are characterized by the 'zero-sum mentality that is at the heart of populism.' Washington Post columnist George Will, who opposes many of the same policies the Tea Parties reject, has his doubts, too: Populism's 'constant ingredient has been resentment' he wrote recently. 'It always wanes because it never seems serious as a solution.'" [2]

In Canada, the dominant populist organization is the Reform Party (Canada).[1]

Populist movements may try to mesh incompatible positions, such as creating jobs while reducing the deficit. [3]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Populism, Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. Henry Owen (Summer 2010), "Populism, American Style", National Interest
  3. James Surowiecki (15 February 2010), "The Populism Problem", New Yorker