Populism Is Not The Opposite Of Democracy

A Deplorable Mob.

“Vox Populi, Vox Dei” is Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” The phrase is often cited as the underlying premise of all democratic forms of government. But some people think democracy is dying and some of them blame populism for that demise.

Populism, contrary to popular belief, is not the opposite of democracy. Democracy is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Populism is “government of the deplorable people, by the deplorable people, for the deplorable people.” IOW, populism is the term for when the little people in a democracy don’t listen to the elites.

This is from an article by Rick Shenkman published in Politico:

As much as President Donald Trump’s liberal critics might want to lay America’s ills at his door, Rosenberg says the president is not the cause of democracy’s fall—even if Trump’s successful anti-immigrant populist campaign may have been a symptom of democracy’s decline.

We’re to blame, said Rosenberg. As in “we the people.”

Democracy is hard work. And as society’s “elites”—experts and public figures who help those around them navigate the heavy responsibilities that come with self-rule—have increasingly been sidelined, citizens have proved ill equipped cognitively and emotionally to run a well-functioning democracy. As a consequence, the center has collapsed and millions of frustrated and angst-filled voters have turned in desperation to right-wing populists.

His prediction? “In well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail.”

Oh, no! Not the right-wing populists! They have COOTIES!!!

Right-wing populist politicians have taken power or threatened to in Poland, Hungary, France, Britain, Italy, Brazil and the United States. As Rosenberg notes, “by some metrics, the right wing populist share of the popular vote in Europe overall has more than tripled from 4% in 1998 to approximately 13% in 2018.” In Germany, the right-wing populist vote increased even after the end of the Great Recession and after an influx of immigrants entering the country subsided.

A brief three decades after some had heralded the “end of history” it’s possible that it’s democracy that’s nearing the end. And it’s not just populist rabble-rousers who are saying this. So is one of the establishment’s pioneer social scientists, who’s daring to actually predict the end of democracy as we know it.

Rosenberg, who earned degrees at Yale, Oxford and Harvard, may be the social scientist for our time if events play out as he suggests they will. His theory is that over the next few decades, the number of large Western-style democracies around the globe will continue to shrink, and those that remain will become shells of themselves. Taking democracy’s place, Rosenberg says, will be right-wing populist governments that offer voters simple answers to complicated questions.

And therein lies the core of his argument: Democracy is hard work and requires a lot from those who participate in it. It requires people to respect those with different views from theirs and people who don’t look like them. It asks citizens to be able to sift through large amounts of information and process the good from the bad, the true from the false. It requires thoughtfulness, discipline and logic.

Unfortunately, evolution did not favor the exercise of these qualities in the context of a modern mass democracy. Citing reams of psychological research, findings that by now have become more or less familiar, Rosenberg makes his case that human beings don’t think straight. Biases of various kinds skew our brains at the most fundamental level. For example, racism is easily triggered unconsciously in whites by a picture of a black man wearing a hoodie. We discount evidence when it doesn’t square up with our goals while we embrace information that confirms our biases. Sometimes hearing we’re wrong makes us double down. And so on and so forth.

Our brains, says Rosenberg, are proving fatal to modern democracy. Humans just aren’t built for it.

I’m gonna take a wild guess and say this guy is not a Republican.

People have been saying for two millennia that democracy is unworkable, going back to Plato. The Founding Fathers were sufficiently worried that they left only one half of one branch of the federal government in the hands of the people. And yet for two centuries democracy in America more or less proceeded apace without blowing itself up.

So why is Rosenberg, who made his name back in the 1980s with a study that disturbingly showed that many voters select candidates on the basis of their looks, predicting the end of democracy now?

He has concluded that the reason for right-wing populists’ recent success is that “elites” are losing control of the institutions that have traditionally saved people from their most undemocratic impulses. When people are left to make political decisions on their own they drift toward the simple solutions right-wing populists worldwide offer: a deadly mix of xenophobia, racism and authoritarianism.

The elites, as Rosenberg defines them, are the people holding power at the top of the economic, political and intellectual pyramid who have “the motivation to support democratic culture and institutions and the power to do so effectively.” In their roles as senators, journalists, professors, judges and government administrators, to name a few, the elites have traditionally held sway over public discourse and U.S. institutions—and have in that role helped the populace understand the importance democratic values. But today that is changing. Thanks to social media and new technologies, anyone with access to the Internet can publish a blog and garner attention for their cause—even if it’s rooted in conspiracy and is based on a false claim, like the lie that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring from the basement of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor, which ended in a shooting.

While the elites formerly might have successfully squashed conspiracy theories and called out populists for their inconsistencies, today fewer and fewer citizens take the elites seriously. Now that people get their news from social media rather than from established newspapers or the old three TV news networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), fake news proliferates. It’s surmised that 10 million people saw on Facebook the false claim that Pope Francis came out in favor of Trump’s election in 2016. Living in a news bubble of their own making many undoubtedly believed it. (This was the most-shared news story on Facebook in the three months leading up to the 2016 election, researchers report.)

The irony is that more democracy—ushered in by social media and the Internet, where information flows more freely than ever before—is what has unmoored our politics, and is leading us towards authoritarianism. Rosenberg argues that the elites have traditionally prevented society from becoming a totally unfettered democracy; their “oligarchic ‘democratic’ authority” or “democratic control” has until now kept the authoritarian impulses of the populace in check.

Compared with the harsh demands made by democracy, which requires a tolerance for compromise and diversity, right-wing populism is like cotton candy. Whereas democracy requires us to accept the fact that we have to share our country with people who think and look differently than we do, right-wing populism offers a quick sugar high. Forget political correctness. You can feel exactly the way you really want about people who belong to other tribes.

Right-wing populists don’t have to make much sense. They can simultaneously blame immigrants for taking jobs away from Americans while claiming that these same people are lazy layabouts sponging off welfare. All the populist followers care is that they now have an enemy to blame for their feelings of ennui.

And unlike democracy, which makes many demands, the populists make just one. They insist that people be loyal. Loyalty entails surrendering to the populist nationalist vision. But this is less a burden than an advantage. It’s easier to pledge allegiance to an authoritarian leader than to do the hard work of thinking for yourself demanded by democracy.

What was the single biggest tin-foil hat conspiracy theory in modern history? Hint: It didn’t have anything to do with Moon landings, Popes, pizza parlors, birth certificates, or whether fire can melt steel.

That’s right – the biggest tin-foil hat conspiracy theory in modern history is the one about Russian collusion. And where did this tin-foil hat conspiracy theory originate?

It originated with the so-called elites. And who are these “elites?” The news media. The Deep State. Democrats.

I would go on (and on and on and on) but I gotta get ready to go see my podiatrist.

The elites.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Populism Is Not The Opposite Of Democracy

  1. DandyTIger says:

    “Democracy doesn’t work if the wrong people win.” — The Elites

  2. DandyTIger says:

    That picture will cause me to have nightmares. It looks like Nancy wants to french kiss me, and Chuck wants to watch.

  3. Miranda says:

    “It requires people to respect those with different views from theirs and people who don’t look like them.”

    As long as people leave me alone, follow the law, and don’t take my money to support their choices, I don’t care what they do. However, neutrality is the best I offer. Respect must be earned.

  4. Myiq2xu™ says:

  5. DandyTIger says:

  6. Mothy67 says:

    Love the fact that Tulsi Gabbard isn’t shutting up. She would have perhaps gotten my vote before The Donald.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Tulsi and Marianne should run on a third party ticket 🙂 Though the DNC paid Bernie a sh*tload of money not to do that.

  7. Mothy67 says:

    Can’t find anything on NC 9 results.
    I think Bishop won NC 3, but hard to find anything at all.

  8. Dora says:

  9. SHV says:

    Two R wins in NC today. Bishop’s margin is greater than the threshold for a recount.

  10. Mothy67 says:

    Not very much online about the NC wins. Cheap shots written in haste before dim talking points issued. The few articles I scanned emphasize anti-immigrant rhetoric. Not one of the 5 articles used illegal with regards to immigration. Tomorrow every column will puke up the same thing once they are told what to say.
    My take is that it shows Trump can deliver votes. He got more people up off the sofa in a special election following a yuuuge scandal following 3 years of non-stop Donald bashing. This should have been an easy win for the dims.

  11. Anthony says:

    Anybody here upset that Bolton’s gone? 🤣

  12. ginainmo says:

    Back in 2001, I ran a discussion board website for junior drag racing families. When 9/11 happened, many of us huddled together on the site for the community and comfort. A friend of mine from Usenet (who remembers THAT? wrote this poem about 9/11 that he graciously allowed me to publish it.

    To my knowledge it was never published elsewhere. I only knew him as Frank from Usenet. I love this so much I published it first on the front page in the aftermath and have republished it anually, first on jrdrags.com till it went dark in 2009 and then every year since on Facebook. I think it is beautiful and should be seen/heard again.

    “A perfect day, skies cobalt blue,
    With people rushing, as they do,
    To work or home though no one knew
    Disaster was upon them.

    A plane appeared, seeming too low,
    Some wondered just where it might go
    Then gasped a futile “My God, NO!”
    An initial requiem.

    One building torn and spouting flame,
    The second, rent, would look the same.
    All wondered what or who to blame
    For this hellacious vision.

    Those lofty towers side by side,
    Twin symbols of the city’s pride,
    First shuddered, flamed, then slowly died;
    Gone as if by excision.

    Reports had quickly filled the air,
    And rescue workers with no care
    For unseen peril gathered there;
    Heroes performing surely.

    Too soon all knew the awful cost
    Of lives snuffed out, forever lost
    Like young buds to an early frost
    All forfeit prematurely.

    Citizens, once disunited,
    Came together, and clear-sighted,
    Pledged this awful wrong be righted;
    Now united to the core.

    Raw first anger now subsiding,
    Clearer minds have been deciding
    How to best flush those in hiding,
    Those on whom we’ve declared war.

    Our leaders ask now for our trust,
    Sacrificing, if we must,
    To impale with fatal thrust
    Whomsoever was involved.

    The campaign will be extended
    Until all are apprehended,
    Their excuses reprehended,
    Their transgression un-absolved.”

    ~~ Frank via Usenet

    Frank and I first bonded over our mutual dislike and distrust for most politicians. I am confident he would be cool with having his words reposted here.

  13. Angie says:

    Kudos to the guy who took the time to create this account to reply to this ridiculous story from CNN

  14. Angie says:

    Literally CNN tonight

Comments are closed.