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The idea of Populism always has had multiple contradictory connotations, from brilliant to destabilising, democracy in its purest form whilst simultaneously dangerous. But what does it really mean and how important is it in a global political context?

The rise of Donald Trump in the USA has truly proven how effective, yet dangerous, populism is to global politics. By promising policies and, more importantly, action to what is most important to the American people, he has reached the highest office in the land, and perhaps the world. Perhaps this is good. 

It was after all,  Abraham Lincoln that called for “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, and Donald Trump seems to embody that- by focusing highly on the issues of millions of dissatisfied Americans, unhappy with the direction that the country is going in. However what this encompasses, including harsh immigration laws and increased military spending, suggests that this populism is a dangerous path for the world.

Populism is also good for politics as it is anti-establishment, bringing a fresh take on global affairs where action may be taken to solve problems, instead of the same-old policies that have stalled progress in solving the world’s issues.

Not all populist politicians base themselves on ideas of race and hatred, Bernie Sanders is a prime example of this. A blatant populist, he focuses upon the issues of voters, such as cheaper health care and college fees, which allowed him to gain millions of votes in the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate elections. This shows populism can be used as a force for good, to better society, instead of a way to excuse racist and hateful ideologies.

So, what do you think? Is Populism the beginning of the end to established politics and democracy? Is it a dangerous path for global politics, able to excuse racism and hatred? Or is it a force for good allowing more action to take place to solve the world’s issues?

Further Reading/Sources

·          Trump's Rise Proves How Dangerous Populism Is for Democracy by Evan McMullin

·         What is populism?

·         Us v Them: the birth of populism