Mara Liasson, political correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR,) reported on the Morning Edition segment that populism is a major force in this year’s Presidential campaigns, and she wanted to find out what effect it might have after the election.
In her report she featured people who feel ‘left behind.’ Her first interview was with a proud ‘Hillbilly.’ Her next interview was with Kathy Kramer, a political science professor from the University of Wisconsin. Liasson described Professor Kramer as one who has spent the last eleven years talking to Wisconsin people who “felt ignored, or dismissed by politicians, the media, the government, or big business.”
Liasson suggested through her story and her featured interviewees, that the Populism movement is not just a 2016 event, and is likely to have an impact in future elections.
Populism is not new to organized societies, and according to James Madison, is not an action that leads to a better society. In the Federalist No. 10 paper, Madison refers to populists movements as people,
…who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have tapped into the passions of many people, and at least in the case of Trump, exploited people who seek to impose their beliefs and interests on those who disagree with them. Madison continues his description of populist-type movements later in the same paper,
A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practices…have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.
Missed in Liasson’s report is that the root cause of their dissatisfaction of government and politicians, the feeling of being left behind, is a direct result of the types of leaders that voters have been electing since Ronald Reagan in 1979. The populists anger, among conservatives, seem to be a combination of electing the wrong people, inciting a belief that the caucasian male is superior, and a desire to inflict personal religious beliefs as public law. Add to the their misplaced emotions, a failure to use reason to examine the issues effectively, and we have what James Madison described 228 years ago.
We can’t fix government or politicians until we fix the people. Madison knew that, but what Madison may not have known was that the twenty-first century news media would accept populist movements as valid political thought, when it is simply public masturbation of the uneducated, immature, and egocentric mind.