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Anti-PluralismThe Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy$
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William A. Galston

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300228922

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300228922.001.0001

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The Populist Challenge

The Populist Challenge

(p.33) Three The Populist Challenge

William A. Galston

Yale University Press

This chapter looks at how the politics of blame provides fertile ground for demagogues who know how to play on people's hopes and fears. Their message is typically some form of populism: the people are virtuous; the elites are corrupt; the subtleties of experts should be set aside and ordinary citizens' common sense should be relied upon. Demagogues frequently begin by working within the political system, but all too often they and their followers come to regard democratic institutions as part of the problem. When times are hard, different social and economic groups in modern polities struggle with one another, each striving to minimize its losses. Elected governments mirror these divisions, making it hard for them to act effectively. Temporizing and dithering further stoke public discontent.

Keywords:   populism, demagogues, politics of blame, extremism, nationalism

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