On populism

From a Venezuelan who learned a fair amount suffering under Hugo Chavez:

“Normal politicians collapse in the face of scandal because the scandals show them dozing on the job or falling back on their promises. To get elected, they offer a bargain: “Vote for me: I will make you richer/fight for your rights/assure your progress.” Scandals reveal they can’t do that, and thus, they tumble. However, [populists] offer a much different deal — “Vote for me: I will destroy your enemies. They are the reason you are not rich/have less rights/America is not great anymore.” … What you call scandal is only a sign that he is fighting back. Indeed: that he is fighting you. To his supporters, this is no scandal at all — he’s doing exactly what he promised he would do.
[…] This is not a call for appeasement, only for efficiency. If dwelling on scandal too much can be counterproductive, then the focus must be elsewhere. Again, I believe it should rest on understanding and empathizing with the grievances that brought Trump to power (wage stagnation, cultural isolation, a depleted countryside, the opioid crisis). Trump’s solutions may be imaginary, but the problems are very real indeed. Populism is and has always been the daughter of political despair. Showing concern is the only way to break the rhetorical polarization.” [emphasis mine]

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