It is no wonder that populism has become a dirty word for many on the political left. In light of Trump’s rise, populism has come to stand for xenophobes, zealots, and maniacs who reject compromise and pluralism.
Moderate Democrats are right to be suspicious of populism, whether embraced by Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. They may well invoke the dangers of a charismatic leader who claims to give voice to a morally pure, homogenous Volk. Indeed, Trump’s disturbing phrase “the silent majority” and insistence that “the press is the enemy of the people” recall the demagogic rhetoric of Robespierre, Stalin, and Goebbels and confirm every anti-populist prejudice.
But not all populisms are the same.
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