The Detrimental Effect of Populism

(Rough rough draft)

Whether populism should be promoted and advocated in a democratic society is a debate that has been going on for decades. As we have seen in the recent governors or presidential elections, citizens’ participation rates ostensibly declined, which was an indicator suggesting that democracy is at stake. One of the reasons that such a situation happened is that some people no longer put their faith in the government. They believe that the government is inherently corrupt and does not prioritize the people. Therefore, the question of whether populism will save democracy or potentially endanger it is brought back to the table. However, I argue that populism is the solution to countries with authoritarian regimes, but it could be detrimental to democratic societies regardless of if it is left-wing or right-wing populism.

“Populists are disruptive. They position themselves as outsiders who are radically different and separate from the existing order.” (Bryant) Populists usually do not see themselves as part of the problem but rather problem solvers. Society is fragile. It is hard to achieve societal stability since there are so many factors that could lead to its crumbling.

Populism focuses on speaking on behalf of ordinary people. (Bryant) However, with a large group of the population, people have different want and need from the society. Even though populism is achieved, there could potentially be a split between the people since there is never a perfect policy for everyone. The essence of populism is still majority over the minorities. Without the regulation of an establishment or governmental institution, the minorities will continue to be marginalized and the people who are in favored among the majority will eventually hold the power in decision-making. And these people could potentially become the new “elite” once they know how holding the power and money feels.

In Melissa De Witte’s article, political scientist Anna Grzymala-Busse proposes that the only way to save democracy from a widely supported populism ideology is to actively participate in voting. And I agree with it. Populism cannot ensure that every ordinary people’s voice can be heard and it eventually boils down to a democratic society with a lot more disturbance.



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