Category Archives: Populism

donald trump authoritarianism

The Alpha Male of a Chimpanzee Colony

The Primal President

Donald Trump appealed to millions of Americans through sheer primal dominance.  His bluster, his unpredictable and easily inflamed temperament, his agenda driven by extreme narcissism, and his story of (white) American warriors constantly fighting in a Hobbesian world of (racial and cultural) change made him appear as an alpha male, a force with which to be reckoned.  But really, Trump’s psychological appeal that preys on those who lust for authoritarianism makes him the alpha male of the chimpanzee colony that is now the Republican Party. 

Prestige Psychology and Statesmanship

In an ideal polity, humans embrace prestige psychology, a somewhat recent evolutionary gain that has prepared our brains to respect honor those with culturally valued skills.  These skills usually contribute to a society’s well-being and are wielded for benevolence.

Prestigious individuals apply their talents not for self-aggrandizement, but to help others.  Members of society respond by elevating these individuals to positions of leadership and revere; they seek to emulate these cherished individuals and to respect the prestigious leader’s proclivity to collaborate with other experts (prestigious themselves) and act with degrees of “magnanimity, generosity, forbearance, and dignity in their leadership roles.”



Today, we would call those individuals patricians, or statesmen.  Such qualities can be attributed to some of our best presidents, including, namely, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two men whose actions created and saved the Union while furthering liberty for all.

Donald Trump, of course, shuns statesmanship and his appeal did not draw on prestige psychology.  He won because his rhetoric appealed to primal human psychology: Social dominance.



Chimpanzee Politics

To understand Donald Trump’s appeal, we have to look at chimpanzees.  Chimpanzee societies are dominated by a single top-chimp – the alpha.  He earns his position through a mix of aggression, intimidation, and threat (which will often devolve into outright violence to squash insurrections and to completely assert social dominance through physical injuries).  The alpha chimp also manages to forge coalitions of pragmatism, allying himself with other forces to maintain leadership or, once dethroned, instantly supporting the new alpha in order to keep some vestiges of power.

Humans often act in similar ways.  Affinity for social dominance hails from from our ancient history – whereas prestige psychology developed around 100,000 years ago, social dominance became engrained some 5 to 7 million years ago.  It’s this truly primal psychology that explains Trump’s appeal.

Trump’s intemperance and (mental) instability means he’s constantly at risk of exploding – he often does this while watching Fox News in the mornings or evenings.  His looming aggression and stalking during the second presidential debate show an aggressive man lusting to pounce or charge his opponent.  Early morning Twitter tirades insult opposition (often with violent undertones), vent, and relentlessly self-promote such that the uninformed are almost bullied into believing Trump’s competency.



Primal Fear

Fear, too, permeates chimpanzee politics – and Trump’s success.  Alpha chimps must instill in their potential challengers a sense of fear, a belief that any attempt to overthrow the existing regime would be futile, resulting in pain and even death.  Trump uses fear in two ways: To solidify standing among his base and to bully other Republicans into acquiescence.

Trump portrays certain minorities as rapists (Mexicans) and terrorists (Muslims) who hope to destroy the American experiment and undermine Western civilization.  By identifying entire groups – large groups, nonetheless – as existential threats to continued existence, he instils in his base a sense of fear.  They obviously want to alleviate this fear and so flock to Trump because of his harsh rhetoric towards those groups.  And, when irrationally scared, the ends always justify the means.  That’s why people supported Trump even after his announcement that he would ban Muslims from entering the country and floated shutting down Mosques and establishing a Muslim database.  Anything would be justified to make us safe.



With a solid base unwavering in their support, Trump can bully Republican lawmakers by the implicit (or explicit) threat of a primary challenge.  Politicians are cautious creatures.  They fear losing and will go to great lengths to avoid real challenges, even if it means compromising on principles (as with most Americans, politicians don’t understand statistics and thus greatly overestimate the probability of losing to a primary challenger).  Trump can threaten to endorse and campaign for a rubber-stamp challenger and his base, so the argument goes, will follow him.  To avoid that, Republican legislators, in fear of the chimpanzee base, rally behind the president.

Transactional Coalitions

This same alpha will also be willing to enter coalitions so long as they benefit himself.  He views all relationships as transactional and will end any connection once it ceases to be useful.  Hence why Donald Trump ran as a Republican despite having little in common with the party – he needed its resources.

Similarly, after spending months denigrating the RNC and his competitors, he gleefully accepted their endorsements and help; most notably, after claiming that Ted Cruz’s father had been a part of the JFK assassination, Trump accepted Cruz’s endorsement when Cruz ignored his own “vote your conscience” convention speech.  It also explains why Trump abandoned Jeff Sessions after the latter’s recusal from the Russia probe: Sessions no longer had anything to offer Trump.



Authoritarianism

Trump’s appeal, in its primacy, relied on authoritarianism.  As mentioned, Trump’s hostile rhetoric towards minorities created a good versus evil false choice in which members of the proposed in-group – (white, Christian) Americans adhering to traditional values – came into conflict with the out-group, bad people (Mexicans and Muslims) who wanted to end the American way of life.

At worst, authoritarianism results in the utter dehuminziation of the out-group.  This is how violence and genocide happen.  The out-group becomes a subhuman with no natural rights and which must, by all means, be destroyed.

As humans think about conflict with out-groups – whether naturally or at the prompting of a malicious actor – support for highly dominant, authoritarian leaders increases. 



Authoritarian Personalities among Voters

Authoritarianism defines the alpha as well as his followers.  The (right-wing) authoritarian personality – the best predictor of Trump’s electoral support – desires nationwide values that revolve around traditional norms, submission to (strong) authority figures to either embody or reinforce those norms, and virulent antipathy to those who dare challenge the existing social order.

Trump perfectly fits the needs of those with authoritarian personalities.  His extraversion (social dominance, gregariousness, reward-seeking) and low levels of agreeableness (humility, altruism, care, empathy) cultivate a strongman image seemingly dedicated to a strict and traditional social order.

With no political philosophy, Trump acts out of pure narcissism.  He wants, above all, to promote himself.  This plays into the authoritarian dynamic as those looking for salvation and safety in an authoritarian figure feel vindicated in their choice when the leader believes himself to be a savior, that his “his superior intelligence, his charismatic dominance, his single-minded devotion to a grandiose self will triumph in the end.”  That, of course, perfectly defines Trump, a man who constantly (and wrongly) brags about his intelligence.



Conclusion

Donald Trump is the primal president, a man whose support and ascent to power can best be understood by studying chimpanzee politics.  He’s an authoritarian who seized the fascination of those with authoritarian personalities and expanded that solid base through fear, intimidation, and coalitions of practicality.  His support does not come from political philosophy or long-held ideology.  It’s not because of his prestige and skills or natural statesmanship.  It’s because Donald Trump tapped the tribal dominance that we evolved millions of years ago but thought we had left behind after the Enlightenment and with the embrace of civil, democratic societies.





illiberal democracy

Ascendant Illiberalism

Illiberal democracy is on the rise

Across the globe, illiberal democracy has emerged as a potent force.  The discontents caused by the Great Recessions, coupled with other structural economic issues that exacerbate inequality while failing to lift the incomes of the middle and working classes, have left many yearning for change of any sort.  That desire has manifested itself in a resurgent populist movement, both from the left and the right.   Unfortunately, most so-called populist candidates have a decidedly authoritarian bent that challenges liberal democracy, though not democracy itself.

Liberal democracy refers to a representative democracy in which a constitution bounds the actions of lawmakers and preserves the fundamental liberties of individuals to protect any given minority from the possibly tempestuous whims of a majority coalition.  Citizens choose lawmakers in free and fair elections in which all who qualify have the equal opportunity to participate.  The system thrives of vibrant discourse and national unity largely free from identity politics and grievances.  It does not refer to a government controlled by a left-wing political party.

Illiberal democracies have the opposite values: Lawmakers rarely feel meaningfully constrained by a constitution which can be easily amended or simply ignored and that does not guarantee the rights of all residents.  Instead, minorities can see liberties abridged by the majority.  This typically happens for easily defined groups based on ethnicity, but can extend to religion, economic status, or any other discernible characteristics.  Though such polities have elections, they are not typically free and fair.  Citizens may find it difficult to vote either because of limited polling access, voter intimidation, or brute voter suppression.  At worst, elections exist for show only with the outcomes already predetermined by the in-power party (who, in most cases, acts to consolidate and preserve attained power).  It’s a system that can quickly devolve into authoritarianism.



Yet politicians who believe and embrace such illiberal principles have recently seen electoral success in western democracies (or democracies that, in recent decades, have sought to be considered western).  Turkey, Hungary, Poland, and the United States all exemplify ascendent illiberalism.

In Turkey, President Erdogan has transformed a liberal democracy into an increasingly autocratic state.  He’s done so through a variety of reforms that strip powers from the prime minister and instead place them in the president (ie, himself), a position that’s traditionally been ceremonial.  Though a national referendum supposedly endorsed these reforms, many critics have complained about electoral irregularities, claiming that Erdogan fixed or manipulated the vote to ensure the desired outcome.  The referendum itself took place under conditions of fear: In the year since the failed military coup, Erdogan has jailed some 45,000 oppositionists (and 150 journalists), purged around 130,000 from the civil service ranks, and shut down around 160 media outlets.  Erdogan supports such actions by claiming the jailed or fired individuals supported the coup and thus posed a threat to Turkey, a ridiculous lie few believe.  Together, the referendum and ongoing state of emergency point to a country partially embracing illiberalism and partially having shoved down its throat.

Hungary has seen a popular lurch towards authoritarianism, with Prime Minister Orban winning a “landslide” reelection despite his known illiberal attitudes.  Orban himself, inspired by the likes of Russia, China, and Erdogan’s Turkey, declared he will build a new, “illiberal state” in Hungary to lead the nation “in the great global race for decades to come.”  His tenure has seen “an erosion of the independence of the judiciary, the packing of courts with political loyalists, a wholesale political purge of the civil service and the chief prosecutor’s office, new election rules that advantage the governing coalition and the intimidation of the news organizations (who can be issued crippling fines for content deemed “not politically balanced” by a government-appointed panel).”  When stopped or challenged, he’s simply used a large parliamentary supermajority to amend the Constitution.  Freedom House proclaims the upcoming 2018 elections to be a critical juncture for Hungary: If Orban emerges victorious, Hungary may become the illiberal state once thought to be confined to Europe’s dark past.



Poland, too, has moved in an illiberal direction under the leadership of the far-right populist “Law and Justice” party.  The party, legitimately elected, has broken “the constitution, both in letter and in spirit,” by undermining the constitutional court, politicizing the civil service, and subverting public media.  These actions create cronyism and a government that serves the party, not the people.  Once all institutions have been coopted, they can be successfully turned against opposition, thereby creating a de facto one party state.  Luckily, Poles have not bowed down to such illiberalism.  While a large percentage of the country supports Law and Justice and its illiberal aims, a large, liberal sect of the population widely protested laws that would fundamentally overhaul the constitutional court’s composition, subserving it to the will of the ruling party.  The Polish president vetoed both bills because of the popular backlash.  More judicial reforms, however, have been promised.  Poles need to continue resisting illiberal intentions and not let Law and Justice create an illiberal state.

Lastly, America, democracy’s shining beacon, has moved in an illiberal direction with Donald Trump’s election.  Trump campaigned on a variety of illiberal themes and identity politics that relied on vilifying an ever amorphous “other” — in his case, illegal immigrants and Muslims comprise that villain/enemy group.  He’s attacked the judiciary and questioned its legitimacy.  His belief in US intelligence agencies remains doubtful.  He fired James Comey because of the Russia investigation and has sought other methods to curtail its scope and authority, even threatening to fire special investigator Robert Mueller.  Trump’s routinely attacked the press and even labelled them “enemies of the American people.”  Many of his campaign positions would violate the constitutional rights of minorities.  And yet he retains the support of almost the entire Republican congressional caucus and most Republicans in the nation.  His clearly illiberal bent should worry Americans, but thankfully, unlike in Turkey, Hungary, and Poland, our institutions have thus far been resilient to Trump’s illiberalism.



Illiberalism is ascendent.  The above cases only mention the most obvious — other examples of illiberalism include UKIP’s influences in Britain, Alternates for Deutschland in Germany, and the National Front in France.  Across the western world, these populist movements manifest themselves in illiberal forces that all traverse the road to authoritarianism.  We must resist these populist temptations and instead stay committed to the long-standing liberal values that promote and defend our natural liberties.

Voters Refusing Expertise

the death of expertise review

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Voter Refusing to Trust Experts Leads to Demagoguery

Tom Nichols’ new book, “The Death of Expertise,” comes at an important point in America’s political development.  62 million citizens cast a ballot for Donald J. Trump, whose entire campaign built on the idea that experts – whether in the “political establishment,” media, or academia – ignored the wants of common Americans and instead pushed some sinister, self-serving agenda.  Decry it though we might, for many, the death of expertise has set in.  To them, experts should not and will not be trusted.

That creates many problems for a democracy, chief among them the electorate’s susceptibility to (often extremist) demagogic appeals.  Voters wary of experts tend to be uninformed by virtue of doubting or entirely avoiding the analysis of experts.  Long-form journalism, the professor on CNN, knowledgeable elected officials cannot reach the voters who instead dwell in sources of alternate information that, at best, misinforms through low-quality output or, at worst, deliberately misleads those inclined towards non-mainstream views.

death of expertise review
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Such voters, as Nichols points out, fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect in which they are overly confident about their abilities to understand complicated policy.  Thus when an ignorant candidate enters the race and espouses overly simplistic (and often entirely wrong) policy viewpoints, Dunning-Kruger voters embrace him or her whereas more sophisticated voters – those who still trust experts – shy away.

Nichols writes that

 

Americans have increasingly unrealistic expectations of what their political and economic system can provide. This sense of entitlement is one reason they are continually angry at ‘experts’ and especially at ‘elitists’…When told that ending poverty or preventing terrorism is a lot harder than it looks, Americans roll their eyes. Unable to comprehend all of the complexity around them, they choose instead to comprehend almost none of it and then sullenly blame experts, politicians and bureaucrats for seizing control of their lives.

The demagogue, whether through true ignorance or a unique ability to manipulate people, recognizes this outlook and tailors a campaign around it.  To pay obsequious court to the people, the demagogue often condescends to simplicity, using rhetorical appeals such as “I alone can fix” or “How stupid must [they] be to not solve these easy problems?” or otherwise boiling down complex issues into few-word soundbites that may energize the ignorant, but offer no solutions.

Donald Trump perfectly exemplifies this.  He is truly ignorant, but his ignorance connects with a relatively large portion of the population that, like Trump himself, disdains experts and expects simple answers to all political questions.  While other elements played into Trump’s ascension – racial anxieties and underlying sexism, to name a couple – his ability to connect over ignorance furthered his perceived populism and helped forge a lasting connection with millions of voters.

This problem lies in large part with the voters, an argument from which Nichols does not shy.  He contends that such disdain for experts and its accompanying willingness to make one’s nest with an ignoramus simply because (s)he speaks a similar langue “is a self-righteousness and fury to this new rejection of expertise that suggest, at least to me, that this isn’t just mistrust or questioning or the pursuit of alternatives: it is narcissism, coupled to a disdain for expertise as some sort of exercise in self-actualization.”

Voters must recognize the consequences of willful ignorance and see how it can hurt democracy.  Only by accepting experts and the lessons they can teach – and only by experts maintaining their credibility and legitimacy – can a democratic political society resist demagoguery and adhere to its liberal founding principles.

the death of expertise tom nichols review
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kid rock for senate

The Insanity of Supporting Kid Rock for Senate

Our History Demands Better than Kid Rock for Senate

Believing that the Kid Rock for Senate shadow campaign should be successful – believing that Kid Rock has a place in the Senate – shows nothing but contempt for the Founding Fathers.  Those who created the Senate envisioned a prestigious chamber dominated by political and social elites – those versed in policy, eloquent in speech, and able to create a deliberative chamber removed from the tempests of public will.  The Senate would inspire awe; the country’s finest would fill its ranks and act as true patricians debating on behalf of the states and the country, controlling foreign policy, checking the easily-swayed House of Representatives, and preventing the president from acquiring undue power.

For a while, the senators fulfilled that vision.  Foreign observers such as Alexis de Tocqueville idolized and heralded the American Senate.  Citizens, too, had the utmost admiration for the body.  Visitors often filled the galleys for speeches by renowned oratorsschoolchildren later memorized these very speeches.  Ideas and compromises flowed as great statesmen rose from their desks and embraced the dreams of the Founders.

The Senate has since fallen from its glory.  Corrupt actors have mangled the Senate’s image through demagoguery, process destruction, and using the Senate as a post-Reconstruction and Civil Rights Era tool to maintain systemic white supremacy, especially in the South.  These disgraces, though largely a thing of the past, tarnished the chamber’s image, and rightfully so.



Today’s senators have done little to restore the body to its former glory.  Senators act as puppets of their president.  Voters, too, bear a lion’s share of the blame: They fail to treat the Senate with the seriousness it deserves, which leads to the election of eggheads and process destruction (Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has abused the Senate’s long-standing process during his tenure and has faced no backlash from those charged with holding him accountable).

Voters fail to understand the purpose of the Senate (and, for that matter, the presidency).  Political incursions by know-nothing hobbyists have devalued elected offices and encouraged voters to treat elections as sports and games, not serious matters with long-lasting repercussions (see: Donald Trump’s election).  Such hobbyism among those seeking prestige, power, and profit should be restrained by voters, but instead voters, not taking the Senate seriously, flirt with ludicrous candidates.

Michigan voters exemplify just that.  Kid Rock, profane and ungifted musician who knows nothing about politics, let alone public policy – a hobbyist looking for money whose political ramblings should never be taken seriously – has teased a possible Senate run and already voters have rallied behind the blowhard.  A Trafalgar Group poll found him leading a hypothetical matchup with incumbent Debbie Stabeow by 3 points (49-46).  Kid Rock has no campaign, no discernible policies, and no reason to run for office.  He’s the antithesis of our Founders’ vision for the Senate.



So why do people lust for the idea of Senator Rock?  Because in their delusions of populist supremacy – in the grips of the death of expertise – voters think perceived elites should be scorned while ignorant fools (that is, people who sound like the average voter) supported and touted as the American political ideal.  But that’s idiotic.  We have elites for a reason.  Politics is not easy – nor should it be.  Our country needs public servants committed to the Constitution, to fighting for their constituents and the country as a whole, and to serving selflessly.  We need senators that fit the elitist chamber purposefully created by the Founding Fathers.

Republican officeholders and party leaders must also be ravaged for their role in promoting pathetic political hobbyism and degrading our once-valued and estimable institutions.  Worthless Vichy Republicans fell in line behind Donald Trump, a true demagogue, bigot, and obvious threat to liberal democracy and our existing democratic institutions.  That didn’t stop them.  Rick Perry, who called Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” now serves in Trump’s cabinet.



This trend continues with Kid Rock.  Texas governor and human abomination Greg Abbott loves the idea of “shaking up Washington” by electing Kid Rock.  Former New York governor and brief presidential afterthought George E. Pataki also endorsed Kid Rock for Senate.  Pataki’s support makes no sense considering he has no future in electoral politics.  In other words, he has nothing to gain by supporting Rock; without ulterior motive, it may simply be concluded that Pataki, too, has failed to study our founding.

Anyone who’s studied our history and cares about our institutions would be embarrassed to support Kid Rock for Senate.  And yet here we are, awaiting the decision of a fool, one that could see a further tragic American political development and a new low point in the Senate’s fall from grace.

left-wing populism

Left-Wing Populism and Liberal Democracy

Populism is Dangerous

Populism is a force antithetical to liberal democracy, if not democracy itself.  Liberal democracy tempers pure, majoritarian democracy by introducing a written set of rules (a constitution), separation of powers and resultant checks and balances, and, most importantly, by protecting fundamental rights for all people (especially minorities).

Regardless of immutable characteristic – that is, race, creed, national origin, sex, gender, religion, etc – all individuals within the polity have fundamental rights, namely those of life, liberty, and the pursuit of property.  Populism’s appeal attacks this fundamental tenet of a liberal society.

Populism’s Origins

Populism generally emerges after economic shocks or during prolonged economic malaise.  Following the first event, voters naturally rebel against the status quo and search for an answer, no matter how outlandish or irrational, to calamitous events outside of their control.  During periods of economic stagnation in which voters may find economics stalling and inequality rising, populism gains traction by promising to revitalize or overhaul a system not necessarily broken.  This speaks to human nature: Restlessness and a desire to change even what’s working.

Left-Wing Populism

Left-wing populism emerges when voters perceive financial elites and society’s wealthiest as wholly responsible for an economic calamity and see that class as unduly benefitting from an economic recovery (made worse when incomes, by and large, stagnate).  Though same may doubt whether left-wing populism can actually threaten liberal democratic values, its discontents should be obvious: A temporary majority designs policies that directly target a minority class (in this case, the wealthy), often in hopes of stripping them of their property.



Financial elites and the capital-hoarding upper-strata owns the government and entirely rigs the economic system to ensure capital-holders benefit while laborers slave away for mere dollars and bear the brunt of the burden when the economy crashes.  Therefore, the left-wing populist argues, policies must be crafted to tax or take away the wealthy’s property.  They must be vilified and have income and perhaps even assets seized and then redistributed to society’s workers, in a just and equitable manner as defined by a central authority (one that nationalizes and so owns the means of production).

It promises fairness as supposedly defined by the masses (though how the masses decide what constitutes a fair distribution of collective goods remains an unsolved question, even in the most radical of proposals and ideologues).  What better way to guarantee fairness for all than by seizing the excess of those whose greed has condemned so many to poverty?

Dangerously, such rhetoric and ideas appeal to many because a vast majority stand to benefit whereas a select few suffer.  A large majority may find vindication for actions that target a specific minority because the majority itself is so large and the cause so normatively pure.  But such efforts violate a central idea of liberal democracy: Property rights.  Liberal democracies ensure that the government cannot wantonly seize assets regardless of majority whims.  Property itself drives the economy – without property (ie, money, goods, etc), individuals would not be driven to work and innovate and so the state itself would collect no tax revenues, no goods would be produced, and the standard of living would fall dramatically.  Furthermore, it creates a precedent in which any majority coalition can seize the property of a detested minority, whether an economic minority or a racial or religious one.  Liberal democracy falls to individuals’ lust for revenge.



[See how right-wing populism attacks liberal democracy.]

right-wing populism

Right-Wing Populism and Liberal Democracy

Populism is Dangerous

Populism is a force antithetical to liberal democracy, if not democracy itself.  Liberal democracy tempers pure, majoritarian democracy by introducing a written set of rules (a constitution), separation of powers and resultant checks and balances, and, most importantly, by protecting fundamental rights for all people (especially minorities).

Regardless of immutable characteristic – that is, race, creed, national origin, sex, gender, religion, etc – all individuals within the polity have fundamental rights, namely those of life, liberty, and the pursuit of property.  Populism’s appeal attacks this fundamental tenet of a liberal society.

Populism’s Origins

Populism generally emerges after economic shocks or during prolonged economic malaise.  Following the first event, voters naturally rebel against the status quo and search for an answer, no matter how outlandish or irrational, to calamitous events outside of their control.  During periods of economic stagnation in which voters may find economics stalling and inequality rising, populism gains traction by promising to revitalize or overhaul a system not necessarily broken.  This speaks to human nature: Restlessness and a desire to change even what’s working.

Right-Wing Populism

Right-wing populism most obviously attacks and undermines liberal values: It appeals to voters by vilifying minority racial and religious populations.  Minorities cause economic catastrophes, so right-wing populists claim.  Immigrants lower wages and dilute the true population with inferior genes, morals, and values.  They draw undue funds from the government and contribute little to the nation’s culture; it amounts of an invasion of a state’s sovereignty.  Moreover, immigrants, especially those of different religions, threaten law and order by illegally entering the country, sympathizing with terrorists, and working to undermine the nation from within.



The vilification, then, arises from a mixture of contrived rationality as well as typical demagogic rhetoric that centers around xenophobia and the inherent inferiority of those different from the nation’s native stock.  Only by dramatically curtailing immigration, doubling down on law and order, and enacting reforms that limit religious practice to prevent extremists from meeting and planning terrorist attacks can the nation be salvaged.

Or so the right-wing populist argues with rhetoric that establishes a national “golden age” to which current conditions can be compared.  This golden age, often contrived, benefits from memory’s ability to ignore the bad and focus solely on the good – the golden age becomes a period of full employment, accepted national morals, low crime, and no threat from terrorism.  It contrasts perfectly with a threatening world in which low-skill jobs become increasingly sparse and terror attacks, though rare, dominate news coverage and the fears of millions.

This naturally appeals to many.  It takes agency away from voters and the existing system.  One person’s unemployment isn’t due to mismatched skills or any fault of his own; rather, it’s due to an outside force who undercuts wages while also failing to assimilate with the existing culture.  Fear motivates voters.  They come to believe carnage dominates society, whether from crime or terrorism.  And so vilifying immigrants and religious minorities becomes the means by which the country can be salvaged (and united in a front against assaults on sovereignty and national values) and returned to its golden age.



But obviously this is at odds with existing liberal values.  Minorities lose rights under such populist administrations.  Liberal democracy is the problem because it protects enemies of the state.  Its pillars must be struck down to allow the native majority to govern and protect the nation, often by whatever means necessary.  In the end, such democracy really is rule by the mob.  A fleeting majority riled by emotions and stirred to passion through hateful rhetoric leads to rights for some and tyranny for all.

[See how left-wing populism attacks liberal democracy.]