Category Archives: Populist Mobilization and the Election

Populist Mobilization and the Election

With the recent support garnered by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, as well as right wing populist candidates in Europe, the next Mobilizing Ideas dialogue asks contributors to use a social movements lens to analyze populist mobilization and elections. As observers have noted, the primary campaigns in the US have defied conventional logic about the political process, providing an excellent opportunity to think about how social movement theory can help us understand this latest resurgence of populism. Our contributors are encouraged to consider aspects of populism such as demagogy, the role of charisma, the role of the media, the power of collective action, and other related topics.

Many thanks to our contributors.

Noam Gidron, Harvard University  (essay)
Martin Eiermann, University of California – Berkeley (essay)
Rob Barr, University of Mary Washington (essay)


Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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Populism and the Paradox of Welfare Chauvinists

By Noam Gidron

Populism has become a defining feature of the 2016 electoral presidential campaign in the United States. Within this electoral cycle, the allure of populism on the left and the resonance of Bernie Sanders’ anti-Wall-Street rhetoric have been duly noticed by political observers. Yet probably most attention with regard to populism has been devoted to the Trump phenomenon and its potential long-term implications for the Republican Party and its base of support. Continue reading

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“In the Land of Uncle Sam”: Populism and Race in the United States

By Martin Eiermann

The easy critique of Donald Trump’s campaign – easy, because it only requires a casual vilification of the working class – places blame squarely at the feet of poor white voters. In the words of Max Weber and Joseph Schumpeter, they are too “inarticulate”, “unintelligent”, “irresponsible”, and “infantile” to determine the course of politics. Weber and Schumpeter wrote in the context of social discontent in the 1900s and fascist fervor in the 1940s, but the same argument has long been raised against populist politics more generally. According to its logic, rational governance appears to require an elite that has partially insulated itself against the whims of public opinion, and has channeled demands for accountability and legitimacy into regular elections and irregular press conferences. Continue reading

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Has Latin American Populism Spread to the US?

By Rob Barr

With a socialist and a political novice seeking the Democratic and Republican nominations, the 2016 US presidential election is one for the books. It seems to be an all-bets-are-off race with more in common with Latin American contests than prior US ones. Is the US catching the populist bug of its neighbors to the south? The answer, in a sense, is not quite. More than the manifestation of a populist wave, the race may signal deep problems in the American party system. Continue reading

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