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Essay: The Great Lie of Populism

To the people of these United States and in the interest of our republic.

The danger of populism is that its vessel must inherently claim to be the one true voice of the people which inevitably leads to opposition being seen as an enemy of the people, meaning “the people” becomes only a quasi-representation of the populace based upon prejudiced sensibilities and the “enemy of the people”, regardless of its true size, nature, or argument, becomes a marginalized group of “non-peoples” firstly used as a direction towards which to direct the anger of “the people”, secondly to blame the woes of “the people” upon, and thirdly and eventually becomes disenfranchised second citizens whose voices are silenced in order to allow the voice of “the people” to go uncontested.

The great lie of populism is that it’s beginnings are kindled by the people, it’s energies are directed towards the true will of the people, and that it leads, at last, to government for the people, when in reality it’s roots are often started by an individual or entity building upon the anxieties manifested by the people, directs the frustration of the people towards goals of their own end and contriving, and creates a government of autocracy which wields unusual power so long as the anxieties of the people remain.

Populism has been and always will be the enemy of true pluralism, and pluralism is not only necessary for the growth and contest of new untested ideas needed to provide the context upon which a free society can adapt to ever changing circumstances, but it is the societal structure upon which all the rights and freedoms we claim belong to humanity by nature and nature’s God rely so that each man and woman may choose to associate, communicate, and thrive according to the dictates of their conscience.

Too often, populism makes grand assumptions from weak consensus, claims decisive majority from vague plurality, and speaks of voicing the will of the people while being mostly preoccupied with silencing dissent.

A true revolution, as opposed to an angry mob, is signaled by a joining of the intellectual elites with the common man in solidarity to revolutionize a society towards a new direction.  This is best demonstrated by the American Revolution, where the farmer, the laborer, the merchant, and the lawyer alike pledged their sacred honor to an ideal that transcended the sensibilities of rank and class and united a nation in a single ideal.  If conservatism is to find its soul again and witness a restoration of true federalism and classical liberalism, it will be when intellectual pragmatism unites the range of conservative thought against the growing socialist tendencies of the left and we dispense with the tendency of the establishment and the rank-and-file to cannibalize upon each other in fits of rage when faced with defeat.

-The Millennial Federalist

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  1. Populism in America: ‘voicing the will of the people while being mostly preoccupied with silencing dissent’ – Sunking278

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