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Category Archives: Populism

Antitrust Populism and the Consumer Welfare Standard: What Are We Actually Debating? – JD Supra

Posted: January 1, 2021 at 9:59 am

For the last several years, debate over the proper role of antitrust has not been limited to academics, economists, lawyers, and judges, but routinely includes politicians, journalists, and increasingly the general public. Critics of modern antitrust enforcement are raising concerns about increasing concentrations of economic power, especially in high-profile sectors such as internet search, social networking, and e-commerce. Some refer to these critics as antitrust populists, and label a growing group of such critics the New Brandeis School.

Many antitrust populists question whether the consumer welfare standard, with its focus on prices, output, and product quality, is capable of addressing harmful concentrations of economic power in the modern economy. Others argue that antitrust has a broader role to play in U.S. society; rather than focusing, as it now does, on anticompetitive conduct, these populists argue that antitrust should address a broad range of social ills, including wealth and income inequality, the influence of money in American politics, the erosion of privacy, and systemic threats posed by firms that are too big to fail. Some proposals would address these social ills by having antitrust enforcement agencies and courts directly consider them when reviewing conduct. But most proposals would use antitrust enforcement to attack these problems indirectly, through policies that their proponents argue would more aggressively promote open markets and competition.

Originally published in Antitrust Law Journal - December 2020.

Please see full Article below for more information.

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Bradford Kane’s Book, Pitchfork Populism, Identifies the Roots of Trump’s Turmoil – PRNewswire

Posted: at 9:59 am

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --As Donald Trump's erratic behavior intensifies evidenced by a deluge of anti-democratic, authoritarian, dystopian, malicious actions and statements many observers struggle to grasp his objectives. Some are perplexed by his affinity for self-defeating and humiliating conduct. Others seek a rational or strategic purpose. Many resort to generalized explanations, such as his mental instability, his inability to accept that he lost the election, or his self-created alternate reality based on alternative facts (a.k.a., lies).

Yet, there are more specific explanations, rooted in Trump's psychological impairments. As Bradford Kane wrote in Pitchfork Populism: Ten Political Forces That Shaped an Election and Continue to Change America, Trump "inundates every American with insight into his character, motivations, objectives, needs, and temperament. He chose to rip away the veneer and expose his impulses. Rather than hide his psychological fabric, he has placed it in the public record." As the author details on pages 99-100 of the book, the five principal drivers of Trump's behavior are (summarily stated):

Trump's motives are among the many aspects of his and his administration's conduct that Kane exposed in Pitchfork Populism. The author's analysis and answers written when others were perplexed, confused or confounded have gained broad acceptance. Kane assessed a vast array of Trump's domestic and foreign policies, legislative efforts, executive orders, and public statements, identifying the forces that spawned Trump's pattern of malevolence, ignorance, incompetence, corruption, and cruelty. In the waning days of the Trump administration, rather than abating, these flaws are multiplying.

Fortunately, however, the political forces discussed in Pitchfork Populism that enabled the degradation of our political climate over the past four years can be harnessed to catalyze constructive, unifying progress. Under President-elect Joe Biden's leadership, these forces can be leveraged for a return to policy and actions based on long-held, widely-cherished American values, Constitutional principles, and norms of democracy that serve both parties' interests. The Biden-Harris administration's focus on unity, empathy, justice, and equity will elevate the prospect of bipartisan collaboration to aid, support, and benefit all Americans. The incoming administration's rational, stable, and fair approach to governing will reassert the best of our national character, and reclaim our global stature and leadership. While the outcome of Georgia's senate races will impact the extent of bipartisanship, most Republicans will value Biden's approach, recognizing it as an opportunity for meaningful, responsible progress on many issues.

Bradford Kane presents acute insights into the forces that led to the present situation, and assesses the path forward in the coming years for the country and world.

To schedule an interview with Brad Kane, or request a hardcover or eBook review copy, please contact:Mike Dougherty, Dougherty and Associates828-622-3285; [emailprotected]

SOURCE Bradford Kane

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View from the EU: Britain ‘taken over by gamblers, liars, clowns and their cheerleaders’ – The Guardian

Posted: at 9:59 am

Britain faces an uncertain future as it finally pulls clear of the EUs orbit, continental commentators have predicted, its reputation for pragmatism and probity shredded by a Brexit process most see as profoundly populist and dangerously dishonest.

For us, the UK has always been seen as like-minded: economically progressive, politically stable, respect for the rule of law a beacon of western liberal democracy, said Rem Korteweg, of the Clingendael Institute thinktank in the Netherlands.

Im afraid thats been seriously hit by the past four years. The Dutch have seen a country in a deep identity crisis; its been like watching a close friend go through a really, really difficult time. Brexit is an exercise in emotion, not rationality; in choosing your own facts. And its not clear how it will end.

Britains long-polished pragmatic image had been seriously tarnished, agreed Nicolai von Ondarza, of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. But trust in the UK, too, had taken a heavy battering on the Brexit rollercoaster.

Thats particularly been the case over the past year, Von Ondarza said. Boris Johnson has always been seen as a bit of a gambler, displaying a certain flexibility with the truth. But observing him him as prime minister has only made that worse.

Germans tended to view international politics very much through the prism of international law, Von Ondarza said, so Johnsons willingness to ignore it in the form, particularly, of the internal market bill was deeply shocking.

The idea that youd willingly violate an international treaty that youd negotiated and signed barely eight months previously Thats just not something you do among allies, he said. That whole episode really damaged Britains credibility.

Others were more brutal still. In Der Spiegel, Nikolaus Blome said there was absolutely nothing good about Brexit which would never have happened had Conservative politicians not, to a quite unprecedented degree, deceived and lied to their people.

Much of the British media, Blome said, were complicit, constantly trampling on fairness and facts, leaving Britain captured by gambling liars, frivolous clowns and their paid cheerleaders. They have destroyed my Europe, to which the UK belonged as much as France or Germany.

But Johnsons lies were the biggest of all, he said: Take back control, Johnson lied to his citizens. But all the British government will finally have achieved is to have taken back control of a little shovel and a little sand castle.

The sovereignty in whose name Brexit was done remained, essentially, a myth, said Jean-Dominique Giuliani, of the Robert Schuman Foundation in France. It is history, geography, culture, language and traditions that make up the identity of a people, Giuliani said, not their political organisation.

It is wrong to believe peoples and states can permanently free themselves from each other, or take decisions without considering the consequences for their citizens and partners. Take back control is a nationalist, populist slogan that ignores the reality of an interdependent world Our maritime neighbour will be much weakened.

The German historian Helene von Bismarck doubted Brexit would end what she described as a very British brand of populism. British populism is a political method, not an ideology, and it does not become redundant with Brexit, she said.

Von Bismarck identified two key elements in this method: an emotionalisation and over-simplification of highly complex issues, such as Brexit, the Covid pandemic or migration, and a reliance on bogeymen or enemies at home and abroad.

Populists depend on enemies, real or imagined, to legitimise their actions and deflect from their own shortcomings, she said. If the EU has been the enemy abroad since 2016, it will steadily be replaced by enemies within: MPs, civil servants, judges, lawyers, experts, the BBC.

Individuals and institutions who dare to limit the power of the executive, even if it is just by asking questions, are at constant risk of being denounced as activists by the Johnson government, Von Bismarck said. Everyone has political motives except for the government, which seeks to define neutrality.

Brexit itself is being framed as the grand departure, the moment the UK is finally free and sovereign, when all problems can be solved with common sense and optimism justifying a more pragmatic approach to rules, constitutional conventions and institutions that actually amounts to a worrying disregard for the rule of law.

British populism would continue, she said, especially when the real, hard consequences of the pandemic and Brexit started to bite.

It is naive to expect a political style which ridicules complexity, presents people with bogeymen to despise, and prides itself on doing what it necessary even if elites and institutions get in the way, to lose its appeal in times of hardship, she said.

Elvire Fabry, of Frances Institut Jacques Delors, said the past four years had shown Europeans and Britons just how little we really knew each other. They had also revealed, she said, the fragility of a parliamentary system seen by many on the continent as a point of reference.

Its been difficult for us to anticipate, at times even to interpret, whats happened in the UK, Fabry said. The direction Johnson has taken the Conservative party in we didnt see that coming. The course hes setting for the country. The polarisation. And the way MPs have been bypassed since he became prime minister .

Most striking of all, she said, was how the politics prevailing in Britain had become detached from geopolitical reality from the way the world is developing. Its a political vision turned towards yesterdays world. Ideological. The way the trade deal focused on goods at the expense of services Its not the way the worlds going.

Painful as the Brexit process may have been for Europeans, however, it had at least demonstrated the reality and value of the single market, its rules and norms, and of the EUs basis in law, Fabry said. Those are at the heart of the European identity and defending them has given the union a new political maturity.

It had also, concluded Korteweg, served as a warning. I think its taught us all just how vulnerable our political processes are, he said. Just eight years ago, leaving the EU was a seriously fringe proposition in British politics, and now look where you are. So weve seen how fragile it all is, what weve built and how worth defending.

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Trump fails to redraw politics’ battle lines – The Week

Posted: at 9:59 am

Now that Donald Trump has signed the COVID-19 relief bill, resolving the crisis he instigated by denouncing it as a "disgrace" and insisting it be expanded to include much larger payouts to individuals, it's possible to assess just how the battle lines of partisan combat in Washington have shifted since the waning days of the Obama administration.

The answer is: hardly at all.

Ever since Trump defied expectations in 2016 by winning his party's nomination with a highly unorthodox message, a wide range of prognosticators, along with some of the party's elected officials, have suggested that the Republican future involves transforming the GOP into a "workers party." Such a party would mix standard Republican positions on taxes, judges, and abortion with defenses of key aspects of the welfare state that benefit the working class, including increased access to affordable medical care.

In sum: The entrepreneurial party of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, which sought to "reform entitlements" (read: gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), would be replaced by a party that actively seeks to offer a helping hand to struggling American workers.

Trump's instincts do seem to point in precisely this direction. But he has proven to be such an atrocious negotiator, so incurious about the details of public policy, and so incapable of learning how to use the levers of power in Washington (beyond tweet-based rabblerousing) that he's accomplished less than nothing during the four years of his presidency. Instead of dragging his party to embrace an agenda less skewed toward the rich, he has ended up revealing that those who favor a more worker-friendly approach are vastly outnumbered and incredibly weak in the GOP.

That's unfortunate for Republicans and for the country as a whole.

America's two major parties are locked in a struggle over which of them will come to be seen as the party of the working class. In this battle, Democrats have a number of advantages rooted in their history going back nearly a century to the New Deal. But over the past decade or so, the party has drifted away from that legacy, doing better and better among those who live in economically flourishing cities and inner-ring suburbs, and shifting sharply to the left on cultural issues (race, gender, crime, and immigration).

These trends have alienated voters in exurban and rural areas (especially in the post-industrial Midwest). That has created an opening for Republicans to make inroads with an economically populist and culturally conservative message. That, in a nutshell, is Trumpism and it is potentially very potent at the ballot box. If Trump had taken a strong stand over the summer that the next COVID relief bill needed to include $2,000 checks for every American, and if he had repeated that line through the fall and combined it with his attacks on crime, urban unrest, and the threat of "socialism," he likely would have prevailed in the election.

Instead, the president said very little about the economy (beyond bragging about its pre-pandemic greatness) and next to nothing about the relief bill wending its way through Congress. That allowed Joe Biden to portray himself and his party as defenders of working people. When that familiar Democratic stance was combined with the Biden campaign's deft refusal to be baited into offering defenses of the culturally toxic behavior of rioters or endorsements for politically asinine slogans ("Defund the Police"), the result was a winning message.

Trump's last-minute acting out about the relief bill confirmed that his political instincts remain sound, even as he continues to be incapable of acting on them in a politically productive way. That's not only because of Trump's personal ineptitude. It's also a function of the ideological alignment of the parties, which hasn't changed much at all in the past four years. It was Nancy Pelosi, the head of the Democratic Party in the House, who jumped at the prospect of increasing the size of relief checks from $600 to $2,000 and Republicans in the same chamber who rejected it. Which is exactly what would have happened in 2014, 2004, 1994, or 1984.

Four years after Trump seized control of the GOP, Republicans are happy to playact cultural populism, lashing out against the "woke left" in order to burnish the party's working-class bona fides. But economic populism remains a bridge too far.

Which means, once again, that Washington's battle lines have moved very little over the past four years.

From here on out, the most sensible path forward for both parties is clear. Democrats will continue to portray themselves as a party of working people on economic issues and keep trying to placate the cultural left while also working to steer clear of its most extreme excesses. Republicans, meanwhile, will keep attacking the cultural left and using that red meat to portray themselves as aligned with ordinary Americans while also favoring economic policies that primarily benefit the wealthy and often leave working-class communities in ruins.

The details may have shifted somewhat through the decades, but the general shape of things has changed very little since the Obama administration and even since the Reagan administration. Trumpism pointed, haltingly, at another possibility. But as its namesake prepares to leave office in a spasm of election-fraud conspiracism and impotent acting out against his own party's plutocratic priorities, the much-discussed re-alignment of the parties appears to be stillborn, with the entrenched positions of both parties as fixed as ever.

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Trump fails to redraw politics' battle lines - The Week

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With the worst possible PM at the worst possible time, Britain’s got no chance of a happy new year – Sydney Morning Herald

Posted: at 9:59 am

Back in the mid-90s, when Tony Blair and I were picking Paul Keatings considerable political brain ahead of the 1997 election campaign, among the many wise, colourful observations made by the then Australian prime minister was his view that "you cant polish a turd". Boris Johnson seems determined to prove him wrong.

Johnson and his team had two big challenges in 2020. One, Brexit, was "planned" in that he led and won the European Union referendum campaign in 2016, helped knock out two prime ministers to get the job himself, and then won a good majority on the promise to "get Brexit done".

The second, COVID-19, was anything but planned, and I do not blame the government that it has come to dominate our lives. But I do blame it for the absolute mess it has made of both challenges,

Illustration: Simon LetchCredit:

and the damage done to lives, livelihoods and national reputation as a result. The thread that links them is a Prime Minister who prefers slogans to facts, promises of good times ahead to dealing with bad times now, cheery optimism to hard-headed analysis; who speaks of the world as he wants it to be, not as it is. That is Trumpian populism, and what is happening to our country now, on Brexit and on COVID-19, is what right-wing populism, and populists like Johnson, do.

His turd-polishing on COVID-19, presenting one of the worlds worst death rates and worst recessionary impacts as some great triumph, helped set him up for a huge turd-polishing operation on the Brexit deal, helped by the opposition announcing it would support the deal before it had seen it (provoking a rebellion not among Johnsons ranks but Labour leader Keir Starmers), the limit of a single day of parliamentary scrutiny for a 1246-page document covering huge swathes of our lives, and by several national newspapers which would not look out of place on North Korean news-stands, covering the Great Triumphs of Kim Il-bojo.

At every stage of the COVID-19 process from his boasting of shaking hands in hospitals, giving the go-ahead to huge sporting events like the Cheltenham races, telling us COVID-19 would be gone in 12 weeks, then back to normal by the northern summer, telling the world one country had to stand up against the virus without shutting down, and let it be us, telling us we would be free to meet and mingle, and travel countrywide for Christmas he has told us what he wants to believe, and what he thinks we want to hear.

And then, as happened again over Christmas, when a surge in new cases put paid to his plans for "five days of freedom", he has been brought crashing down to earth by those awful old things called facts.

Both as journalist and politician, Johnson has never much bothered with facts. Theyre inconvenient. They get in the way of the fun. The game. Which to Johnson is what politics has always been about. As a journalist, making up stories about "Brussels" banning bent bananas, insisting on one-size-fits-all condoms (based on Italian penis length) and, more seriously, being hellbent on building an EU super-state. As a politician, being the populist jester.


Ill give him this: he is good at snappy slogans, whether "take back control" from the referendum, "oven-ready deal" (sic), from the 2019 election, "well send the virus packing"(which he has spectacularly failed to do) or "levelling up", his fraudulent claim that Brexit is about helping communities left behind, not rewarding the low-tax, low-regulation offshore philosophy favoured by those whose financial and political support made it happen.

He and his supporters are banging out the post-deal slogans now. Not just the best Christmas present, but "Blast-off Britain". When even by their own assessment this deal will take 4 per cent from the value of our economy, and when tariff-free, quota-free trade arrangements will depend on us not diverging too rapidly, or risk losing even more trade, and creating more bureaucracy, Blast-off Britain, even by his standards, seems over optimistic in the extreme.

As a Trumpian populist, he is great at slogans, terrible at governing; the worst possible Prime Minister, at the worst possible time, with a cabinet, every member appointed purely on the basis of loyalty to him and to Brexit, surely the least able collection of ministers the country has ever had.

The Americans, thank God, have got rid of their populist leader, and corrected their error of 2016. We now have to live with Johnson for some time yet, and the 2016 error for a whole lot longer. Happy New Year? No chance.

Alastair Campbell is a British journalist and political aide. He was former prime minister Tony Blairs spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy.

Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Heralds newsletter here, The Ages here, Brisbane Times here, and WAtodays here.

Alastair Campbell is a British journalist and political aide. He was former prime minister Tony Blairs spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy.

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With the worst possible PM at the worst possible time, Britain's got no chance of a happy new year - Sydney Morning Herald

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Will The Debate Over $2,000 Stimulus Checks Help Democrats In Georgia? – FiveThirtyEight

Posted: at 9:59 am

Congressional Democrats are pushing to give most Americans $2,000 stimulus checks, arguing that this is a fast and direct way to help millions of Americans as they struggle with the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump supports $2,000 payments, too, but most congressional Republicans dont. Because of that congressional GOP opposition, the $2,000 checks arent likely to become law. But Democrats think they have a winning issue electorally ahead of next weeks U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia.

Public opinion does appear to be on Democrats side. Seventy-eight percent of Americans said they supported these $2,000 stimulus checks, compared to 17 percent who opposed them, according to a poll conducted Dec. 22-28 by the left-leaning Data for Progress. Similarly, a survey conducted by Business Insider and Survey Monkey on Dec. 21 found that 62 percent of Americans said that the $600 stimulus checks adopted in a recent bill is not enough; 76 percent said the payments should be more than $1,000.

[Why A Split Verdict In Georgia Isnt That Crazy]

So Democrats are pushing the issue hard. Georgia Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have strongly embraced the $2,000 payment plan. Their Republican opponents, Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, are also suggesting that they support the payments. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is creating procedural roadblocks to stop the $2,000 payments from passing the Senate, giving Ossoff and Warnock the opportunity to suggest that Loeffler and Perdue are impediments to the payments, since they back McConnell continuing as majority leader.

So this all seems good for the Democrats, right? Well, maybe. Democrats are pushing a popular idea right before what look like very-close elections, and the Republican Party is blocking it. The issue could well help Warnock and Ossoff in Georgia next week. But we shouldnt be so sure, for a few reasons

First, its not clear that voters care that much about policy when deciding who to vote for.

The most reliable predictor of how Americans will vote is partisanship: Republican-leaning voters back Republican candidates, and Democratic-leaning voters back Democratic candidates. Those partisan labels and identities, of course, contain ideological and policy overtones: The Republican Party, rhetorically at least, is warier of big, broad-based spending programs than the Democratic Party. But those overtones dont seem to drive vote choice. There are plenty of examples of a party pushing unpopular ideas without its voters switching to the other party. For instance, the GOP agenda in 2017 and 2018, trying to repeal Obamacare and cut taxes for corporations, was fairly unpopular with Republican voters, but those voters still overwhelmingly backed GOP candidates in the 2018 midterms.

The Data for Progress polling suggests that 73 percent of Republicans nationally support the $2,000 payments, including 52 percent who strongly support them. Based on those numbers, its almost certainly the case that a majority of Republicans in Georgia support the payments. Indeed, a DFP poll of Georgia likely voters conducted Nov. 15-20 found that 63 percent of voters in the state said that they would be more likely to support a candidate who favored a $1,200 payment to most Americans as part of a COVID-19 relief package. That 63 percent number also suggests these payments are broadly popular and getting some backing from rank-and-file GOP voters.

But its very unlikely that many Republicans will back the Democratic candidates in Georgia because of this issue. Yes, both elections appear to be close, so even a small shift in voting preferences matters. But in such a close election, if either Ossoff and Warnock narrowly win, I would be hesitant to ascribe that victory to Democrats support of this stimulus payment and McConnells opposition, as opposed to factors like Democrats strong get-out-the-vote operations in the state, the weaknesses of Loeffler and Perdue as candidates and the growing liberalism of Georgia.

[Related: Why Georgia Isnt Like The Other Battleground States]

What about swing voters/independents and other people who arent necessarily tied to one of the two parties? Well, the evidence suggests that these kinds of voters dont necessarily have well-defined policy preferences and also dont pay that much attention to politics. So perhaps this stimulus debate convinces them that Republicans in Washington need to be dethroned. Alternatively, perhaps these voters arent as tuned into this stimulus debate as much as, say, Loefflers ads casting Warnock as a radical or Warnocks ads portraying himself as a nice dog owner.

Second, voters may like Democratic economic ideas more than Democrats themselves.

Over the last several years, ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage and to expand Medicaid have passed in conservative-leaning states where GOP state legislators and governors had blocked similar policies. But Republicans are still winning elections in these areas. This happened in Florida this year. A proposal to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 passed in the Sunshine State, with 61 percent of voters embracing it. But Joe Biden, who strongly supports a $15 minimum wage, won only 48 percent of the vote in Florida, compared to 51 percent for Trump, who has been more circumspect about minimum wage increases.

These voting patterns are another illustration that partisanship overrides or is simply independent from voters policy preferences, but there are other potential reasons for this disconnect. Voters may support certain economically populist ideas but may be wary of too much economic populism if they elect a Democratic candidate. Some voters may support Democrats economic populism but not back the party because it is too progressive on issues like abortion rights or policing. For example, in the 2016 election, Lee Drutman, a scholar at New America and a FiveThirtyEight contributor, found that voters who lean conservative on issues like immigration but who lean left on economic issues were more likely to back Trump than Hillary Clinton. And lastly, many voters are simply not attuned to which party or candidate favors which policies.

When you bring this to Georgia, you could easily imagine some swing voters who support $2,000 payments to Americans but are even more supportive of backing the GOP Senate candidates and ensuring that Democrats in Washington dont have control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Finally, Trump has scrambled the politics on stimulus checks.

You could also imagine some voters are just confused about this issue. If Trump strongly supports the $2,000 checks and Loeffler and Perdue are indicating support for them, too, it might not be totally clear to voters that the broader Republican Party still opposes the payments and is the roadblock to them being approved. Particularly in this lame-duck period for Trump, McConnell is the most important Republican in Washington in terms of policy. But Trump remains the defining figure for the party to most voters and in an electoral context. If Trump is declaring he supports the $2,000 payments, voters in Georgia might conclude that Republicans more broadly support them, even as McConnell is blocking the payments and Loeffler and Perdue are effectively helping him do so, as is the case here.

[What The Early Vote In Georgia Can And Cant Tell Us]

All that said, this debate about the direct payments coinciding with the Georgia election has shown how electoral politics and governance intersect in interesting ways. While it is not clear if the debate over the stimulus payments will affect the election results, it is clear that the upcoming election has affected the stimulus debate. Republicans were reportedly worried about opposing direct payments on the eve of the Georgia race, helping ensure that $600 for most Americans was put into the COVID-19 economic stimulus that Trump signed into law on Sunday. Republicans are now worried about a potential electoral backlash in Georgia from opposing the $2,000 payments. Those electoral concerns have resulted in Loeffler and Perdue, who usually take more conservative stands, breaking with McConnell and other Republicans to publicly support the payments. (Of course, Loeffler and Perdue are likely to go along with McConnells strategies to make sure the $2,000 payments dont become law.)

So Democrats may have figured out how to get more populist policies adopted: Push them around election time. But even if Ossoff and Warnock win next week, the evidence that popular economic policies are automatically electoral boosts for Democrats will be somewhat weak.

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Populism in the Early Republican Period of Turkey – Modern Diplomacy

Posted: December 26, 2020 at 7:02 pm

Since the normalization of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and Israel in December (2020), the stable and hasty development of mutual ties has characterized contemporary interactions.

Though, The Trump decision to recognize Moroccos sovereignty over Western Sahara is a significant push in the political and legal framework. American Administration is the maker of modern history and the key actor in it at all levels, starting with geography by contributing to the liberation of European states, then reconstruction, economics, security, and politics.

In effect, Americas admission and recognition of the Moroccan Western Sahara is not a reciprocal reply to Moroccos recognition of US soil, it is not an acquisition of Morocco and its support for it, and it is not a service for a return. America only reveals the reality of the geography that proves the Moroccan Sahara, the truth of history, which is promoted with testimonies that it is part of Moroccan soil, and the requirements of the law that ruled that it is purely Moroccan territorial.

In this regards, Americas recognition of the Moroccan Sahara and the diplomatic relations between Rabat and Tel Aviv showing that the Kingdom of Morocco is managing the stage responsibly and rationally, as it liberated the Guerguerat border crossing, and allowed to highlight that the case is related to a serious violation of UN resolutions, but rather a jeopardize to international peace and security in the Sahel region. Additionally, Moroccos move allowed the international community to be aware of the situation and wrongdoing has practiced by the Polisario Front, which threatens international and regional stability and Moroccan interests. Thus the US position on the issue is mainly positive, and it is at the core of the American policy constants, which continued to emphasize the importance and seriousness of the autonomy project.

Understandably, the US appears more optimistic or even confident in resolving the current issue of the Western Sahara conflict. Yet, The American decision is based on an understanding of the requirements of the autonomy plan, which is consistent between independence and unity, is based on negotiation and dialogue, is based on power-sharing, allows citizens to maintain social development, and is based on historical considerations, as he pointed out the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs. Meanwhile, Trump Administration relied on previous positions particularly Clinton and Obamas perception, especially concerning the autonomy plan.

While the other side has not abandoned its traditional stances, explaining that a group of countries that have opened their consulates in the Moroccan Sahara, and international positions in support of Moroccos move in Guerguerat crossing, are all indications that the United State of America, not the only is convinced of Moroccos proposal, but the entire globe has come to believe in the Moroccan autonomy plan. Therefore, the US position will have an impact on the Moroccan Western Sahara file, given that America is a permanent member of the Security Council and has the capabilities associated with implementing decisions. America has always been with Morocco as a Strategic ally in North Africa, and its role will be greater in terms of influencing Americas allies to follow his position.

In light of this, the American recognition holds Algeria responsible for the Polisario attacks on Morocco, and this historic declaration will change the nature of the Polisario militia attack to consider it a terrorist organization or condemn Algeria within the framework of the International Convention for the Use of Mercenaries to undermine Moroccan sovereignty. Accordingly, the US declaration is also seen as exclusive to resolving this long-running conflict only with the return of Moroccan Sahrawi refugees from Algeria. Because the conflict in the Moroccan Sahara is limited to the issue of the return of Moroccans in the Tindouf camps to Morocco within the framework of the 1951 Geneva Convention, by returning under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United Nations for Refugees.

Frankly speaking,The Palestinian case is a national issue for Moroccans, referring to the major meetings related to solidarity with the Palestinian people. The kingdom of Morocco also played a significant role in organizing large gatherings, and its role was balanced on the level of two-states solution as a successful peace agreement. Though the Palestinian issue remains an important matter to the Moroccan monarchy and that ties sustain strong between the two parties.

Responding to normalize its relations with Israel, The kingdom of Morocco has gone after by Arab Middle East countries such as the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan in recent months and with no change in the Palestinian case. As well there is no objection that it will steer to one. As proof, none of the Arab Middle East states have used their decision to constraint Israel back into peace talks with the Palestinian people. Thus, the Kingdom is positioning itself as a mediator between Palestinians and Israelis. Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates that Morocco is simply resuming flights, association offices, and diplomatic connections with Israel.

Domestically, Moroccan scholars, intellectuals, and politicians are divided on this issue. Some have acknowledged that normalizing relations with Israel formalize its existing roots and traditional relationship. In particular, there are one million Israeli people originally Moroccans, and more than that Jewish community is the second-biggest community in Morocco. For instance, theres an existing trade and economic cooperation between both states in terms of advanced technologies and military capacities. Others sought that Moroccos claim on Western Sahara is legitimate and that the kingdom does not need recognition from the United States nor normalization of ties with Israel. The Moroccan government descries that public opinions are not ready to handle the case as a zero-sum game. Several Moroccans, who advocate both Kingdoms claim over conflicted Western Sahara and the Palestinian cause, may acknowledge the agreement as both an unnecessary move, because of that they already consider Moroccos claim as legitimate and deception of the Palestinians.

Internationally, Moroccos policy-making is very cautious, conservative, and consensus-driven, for its central concern is its economic interest and national stability which has been seen as the key issue to the security of the Kingdom and the legitimacy of the ruling monarchy. The pace of the geopolitics transformation of North Africa has surprised it, and it has tried to decide what to do next. Yet, Moroccos short-term objective remains mainly unexplained. But it seems inevitable that the Kingdoms of Morocco basic interests will lead it to far greater involvement in the Northern African region, all the more so Polisario Front withdraws. Israel will remain an American ally, and this alliance strictly delimits the scope of Morocco-Israeli.

Due to this, The more dangerous prospect to the Kingdom of Morocco comes from the rise of Islamist extremism that has worried Rabat. At least a hundred or even many more Moroccan Sahrawis are reportedly fighting with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or (AQIM), presumably to acquire terrorist skills to bring back home to Moroccos homeland. Moroccan Security experts have a very low opinion of the Joe Biden new administrations approach to dealing with (AQIM), but they did not have an alternative policy. Surely, there is a contingency for low-profile but significant security cooperation between Israel and Morocco.

Realistically, unlike Western foreign policies, which normally prioritize political issues and normal relations, Moroccan foreign policy pays attention to sovereignty and homeland security issues. This is consistent with the Kingdoms adherence to non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other states. The Kingdom of Morocco and Israel have worked closely with the development based on terms of friendship and cooperation.In sum, The Kingdom of Morocco and Israel normalization is a component process based on strategic partnership, friendship, and compromise. Morocco and Israel have shaped their strategic relations in a positive sense due to their long-term perspectives. Thus, their cooperation in the North African and Maghreb region would be more motivated and pragmatic. Yet, Lets see how the leadership and partnership in Morocco react to their Jewish Moroccan brothers needs in Tel Aviv taking a new path into national reform and international openness transparency.


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Populism in the Early Republican Period of Turkey - Modern Diplomacy

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The Right and the Left Are Teaming Up to Lie About the Stimulus Bill – New York Magazine

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Power to the people! Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Populism is a term many people have seized upon to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon. But the definition of populism has always been somewhat hazy, and the Trump era has had a dearth of concrete policy fights that could be explained as an expression of the presidents populism. During the Russia and Ukraine scandals, you could sort of discern ad hoc populist coalitions defending Trump against the national security establishment, but while Trumps supporters in these episodes presented the issue as being really about national security, in reality they were simply justifying a bunch of corruption and abuses of power.

But now, at the very end of his presidency, we finally have a public-policy issue that casts Trump-era populism in sharp relief: the fight over Congresss mega-deal to fund the government and pump roughly $900 billion of economic relief into the economy.

The bill has come under attack from populist coalitions on the left and the right that have articulated strikingly similar critiques: Insiders in Congress have conspired to write a complex, ineffective bill that benefits powerful special interests at the expense of the clear and obvious solution to the crisis, namely $2,000 direct payments to individuals.

Washington Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah, a leftist, argues, While many other advanced nations have figured out how to get their struggling citizens monthly checks, its an international disgrace that the United States, the wealthiest nation in the world, has so far only provided one-time $1,200 stimulus payments. Another $600 wont make the response any less disgraceful. Senator Josh Hawley, a conservative, complains, The negotiators are saying they could only find enough $$ for $600/person relief checks for working people. But mark my words, there will be hundreds of BILLIONS spent on special interests, banks, and government.

They have likewise converged on a process critique, attacking the bills authors for crafting it in secret:

And populists on both sides have zeroed in on foreign-aid provisions in the budget, contrasting the miserly relief for Americans with the lavish spending on foreigners.

There is some distinction between the populist response on the right, which has mocked foreign aid in general, and that on the left, which has focused specifically on foreign aid for Israel:

Both the populist left and right have treated Trump as the explicit or implicit hero of the story for his blunt demand that Congress prioritize Americans by giving them $2,000 checks:

(Klobuchar was not actually attacking the $2,000-check idea but Trumps implicit threat to veto the bill.)

The populist attacks draw upon elements of truth. The economic relief in the bill isnt as large as it should have been, the bill was cobbled together quickly and in secret, and the horse-trading that allowed it to gain widespread support resulted in several bad provisions, the most notable being a two-year extension of a notorious tax break for corporate meals.

But the populists also rely heavily on a series of misleading or outright false claims about what the bill can do. They assert or imply that the $600 checks are the sole source of economic relief in the bill, obscuring the larger sums contained in its unemployment benefits, the extension of small-business loans, the aid for schools, and other measures. Many of them, especially on the left, falsely assert that other advanced countries have passed generous income-replacement plans which, as Josh Barro notes, isnt true. At 4 percent of gross domestic product, the bill is one of the largest fiscal support packages ever enacted in the U.S., he explains.

The populists further exploit the fact that the emergency economic relief was combined with an annual government budget whose imminent expiration helped prod Congress to finalize the deal. Thats why youre seeing these comparisons between items like foreign aid and economic relief, which are then further distorted by misleading comparisons between aggregate spending for entire countries and per capita spending. Whether or not one agrees with either the general concept or the specific design of the U.S. foreign-aid budget, obviously an entire country is going to get more money than a person. Writing Sudan or Israel a $600 check would not serve any purpose.

Many people expected or hoped Trumps presidency would break the traditional left-right battle lines and open space for new coalitions pitting elites against populists. Instead, Trumps agenda mostly revised familiar right-vs.-left battles over conventional Republican plans to cut taxes for the wealthy, roll back Obamacare, and deregulate pollution. (His most heterodox goal, revising NAFTA, ended up as minor tweaks that generated little controversy.)

Now we have finally seen an issue that genuinely divides both parties elites from their populist wings. But what it reveals about the populists is not very encouraging. Their case is shot through with demagoguery and outright lies. Whatever chance they had to leverage a concrete improvement by prodding Congress to increase the size of the checks has been squandered by an incoherent strategy that refuses to acknowledge the actual legislative constraints to be attacked. (Both breeds of populist are obsessed with blaming House Democrats, who passed a $3 trillion bill last May, and not Senate Republicans, who actually account for holding down the bills size.)

Rather than seeing a populist movement, what we seem to have is a loose collection of media and political personalities jockeying to increase their market share by catering to the ignorance of their audiences. They have a good trick for generating engagement by making people angry but have little regard for either the intelligence or the concrete well-being of the people they rile up. You can say this for the populists: They learned a lot from Trump.

Analysis and commentary on the latest political news from New York columnist Jonathan Chait.

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The Right and the Left Are Teaming Up to Lie About the Stimulus Bill - New York Magazine

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Mass Politics and ‘Populism’ in the World of Indian Languages – Kashmir Times

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By Aditya Nigam. Dated: 12/22/2020 12:11:05 AM

The label populism has acquired unprecedented currency lately and is used to indiscriminately describe such a wide range of political figures and political tendencies that it seems to have lost all conceptual meaning. In the best of times, it was always a slippery concept that has been linked to democracy at one end and fascism at the other. On the one hand, it is seen as the democratic excess that escapes the attempt of liberal-representative institutions to rein it in; on the other, it is seen as being of a piece with the fascist resort to antipolitical demagoguery and the rhetoric of the (national) underdog oppressed by an elite (usually with international links).The way the term is used these days to describe everyone from a Donald Trump, a Recep Erdogan or a Narendra Modi on the one hand, to the late Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa or even Bernie Sanders or Podemos and Syriza, on the other, defies all logic. What possible common denominator can one find between such diverse figures and political formations? That common denominator is simply the people or the underdog that they invoke even if in completely different ways.As New York Times columnist Roger Cohen put it sometime ago,Populists may be authoritarians, ethnonationalists, nativists, leftists, rightists, xenophobes, proto-Fascists, Fascists, autocrats, losers from globalization, moneyed provocateurs, conservatives, socialists, and just plain unhappy or frustrated or bored people anyone, from the crazed to the rational, from the racist to the tolerantIt is perhaps this infinite malleability of the concept that led Ernesto Laclau to suggest that the term populism is a feature of all modern politics and conceals something else the denigration of the popular.A Little Bit of HistoryThere was a time, in the 1960s and 1970s, when populism was seen as a problem of backward or developing societies with an incomplete democratic evolution. Populism was a problem either of agrarian societies with predominantly peasant populations, or it belonged to Latin American societies that had not yet become fully evolved democracies. Marxists in general (with rare exceptions) saw populism as tied to the appeal to a vague or nebulous idea of the people as opposed to the more precise and scientific idea of class.At a more common sense level, however, populism was always a simple term of abuse, used by elites of all sorts for whoever sided with the underdog the excluded, the marginalized and the exploited. In more recent times, in the era of the rise of Donald Trump in the USA and xenophobic right-wing politics in Europe, the term has now come to envelope practically all kinds of politics as uderlined in Roger Cohens passage cited above. Perhaps this itself should alert us to what is at work here for it is one thing to attack and reject leaders like Trump or Modi but it is entirely another to denigrate the popular support that rallies behind them, however problematic their stances might be.With just a little further probing we can see how neoliberal orthodoxy made this term into a special kind of invective that basically rejected any demand to provide what it called a free lunch to ordinary people. Free lunch, neoliberal theologians would tell you, was all about subsidies, cheap public health and education or in countries like India even subsidized electricity or free water. Schemes like rice at Rs 2/- a kilo that some southern states in India had introduced or even midday meals to school children would qualify as free lunch in their language. All this, we must remember, while the endless free banquet for the corporations and capitalists continued in the form of tax holidays, suppression of labour rights, hire and fire, unlimited access to government-acquired forest and agricultural land and of course, plunder of crores of rupees of peoples savings through banks (never to be returned). Populism was when you gave to ordinary people and tough medicine (no prizes for guessing for whom?) when you gave to predatory capital. All this of course, was justified in the name of an economic theology at the centre of which was Capital though it was misleadingly called Market: after all on every one of the above steps, you can see the very visible hand of the State in enabling the banquet loot.It is therefore not surprising that for a number of theorists and scholars, populism represented a revolt against the representative-liberal oligarchy or plutocracy, that is equally misleadingly called democracy. As philosopher Jacques Ranciere underlines, the institution of parliamentary-representative practices in Europe historically, was meant to control rather than facilitate the advance of democracy. Democracy, in the reading of this group of political philosophers is fundamentally about the claim for equality, which was kept in check by limiting representation to the qualified, that is, educated property-owners. Just in case we need to be reminded, universal suffrage was not a reality in most parts of Europe till the early decades of the twentieth century. It is not surprising therefore that the Nazi jurist and thinker Carl Schmitt saw in the rise of mass democracies and subsequently fascism and Nazism the revolt against the constraints of the liberal-representative system.Our recent experience, globally, shows that electoral-representative liberal institutions have been hijacked by Capital, this time despite universal suffrage. This has been largely made possible by the capture of the institution called the political party a matter on which much more can be said but we will leave that for another time.Historically, the two instances that are considered the precursors of twentieth century populism were the rural/peasant formations in the nineteenth century the Narodniks in Russia and the Peoples Party in America. In fact, neither the Narodniks and the Peoples Party fit in any way to what is labelled populist these days (in the sense of right-wing, xenophobic, fascistoid politics). The Narodniks constitute a slightly different case but the US Peoples Partys populism has been generally seen as a reaction to corporate power and aligned to the Left more generally. It is apparently only from the 1950s that the expression comes to be used for all kinds of anti-establishment currents, regardless of whether they were Left-wing or Right-wing.In the contemporary Indian context, the term has been used exclusively in the pejorative, neoliberal sense referred to above, even though it does not sit well with the historical development of modern politics in India, which has followed a very different trajctory from that of Europe.The Popular and the MassIn our own history, we do not really find the use of terms like the masses or even the people. In fact, to this day, there are few terms in any of the Indian languages that come anywhere near masses in the negative sense that is acquires in much of early social theory. Terms like jan or janata [janagan in Bangla] or awaam [plural of aam, or the common/ ordinary in Urdu] or lok are terms with largely positive connotations and almost all of them are reworked and re-deployed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in order to meet the requirements of modern politics. Lok is a good example of such a term, which has a very long history and can mean a range of things from folk to this-world or simply world, but is then deployed in a very modern sense to connote the people and popular as in loktantra or lokapriya, where it points to the emergence of an entirely new condition. Similarly, neither the Urdu term hujoom [crowd or multitude] nor the Hindi word bheed actually carry the negative charge that the mass carries except in some relatively very recent coinages like bheedtantra. However, it should be underlined that often, this too can carry a very wide range of meanings including simply unruly behavior. Thus Gandhi, for instance, uses the term mobocracy in English, in one of his articles but actually means just this. The context is interesting. Gandhi was so perturbed on seeing the huge and somewhat unruly mass of people who had turned up to see him during the Non-cooperation Movement, that he referred to it as mobocracy. Occasionally, he would also refer to some of the mass movements under Congress leadership as mobs though his stance towards these masses was not one of adversity but rather that of a teacher. (Shahid Amin, Event, Metaphor, Memory 1995: 12-13)In the accounts of the Great Rebellion of 1857, arguably the first big mass movement of modern times, we hear of the sipahis, the rajas and the praja or riyaya in most collective actions that constitute it. Or we hear of the Muslims and Hindus, who believed that their religion was under threat from the Christian white man. (Tapti Roy, Politics of a Popular Uprising: Bundelkhand 1857, 1994) Colonial accounts however, for understandable reasons, keep referring to mobs and crowds in much the same way as we find in standard European historical accounts.Even in much later mass movements like the Swadeshi movement in the first decade of the 20th century or the Non-cooperation and Khilafat movements in the early 1920s, we do not seem to have use of terms that even approximate the term crowds and masses. In the context of social boycott during the Swadeshi movement, for example, Rabindranath Tagore uses the term lok-sammati to refer to the popular consensus or sanction behind the boycott. (Sumit Sarkar, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 2010) New terms like janata, mazdoor and kisan enter the vocabulary, alongside use of caste-specific samaj categories. But there is none of the pejorative connotation of the kind that we associate with crowds and masses in European social theory.Perhaps, this should caution us against wanting to see or understand our history purely in terms of the idea of the masses and the popular as they occur in modern politics in the West. As a matter of fact, it is the persistent denigration of the popular in European social theory that leads Laclau (On Populist Reason, 2005) to draw the longer connection between it and the contemporary discourse on populism. Thus he argues, Populism has not only been demoted: it has been denigrated. Its dismissal has been part of the discursive construction of a certain normality, of an ascetic political universe from which its dangerous logics had to be excluded. (Laclau 2005: 19)He connects this with discussions around the idea of the masses or mass society in nineteenth century Europe were critically linked to the the crowd and crowd psychology. We can think of a range of 19th century theorists from Le Bon and Hyppolite Taine to Gabriel Tarde. This debate spills into the early decades of the 20th century and among the important representatives of this tradition of thinking, we have Ortega y Gasset and his celebrated book Revolt of the Masses. William Kornhauser identifies two distinct ways of thinking about mass society, where he identifies this particular trend with an aristocratic or conservative critique of mass society. The second trend that he calls the democratic critique is represented among others by Hannah Arendt in the 20th century. Of course, the democratic critics too retain important elements of the conservative critique, especially their central preoccupation with the tyranny of the majority and the threats to freedom posed by the masses, but we cannot go into that question here.The most significant part, perhaps, on which both the aristocrats and the democrats are agreed, is that the rise of mass society has something to do with the breakdown of the class system, the breakdown of distinctions and the loss of the exclusive position enjoyed by the elite till that time. We only need to recall Tocquevilles references to the masses, delirious with the passion for equality that lies behind the rise of democracy. To this extent, ideas of the Enlightenment, especially equality, were often held responsible by the aristocratic critics for the collapse of the class system.The breakdown of community ties, and that greatly valorized process of individuation that the Enlightenment philosophers expected would lead to mans emergence from self-incurred immaturity in other words, to the rise of the disengaged rational subject was precisely what led to the emergence of the figure of the mass man. And this mass man, both the conservatives and democrats agreed, was not quite the disengaged rational subject, who desires freedom and who would become the ideal citizen, the bearer of rights. He is rather the character who becomes available for all kinds of fascist and totalitarian mobilizations. The interesting thing about this mass man, noted by scholars, is that he does not want to be free but seeks rather to transfer his agential authority to some figure of authority the Fuhrer, Il Duce or the vanguard party, or simply the Nation. Masses, in the tradition of democratic criticism too, are not any less threatening to democracy and individual liberty, for they lend themselves ever, to totalitarian mobilizations.If we try to think of mass movements in societies like ours in these terms, we would obviously be wide off the mark. For such widespread breakdown of community and the emergence of the atomized mass man certainly does not constitute the dominant experience here. Class distinctions and the place of aristocratic nobility here were, of course, never anything like what they were in Europe. A proper history of mass politics in our society is still to emerge but we can tentatively say that largely because of the context of nationalist mobilization under colonial rule, a different relationship was carved out between the nationalist elites and the common folk, given that the lot of the former was thrown together that of the latter. Lower caste movements present a complicating moment in this relationship but do not do much to change the overall dynamic of that relationship. Communal riots are perhaps the only context where crowds acquire a negative connotation but that is very different from the issue at hand.Populism in Indian LanguagesIt is this, perhaps, that explains why most Indian languages do not have a term for populism, even today. In Hindi journalism, the relatively recently coined terms like loklubhavanvaad or lokpriyatavad are used, which needless to say, apart from being inelegant, are also completely misleading and limited. Similar is the case with a word like janamohini in Bangla. (Though I directly know of only Hindi, Bangla and a little of Urdu usages, my inquiries with some friends knowing other languages suggests that this is a larger condition). At best, these terms can refer to the populism indulged in by political leaders since all it means is appeasement of ordinary people. But if populism is not just about what leaders do but as the above discussion suggests, constitutes a revolt against liberal-representative political system, we need to understand it as a mass phenomenon. The mass here is not simply a deluded lot of zombies but in fact calls into being the Leader who can represent them. Two significant features of populist revolt that earlier studies had routinely emphasized were (i) impatience with formal-procedures that had come to be seen as always working in favour of the powerful (ii) the emergence of the Leader who would usually be an outsider to the political system and therefore more trusted by the masses. Both these features refer to a large constituency out there, so to speak, where populist discourse is fashioned, which is stridently antipolitical precisely for these reasons. In our context, we only need to look at the whole range of blockbuster angry young man films of the late 1970s and most of the 1980s (mainly featuring Amitabh Bachchan), right up to a film like Rang de Basanti (2006), in order to recognize that the formation of a populist discourse is not a one-way street. Indeed, Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement and the Aam Aadmi Party admitted in one of his interviews how Rang de Basanti had captured the spirit of rebellion against the political class and also influnced him. The empty signifier that corruption became which Narendra Modi too encashed with backing of the massive media blitzkreig in the 2014 elections was actually fashioned in these domains of popular culture. Corruption was the name that was given in these creations of popular culture to the unholy nexuses of politicians, police, powerful businessmen or smugglers: in short, a wide range of forces that were eating into the vitals of the nation and its poor.If one wants to therefore work with a more complex understanding of populism, terms like loklubhavanvaad or janamohini will not only seem woefully inadequate but also misleading. (In a Hindi essay written some years ago, I have suggested the term janavad as perhaps the most appropriate for designating what we are calling populism, though Marxists routinely use it to refer to democracy. In fact, we have a large number of more appropriate terms like loktantra or lokshahi or janatantra for democracy.)However, the fact that we do not have a word for this phenomenon in most of our Indian languages should be seen not simply as a sign of a lack but rather as an index of a difficulty: the difficulty of trying to think the complex terrain of popular politics in India through borrowed categories by simply translating them, without undertaking the necessary theoretical labour required to make them workable for us. If we undertake a study of mass politics in India, we are likely to come to very different conclusions about what we can very broadly refer to as populism. It is not likely to be anything like the populisms of Latin America or the USA or Europe. That of course, is beyond the scope of this post.

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Mass Politics and 'Populism' in the World of Indian Languages - Kashmir Times

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Joe Biden Should Terminate the Imperial Presidency – The National Interest Online

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BUT IT was not to be, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the 1920s after the shock of October 1929. Somebody had blundered and the most expensive orgy in history was over. The years between 2016 and 2020 were never as much fun as Fitzgeralds Jazz Age. How expensive they werein the coin of political stability, of foreign-policy clout, and of the national debtis still to be measured. But they amount to an orgy of sorts, one of official mendacity, journalistic hyperbole, exaggerated despair in some corners and perfervid hopes about tearing down the system in others, an orgiastic riot of words, of presidential tweets, of outraged op-eds, of commentary on crises that dominated news cycle after news cycle until a month later they were largely forgotten. If you remember the Donald Trump era you werent really there, one might almost say, as was once said of the 1960s and its orgy of politics, narcotics, and protest.

And then in the five-day election of 2020, it was over.

Perspective on politics comes only with time. As the United States retreats from the Trump era, perspective can be gained by contemplating Trump for what he has so suddenly become. He is not Benito Mussolini poised to preside over a country made subservient to him, readying himself to invade some twenty-first-century equivalent to Ethiopia. It was always through war that fascism came into its own, and Trump started no war. Not a bona fide fascist, Trump is not a conservative or a populist leader either. Conservatism is among other things an idea, and one that in the United States goes back to the creation of the Republic (the Enlightenment) and/or to some Judeo-Christian foundation (the Ten Commandments broadly construed). Trumps obscurantism and his disinterest in actual Christianity deprive him of a conservatives credentials. Likewise, he could never separate his populism from his person, a common enough problem among populist figures, and Trumps businesses, his fabulous self-love, and his weekends at Mar-a-Lago compromised his populism. He got almost 74 million votes in the 2020 election, no small feat, but it was not enough to win an Electoral College hospitable to those with a populist touch.

So what is Trump? He is less than he says and less than he seems. He is not a man without precedent. He is, rather, a relatively ineffective one-term president. In foreign policy, he shifted the consensus on China toward greater concern. He had real diplomatic achievements in the Middle East, and by design or by accident he has compelled Europe to think more prudently about its own security. As for his domestic policy, it is hard to say what will endure as policy, apart from the judicial appointments and whatever governing philosophy they represent. Much of what Trump achieved through executive orders will soon be reversed. The Republican Party may remain loyal to some image of Trump; it may continue to profess loyalty, but policy-wise this will decide little for the party.

The perspective to be gained from the transformation of Trump the ubiquitous into Trump the has-been is the sightat lastof the country behind the White House. It is not on the verge of civil war. Its most significant realities are likely those at a far remove from spectacle, from the salted bread of endless grievance and the three-ring circus of the Trump show. A brilliant observer of politics, Isaiah Berlin was fond of quoting the words of the philosopher C.I. Lewis: that there is no a priori for supposing the truth, when it is discerned, will necessarily prove interesting. And what could be more boring than having Donald Trump join the ranks of John Tyler, James K. Polk, Millard Fillmore, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Chester Arthur? But the orgy has ended, and there he is. Minimizing Trump and consigning him to history will allow Americans to see themselves after four years of squinting through a glass darkly.

In this clear, sobering light, Republicans and Democrats alike should try to escape from the second imperial presidency that arose with Barack Obama and was then taken to a baroque extreme by Trump. The first imperial presidency was a function of the Cold War. It was buoyed by memories of World War II and by the primacy of international politics, by U.S.-Soviet summitry, and by nuclear brinkmanship. It came to dust in the Vietnam War, which demystified the presidency. The second imperial presidency was not a function of foreign policy but of celebrity, of personalities and narratives that were in and of themselves supposed to be transformative. But the very essence of leadership in a democracy is that it is not monarchical,it is not incumbent on the person of the leader,individual leaders do not transform democracies, and they should not be given that power. Voters transform democracies, a banal fact of American democracy. However banal the fact, there is no a priori for supposing the truth, when it is discerned, will necessarily prove interesting.

Michael C. Kimmage is a professor and department chair of history at Catholic University of America.

Image: Reuters.

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Joe Biden Should Terminate the Imperial Presidency - The National Interest Online

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