Populism: Wake-Up Call to Elites, or Threat to Democracy?

Populism is a hot topic these days, with many academics and political commentators raising alarms about the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump’s supporters. This seminar focuses first on the several means of populism and distills that conversation into the traits that are common to these various uses. Second, this session will address the big question of whether populism is a wake-up call to governing elites or a threat to democracy. Populism is a wake-up call in so far as populists seek to give voice to the people, who typically comprise a subset of the population, who have come to see themselves as ignored. But populism also threatens liberal democracy, and defines a political system of majority rule with limits on government for the purpose of protecting political minorities and individual freedoms.