The Year Populism Was Right and the Experts Weren’t

by Joakim Book
The American Institute for Economic Research

Two thousand and twenty has been an odd year. A year on which more books, unqualified articles, and uninformed opinions will be voiced than possibly any other year in the history of our species. Then again, we all have megaphones of various sizes these days ? and access to blogs and Twitter and newsletters and informational overloads such that this year’s informational misuse is not exactly an achievement.

In one sense, the year has been a turning point. For decades, the chattering classes ? politicians, journalists, authors, academics ? have bemoaned “populism” as a political force. While a contentious term and not quite clear to whom it really applies, it is mostly used as a slur for politicians calling for things with which the speaker strongly disagrees. A more concrete description includes a) a claim to represent the “real people” instead of the fake elites that the establishment protects (this is a sentiment that all democratically elected officials share and so they’re all more or less populist) and b) wanting to act very quickly to solve what the populists and the “real people” see as some immediate danger.

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