What Populism is Really About

by | Nov 11, 2016

What Populism is Really About

by | Nov 11, 2016

“Populism” was one of the big buzzwords of this election cycle. It was largely attached to the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, with both candidates referred to as “populists” despite having distinctly different political philosophies. Still, they both used the approach — with success — to tap into the deep dissatisfaction of the average American voter. For Donald Trump, populism has paid off well: In a shock to the political establishment, Trump has ridden populism straight to the White House. But we must understand what populism is really all about.

Populism has traditionally been understood to include trade protectionism, low interest rates, and government welfare to the poor and middle classes. The philosophy is meant to appeal to the common person, as opposed to establishment elites. Populism has historically seen a revival when economic conditions have deteriorated for the average person while the elites continue to prosper.
Demagogues rush to use the dreadful economic conditions to their political advantage. However, the solutions offered by so many opportunistic politicians aren’t really solutions at all. The proposals are always laced with promises that government will “do something” to fix the problem.
Unfortunately, most people still fail to understand that the economic pain they are suffering is the government’s doing in the first place. Government monetary, economic and trade policies lie at the root of the problem. The lack of a free market, sound money and genuine private property rights inhibit the return of economic prosperity. This widespread lack of understanding leads those who fall for the siren song of populism down a road of perpetual disappointment.
The problems created by government meddling cannot be cured with more government meddling.

Read the rest of Ron Paul’s op-ed at CNN.com

About Ron Paul

Ron Paul is a doctor, author, former member of Congress, Distinguished Counselor to the Mises Institute, and Chairman of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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