There are people who actually fear for the future of political parties as populism grabs more of the attention in the current American primaries. It is not something you need to worry about. Political parties need the periodic peak of populism to bring them up-to-date to the reality of the times.
In Canada populism was what elected John Diefenbaker and Pierre Trudeau back in the 1900s. It was the obvious surge behind the sweep by Justin Trudeau in Canada in 2015. And then there is the antithesis of common sense in America currently of populist Republican Donald Trump and his Democrat counterpart Bernie Sanders.
Populism can be of the right or the left. It can be of the religious and economic conservatism in Canada of the Alberta-based Reform Party of Preston Manning or the agrarian left of 19th Century American populist William Jennings Bryan.
But pundits are beginning to wonder if the Republican Party in America has bitten off far more than it can chew by turning Donald Trump lose on the archaic, corrupt and outmoded primary system in the U.S.
And what better way to ensure ultimate reform?
While nobody in politics is embarrassed by populism, there are times when it can get out of hand. Taking down a populist leader can be a fearful fight. A good example was when Dalton Camp, president of the Progressive Conservative Party of the period decided that John Diefenbaker should no longer be the parliamentary leader of the party. The fight was classic and Dalton found that the old bull had lots of fight left in him.
Populism in itself is not a political movement. The short-lived Populist Party in the United States merged into the Democratic Party in the late 1800s. It is usually an anti-establishment movement that attracts the disaffected and the angry.
Bernie Sanders has only scratched the surface of the anti-one percent anger among the American left but he is too late and too old to carry it to victory.
Donald Trump is very different as he is pulling together the angry right as an anti-establishment candidate. Trump does not give a damn what he says: all he promises his followers is that he will tell them anything he wants, when he wants. And they love it.
Trump might even become President. The only promise we can make is that the Tea Party Republicans who think he is so great today would be trying to impeach him before he was President for more than a year. He is politically stupider than George W. Bush.
Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry
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