Very often we listen that “populism” is our big enemy, but what really means to be a populist leader? A nationalist? A defender of middle/low social classes? A left-wing fight? Or just a matter of political marketing that allows leaders to gain votes easily and faster?
They are very different profile of leadership, from Maduro to Trump or even the own Pope, all of them are considered populists…and in a negative sense. Is it for this reason that we would like to explore the meaning and extent of the concept. Particularly for avoiding the manipulation that prevent leaders to act on unfair situations or just when there are searching for breaking with current status quo that is driven the world into stagnation.
As the sculpture, a populist message is like a big stone that falls down all of a sudden and try to be sustained with tiny ropes by their leaders. That what is happening with Brexit or Venezuela´s crisis and that is the reason why the whole processes are stagnated and remain on the floor of a no responsive system, not capable to rise from the floor of mediocrity argumentations and no vision of the consequences of their decisions. –for the Nation and for their own capacities as leaders-. Anyway, more than a matter of leadership crisis is also a lack of consistency and wise alternative projects that results on just a good political marketing, a mise-en-scènce with messages based on euphoria and hate: “being against of”: Brexit vs EU, Maduro vs US. It works in terms of electoral results but not on democratic results.
Being a defender of equality or the search for eradicating poverty is not a matter of populism but of an integration sense of keeping a global balance. Is not a matter of left-wing ideologies but a basic standard for the achievement of the SDG´s. That’s the case of Pope Francis on his aim for reaching conciliation at global level. Absolutely different from Maduro, that on his aim for becoming an influence voice by attacking US is losing senses of their own national crisis. Clearly this message seems to be “populist” when in reality is it just the use of a populist style without responsibility and accountability.
Also different from Trump that on his aim for creating a surprising “new renovated America” based on anti-global, isolationist goals, it keeps the same philosophy of continuity with a US global leadership. Recent withdrawal of military troops from Syria exposures that there is certain level of awareness of the need to deliver coherent actions within their isolationist goals rather than just an authoritarian-nationalist message.
All three leaders deliver what it supposes to be a populist message but all of them represent different interests. So, what is truly Populism about? Mainly two aspects: the manipulative use that the opposition does of it and the own marketization of that message. For Maduro is a way to approaches masses, preventing them from seeing the big picture. Their own crisis seems to be America´s responsibility and only US should be accountable for it, but after years of Chavez-Maduro administration its very important to hold a self-critical approach in which Venezuela and the global community make sure that their citizens are being supported and get a transparent message in terms of information and a clean democratic process.
Concluding, Populism is it now a political resource created by good –although irresponsible- marketing teams in order to gain votes on a historical momentum of losing of trust, sense of uncertainty and despair. Is it also a way to attack leaders without smart argumentations but with the certainty that they will strikes better on their own political campaigns.
On the other side making the opposition and the citizens point it out that “this leader is populist” without an in-depth analysis, being part of an anti-nationalist, anti-populist campaign.
I am not a Nationalist, I do not support Nationalism but I know the differences between being a populist marketer leader and a leader with an agenda based on the people.
Again, feeding hate and euphoria without knowledge, information or analysis its part of a big strategy for an extended shape of populism (Nationalist or not) that is driven the people towards ignorance and the surprising feeling of empowerment for being on one side of the road -even if both are using populist messages-.
In the end, any ideology or political message that tend to make a global world more “global” on equity terms should be welcome and, if the style of delivering is based on the people it should not be considered negative but just “popular”. The stress is on the transparent message not on its shape. Populism becomes negative when it’s manipulative and holds biased interests that only search for goals that do not result on a local and global well-being.
Accountability: the truly challenge for fighting political marketers, not necessary populist leaders.
* “Interconnected spaces” by Karla Black