Is It Accurate to Describe Us President Donald Trump as A Populist?

With the emergence of 19th century, populism has been rapidly increasing due to changing mindsets, the transition to the younger generation, and a combination of other ideologies. Populism can be referred to a series of political viewpoints which emphasises on the idea of ‘the people’ and frequently put the specific group next to liberalism, nationalism, or socialism (Kemmers, 2017). Shreds of evidence say that during the 1892s the main goal of populists was no less than replacing the democrats as the country’s secondary party through an alliance of agriculturalists of the west and south with the industrial labours of the east respectively. Concerning such facts, in the modern era of the younger generation, the term populism is commonly described as the fight or battle between the common citizen and corrupt elite groups or immoral (Higgins, 2017). By looking at the past situations of the US, globalization, recession, mass migration, and soaring inequality which are perceived failures by the existing political establishments or right-wing political parties to manage or deal with (Kemmers, 2017). The emergence of political change and the need for populism was seen. Donald Trump has been known as populist by many scholars with effectual strategies to bring back the positive social and assures to the American public to make America great again. The main aim of this essay is to examine is it accurate to describe Donald Trump as a populist, and if so, how. Thus, this essay will provide a significant understanding of the theories, perspectives, and issues that are closely related to the research topic effectively.

In the political environment, the term populist refers to the political theory of populism. The movement of populist was started by the People's Party in the year 1891 in the United States (Higgins, 2017). According to the political science, the term populism can be defined as the idea which indicates a community is separated into two segments at odds with one another as the common people and the corrupt people (Rice-Oxley and Kalia, 2018). Specifically, the individual or political establishment who adopts the ideology of populism will work for the people and the development of the society as a whole. Several instances indicate that how rich people or elite groups has created corruption within the nation that is affecting the society’s welfare badly. It has been stated by researchers and scholars that what makes the populist parties or left-wing parties biased within politics is the strength of right-wing parties or groups concerning their abilities to influence politician through money, power, and benefits (Rice-Oxley and Kalia, 2018). Concerning such facts, the main goal of the populist parties or leaders is to work for the welfare of the public and fight against corruption and unnecessary tax rates possessions from common people rather than rich groups. Specifically, populism is a term given to the political movement. They try to make a difference between common people and top classes of people; usually mean as elite groups. Populist has a definite perception that wealthy people or groups and the highly educated people of the society are the belongings of elite groups.

During November 2016, the US presidential election took place, and Donald Trump has won the presidential election that year against Hillary Clinton (Brandt, 2020). Despite any political experience and not having to hold any public office before, Donald Trump had remarkably won the presidential election effectively. He had presented himself as an outsider and the one who wants to end the corruption done by the political elite parties located in Washington. The willingness of fighting for the people and the overall society indicates resemblance with populism theory of politics. According to a study by Brandt (2020), states that Donald Trump's rhetoric has been effectively ingrained into the populist discourse that serves to the emotional elements of human outlook rather than rational elements of perception and communication. On the other hand, it also indicates that Donald Trump’s speeches in rallies, television publications, and interviews are infused by media aesthetics who are reality show business, intended to entertain public and make an authentic impression towards the society. Also, as per the results of the research study conducted by Brandt (2020), reveals that Donald Trump’s rhetoric of populist signifies four main elements that in turn indicates the key standards which describe the populist rhetoric effectively. It includes representing common people as gallant figures across the nation, focusing on probable opponents as possible threats to values which are traditional importance, an attack against establishments such as corrupt elite groups, and recreation of an apocalyptic situation (Brandt, 2020). In another study by (Stavrakakis et al., 2017), provides a significant explanation about the concept of Nationalism and Populism effectively. According to the study, it states that nationalism and populism portray two different concepts by even considering their outlook and their methodological practices. Besides, it also indicates that populism is a way of expressing about the discourse directing at fighting for supremacy which is a fight amongst two parties such as people and the elite groups. Elite groups are considered as homogeneous within the study. The concept of populism is to fights against corruption, inequality, crime, and high taxes against common people which are considered as elite groups who have the power to influence politicians to amend policies. The fight of common people jointly for the people and for the welfare of society as a whole also refers to nationalism as it is for the overall nation and its welfare. By raising such issues of corruption and his willingness to fight against the elite groups has gained public attention massively and many voters voted for Trump as they view them as populist which is a necessary factor for the US.

Historically, the regime of populist had tried severely to deal with the problems of inequality in the income of the people through the expansive policies of macroeconomics. As defined by many scholars and researchers that, populism is defined as the application of policies which are supported by people or national citizen effectively and from an important faction of the national population. According to a study by Cho (2017), states that populism can be referred to few politicians who adopts the policies which are harmful to the rich or elite groups; however, not in the greatest interest of poor majority also. The study also reveals that by implementing such policies, the politicians earn assurance from the people or population that the policies are to fight against the elite groups which are the happiness point of the average voter (Stavrakakis et al., 2017). As the politician does not have any secret ties with the elite groups or any interest of benefits, the politician gains massive support from the people. With several positive impacts of such implementation; however, there are few issues which hinder its effectiveness negatively (Waldron, 2012). This includes mistrust of voters for the politician as they believe that the politician must have a right-wing agenda or been influenced by rich elite groups, despite the fact of his populist rhetoric (Higgins, 2017). This is caused by the driving force of politics concerning populist theory and it is considered as the weakness of autonomous establishments (Stavrakakis et al., 2017). Concerning such fact, the political theory of populist emerges as a way for politicians to give a signal to the public or majority population that they shall choose policies which are focused on future developments and interests of common people. According to the study, it signifies that the politicians who are honest about not being influenced by elite groups or any form of bribery choose the policies to the left (Higgins, 2017). Even if the politicians are captured and subject to bribed by rich elite groups shall end up selecting policies to the left as well concerning in interests of the median voter (Cho, 2017). Thus, concerning such facts, the political theory of populism has helped to better comprehend the concepts of populist and nationalism concerning to equality, freedom, individuality, justice, and democracy (Stavrakakis et al., 2017).

After the unexpected win of Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral presidential elections, it has been identified as the emergence and victory of populism in the United States as well. It is evident by several research studies and shreds of evidence that Donald Trump is intended to work for the people and with the people (White et al., 2016). This indicates that the prime intention of Trump has significant resemblance o the theory of populist which signifies the fight or battle for the people and retaining democracy within the country effectively. According to a report, it states that the erstwhile pledge of Donald Trump before the public as he pledges to drain the marsh (corruption) has gained massive attention in the context of populist politician among the public (Tabachnick, 2019). It has been identified that once Donald Trump was elected, he was empowered to act effectively in an authoritarian manner as he has secured a mandate effectively to run over the corruption on checks and balances of the system (Inglehart and Norris, 2017). The elite groups in the context indicate the judiciary, lawyers, judges, opposing parties, politicians, intelligence officers and other administrators as well as traditional journalist around the system and in limelight. It has reported that Donald Trump had blamed the elite groups for every issues and challenge that the US was facing before he came into power concerning inequality, corruption, and discrimination. As indicated by Donald Trump and by his followers several times, the pledge of making America great again means that, replacing the current state of corruption or corrupt nation into the gold age (White et al., 2016). Concerning such facts, it does not matter that the golden age of America existed or not as this imagination caters him to use a powerful political tool for the 2020 re-election (Tabachnick, 2019). Populism has been described as a tactical practice of politicians within the political theory. As stated in a report by Rice-Oxley and Kalia (2018), states that populism is typically defined as a strategic approach which surrounds the politics as a fight amongst the common people and corrupt group such as the elite class. Relating to such a concept, it can be employed by both right-wing or left-wing politicians and infrequently neither one of them. An example of trump being the populist can be witnessed in his statement which says, people want to take the accountability of controlling their countries and they also want to retain control of their lives and lives of their family as well (Rice-Oxley and Kalia, 2018). This indicates that Donald trump address for the people and work for the welfare of them. Thus, it signifies that trump uses the tactics of populist theory and concept to gain public attention and create an impact within the nation and society effectively and efficiently.

It has been understood by looking at the facts that, the support for populism has been seen strongly associates with declining personal life satisfaction, frustration with the system, democracy, laws and how it is working. Common people are inclined towards attaining justice, equality, and corruption-free state and overall nation. By looking at the rising level of corruption and inequality within the US, the common people are started supporting populism. After the win of Donald Trump in 2016’s presidential elections against Hillary Clinton and his populist rhetoric has influenced a massive number of the majority population that how critically the country needs a president like him to run over the corrupt elites effectively. The adoption of political theory and practice of populist by Donald Trump has signified that how he executes his election campaigns the use of speech in rallies to gain public attention by working and having concern for the people. Besides that, the battle between the common people and elite groups concerning corruption and pledge to make America great again by Trump has instigated the emergence of populism within the current US. Thus, by assessing the approaches and inclination towards working for the people and focusing on the people correlates with populism and the battle of trump against corruption and elite groups justifies describing Trump as populist.

References for Trump and The Populist Authoritarian Parties

Brandt, S., 2020. Donald Trump, the Reality Show: Populism as Performance and Spectacle. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 50(2), pp.303-321.

Cho, K., 2017. Populism in 2016 American Presidential Election: Ideological Populist Trump and Populist Strategist Sanders. Journal of Korean Politics, 26(1), pp.183-214.

Higgins, M., 2017. Mediated populism, culture and media form. Palgrave Communications, 3(1).

Inglehart, R. and Norris, P., 2017. Trump and the Populist Authoritarian Parties: The Silent Revolution in Reverse. Perspectives on Politics, 15(2), pp.443-454.

Kemmers, R., 2017. Channelling discontent? Non-voters, populist party voters, and their meaningful political agency. European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, 4(4), pp.381-406.

Rice-Oxley, M. and Kalia, A., 2018. How to Spot A Populist? [online] The Guardian. Available at: <>

Stavrakakis, Y., Katsambekis, G., Kioupkiolis, A., Nikisianis, N. and Siomos, T., 2017. Populism, anti-populism and crisis. Contemporary Political Theory, 17(1), pp.4-27.

Tabachnick, D., 2019. Donald Trump’S Populist Presidency Is The Real Coup, Not The Impeachment Inquiry. [online] The Conversation. Available at: <>

Waldron, J 2012, The Harm in Hate Speech, Harvard University Press, Cumberland. Available from: ProQuest E-book Central

White, J., Sutton, S., Sitrin, C., Mahoney, B. and Gerstein, J., 2016. Donald Trump, The Perfect Populist. [online] POLITICO Magazine. Available at: <>

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