In American politics today, the term „populist‟ does not evoke the image of legitimate grassroots activism in a thriving democracy, but rather the very opposite: pandering politicians, racist and xenophobic politics, and anti-elitist politics. It is ironic that a political argument that purports to defend the interests of „the people‟ has become such an undesirable term to a nation with a government “of the people, by the people, [and] for the people.” However, there exists also a contrasting history within the United States that demonstrates an alternative dialogue concerning “people power” and, indeed, populism that exemplifies the ideal of how “the people” have built the American political system.
Therefore, is populism truly the „scourge‟ of American politics or does it represent rather a constant reforming quality imbedded within the national character that continually strives for greater democratic purity? Does it represent transcendence away from current political spectrums towards yet-to-be defined orientations or rather extreme fringes of existing political spectrums? Does populism expose crises of representation or is it pathological to democracy?
New Perspectives on American Populism poses these questions for debate to all interested and suggests a further exploration into the possibility that advancements in technology and organisation today are furthering the evolution of how we define American populism.
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