Donald Trump personifies the a populist right leader. This post looks at what this means and how this movement can be so at odds with other ‘conservatives’.
The Origin of The Conservative Right.
The basic origin of ‘left and right‘ in politics can from the wealthy and powerful being to seated to the right and the commoners being seated to the left in the assembly presenting to the king. Those with power and wealth support those in power, that seems axiomatic. Then there are those that support those with wealth and power, not because themselves hold, wealth and power, but because they believe those people must have earnt that wealth and power. The belief is that those who are deserving will achieve wealth and power, and must be encouraged to achieve that wealth and power. Society benefits from the wealth and power generated by the wealthy and powerful. The central idea of trickle down economics. The left represented the commoners, who logically would benefit from the distribution of wealth and power to those the right may consider unworthy. There is some merit in both arguments, as society does need to encourage and provide incentive to those who can excel, but there is also a case for sharing those rewards with those less fortunate. Debating the ideologies is for another time.
The Rise of the Populist Right.
The populist right is basically ‘commoners’, who see themselves as currently more wealthy and powerful than other commoners, so they are embracing the position of the wealthy and powerful, relative to groups they feel threaten their wealth and power. The groups the populist right fee threatened by are typically foreigners, immigrants and racial groups other than their own. I would argue that the reality is that it is the ‘finite world‘ effect that is seeing this group feel the share of wealth and power they previously held eroded, and with no reason for their slide of their wealth and power presented, they rebel against change, immigration, free trade and are also receptive to messages against other changes such as any move to renewable fuels.
The Clash with The Conservative Right
While the populists are seeing their wealth and power eroded, the smaller group of those who have a much higher level of wealth and power are actually seeing their wealth and power rise as population grows and global free trade increases. This puts them in a very contrasting position with the populist group, although they do also tend to also fear change of the status quo.