A harrowing, systemic, and metastatic, disease, “populism,” long ago intruded into our body politic, will, predictably and tragically, survive, the persistent permutations of Covid. This virulent pathology challenges the principles of Republican Democracy and supports the meme that the common man is possessed of virtues and wisdom, far in excess of that of government.
In the increasing atmosphere of populism, the mob has grown in confidence and power so that the politicians, fearing for their political position are often, caused to cow-tow to them. As an unfortunate consequence, there has been a decline in the status of education and the informed, democratic rule of law, and an increase in influence on the part of the ignorant, reductionist cohort.
According to the populist mob, society is ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic camps, the “People” versus the corrupt “Elite;” and that governance should solely be an expression of the populist. They see society as binary, the mob against the elite, the former being the “good guys” and the latter being the “foes.” The “elite,” are subjectively, perceived by the mob, as society’s intellectuals, scientists, and experts who are, among other and various paranoid delusions, taxed with the imaginative and paranoid charge, that they exalt the interests of immigrants, above the native population.
The element of fear in populist demagoguery (like that of Donald Trump) inspires fanatic delusions of conspiracy, additionally, to the ignorance, hatred and desire for violence of the mob. Such fear and ignorance bring such people together in the interest of mutual support, who choose to enclose themselves in a room where there are, exclusively, voices of those who make them comfortable. The representation that such leaders represent the “common people,” is tactically false, when their actual tactical motivation is their exploitation. Truth and objective reality, in this context, are subservient to the designs of such leaders.
Donald Trump, who seems, alarmingly to have a unique gift for appealing to the populist mob, is apparently willing to operate in a manner, preciously close to fascism; as revealed by recent, undemocratic, and unprecedented events such as the insurrection. Such exploitation of the ignorant mob, for false and underhanded purposes, is an efficacious destroyer of the voice and the will of the legitimate community and poses, an existential threat to Republican Democracy.
Neither our best medical nor pharmaceutical science, can reasonably, or relevantly, be expected to develop an effective vaccine, to protect our democracy from this lethal, non-viral pathology; we must stay actively informed, vote intelligently, and do all we can, to preserve the rigorous health of the Founders’ great experiment in American democracy.
* [Apologies, for the title, to Thomas Hardy, author of “Far From The Madding Crowd,”]