With the success of the 2016 Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns new attention is being given to the concept of Populism, with elites such in and through the mainstream media expressing their disapproval of Populism. Currently being thrown up as examples of why Populism is s a bad thing. are figures like George Wallace and Father Coughlin, and by implication Trump and Sanders.
Populism is nothing but democracy at work. In the US there's of course a history of distrust of democracy
that goes back to the "founding fathers" who put in places things like
the unelected senate, the electoral college and the grant of voting
rights to only property owning "free" males to guard against having too
Populism is governance that's slipped from the control of the elites. There's a widely held belief among elites that there's a class of "experts" -- among whom they count themselves -- who should be left to run government, and elite disapproval of Populism stems as much from the fact that people who haven't
received "official approval" from the elites are encroaching on their prerogatives.
There was recently a very good discussion at Novara Media about Populism and there's a new article in the Washington Monthly that makes the case that the America we know and love wouldn't exit without it.
In the instances of the Trump and Sanders phenomena, although I haven't supported either of them, I can't see anything bad about the rise of either of them. Sanders of course has exposed the Democratic Party for what it is, the handmaid of Wall Street and a group of people who consider gay marriage and a women's right to have an abortion to be far more important than the living standards of the vast majority of Americans and more important than the very lives of anyone who doesn't happen to live within the arbitrary boundary of the American nations state. It's a sick set of values but the Sanders campaign has helped to expose and bring them into the open.
Trump has almost singlehandeldy destroyed the Republican Party. He's prevented people like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz from becoming president. He's stripped away the pretense for conservatives' use of white supremacy and exposed it for what it is.
And by saying he would consider abandoning some of the ongoing projects of US Imperialism Trump has removed the Republican Party as an option for Neoconservatives and forced them to admit that a Capitalist Imperialist Democratic like Hillary Clinton is acceptable to them, is, in fact, one of them; as in effect are the millions of who support of elite warmongers like Clinton.