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Four ways populists endanger democracy

The populists are lying when they claim they want to empower us all by denying judges the authority to oversee democracy. They really want to break through the strongest constitutional barrier against authoritarianism

Demonstrators against the coup in Tel Aviv, 2023. Illustration:
Demonstrators against the coup in Tel Aviv, 2023. Illustration:

By Daniel Drache, Emeritus Professor, Department of Politics, York University, Canada andMark D. prose Professor of Political Science and Founding Director, International Studies Program, Borman University

In 1954  asked Richard Hofstadter, the renowned American historian of modern conservatism, a provocative question about His era's attack on progressive and left-wing ideals, known as McCarthyism: Whence Has this extreme arrived?

he claimed in the article Published that even the prosperous post-World War II United States is not immune to the radicalism of authoritarian populism. The so-called "Red Scare" of the XNUMXs was "simply the old extreme conservatism and the old separatism intensified by the extraordinary pressures of the contemporary world."

Seven decades later, Hofstadter's words ring true again. Conservative movements always fight against modernity by falsely claiming that they are Protecting society from progressives who trample on traditional values ​​and mock the forgotten men and women who adopt them.

Paranoid politics

With so much money and power behind him, this paranoid style of politics - with enemy lists, Demonization of opposition leaders and often violent language - became mainstream.

Conspiracy theories are no longer a stigma that discredits those who trade in malicious innuendo. Even mainstream politicians are peddling them now.

But is there anything to fear from the fiery rhetoric of the paranoid style of politics? Some argue that these circumstances They are cyclical.

In Hofstadter's time, after all, American conservative politics was moving away from fringe radicalism in the wake of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. The following year, Lyndon Johnson Defeated right-wing Republican insurgent Barry Goldwater In one of the largest landslides in the history of the United States.

But the crisis we face today is greater in scope and in scope. Populism is being spread like wildfire by political leaders who seek to profit from the chaos it incites through social media.

Populism was supposed to bring the government closer to the people, but in fact it entrusts the levers of power in the hands of dictators. Here are four ways populism has become toxic and an existential threat to democracy:

1. The shrinking middle

Uncompromising democracy erodes popular sovereignty by splitting the electorate and eliminating meaningful compromise.

We are now in a world of political zero-sum struggles, with a shrinking middle ground. Conservative parties often force extreme referendums To maintain their hold on a deeply divided electorate.

Elections have turned into dangerous struggles over wedge issues which are intended to deepen the cultural divides through social networks.

We saw it with Brexit as Boris Johnson and other populists fuel concerns about immigration and European overreach. Donald Trump has done this well with attacks on immigrants. Republicans are now intensifying the issue of abortion, although they are facing opposition from some Some legislators and governors in the country.

In Canada, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, whose United Conservative Party was re-elected, focused on demonizing her opponents Venkata in anti-democratic conduct In the months she served as prime minister.

2. The working class loses

Identity politics does not empower working people, because the politics of revenge does not solve structural problems.

However, conservative parties around the world market themselves as parties of proletariat.

The populists recognize that class The verbs are essential to their success at the national level because "The distribution of diplomas" which now separates the right from the left (ignorance on the right versus education on the left AB).

There is a strong correlation between the lack of a high school diploma and support in nationalist conservative movements during elections.

In the past, working people recognized education as a way to prosperity. but Tuition fees in the US are rising massively In particular, it meant that the government betrayed the promise of universal access to an academic degree.

Tuition fees are going in the wrong direction in the UK too, Canada and Australia. Education now reinforces the class division instead of breaking down barriers to a better life.

3. The rich and powerful direct the chaos

Populism was supposed to empower people outside the corridors of power, but talk about Revenge against the liberal elites Normalizing calls for political violence - always a bad thing.

In the war of all against all, it is not the rich who lose. These are ordinary and hardworking citizens.

Furthermore, once vindictiveness takes hold in the general public, it is almost always directed by elites with money and power who benefit financially or politically from the chaos.

4. Violation of the rule of law

Authoritarian leaders won for institutional legitimacy Unprecedented by building successful movements based on fantasies of blood and soil. The paranoid style of politics has entered a new phase with an all-out attack on the rule of law - from within the government.

The populists are lying when they claim they want to empower us all by denying judges the authority to oversee democracy. They really want to break through the strongest constitutional barrier against authoritarianism.

Look at the situation in Israel, where Benjamin Netanyahu's extreme coalition seeks to destroy the legal checks and balances and allow the parliament to cancel rulings of Supreme Court, a move that will ease the Prime Minister's legal troubles.

Netanyahu was accused in corruption and influence peddling on the media.

Trump's attempts to challenge the legitimacy of judges are equally self-serving. As he runs for president again, he is already airing his violent passions, and promises amnesty to the insurgents on January 6.

The way forward for populists

The political dial is already turning. The defeats of Trump and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are not representative Total rejection of their movements.

Although An indictment for an alleged economic crime and found Responsible for sexual abuse in a civil case, Trump is still the leading candidate for 2024.

We cannot count on an easy institutional fix, such as a grand electoral coalition that will push the populists out of being elected.

Opponents of Hungary's Viktor Orban have formed a united front to oppose him in the country's 2022 elections. But Orban was re-elected by a majority vote made fun of to her as free but unfair.

Opposing coalitions (from the left to the right) are an uncertain strategy in most cases, and they do not work at all in two-party systems. In fact, there is no clear electoral strategy to defeat populism, especially now that the extreme right has broken into the system.

Flashing red lights

We can no longer see elections as struggles between center-right and center-left, where undecided voters make the difference between victory and defeat. Nor can we count on the right to back down From the abyss of the culture wars. We can't even say for sure that populism will recede in the usual cyclical way.

Only a decisive rejection can force the right to abandon the anger and resentment, but the voters are not yet turning their backs on the paranoid populists. It will take a lot of strategic sophistication to beat them. And it will be harder to do so as they tighten the game with laws designed to disenfranchise young, poor or racialized people.

All the citizens can do is offer is to constantly and concentratedly repel the many big lies told by the populists. It's never enough, but for now it's the only way forward.

More of the topic in Hayadan:

21 תגובות

  1. Since the Knesset is the government's parliament and is a single authority, cutting the judiciary will lead to the elimination of the checks and balances that still remain to stop the dictatorship

  2. The premise that this is about "denying the authority of the judges" is not correct.
    It is about the desire to reduce the powers.
    Many good people have said in the past that the judiciary has too much power, this causes a violation of the balance between the authorities and damage to democracy.

  3. An embarrassing article that shows both the reason that the public does not appreciate the academy as a place of knowledge and also the reason for the decline of the humanities which have not the slightest bit of spirit left in them...

  4. Relying on the reality that the "Dossim" decided that the right is the Holy of Holies and the "Gentiles" decided that the left is the Holy of Holies, it can be concluded that the war between the right and the left is a religious war, and therefore there is no point in replying to the Didan controversy with claims and arguments about the quality of the effectiveness of democracy, since it is another embodiment of controversy on the truths of religion. The political ambition of those who oblige religion will be a theocracy and those who deny it will be a democracy.
    Hence the supporters of the reform are exempt from asserting their duty to democracy since it is their antithesis. Also, the opponents of the reform will be prohibited from asserting their opinion that the reform is invalid on the grounds that it "contradicts the principles of democracy", since it is the issue of whether these principles are binding or "Western folklore" as the religious "infidels" claim.

  5. To my father Blizovsky
    You claim that there is something scientific in this article (I wish) herewith test and post from a counter article that supports the reform
    You probably won't because you're biased

  6. Abby, you are definitely shooting yourself in the foot by making your site political and trending
    And he is not ashamed to discredit Netanyahu, I understand that this probably also belongs somehow to a scientific research work

  7. So much nonsense that I stopped reading at the very beginning, I am ashamed that it appears on the "Hidan" website. Every novice in the law department knows that the reason for reasonableness is a tool that gives unconventional power to judges, the Knesset of Israel is the sovereign point, and not a detached and arrogant legal elite!

  8. It's not RLB, it's RLD - just not a dictatorship. Certainly the left will lose the elections in 2026 for the simple reason that the Likud will make sure to change the system so that it always wins. This is what happened in Hungary and Poland.
    Without academic freedom there is no research. Without democracy there is no academic freedom, the beacon is simple, you cannot push politics into any field and ask the victims not to involve politics
    And besides, what did Netanyahu do during the tenure of the previous government? Day by day and hour by hour and through political bribery he tried and succeeded in overthrowing her. Aries is happening before your eyes

  9. Belzovsky, are you a RLB or a scientific site? release us please
    Even a senior RLB knows that this is not about law and justice, but about the overthrow of a strong right-wing government. So take a bullet, push hard and we'll meet in the 2026 elections.. in which you will lose Shatb.
    Good degree, focus on science

  10. The article was written by two professors from York University in Canada who do comparative research between authoritarian regimes. This is not only an Israeli problem, many countries in the world suffer from it. I would love to receive factual evidence from you because all the things you wrote just fall flat in a simple fact check.
    The one who initiates a fratricidal war is the one who wants to change the system of the regime in Israel and make it similar to Hungary and Poland. There the citizens surrendered and the result was a violation of their rights, an escape from these countries.

  11. A biased, charlatan, and goal oriented article - to justify the anarchists. And it is true that the losers in the fight against the government are the majority of the ordinary working people - that's the majority!! The trial against Netanyahu was also proven to be one big lie with the cooperation of the police and the prosecutor's office - and you wave it away. Left anarchists please wake up before a fratricidal war!!

  12. Is it possible to summarize this in Hebrew?
    What language were these terms translated from?
    Is the author of the article based on empirical assumptions or creative carvings of terminology from the philosophic form?

  13. Thanks Avigdor. Editing a news website cannot be done according to considerations of who it is pleasant or who it is not pleasant. It's true that it's easier to send a page of messages than to think, but that's not what I'm here for. In any case, Einstein was not fed up with democracy but with the Nazi dictatorship. On the contrary, America is a democracy and even managed to pass through a hostile takeover attempt in peace.

  14. Friends, please stop with political articles. I know it's burning for you and that you have your ideology.
    But this is a scientific and not a political site. Please leave the politics out, this is not the place.

  15. When Einstein got tired of democracy, a miracle for America..
    The rest of his people did not have the privilege to do so.
    When we founded a country, we chose democracy..
    But it turns out that she is on probation, only for the privileged.
    I am guilty of reading the science website even though I am not from the right camp,
    I ask for your forgiveness.

  16. Blah blah blah…. And in the meantime, the "correct" do whatever is on their minds, including burning down the country because they don't accept their poor resistance to the will of the oppressed majority

  17. Are you a science site or a carving site?
    Spare us the demagoguery, the pompous and shallow writing.

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