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Populism and the 2020 election
La Voz staff photo

By David Conde

I have responded several times to Julian Castro’s appeal for donations to save his candidacy. I do it most of all because I would like a Latino in the race as long as possible.

He is a long-shot. But so was Donald Trump as a candidate in 2016.

It is true to a point that the forces that have brought people like Castro and 17 other Democrats to declare their candidacies are related in large part to the behavior of the President since he came into office. The impeachment process Trump is currently undergoing is a result of alleged violations of his oath to the Constitution, abuse of power and criminal wrongdoing.

But there is more to it than that. There is a much larger and stronger force that is converting this election cycle into a quilt made up of strings of pressure that demand radical change.

Donald Trump was largely elected by that same force that demands immediate change to preserve the political power of those that are in the process of losing it. This wave of Populism continues to sweep the country and even the world.

Not withstanding the fact that the President is using his office for his personal benefit, he is conducting radical and immediate changes in almost every institution under his authority including immigration, trade, tariffs, climate, farm production, energy, healthcare and foreign policy among others. This is his response to the Populist sentiments of his constituency.

Populism is “a political approach that strives to appeal to the ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.”

“At its root, populism is a belief in the power of regular people, and in their right to have control over their government rather than a small group of political insiders or wealthy elite.” Although Trump was brought into power largely by ordinary folks that look like him and that live in fear of losing control of the country, this phenomenon is pervasive throughout the spectrum of political thought.

Populism is the engine that is driving the agenda of many of the candidates on the Democratic side as well. It proposes radical change in things like Medicare for all, free college tuition, a thousand dollar a month stipend to every household, forgiveness of student debt and taxing the rich to pay for all of this.

In a sense, the Chicano Movement was a Populist event because it demanded immediate change to an even playing field for its people. What happens however, when we indeed reach that “even playing field?”

Populism based on love of country and love of your countrymen can accomplish great things. It is the process however, that can create as many difficulties as solutions.

Going for the “quick fix” is not a sustainable policy. We only have to look at what has happened to the President’s about faces in our foreign policy (NATO, China, Iran, North Korea, etc.) to see how destructive the approach can become.

Michael Bloomberg has just joined the large field of Democratic candidates for President. What weaknesses in our current field of candidates did he detect to make that decision?

Can it be that there are voices out there that are reminding us that our goal is “to build a more perfect union?” Can it be that we need changes that will last long enough to serve future generations?

Incrementally building on our previous successes has been part of the American story. What is wrong with building our nation block by block?





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