Populism Theories

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On November 8th, 2016, the world stood in disbelief. Pundits and regular citizens alike could not believe that the next president of the United States would be Donald J. Trump. Trump had executed one of the most successful contemporary right wing populous campaigns in recent memory. In this essay, I will explore the psychological roots behind Trump’s success in populism, and how his narrative spoke and resonated with Americans more than expected.
Defining Populism:
In its most rudimentary form, populism is defined as a movement of the people, often against an elitist, privileged class. (https://www.britannica.com/topic/populism). It is rooted in rebellion, collecting citizens against a united cause; challenging current status quo establishment
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We can find psychological foundations for this claim under the social identity theory of leadership, as we discussed in lecture. (Classnotes). Social identity theory speculates that the ideal leader emulates the characteristics, personality traits, and values of the people they represent. (Haslam and Riecher, 2007). These claims are further validated by the congruency model of political preference. The model suggests that people are inclined to seek out and support politicians and political parties that are a reflection of their own image. (Caprara and Zimbardo, 2004). In other words, the more human and relatable a politician appears, the more likely they are to galvanize a following. A study conducted by (the psychological roots of populist voting) found evidence that low agreeableness in the Big 5 Personality Test is an indicator of holding populist views, as a consequence of low agreeableness individuals being skeptical of others behaviour and intentions, especially in regards to politicians. In the course reading assignment, “The Mind of Donald Trump”, the author states that Trump exhibits extremely low counts of agreeableness. By putting these two ideas together, one can reach the conclusion that Trump’s apparent disagreeableness aided in garnering populists support. Additionally, it is known that social conservatives tend to score low in agreeability (Gerber et al, 2010). By the …show more content…
While both Clinton and Trump have had their fair share of negative media scandals, Clinton’s were perceived as objectively worse and a bigger detriment to her campaign’s success. Most of Clinton’s high profile scandals have revolved around the central underlying theme of threat to national security, such as the use of private email servers during her time as secretary of state . While Clinton as time and time again been acquitted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, her innocence has not been accepted by the average American. Clinton has been charged, convicted, and currently serving a life sentence in the most important justice system in the world- the court of public opinion. While it is tempting to argue that Trump’s “grabbing her by the pussy” scandal and the like is worse, it doesn’t speak into the populist ideology. To feel the full gravity of Trump’s scandals, you must first be able to identify or know someone who is a victim of sexual violence. In the case of Clinton, all her scandals revolve around national security. Threats to national security effect the entire American population, thus it is easier to identity the risk with being one for you and your loved ones, and a risk to your identifying

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