It’s strange how so-called populists have acquired the reputation of being a danger to democracy. The list of their sins includes stirring up discontent as grist for their mills, dividing the people and declaring themselves to be their only true representative, telling the people what they want to hear, making unrealistic promises to them and offering ‘simple solutions’ to complex problems, engaging in nationalistic and xenophobic rabble-rousing, cultivating an authoritarian personality cult and showing no respect for the rule of law.
It’s strange because populists carry on so extremely democratically. It’s as if one knew of a democratic competition of political parties other than one where good democrats with a pronounced will to power not only seize on popular discontent wherever it is loudly proclaimed, but also track it down, dig it up, and incite it in order to direct it against the those in office and in favor of themselves. It’s as if one didn’t know very well that a democratic politician shows no limits to his shame when it comes to going from on high among the masses in order to be celebrated as one of them.