Donald Trump has been called many things throughout his successful campaign for president. One of the labels has a "populist," thanks to a platform based on “draining the swamp” and presenting himself as an anti-establishment candidate. While in Greece, President Barack Obama warned about the dangers of a backlash against globalization and the rise of populism taking place throughout the world during a speech in Athens on Wednesday.
“When you see a Donald Trump and a Bernie Sanders, very unconventional candidates, have considerable success, then obviously there is something here that’s being tapped into: a suspicion of globalization, a desire to rein in its excesses,” said Obama. “I will never apologize for saying that the future of humanity and the future of the world is going to be defined by what we have in common as opposed to those things that separate us.”
Populism, according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, is defined as a political party claiming to represent the common people. The populist movement gained notoriety in the 1890’s when a group of farmers who felt neglected by bankers, politicians and other elites revolted. This rift between the common people and establishment was evident on both political sides during the 2016 presidential race. Sanders campaigned on a platform of representing the 99 percent. Trump rallied his constituency around “draining the swamp,” a call to rid Washington of its political elite.
“Populism’s central and permanent narrative is the juxtaposition of a corrupt political class, elite or establishment, and the people, as whose sole authentic voice the populist party bills itself,” wrote Dr. Thomas Greven for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a German political research nonprofit, in May 2016.
Obama expressed dismay upon hearing Trump described as a populist in June.
“Somebody… who has never shown any regard for workers, has never fought on behalf of social justice issues or making sure that poor kids get a decent shot at life or have healthcare,” he said during a speech in Canada, declining to explicitly name Trump. “They don’t suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes. That’s not the measure of populism. That’s nativism or xenophobia. Or worse. Or it’s just cynicism.”