Patrick Daems | Defining Populism

Letters to the Editor
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Many are very worried about the tyranny of democracy, about the need for strong political leadership, about populism taking over here and in so many other countries… But perhaps we need to look at things with a new pair of eyes. 

The internet is fundamentally altering people’s minds and behavior. We may not like the outcome of what is termed populism, but what is populism, or who has the right to determine what is populism and what it is not? 

Before the internet most of us relied on the media to tell us what was up, who had said what, explain the context, and how to interpret it. This role it seems is being taken over by the internet. Less and less people follow what the traditional media want them to hear, and more and more collect and digest the news via their own channels, however biased those may be — not that the traditional channels aren’t biased.

This is not a plea in favor of President Trump and other world leaders or their programs or their voters. Rather, people like Mr. Trump are being elected and Brexit was approved. The answer is not to just question the sanity of the voters. Perhaps voters expect us to look at things less in black-and-white fashion — (one) being what the intellectual elite thinks, (the other) being anyone who disagrees. 

The media should stop denigrating the common voter. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Everyone deserves politicians and media who acknowledge those opinions even when those opinions appear at times outdated or misguided. Voters today know when they are not respected and will react.

The media will need to adjust if they want to continue playing a meaningful role as the Fourth Estate.

And God knows that an unbiased, inquisitive Fourth Estate is essential for any democracy to function properly. 

Patrick Daems

Stevenson Ranch

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