Episode 2.4: Bad Populism, Good Populism – Rogers Smith

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Interviewer: MATTHEW BERKMAN. Nationalist populist movements, fueled by resentment against ruling elites, typically attack the norms and procedures of liberal democracy, viewing them as rigged, corrupted, or under the control of nefarious minorities. In his new book, That Is Not Who We Are!, distinguished political scientist ROGERS SMITH cautions that followers of these movements should not be dismissed as irredeemably authoritarian. In his discussion with political scientist Matthew Berkman, he stresses that the success of populist movements often rests on effective storytelling that addresses people’s anger and fear in a way that resonates with their sense of national belonging. Smith argues that progressives and liberals can create equally compelling narratives, consistent with democratic and egalitarian values, that draw from America’s history and national identity. Smith, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and the President of the American Political Science Association (2018-2019), was also the founding director of the Penn Program for Democracy, Citizenship and Constitutionalism, which became the Andrea Mitchell Center in 2017.

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