Before Trump, there was a fear that populism was going to take over the GOP. That fear is now in full swing, as populism has won battles when it comes to guns, building walls and trade policies. Populism was a term widely used in the 1800s when America’s populist movement divided the Democratic Party against the Republicans.
During the 50s, journalists birthed the term to describe everything from fascist to communist movements in Western Society. A Populist leader puts the ‘pure’ people against the ‘corrupt elite.’ Some saw populism as a political strategy, where a charming leader somehow appeals to the masses. Its framework includes ideas of socialism, nationalism and racism to explain the world and justify subjective policies. Populism can focus on barricading groups, but they have the people believe that they are always right. This is bad news for the nature of liberalism and democracy.
A part of the American dream has always been the ability to control your own fate. This means living and being able to stand up for your own family and fighting back against the nasty world around us. In some sort of same logic, owning a gun to many Americans means protecting yourself from a crime. In psychology, however, when you barricade one with too much ‘freedom,’ it just results in chaos and disaster, with no purpose or structure.
According to the Guardian, the U.S. is home to 88 guns for every 100 people, not to mention that the U.S. sees 11 times the mass shootings versus any other developed country. There has also been a 71% increase in gun ownership in the U.S. since 1994 and more than 100,000 people are being shot every year, with more than 30,000 ending up dead.
Now that we are in the Trump era, we know that despite the nightmare amounts of mass killings and shootings just within 16 months, that a large part of the American population still believes that their freedom is being threatened when it comes to the debate of restricting gun laws. This has turned into an America that is perceived to believe that guns are seen as a ‘civil right’ or a social norm, meanwhile healthcare and aid after natural disasters is seen as a ‘privilege.’
The key thing about Populism is that it breathes a narrative that feeds a divide and war between the ‘common man’ and the ‘elite.’ We have racists and rednecks against hipsters and lefties. Until this war on American culture subsides, progression with gun laws is not going to be possible. In the 60s, it was Robert Kennedy who said that “tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” Since then, nothing has changed – and if anything, quality of life among the newest, smartest society yet has dwindled into another statistic to argue or prove a point. Now that point has become in a way satirical and sad, much like American faith in politics, only to worsen and continue a war between American culture.