The rise and fall of populism and their leaders

It’s just sad to see the hatred that has permeated the world, especially in those nations that were once beacons of democracy and human rights.
Hatred is so easy in comparison to love.
The fear and dissatisfaction that many people are feeling in countries like the United States, Canada, Germany, France and Britain is real. Since the economic policies of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Preston Manning in the 1980’s, wage and pension security for working people, and full-time jobs for young people entering the workforce have collapsed.
Unfortunately the long-term effects of the libertarian economic policies evangelized by these leaders were absolutely predictable–job insecurity, stagnate wage growth and rising inequality.
History tells us that desperate people turn to populist leaders. Vladimir Lenin was supported whole-heartedly by the Russian people to defeat the Tsar yet his reign became a totalitarian dictatorship of tyranny.
The Germans voted for and supported populist, Adolf Hitler, because of their economic woes after World War I as did the Italians with populist leader Benito Mussolini, need we say more!
Unfortunately today history is repeating itself.
In Venezuela, the country tumbles into chaos, hunger and violence as democratically elected, populist President Nicolas Maduro has muzzled the legislature and is working to enact a new constitution that will give him autocratic powers.
Turkey, under religious-conservative leader, Tayyip Erdogan, has successfully (or corruptly) convinced the common people to vote for a new constitution that effectively moves Turkey from a modern republic to a theocracy dictatorship. Erdogan’s new constitution takes away civil liberties, law and justice, freedom of speech and jails anyone who opposes his supreme power.
Russia’s short foray into democracy was stopped quickly when populist leader, Vladimir Putin was elected in a general election. Through intimidation, killing and jailing of opposition members and constitutional adjustments, he is undefeatable until the next revolution.
These examples, past and present, were all voted in by the majority in a national election.
Populist leaders are excellent at reading why people are angry and then deriving their power from that anger, whether it is Theresa May in Britain, Marine Le Pen in France or Jason Kenney in Alberta? That’s precisely why the current sitting President of the United States is more interested in campaign-style hate rallies than governing.
History repeats itself; populist leaders are dissent cheerleaders who consolidate power for their own purposes by stoking continued hate and anger. They have neither the skill nor interest in unity, compromise and civility—the three pillars of democracy.
Citizens fall for these charismatic leaders when they are desperate and think, “it can’t be any worse?”
Unfortunately history proves that it can indeed be very much worse.

About the author

ECA Review

Our newspaper is only as good as its contributors and we thank each one who submits stories, photos and opinions. If you have a news item, photos or opinion to share please submit it to