Trump was not issuing a frightening call to crush dissent.
He was engaged in the mannered anti-elitism that’s part and parcel of democracy as we know it.
Trump’s last remaining opponent, Ohio governor John Kasich, had withdrawn from the race three days earlier.
When Trump made the remark quoted by Müller, he was the Republican nominee in everything but name, yet most Republican leaders still hadn’t endorsed him.
One can see how this anti-elitism might take a Robespierrean turn against pluralism, but this is a danger in democracies, as Müller fully acknowledges.
Toward the end of his book, he points out that “populism is strong in places with weak party systems,” and he suggests that populism is an outgrowth of the decline of strong parties across the West.His supporters are thrilled that in Trump, they’ve found someone who expresses their concerns about the future of America.As we’ll see, these concerns fit the usual pattern of politics in modern nation-states, in which .” Political scientists use “sociotropic” to mean “concern for the common good.” In a sociotropic-nationalist polity, this concern usually takes the form of wanting to solve the social and economic problems facing one’s conationals.Almost everyone, including President Trump and the vast majority of his supporters, would agree that he is a populist.Usually, this is thought to entail that he, and they, are opponents of the status quo (which he portrays as “rigged” by “elites”). And it’s all too tempting for his critics to go along with the act—not only objecting to his odious policies and questionable sanity, but denying any continuities between him and “us.” Everyone is happy if Trump is treated as the “other.” But in many crucial respects, he isn’t.What Trump and his supporters The fact that populists may support cultural pluralism against political correctness poses a clear problem for Müller’s claim that populism is inherently anti-pluralistic. First, he warns that it’s counterproductive to argue against populism on liberal grounds: “we should stop the thoughtless invocation of ‘liberal democracy’” against populists, because the populists will notice the hypocrisy involved. “While they may have won an initial election fair and square,” he writes, populists “quickly start tampering with the institutional machinery of democracy in the name of so-called real people.” It doesn’t take much imagination to envision Trump trying to engage in institutional deck-stacking or even dictatorship, as has been successfully attempted in Europe and South America. Yet one must again wonder if this isn’t a problem with democracy itself, especially under modern conditions.Threats to the rule of law troubled liberal critics of George W.Trump’s favorite president, Andrew Jackson, picked this lock in 1828 by founding a new party—the Democratic party—to escape the grip of the old ones.Theodore Roosevelt tried the same thing with his Progressive party in 1912.In other words, populists oppose political pluralism as such.This may be true of European and South American populists, as it was true of fascists, but I don’t think a careful listen shows it to be true of Trump, let alone his supporters.