Populism begins with the promising idea that government should act in the best interests of its citizens, but continues with the problematic ideas that citizens are able to control the government and that government should carry out the will of its citizens. However, public policy will always be designed by an elite few, and the populist idea that government can be controlled by the masses ultimately shifts more power to the elite.

Randall G. Holcombe is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, and author of the Independent book Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History.
Other Independent Review articles by Randall G. Holcombe
Winter 2023/24 Rethinking Economics as Social Theory
Spring 2023 Generation Gap: Why Baby Boomers Still Dominate American Politics and Culture
Winter 2022/23 Handbook of Alternative Theories of Political Economy
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