There are three distinct but interrelated notions of populism. The first is a theoretical claim, which sees the most legitimate political order as one that directly represents the will of the people. The second form animates that will in order to attack political elites or insiders in support of political outsiders. Third, populism in the cultural realm privileges accessibility and mass appeal over sophistication. Of the three, the third is the most benign, but all should be kept in their place lest they threaten liberty and undermine democracy.

Other Independent Review articles by John J. Thrasher IV
Summer 2024 Liberal Freedom: Pluralism, Polarization, and Politics
Winter 2018/19 Cooperation and Excellence: A Premodern Case for Capitalism