The populist tradition in the United States originated in the nineteenth century with the Populist Party. Since, political movements in the United States and across the globe have been declared populist for their anti-elite, nostalgic message. Most recently, the Donald Trump campaign for president was declared populist because of a perceived economic message that contradicted traditional conservative ideology. However, Trump's movement was not the grassroots sort that he presented it to be. Rather, his was an extension of a particular, socially and culturally motivated faction of the Tea Party. This faction was radicalized in the first decade of the 21st century by right-wing news outlets like Fox News. Polling data suggests both the Tea Party and Trump movement were not economically motivated—as populists are—but socially and culturally motivated instead. Further, their positions are ones that were push by Fox News in the decade prior to the rise of the Tea Party. Therefore, the Trump movement is not populist, but "cable conservative" instead.
Bachelor of Arts in History
Date of Award
Souder, Cole, "Pop-Culture Politics: How Cable News Created the Tea Party, Trump, and a Fake Populist Movement" (2017). History Theses. 25.