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Can It Happen Here?: Donald Trump and the Paradox of Populist Government

16 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2017 Last revised: 7 Jun 2017

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: June 3, 2017

Abstract

Donald Trump campaigned as a populist but how can a populist who blames the “establishment” for the country’s failures, rule, when the government bureaucracy is itself a creature of the establishment? The answer that appears to be emerging is a “personalist” style of leadership that may be popular in the short term but is unlikely to achieve any of Trump’s goals. If Trump wants to be effective, he will need to adopt a bureaucratic style of governance that will, however, require him to rely on the elites he has disparaged, disappointing his followers, converting him into a conventional president, and very likely ruling out the type of authoritarian regime that Trump’s critics fear.

Suggested Citation

Posner, Eric A., Can It Happen Here?: Donald Trump and the Paradox of Populist Government (June 3, 2017). U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 605. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2893251 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2893251

Eric A. Posner (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

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