Centrism and Populism: A Note

9 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2022 Last revised: 10 Jul 2023

Date Written: June 15, 2022


This note considers the now highly topical matter of the interaction between centrism and populism, focusing on that interaction within the context of U.S. politics. In doing so the author endeavors to treat both terms more precisely than has generally been the case, and argues that centrism (which he analyzes as an update of classical conservatism), in its rightward orientation, and consistent alignment of itself with the right against the left, has consistently moved the political center rightward, bringing on populist backlashes, to which it has responded by moving rightward yet again. The author also suggests that the tendency may reflect centrism's early Cold War origins, and the extent to which proponents of a political ideology emergent in a situation where the left appeared hugely formidable have continued to behave in the same manner after such a perception has lost any relation to reality, contributing to the rightward movement.

Keywords: Centrism, Populism, Culture War, Identity Politics, Political Science, History, American History, Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism

Suggested Citation

Elhefnawy, Nader, Centrism and Populism: A Note (June 15, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4137523 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4137523

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