Populist upheavals like Trump, Brexit, and the Gilets Jaunes happen when the system really is rigged. Citizens the world over are angry not due to income inequality or immigration, but economic unfairness: that opportunity is not equal and reward is not according to contribution.
This forensic book draws on original research, cited by the UN and IMF, to demonstrate that illiberal populism strikes hardest when success is influenced by family origins rather than talent and effort. Protzer and Summerville propose a framework of policy inputs that instead support high social mobility, and apply it to diagnose the differing reasons behind economic unfairness in the US, UK, Italy, and France. By striving for a fair, socially-mobile economy, they argue, it is possible to craft a politics that reclaims the reasonable grievances behind populism.
Reclaiming Populism is a must-read for policymakers, scholars, and citizens who want to bring disenchanted populist voters back into the fold of liberal democracy.
Eric Protzer is a Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Growth Lab.
Paul Summerville is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business.