Columnist: ‘The Rise of Populism May Be Obama’s Legacy’

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Alan Philps writes in The National, Abu Dhabi’s government-owned English-language newspaper, that despite President Obama’s warning in his final address to the United Nations about the dangers of “crude populism,” populist sentiment is on the rise in America following his eight years in office, and that may end up being his enduring legacy.

From The National:

The American political landscape is manipulated by huge corporations and wealthy individuals with vast lobbying power. Mrs Clinton’s candidacy looks like a case of the elite within the Democratic Party deciding it was “Hillary’s turn”, an assessment confirmed by hacked emails which proved that the supposedly neutral Democratic National Convention favoured her over her rival, Bernie Sanders.

There is no doubt that wealth is concentrated in ever fewer hands, while the titans of Silicon Valley disrupt the old economy and the jobs it provided until they create their own cosy oligopoly which is proof against disruption.

All these are valid criticisms which have been picked up by Mr Trump and turned into a combustible mixture with the addition of his trademark lies, boasts and racist and misogynistic provocations.

No one knows if Mr Trump can with the presidency – it is a distinct possibility – but it is clear that the Trump insurgency will leave its mark on politics in the US and around the world even if he loses. As the economy becomes more globalised, politics is becoming more local, a process hastened by the rise of social media and the decline of the old media gatekeepers in newspapers and television.


Populism stole up on the world during Obama’s presidency. It is not what he wanted, and he cannot be held responsible for the result of global forces beyond his control, but that may be the legacy of his time in office.

Read the rest here.


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