We are told that Trump’s rise to power is all about him ‘telling it like it is’ in ‘everyday language’; in a way that ‘the common man can understand it’.
Hmmm… Same thing for Pope Francis. Populism itself is not bad. Indeed, it can be good. Very good!
He too ‘tells it like it is’ in ‘everyday language’ and in a way that the ‘common man – and women – can understand it.’
Their statements have a simplicity factor to them. You don’t need a college degree to understand them. You don’t need to be learned to relate. They convey the message without filters. They are to the point.
Oftentimes they are also broad ranging, sweeping statements that confront traditional, established norms. Their statement do not adhere to any given traditional style. There is a freshness to it.
And thus their appeal.
‘Tell it like it is!’, we like to acclaim. ‘You are saying what I am feeling’; ‘Yeah, that’s right.’
There’s an uncanny similarities to Trump and Francis approach to getting out their message…
Except one comes at it from a populism that pulls at our gut’s visceral instinct and the other pulls our heart strings.
Trump’s populism is divisive and void of empathy. Francis’ populism is first and foremost empathetic and forgiving.
When either misspeaks or exaggerates, or overly simplifies things we tend to look the other way, chalk it up to them being ‘everyday men’.
Except that when Trump does it is hurtful, mean-spirited and seemingly intentionally malicious. When the Pope does it, it is humbly simplistic and idealistic.
Two very different approaches to populism. Trump’s populism appeals to our worst self. Pope Francis populism appeals our better self.
There are gazillion of examples of quotes from these two men out in the Internet… Just three to sum it all up:
Francis: A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.
Trump: Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!
Francis: We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.
Trump: The point is, you can never be too greedy.
Francis: You can not insult the faith of others.
Trump: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.