Sir John Harington, the poet and court aide to Elizabeth I, wrote: “Treason does never prosper, what’s the reason? Why if it does, none dare call it treason.” Something similar might be said about modern-day populism: “Populism never prospers, what’s the reason? For if it does, none dare call it populism.” Somewhat like treason, populism rarely succeeds (at least in modern constitutional systems), though, when it does, the impulse usually recedes as it is absorbed into one or another of the mainstream parties. That, in any case, is the historical pattern. Whether or not it will hold true in the future is an open question.

In an age of hyper-democracy when every party or candidate claims to represent “the people,” it is not obvious...

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