My article “Populism as Political Ontology: The Varieties of Populism in the United States” was just published by the journal Politics, Religion, and Ideology. It began as a lecture I gave at Rice University immediately following the 2020 presidential election simply titled “The Varieties of Populism in the United States.” The article abstract reads:
Populism is a political ontology, in which political being is centered on the question of collective identity. It is also a political theology embedded within constitutional democracy. In the United States, three major varieties have attempted to resolve a question implicitly posed by the Constitution: who are ‘We the People’? These traditions are pluralistic, white supremacist, and Pan-African populism. For white supremacist populists, White people become the people. Pluralistic populism seeks to create a multi-ethnic and multi-racial collective identity around economic questions. Pan-African populism decenters Whiteness to build Black cultural, economic, and political power. Populist movements often emerge during times of crisis when collective identities are disrupted. I look back to three World War I era movements to gain insight into contemporary populisms. A study of the Ku Klux Klan, the Industrial Workers of the World, and Garveyism, suggests conflicts between the varieties of populism in the United States existed long before Donald Trump entered the national stage.