We live in funny times. Officially, the financial crisis has been over for a while now. Governments around the world proudly proclaim their success. Yet most of the people in the western world seem to be dissatisfied with their governments. Trump is, of course, a clear example of this phenomenon.
In the Netherlands, it seems to be the same story with Geert Wilders leading the polls. His popularity is mostly due to dissatisfaction with the current political elite. People want to vote against “the system” as it were.
At the same time, the current Dutch government was very happy to present their financial data. It showed a healthy economical growth and it was the first time in a while that there was some money left over. The financial crisis has been conquered, they proclaimed happily. However, at the same time, the number of people frequenting food banks is at an all time high.
It appears that things are all fine and dandy at a macro-economical level, which is where the Dutch government prefers to do its calculations. Most governments do. On the micro level however, the economical situation of your ordinary citizen, things are less idyllic. It seems to me to be a simple matter that people don’t feel their government does enough for them. The flip side of a democratic system is then that, whenever the people are unhappy, you’re summarily voted out of power.
Along comes someone who voices these concerns on the political stage and what’s more this person starts pointing fingers at immigrants and refugees. According to this person, the aforementioned group is to be blamed for all the bad things happening in the country. This person then also suggests that the borders must be closed and secured. Sound familiar? It should, this is going on in plenty of the western nations. Trump, le Pen, Wilders, Hofer, May, the list goes on. All relying on the same trick it seems.
How should we respond to these populists, as they are called. The proper response, in my opinion, is to treat them like we treat any politician. We look at their plans and policy suggestions with a good dosage of scepticism and draw our conclusions based on what we prefer ourselves. Now comes the catch though, these guys don’t really have detailed plans, they just have a bunch of one-liners.
To me, this signals that we should simply ignore them. Apparently, they aren’t taking their jobs seriously, so why should we take them seriously? Unfortunately, not many people agree with me.