What Is Populism?, Princeton professor Jan-Werner Müller’s 2016 book about the emergence and characteristics of populist movements in contemporary politics, will be the Pre-read for Princeton’s Class of 2021. 

President Eisgruber ’83 shared the selection in a letter to incoming freshmen last week. Since 2013, Eisgruber has chosen one book for the entire incoming class to read prior to starting college in the fall. During Orientation, students will have the chance to discuss the book with Müller, a member of the Princeton politics faculty since 2005.

In March, PAW published an essay by Müller that examined populism in the specific case of President Donald Trump. In it, he challenged the notion that Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders are two sides of the same populist coin:

[T]he lazy equation of Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders — “a populist of the right and a populist of the left,” as they are often portrayed — is deeply mistaken, even if it seems plausible in light of the historical understanding of the word “populism” in the United States (as in: the People’s Party representing the downtrodden against Wall Street in the late 19th century). One might think of Sanders’ policy ideas as naïve or in some other form undesirable — but clearly Sanders never claimed that he is the only representative of the real America. Only Trump is a genuine anti-pluralist. What matters is not whether the populist himself could be said to be part of an elite — his promise is not that he is like any ordinary citizen. Rather, the claim is that he and he alone will execute the people’s real will (as discerned by him).

READ MORE in the PAW archives