Lex Fridman has explored the concept of populism through various lenses on his podcast.

  1. Populist Rhetoric: In a conversation with , they discussed how populism involves rhetoric that doesn't necessarily align with specific policies. Populist rhetoric can highlight middle-class plights and propose solutions that vary widely, from progressive to conservative approaches. This flexibility in messaging was noted as a powerful tool used by figures like Donald Trump in 2016 1.

  2. Charismatic Populist Leaders: explained how charismatic leaders harness existing public fears and redirect them towards targeted groups to consolidate power. This approach is effective in times of existential distress, as evidenced historically by leaders like Hitler. Solomon also connected the rise of such leaders to underlying death anxiety among the populace 2.

  3. Institutional Distrust: The erosion of trust in institutions has been a significant aspect of modern populism. and discussed how populism has catalyzed a total disregard for existing institutions, leading to increased disconnection and hopelessness among supporters. This distrust is often exacerbated by statements that institutions are beyond redemption, pushing people towards populist figures who promise drastic changes 3.

    Populism and Hate

    David and Lex discuss the use of populist rhetoric in politics and how it can lead to different policies. They also explore the reasons behind the intense hate towards Hillary Clinton and how it was fueled by various factors such as branding, time, and likability.

    Lex Fridman Podcast

    David Pakman: Politics of Trump, Biden, Bernie, AOC, Socialism & Wokeism | Lex Fridman Podcast #375

These discussions highlight the multifaceted nature of populism, its rhetorical strategies, the psychological mechanisms behind its appeal, and its impact on societal trust in institutions.