Roman statue Barbara Sax | getty images

古罗马的唐纳德·特朗普

迪克拉,艾奥瓦—民粹主义在美国政治的历史悠久而丰富,从左翼的休·朗(Huey Long)到右翼的乔治·华莱士(George Wallace),再到——更近一些——1992年的罗斯·佩洛特(Ross Perot)和今天的唐纳德·特朗普。但民粹主义的根源历史要久远得多——超过了两千年,发端于罗马共和国末期。

在罗马共和国的大部分时间里,治国的都是老牌政治家族和知道怎样让民众安顺的可靠的权力掮客。选举有之,但有意设计为让执政阶级获得群众选片的大部分。如果率先投票的罗马贵族已经选择了执政官,那么官员常常连下等阶层的投票箱都不愿意开启了。

偶尔,心怀不满的农民、小酒馆老板和赶驴人也会愤起反抗,迫使统治者免除债务或者获得在政府发声的机会,但这些动乱很快就会通过承诺更美好的未来和雇用一些赋闲角斗士抓获首恶来平息。在公元前二世纪末,贵族格拉古兄弟试图从内部进行政治革命,结果被保守派贵族所杀。

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