This contrast came to me while listening to Open Source on NPR last weekend.
Populism – Promote policies that people clamor for. It gets you elected. We know that the general public in many countries don’t really understand the complexities of modern economies, policy implications, and so on. So what they clamor for might not really result in what is best for the country. Venezuela is a good example of this.
Putinism – Promote policies that people really want, regardless of what they say in public. In Russia, there are many people who say they want empowerment, freedom, even democracy. But Putin knows better. Deep down, a large majority want a strongman to show the world that the Russian Bear is a force to be contended with. Many people protest now and again, but most of the time they just roll over because they feel better having a President who wrestles bears, rides horses shirtless, and talks tough to the West. An interesting form of self-delusion I think. Make the social statement that you are for liberal democracy, but unconsciously feel satisfied by a strongman ruler.
Or am I just a cynic?