Saturday, April 20, 2024


Daffodils in 2024
photo © copyright

Spring is finally being felt here. Warmer mornings edge aside the crisp night air. Daffodils project the mood of the season. As we move beyond being "fed up" or "sick of" the last months of winter, can we catch the spirit of this new season? Can we "do something" useful for democracy in the new "silly season" of electioneering that many of us face? 

Pseudo-populists of the right and sometimes of the left latch onto emotions stimulated by terms of grievance to rail against so-called elites or to amplify some other peeve. In the politics of fear, "all right-wing populist parties" will accentuate being "fed up" or inflame feelings to make an: 

ethnic/religious/linguistic/political minority...a scapegoat for most if not all current woes and subsequently construe the respective group as dangerous and a threat "to us," to "our" nation (Wodak, cited in Muecke).

During elections, manufactured outrage of this type is amplified. Baby Boomers and older age groups appear particularly prone to identify with the sentiment of being "fed up" or "sick of," or having "a gutful." Gen X and Millennials seem to find this framing less engaging, but the terms remain common catchcries in the politics of many English-speaking nations at least (Muecke). 

When linked with economic or social ills or cultural fears and myths, such catchcries also acquire compelling poweras witnessed with Brexit or ongoing efforts of pseudo-populists in a wide range of nations, as they pretend to be "of the people."

Not a new approach, but it's no comfort this type of polemic is as old as the ages. Though a propaganda tool, its mockery can also be used to counter propaganda. As noted in an earlier blog post, it was almost five decades ago that the actor Peter Finch, in the film Network [here], satirically modeled this framing. He memorably declared:

"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore..."

Into the next six months in the United States, can we get beyond being "fed up" or "sick of" what occurs in the repetitive cycle of "silly season" electioneering? 

Can we sustain the promise of springtime to help democracy thrive?


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Sidney Lumet (Director) (1976), “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore! Speech from Network,”

Stephen Muecke (2023), "'Australians are sick of...': The Rise of Australian Populism," English Political Catchwords, 

See also:

R. Wodak (2015), The Politics of Fear: What Right-wing Populist Discourses Mean, London: Sage, p. 2