This article contributes to the emerging literature on populist foreign policy by examining President Trump’s ability to dominate and shape public discourse on trade. We develop an ideational approach to populism that focuses on the social network that emerges surrounding a populist leader’s discourse. We hypothesize that populist leaders will generate a polarized social network along the elite-versus-people divide instead of the usual partisan boundary. Populist leaders like Trump are known to prefer direct, unmediated access to the people in order to spread their ideology. We therefore examine Trump’s use of Twitter as he announced his steel and aluminum tariffs in March 2018 and its impact on the salience and content of debates around trade policy on the Twittersphere. Our findings highlight how Trump and his supporters use populist foreign policy themes to articulate their policy positions on social media.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science