Whether you identify yourself as a progressive, liberal or socialist you believe in central government power to correct, improve, supplement or replace market mechanisms. You assume that a democratically elected government will represent ‘the people’s will’ rather than the moneyed or special interests.
What happens when the government itself becomes the special interest that needs to be limited? What happens when half the union members work for the government? What happens when the teachers’ union in one state, California, spends more money on political campaigns than the tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the oil industry combined?
What happens when government connection becomes the road to wealth rather than innovation and customer service? How does an ex-president and his high-ranking wife and candidate accumulate $100 million in 15 years through nothing but government connections and speaking engagements?
What happens when these tools of government claiming to serve the people fall into the hands of your opposition? What happens when a democratic election votes against your dream state? What happens when the power you conferred on the executive branch is in the hands of your worst nightmare? What happens when the courts that have served your vision are now selected by your opposition? (paved by your short-sighted decision to eliminate the judicial filibuster) Are you still OK with judicial activism when the court is packed by the conservatives?
What is the difference between populism and democracy? What if the populist movement is not nativist or anti-pluralistic, but in favor of restoring the right of free speech to illiberal college campuses with their stifling political correctness and abject illiberal intolerance? If populism is just an illiberal manifestation of democracy, then what do you call the illiberalism today’s ‘populists’ protest? Did the framers avoid or limit democracy to preserve liberalism?
What if the current iteration of populism yields a new countertrend to the Progressivism that took root in the populism of a century ago? What if the answer to your deep concerns about Trump end up being in the original mechanical Constitution that you morphed into a living breathing demon that has turned on you?
There are periods in history where the left and the right swap principles, where new movements rise from the remnants of the old movements, where old principles are uncovered from the ruins of power that no longer serves anyone.