Rise of post-truth populism – Ewen Speed & Russell Mannion

Speed, E. & Mannion, R. (2017). The rise of post-truth populism in pluralist liberal democracies: Challenges for health policy. International Journal of Health Policy Management, 6(5), 249-251. doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2017.19.

Definitions of “cultural backlash thesis” and “economic inequality thesis.” Cites a study of 31 European countries finding support for the “cultural backlash thesis.” Populism is “…[vague]…as a concept and as a political strategy” (249). Explains the importance of the leader in populism, and the ways in which leader wields power.

Implications for health policy: nativism in populism lessens global movement and access to health resources. discrimination “exacerbates existing national (and global) health inequalities” (250). Because populist leaders want swift reform, this lessens the likelihood that policy will be good, vetted, and supported by the masses. Instead, “populist policies tend to be shaped more by the personal whims and prejudices of a demagogue than underpinned by a secure evidence base” (250). This is reminiscent of Aydin-Düzgit and Keyman’s discussions on the ways in which populist policy may lack fact.

Speed & Mannion continue, discussing the ways in with “post-truth” policies may negatively effect health policy. Cites conscience laws and health tourism (reminding me of the recent UK policy changes allowing women from North Ireland to obtain abortions in England for free). Defines post-truth by citing Oxford dictionary definition. In populist post-truth politics, “…feelings and emotions often [carry] more weight than facts and evidence” (250) and dominant motifs (not necessarily based on evidence) may be repeated in order to get people to believe them. Here, I am thinking about the anti-choice protesters who try to coerce patients at the clinic where I volunteer into not getting an abortion by telling them the abortion can cause cancer, infertility, mental/emotional trauma, and will likely end their romantic relationship (if they are in one) and damage their other interpersonal relationships. These “facts” are not based on evidence or on science, but the protesters believe them, and most patients do not know that these things are not factual.

They argue that avenues for involvement in public affairs must be created that are participatory and that use today’s technology.