David A. Bateman and Adam Seth Levine, 2016. "An Inherent Tension within Populist Rhetoric." The Forum 14(3): 311-327 Populist rhetoric in America contains two essential features: first, a sharp critique of economic and political life and, second, a call for broader participation by the people that will set things right in response to an elite whose actions brought about contemporary problems. Past work generally assumes that the two goals inherent in this rhetoric – its educative critique and its exhortation to action – are compatible with each other. However, in this paper we argue that there is often an inherent tension between them. That is, the stronger the educative critique, the more it can actually reduce people’s likelihood of taking action. We provide several historical and contemporary examples of this pattern and then discuss a new line of research that examines it using experiments. We conclude by considering ways in which populist rhetoric can avoid the pitfall of voter disengagement.