Alex Harrowell, on Schmitt and populism:
"Carl Schmitt argued that the fundamental political act was to define friends and enemies. He is an example of a long-running counter-tradition in Western political thought that fears this depoliticisation and wishes for a partisan state. Populists demand that the government takes sides among its citizens, that it acts in an explicitly partisan manner. They want to feel that the state is on their side, not because it serves the public good, but because they personally get took care of. …
the response to a problem or an injustice is not necessarily to solve it, but rather to make an exception. Schmitt, again, held that this was precisely the attribute that defined sovereignty, and perhaps that is why populists are so attached to the idea of sovereignty. Populism is a system of exceptions. If you do not believe it is possible to get anything right systematically, and you do not believe in the institutions, you can still hope you might be able to get special treatment for yourself. As such, it is something of an indicator-species for a low trust society."
Scott Alexander has a good throw-away comment:
"Despite inflation-adjusted federal government spending quintupling in the last 50 years, there’s been minimal increase in government employees, mostly because government is now doing more of its work through private partnerships, nonprofits, and local administrations. It looks like the electorate wants both more stuff and smaller government, and politicians have “satisfied” both preferences by making government activities less visible and more proxy-administered. But proxy-administered government activities might be less efficient than just doing government activities openly with real federal employees, so arguably this hurts everybody."