|It doesn't stop at the water's edge:|
|Random strands and actors|
 Trouble with defining populism
Many attempts at defining populism run into trouble because they try fitting populism somewhere on the left-right political spectrum, or on a two dimensional spectrum of economic and social freedom. Populism doesn't belong in any one place on the political spectrum because it is a rhetorical style, not a political ideology. Populism can occur anywhere on the political spectrum. It is simply appeal to the common people in rhetoric, policy, or both, and proclaiming ones identification with common people and against an "elite", however defined. Critics of far-right populism would do well to keep in mind that it isn't the "populism" part that is the problem, it's the "far right" part.
Libertarian analyses, such as the Nolan Chart, enframe populism as the opposite of libertarianism, but do not see it as being as extreme as totalitarianism. If one thinks of libertarianism as the belief in economic and social freedom, liberalism as the belief in social freedom and economic regulation and conservatism as the belief in social regulation and economic freedom; populism forms the natural fourth quadrant of social and economic regulation.
Many far-right groups would conform to this definition of populism. The National Socialist Party combined a socialist economic policy with a far right racist policy on the ideal of a Aryan race. Today in modern Britain the British National Party opposes participation in the European Union and is "committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration", whilst having a economic policy that supports import tariffs which is further to the left than the Labour Party.
 Populism in practice
In a less extreme version populism is merely choosing the political positions which have the largest voter support, essential a pick-and-mix based on opinion polls on what should win the most votes. Most politicians choose to avoid the populist label as it is easy for their opponents to attack them as unprincipled and pandering to gain votes.
Also, for this reason, populist politicians may find themselves forced to make unrealistic proposals; for example, while the voters may love a proposal to hand out lots of free cash from the treasury, and vote for someone who proposes it, they might not love the heavy taxation and/or heavy deficits necessary to fund such largesse, and will vote against any politician who admits to these necessities. The populist politician is therefore stuck between ignoring such potential consequences to get himself elected, or facing up to them and losing votes. This is illustrated by a quote often misattributed to Alexis de Tocqueville:
“”The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.
 Notable populists
- The Gracchus brothers, who started the destruction of the Roman Republic
- Julius Caesar, who finished it
- William Jennings Bryan
- Huey Long
- Adolf Hitler
- Mike Rann - Premier of South Australia