Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy. But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being. The economic self-denial (that is, defense spending) and the human sacrifice (casualties, even among professional soldiers) required in the effort are uncongenial to democratic instincts. Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization. 1 (p.35)
This confessionary and somewhat prophetic, if not prescriptive, statement makes one thing very clear: America is not now a democracy, if ever it was, populist or otherwise.