The Populist Myth

(Or why this really can not be called conservative, it is an oxymoron.)

I truly think that this should really begin with a PBS News Hour interview with David Stockman, about 30 years after his “Supply-Side Economics” ideology took root in the Reagan Revolution, he literally had to do a 180° on taxes, no less, arguing that they would have to be increased.  Followed up by Charles Krauthammer, republished in the Spokesman-Review, 6 February 2010 where the headline reads that “Liberals” don’t see the errors of their ways.  Followed by finger-pointing by an editorial in the Inlander about David Stockman’s social engineering through supply-side economics from the federal level and what a fiasco that was.  If Robert Herold is “to the (old) left,” he made a lot more sense than Krauthammer, a fellow who’s only claim to analysis is as long as he can thoroughly fault the political opposition.  But, claims of personal responsibility for why the GOP did lose in 2008 and have gone on to play up and seek to exploit the discontent of the public in order to regain in 2010 what they lost by 2008; seems to have gone with the wind or ended up in the dust bin of history when GW entered office after a huge wave of anti-Clinton.  Which is why I ended up rolling my eyes at Krauthammer’s projecting onto liberals, and didn’t read anything further of his editorial.

If the first paragraph might seem to be a mish mash, bear with me, it will all begin to make sense soon.  Populism as defined in real life:  of the people.  A populist:  someone in touch with the people and prepared to be a spokesman (or spokesperson) for their concerns or political agendas.  Populism:  at the grass roots, where real movements for change truly begins.  A populist who is therefore a leader of grass roots movements.  Robert Herold’s biggest beef about “conservative” (you’ve got to be kidding me) populism is purely how quickly “conservatives” were prepared to bring up the term without considering just how awkwardly they were on the polar opposites of the whole idea of it.  Populist, populism and demos (the people) are essentially different words with the same meaning.  And to be a “free market” type, or a limited government aficionado, should also be an argument against populism.  For the people are the ones who turned to this democratically elected gvt for redresses of grievances.  What ever throughout the long history of the U.S. those grievances might be.  Whether we are talking about the end of slavery, populism drove the constitutional law against it.  Whether we are talking about child labor, populism drove the laws that would regulate or ban it.  Populism is liberal or progressive.  Populism can even be considered radical, by definition:  as seeking to completely change something fundamental about society.  The end of slavery, after a long and bloody civil war, did in fact fundamentally change the social structure of the 19th century.  Although it would take the populism of the Civil Rights movement, to correct the racism and racist laws that followed the constitutional law that banned the practice of slavery.  Where it is understood that populism is a left form of thinking or ideology; why would anyone styling themselves as “conservative” claim to be populist?  You can not claim in reality to be both for and against “the people.”  After all, “conservatives” (so-called) only wrote letters to the editors of various newspapers arguing against mob rule that (this is not a democracy but rather a Republic) that only a democracy could provide.  If you are against mob rule, then you have no business claiming the populist mantle.  Mob rule brought us a rebellion against the British…

Which ultimately makes my argument that those claiming “conservatism” who none the less borrow the language of the left, ultimately should be seen as on the left.  How about coming up with something original, straight forward, honest, and entirely your own ideas.  Trying to act like a Democrat, out do the Democrats, while proclaiming to be GOP, simply doesn’t cut it.  Truth in labeling would be to an advantage.

In the letters columns since Obama has been elected president of the United States; the anti-Obama types inclusive of the extremely silly “TEA Party movement” whine and cry over Obama either trashing the country, trashing the U.S. Constitution, surrounding himself with socialists such as Hugo Chavez.  Hmmm, wonder why they had no problem with the previous POTUS who only trashed the country and trashed the U.S. Constitution?  When he wasn’t surrounding himself with tyrants, states that harbored or sponsored terrorists, brutal authoritarians such as Putin… all in the name of catering to the business interests that lavished such large sums of money to his campaign coffers.  Oh, that’s right, because he had an R after his name.

Which leads to this letter published on 5 February 2010 in the Coeur d’Alene Press where the author, Jimmy Pappas very brutally reminded the Kootenai County Republicans of all they suffered from at the hands of their own party prior to and up to and including 2008.  If those claiming to be “right wing” can’t provide self-analysis, then their polar opposites will certainly do it for them.  You can be sure that the “TEA Party” isn’t doing any better a job of self-analysis than Krauthammer, let us instead fault the guy now in there for the mistakes of his predecessor.  And that it was a grass roots movement that put an obscure junior senator from Illinois on the path to the White House.  On the other hand, what really do the “TEA Party” think that they want?  Beyond the fact that they oppose Obama and his “socialism,” they haven’t exactly defined where they stand!  But to claim a “populism” mantle in this “TEA Party” and claim “conservatism” at the same time, that has to produce a major gut-busting LOL!  No honest to the Gods conservative pushes change at the grass roots or at any other level.

The “TEA Party” as radical populists I can understand.  Being stung by massive GOP losses in 2008, stung by the fact that public opinion swung hard (old) left in favor of the Democrats, suddenly this is an unorganized group of the disaffected who want to engage in a tug of war with the polar opposition in who should ultimately have the power in Washington, D.C. and who should fundamentally remake the nation.  It just wouldn’t do to have that (uppity) Obama “dictating” from on high.  But, as the Jimmy Pappas of this world serve to remind us, the GOP didn’t exactly serve this nation well with the last POTUS.  Nor did they learn their lesson from the Reagan Revolution.  With reference to The Inlander.

Ultimately, the problem for the latest batch of radical populists, those who could only come out of the woodwork when the Dems enjoyed astounding majorities in Congress, is that they are a little too used to be dictated to on high.  They just want to be dictated to by their own.  They only want the nation back when they are trying to wrest it away from the polar opposites.  And let it slip slide away when  it is being threatened by their own.

“Conservative” populists?  Make that political hypocrites.


One Response to “The Populist Myth”

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