Good Populism

Victor Davis Hanson is a classist and historian. That background is apparent in his post over at The New Criterion called The Good Populism. He points out that there have been two types of populism in the West since ancient times. One is populism of the urban mob—the Roman turba, the French Revolution, Antifa. The other is the populism of the middle class—the mesoi, the American Revolution, the Tea Party. Hanson suggests that it was the middle guy being feed up with the “elites” catering to the mob that paved the way for Donald Trump.

So Trump was a populist nemesis visited upon the hubris of the coastal culture. When he took on “fake news,” when he tweeted over the “crooked” media, when he railed about “globalists,” when he caricatured Washington politicians—and ranted non-stop, shrilly, and crudely—a third of the country felt that at last they had a world-beater who wished to win ugly rather than, as in the case of John McCain or Mitt Romney, lose nobly. As a neighbor put it to me of Trump’s opponents, “They all have it coming.”

The targets of Trump’s ire never quite understood that the establishment’s attacks on him, and their own entitled appeals to their greater sensitivity, training, experience, education, morality, class, and authority, were precisely the force multipliers that made Trumpism so appealing.

In 2016, pundits and experts had focused mostly on the populism of the race, class, and gender brand, and its would-be champions Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who sought to channel the new identity, youth, and feminist politics for their own advantage.

All had forgotten that there was also another populist tradition, lying dormant. It was a quieter but far more potent bomb just waiting to blow up—if someone ever would be so uncouth and angry enough to detonate it.

Read the whole thing.

1 thought on “Good Populism

  1. I would counter the establishment’s sense of superiority of experience and morality with the tale of former Congressman Glenn English. English was a Democrat who chaired the subcommittee that oversaw the Rural Electrification Agency. After retiring from Congress, he took the chairmanship of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association for a salary, as I recollect, of $4,000,000 a year. Fundamentally, all of that salary came as a result of REA spending.

    America was fully electrified decades ago. Instead of disbanding by noting mission accomplished the mission morphed into a perpetual agency.

    Now, look at the appearances that created. His successor could try to zero out the agency, or, he could continue funding the agency in the hopes of receiving the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow. Turns out that English’s Republican successor as the sub-committee chairman succeeded him as the chairman of the RECA.

    I could point out the Ways and Means subcommittee chairman overseeing medicare retiring to lobby for the pharmaceutical industry at a similar salary. That same chairman could have tried to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors.

    Everyone in the system is aware that this is how the system works. They may have better degrees, and higher IQs, but, their ethics are disgraceful. the notion that they believe that their morality is superior just shows how bad the problem is. Pathetic.

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