Populists. The People’s Party. Which is to your taste? The choice has always been and continues to be: are We The People screaming for more entitlements, more perks, more “free” goodies from Big Brother…or are We The People asking to be left alone to go about our business of earning and owning our own goodies?
What is this current “populist” uprising we see on both Right and Left and what are its historical precedents in American politics?
What all such “populist” uprisings seem to have in common is a huge unified bloc of voters throwing support behind a single, popular personality, a Vox Populi, a demagogue perceived to be a maverick, slaying the dragon of an entrenched Elite.
Currently double-cast as St. George are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Both have defined themselves by their fiery rebuke to the prevailing order within their Parties. But is anything really new under the sun?
Sanders is a garden variety socialist Democrat who’ll soak the rich to subsidize every entitled whim his rabble demands: FREE Healthcare! FREE Education! All paid for by the hated Capitalists. He’ll also bring a permanent end to war, get rid of DC corporate cronyism and send Wall Street packing…but not before redistributing all of its money as he wishes. Naturally, he’s brutally critical(and jealous) of Ms. Hillary’s ability to rake in huge amounts of voluntarily gifted gelt to her war chest. Bernie also grabs his ankles for every subversive cause of the moment such as Black Lives Matter, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, all those Alinksy-inspired extortionists who exist solely (like Bernie Sanders-type Marxists) to help themselves to the gravy train of rapacious (and bountiful) Capitalism. Host, meet parasite.
Hillary Clinton, felon and serial liar, is only one step removed from Bernie in that she sells herself, like FDR did, as The People’s Insider fighting for The Little Guy. FDR was (and is) widely admired for supposedly being a courageous traitor to his own privileged class, champion of the Forgotten Man while continuing to live the cushy, elite life he inherited and saw as his entitlement. Who could begrudge him his own wealth and privilege? He’s our mole behind enemy lines, looking out for us! In similar fashion Hillary laughably portrays herself as a mega-moneyed Joan of Arc (she loves to remind people how rich she is) marching ever onward on our behalf against evil Wall Street…as she and Bill’s Foundation continues to pocket hundreds of million$ in bribes tendered in exchange for a veritable rainbow of favors. Pay to play. No ascetic Socialist lifestyle for Our Hillary. On the contrary, she is the ultimate crony capitalist crook.
Across the Populist aisle but not so distant, a great bloc of gullible Republicans have taken up Trump, the plain-talking, ruthless Capitalist Everyman from Central Casting who will Build The Wall and make the Mexicans pay for it! That goes double for the Islamics hoping to get into the country and blow us up! He too is The People’s Guy who will Make America Great Again by getting the Fed out of private business’ way. All very Conservative-sounding! But is this what Donald can or will deliver?
The ultimate question raging within today’s Republican Party: what would be the difference between a Trump and Cruz presidency? For a clue, go back to the Iowa caucuses when Trump was more than willing to play ball with the entrenched Federal interests in ethanol while Cruz brazenly opposed the cronyism…and won! The Donald is always too eager to practice his Art Of The Deal. As Mark Levin describes, Trumps version of “conservative” populism is really just more statism, a precursor and mutation of Progressivism, a centralized government bureaucracy.
And then, there’s the Tea Party which, unlike historical American populism, has no leader. Just principles underpinning freedom and the wish to be left alone to pursue that life, liberty and happiness so elegantly set forth in our Constitution. We The People: separate, distinct individuals united by our desire to partake of the incredible bounty of the Free Market of goods, services and ideas.