Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brooks on Populism

. . . Ever since I started covering politics, the Democratic ruling class has been driven by one fantasy: that voters will get so furious at people with M.B.A.’s that they will hand power to people with Ph.D.’s. The Republican ruling class has been driven by the fantasy that voters will get so furious at people with Ph.D.’s that they will hand power to people with M.B.A.’s. Members of the ruling class love populism because they think it will help their section of the elite gain power.

Read the rest of David Brooks on the populist addiction.

[HT: Real Clear Politics]


Dan Richwine said...

Speaking of populists, I am reading "All the King's Men" which is so far a lot more fair to the populist Willie Stark (RE: Huey Long) than I thought it would be, and gives quite clear rhetorical defenses for him.

I'm not sure what side Warren is on, if any, in the debate, but the whole book is, in one sense, the playing out of populist forces against elitists forces.

I am currently struck by the fact that none of the young elitists have children, while the populist Stark's son is full of vinegar and life. Given the overall quality of the book, I doubt that is an accident, nor is the fact that the elitists who should be strong leaders contesting Stark all seem to be driven by a strange nihilism more than anything else.

I'm still a ways from finishing the book, but I'd say it's a rather timely read.

John said...

The comments thread at the link is as interesting, instructive and generally (but not always) instructive as Brooks' column. As I was reading what started out as thirty-some comments the number grew to over sixty before I got to the second screen. Amazing real-time illustration of today's telecommunication if nothing else. Is that populism in action?

As I read, the name of Gordon Alport and his classic "The Nature of Prejudice," echoed in the background. I can't resist the feeling that much of what is sanitized by being called "populism" is old-fashioned prejudice, standing on ignorance and intollerance. It is abundantluy clear that confederate battle flags, dogs equipped with side-arms and racist characatures of the president have more to do with ignorance and prejudice than reasoned debate. As the previous comment suggests, the figure of Huey Long and words like "demagoguery" also come to mind.

Good link.