The American Populist in 2010

I stole this video from Ron Russell’s blog. It is particularly appealing because it demonstrates so well some aspects of the American character. In broad terms, we’re bumptious, populist, and enjoy laughing at ourselves. As de Toqueville noted, we’re also joiners by nature. Show us a problem and we tend to band together to resolve it.

(As you can see, we’re ingenious creators of music-making devices.)

America’s founders in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and in Virginia were of English stock. Onto that sturdy family tree we grafted our own fruitful bough, one that grew of necessity in a wilderness country. That is, Americans are more likely than many cultures to form volunteer groups to resolve a problem. Consider the many volunteer Emergency Service Teams and rural firefighters to see how that original impulse plays out today.

However, there is a growing socialist and unionist movement within our realm that threatens our original and generous genius:
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Socialists truly believe government is here to help you. Populists see government as the problem, one that slowly kills creativity and the volunteer impulse in Americans. Of all the reasons that socialism is damaging, that is a prime example as far as the populist is concerned. With socialism, people end up expecting or demanding government to step in. In previous times, that idea would have been foreign and repulsive.

Consider Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision on racial equality. He thinks it didn’t go far enough because it failed to give black Americans reparations for their historical losses under slavery and Jim Crow laws. The gospel according to Barack is that freedom to sit at the lunch counter is necessary but it’s not sufficient. In addition to equality from that moment forward, they should have been remunerated for all the previously missed opportunities to sit at a dime store lunch counter.

Obama’s world view in that regard goes against the grain of American history and character. It supports weakness, a permanent sense of grievance and entitlement. If such a law ever came to be, it would spell the end of the American Dream as surely as if someone took that our original genius out behind the barn and shot it.

Americans do not by nature turn to the government to solve a local issue, though we may have to turn to local government to get permission for a project. On the other hand, in the bigger cities the unions are attempting to crush the volunteer spirit. Much harm may result from the eventual economic meltdown, but the diminution of the power of the unions will be a welcome change.

In a comment on the Baron’s recent post, Ron Russell describes well the nascent awareness emerging in the electorate as a majority of voters now classify themselves as conservative. It is sentiments like his that scare the Political class so badly that they’re reduced to sneering:

The tone of the nation in the days immediately following 9/11 needs to renewed and the awareness of the enemy at the gates needed to revived.Unfortunately, that revival will not come until many Americans die again.

Sadly the work of the multi-culturalists in the administration will be in the end, their own undoing as their actions, or lack of action, will bring about that thing they hate most an aroused and angry America.

A great loss of life is what those on the left fear and… by their…own actions this may occur. In the end these forces on the American left cannot win, but another truth is that their path will cost the lives of many.

That kind of talk scares the Left. It also scares that part of the Right which is frightened of the Left. Newt Gingrich comes to mind. And, unfortunately, the head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele. Not that the American Conservative Union or CPAC is any better than the rest of the Political class when it comes to ethics and power grabs. Unfortunately, Lord Acton’s dictum about the link between power and corruption still holds.

And that is the whole point of populism. If you want to understand Sarah Palin’s appeal to the average voter, you have only to understand the estrangement of average voters from the political class. This phenomenon is growing; right now it’s hard to know where it will lead, but at the very least the “throw the bums out” mantra will be heard again,loudly and repeatedly, as we move toward November.

Expect all of the politicos, from elected officials to lobbyists to special interest groups on the Left and on the Right to go after Mrs. Palin big time. She will be labeled stupid, unpredictable, unseasoned, ignorant, etc. Just as Ronald Reagan was caricatured.

These folks carry on their character assassination at their own risk. But they don’t know that. When you get a little piece of the political pie, they take away your Input Button. You can’t hear anything said outside the halls of power.