Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor

On Populism

December 19, 2017 --

Roger Kimball, in The Wall Street Journal, November 30, published an op-ed article, asking: "If We Love Democracy, Why Does 'Populism' Get Such a Bad Rap?"

After noting that, for some, "'populist'" is another term for "'demoagogue'" Kimball pointed out: "On the other hand is a disdain for the unedified masses, the soil in which populism takes root.

Anyone who watch thee commentary on Brexit, Donald Trump's campaign, the early months of his administration, or the recent French election will have noticed this.

Kimball added, "'Populism,' that is to say, is wielded less as a descriptive term than as a delegitimizing one."

It is really, Kimball continued, all about "Who rules?"

For Kimball, "The question of who governs stands behind the rebellion against the political correctness and moral meddlesomeness that are such conspicuous and disfiguring features of our increasingly bureaucratic society." How "increasingly bureaucratic"?

Consider that President Trump is loath to take action against those who, arguably, have already constructed bureaucratic machinery for purpose of ending his presidency, by whatever argument will take hold?

Hardly an endorsement for popular rule.

One can read from time to time, particularly in The Wall Street Journal, columns and editorials pointing out how special counsel Robert Mueller ignores congressional requests for information -- in the manner, LPR adds, of the John Doe probers in Wisconsin who ignored court orders to maintain secrecy on the information gathered by search warrants and subpoenas in pursuit of an investigation that turned out to be unnconnected to violations of law -- but where the violations of law were committed by the probers, as alleged by the Wisconsin attorney general who reportedly will seek contempt citations and disciplinary proceedings against some of the John Doe probers.

Didn't President Lincoln offer a definition of populism when he referred to ours as government of, by and for the people? Pre-dawn raids on conservatives who claim a First Amendment right to participate in government hardly promote the idea of free, popular government.

LPR, by the way, applauds the Trump Inaugural address as a populist declaration, considering it as consistent with Madison's call in Federalist No. 57 that leaders should hold "communion of interests and sympathy of sentiments" with the people. Consider, too, these words at the end of the address: "So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words, You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and lover will forever guide us along the way."