Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The New Populism: Watch Out, Washington

By now, everyone has their own explanation for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s “shocking primary election loss,” said Geoffrey Kabaservice in Politico.com. His support for immigration reform, his personal arrogance, his political inconsistency—all probably played a part. But of far more “enduring significance” is the nature of his opponent’s campaign: College professor Dave Brat provided “a textbook example of the new right-wing populism” sweeping America. Brat’s rhetoric sounds like it came straight from the People’s Party of the late 19th century, with his denunciations of Big Banks, “crony capitalists,” and the “gazillionaires” sucking up too much of America’s wealth. “The Republican Party has been paying too much attention to Wall Street,” Brat said, “and not enough to Main Street.” Clearly, this angry populism is at odds with the GOP’s traditional pro-business stance—but it’s a growing force that the party can’t ignore.

Democrats have their own version, said Robert W. Merry in The Washington Times. Liberal populism, championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), has a real following, too. The two strains share many of the same goals: They both want to rein in Wall Street and stop big businesses from receiving “special treatment,” and they both believe that the nation’s politics have become “distorted by malign forces and alliances.” Liberals, however, believe the only way to curb the excesses of the 1 percent is with government intervention; conservatives want federal meddling to stop altogether. Nonetheless, both strains are putting some real pressure on “the political establishment.” As well they should, said Salena Zito in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Too many politicians of both parties have been seduced by power and money, and have forgotten the people they’re supposed to represent. In 2014 and 2016, voters will be asking, “Are you one of us, or have you left us for Washington?”

The reason for the voters’ despair is plain, said Ron Fournier in NationalJournal.com.  The American dream of upward mobility seems dead, and neither party seems to have any plan to revive it. “For many, the Republican Party is becoming too extreme, while the Democratic Party—specifically, President Obama—raised and dashed their hopes for true reform.” In polls, a majority of Americans now say they no longer feel represented by either party. That’s the real lesson from Cantor’s defeat: “Change or lose power, folks.”
Post a Comment