OK, I’m back again. Baby steps, baby steps.
I read a whole load of stuff I really shouldn’t, like David Brooks’s unctuous slobberings in the service of the self-evident truths of robber baron swine. The pompous turdbag befouled himself something shocking over Haiti, with a cornucopia of racist depravity dressed up as free-market rationality, and I am therefore slightly troubled to find a little common ground with him in today’s column.
What I agree with is where he says that populism, conceived as a policy of the ruling class, is but a mirror image of elitism.
Third, populism is popular with the ruling class. 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.
One bristles at the idea of a ‘Democratic ruling class’ as though there were two ruling classes in America: an absurd fantasy, but the fundamental idea is sound. That is, if you have Democratic party strategists or cheerleaders talking about how Obama should adopt a more populist stance on this or that, they are only doing so as a means to an end: the implementation of a particular policy or set of legislative measures. They are not really concerned with people having the means to decide what they want and then get it; rather, it is a question of being sufficiently manipulative of a sufficient number in order to exert pressure for a sufficient length of time so as to achieve the final goal.
Anyway, it hardly matters that much now, since, as Krugman notes, a propos of the recently announced spending freeze:
And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view — and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008. A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”
Huzzah for populism!