From what I’ve been reading Populism has its good and bad points in history.
Popular anger can be channeled in unproductive ways! Take Karl Rove’s stirring the masses to perceived threats, or the days of the McCarthy era. Popular anger used to further a narrow political agenda, stir up a witch hunt, will not make our nation stronger. Bad American populists include the KKK and the Weather Underground.
In the United States populism has always been a protest of ordinary people. Ordinary people who want a government that doesn’t betray public interests, isn’t tilted to favor the wealthy, is fair and honest to all citizens. The liberal humorist, Will Rogers –the Jon Stewart of his day — once said: “All the feed is going into one manger, and the stock on the other side of the stall ain’t getting a thing.”
Public outrage is a terrible thing to waste. Will President Obama and his administration find useful ways to channel this disenchantment? Will he be successful enough to keep growing anger, even rage, at bay until confidence can be rebuilt? Will President Obama be able to convince most Americans that government is on our side? Will great reform once again come from the hardest of times?