Populism is Not About Mobs, Anti-Government Rants or Opinion Polls by Jim Hightower
If a political pollster asked whether I consider myself a conservative or a liberal, I’d answer, “No.”
Not to be cute — I have a bit of both in me — but because, like most Americans, my beliefs can’t be squeezed into either of the tidy little boxes that the establishment provides.
I’ve observed that the true political spectrum in our society does not range from right to left, but from top to bottom. This is how America’s economic and political systems really shake out, with each of us located somewhere high or low that spectrum. Right to left is political theory; top to bottom is the reality we actually experience in our lives every day — and the vast majority of Americans know that they’re not even within shouting distance of the moneyed powers that rule from the top of both systems, whether those elites call themselves conservatives or liberals.
For me, the “ism” that best encompasses and addresses this reality is populism. What is it? Essentially, it’s the continuation of America’s democratic revolution. It encompasses and extends the creation of a government that is us. Instead of a “trickle down” approach to public policy, populism is solidly grounded in a “percolate up” philosophy that springs directly from America’s founding principle of the Common Good.
Few people today call themselves populists, but I think most are. I’m not talking about the recent political outbursts by confused, used and abused Trumpian ranters who’ve been organized by corporate front groups to spread a hatred of government. Rather, I mean the millions of ordinary Americans in every state who’re battling the real power that’s running roughshod over us: out-of-control corporations. With their oceans of money and their hired armies of lobbyists, lawyers, economists, consultants and PR agents, these self-serving, autocratic entities operate from faraway executive suites and Washington backrooms to rig the economic and governmental rules so that they capture more and more of America’s money and power.