How did it come to pass that of the two political parties, the Democrats — who have long fought for the underdog, civil rights, consumer protections, universal health care, the minimum wage and for unions against powerful interests that try to crush them — have now been branded in large swaths of the country as the party of the establishment and the elites?
Hark back to the original populists of the 1890s and they saw themselves exactly the same way, as champions of common Americans left behind by distant, powerful interests that were driving — and profiting from — economic dislocation and change.
These populists channeled the fears and frustrations of Southern and Midwestern farmers who were straining to keep up in an increasingly industrialized and national economy — and growing more and more resentful toward an emerging modern culture that no longer venerated the yeomen and instead celebrated the captains of industry.
I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. As those who have read my posts during this campaign are aware, I have criticized Mr. Trump in the strongest terms, comparing him to Joe McCarthy, Heinrich Himmler, Benito Mussolini and Lonesome Rhodes—a populist demagogue played by Andy Griffith in the film, A Face In the Crowd.
I retract nothing; I apologize for nothing. So why was I curiously elated on election night when Trump was declared the winner? Simple. It was a purely visceral reaction: I was tired of being condescended to by smug liberals.
Is Mitt Romney more like Gordon Gekko, the greedy anti-hero in the movie Wall Street, or Thurston Howell, the elitist millionaire in the TV show Gilligan’s Island? Is he a rapacious, heartless capitalist with no conscience, or a conceited man of privilege who doesn’t have a clue how the rest of us live but patronizingly believes he does?
The Obama campaign has chosen the Gekko frame to define Romney for the fall election and has staked its early advertising on it. But Howell may be an even better bet. Continue reading Mitt Romney: Gordon Gekko or Thurston Howell?