Sunday, November 12, 2006

Populism Rather Than Partisanship

Revealing article in this a.m.'s NYTimes about the 2006 class of new Democratic Reps. & Sens. set to take office in January and, we hope, change the tone in Washington.
I was taught at a very, very young age about faith and personal responsibility, and through that, that responsibility was about helping those who cannot help themselves. If you look at what the Democratic Party stands for, it is about helping others who can't help themselves. (NC-11 Congressman-elect Heath Shuler)

Populist rather than ideological, these 41 new House members and 6 new senators represent an America weary after a dozen years of hard-right Congresses dominated by Tom DeLay & Co., not to mention six years of dishonest neo-con manipulation.

And just so we all know what we're talking about when we use the term "populism":
"Populism" is a political ideology, the central tenet of which is the conviction that governments ought to concern themselves with providing the conditions for the greatest good for the greatest number. Populists typically are opposed to both oligarchy, or government by the few, and plutocracy, or government by the wealthy.

Organized American populism began with a political party formed in 1891, which was subsequently active in the election of 1892. It arose among farmers exploited by creditors. These agrarian (that is, farm-based) populists opposed deflationary monetary policies that favored creditors, and advocated control of monopolies.

Populists may be found among liberals and conservatives alike. Patrick Buchanan, for example, is a conservative populist, while Jim Hightower is a liberal populist. Generally, conservative populists are more concerned about the size and power of governments, while liberal populists tend to be more concerned about the size and power of big business; but at the base of both perspectives is a strikingly similar concern with large, unresponsive, bureaucratic, and unaccountable institutions. Both would agree with Lord Acton's celebrated observation: "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to to govern. Every class is unfit to govern .... Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

You go, Democratic populists of 2006!

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