There are two types of populism, writes Victor Davis Hanson, that go back to classical times. There's the populism of the mob, which wants redistribution and to tax the rich. Then there is the populism of the small property-owners and small businessmen, little people with a retirement nest egg threatened by the ruling class.
Although it is usual to marginalize both these populisms as reactions of the simple-minded to necessary "creative destruction," it is perhaps important to remember an underappreciated factor: the backwash of the ruling class's wars and incompetent manipulations.
Here's what I mean.
Sure, the French Revolution unleashed the mob, but it was the mess of French government finance that brought on the revolution and the subsequent revolutionary inflation that radicalized the whole country. The Old Regime was incompetent; the new regime was evil.
The working-class ructions in Britain after the Napoleonic Wars are inseparable from the deflation working Brits suffered, after a generation of war, as their government returned gold to its pre-war parity.
The Jacksonian populism in the U.S. cannot be separated from Old Hickory's demolition job on the Hamiltonian financial system, and the late 19th-century rural populism and industrial strife follows the U.S. deflation after the Civil War.
Let us say, for argument's sake, that the 1920s boom and crash were the fault of Andrew Mellon, who woke up every morning with a new tax cut, and President Coolidge, who spent several mornings a month looking for ways to cut spending. Still, the ruling class made a complete mess of taming the animal spirits loosed by Andy and Cal Show. And then the ruling class mucked up on its response to the 1929 Crash and doubled the disaster with stupidities like the National Industrial Recovery Act.
We all know that the 2000s boom and crash were all about stupid Dodds and Franks putting the pedal to the metal to push mortgages out to under-collateralized and sub-prime borrowers. And the subsequent crash was about Gentle Ben failing to do his job as lender of last resort.
Remember Harry Truman's boast: the buck stops here? My plan is for Congress to write a law, that the chairman of the Federal Reserve shall display upon his desk a sign, that reads: "Lender of Last Resort. This Means You, Chump." I mean Champ.
Sure, whenever the ruling class screws the economy, with its wars or its financial incompetence, the little people are going to be hardest hit. The only question is whether it will be the propertyless – the swinish multitude – or the small-time rentiers and the white working class – the deplorables.
But what about the rest of us? Sure, we don't end up jobless and end up on disability when the ruling class screws up, and we don't get wiped out by the once-in-a-generation financial crash. But why do we put up with these incompetents?
What finally put me over the top was this. I went to a fundraiser concert over the weekend, and the M.C. for the event was a drag queen who got us all on to our feet to sing the National Anthem, which, as you all know, is "Somewhere over the Rainbow."
You will be truly shocked to read that no safe spaces were provided for the transgendered, who might have been offended and microaggressed by the drag queen appropriating their culture.
What I want to know is, why does the dig-in-our-pockets-for-charity crowd put up with this abuse? How about we regular guys get all riled up and mad at the world and get up and say we are not going to take it anymore?
How about we sit gays down and tell them how tolerant we are to have gone along with their "gay marriage" baloney?
How about we insist that politicians bow and scrape a lot more for our checks that keep them in the game?
How about we sit the professors and the teachers down and tell 'em how we want our kids educated? And hey, pal! Stop pumping Our Kids full of lefty activism rubbish.
How about the FBIs and DOJs do their jobs and stop playing FISA roulette with presidential candidates?
How about the tech titans start to think they need to truckle a bit to people like us rather than the usual liberal suspects?
Here's the point. The only way these various members of the national Idiocracy are going to pay attention to us is if they start to fear us. And the only way they are going to fear us is if we start acting up and causing a ruckus.
Maybe it's time for you and me to show 'em what populism looks like when done by professionals.
It is probably the only way to get these spoiled children of liberal land to show people like us a little respect.