The Populist Addiction: David Brooks on creating divides rather than bridging divides.

My coalition building, transpartisan friend Michael Ostrolenk pointed out to me that my finger wagging at Wall Street Elites was not transpartisan, that is to say I was making a divide rather than bridging a divide.  Michael was right and I was interested to see that David Brooks has something to say on this subject too.  Walt

Op-Ed Columnist

The Populist Addiction

Click here for the full Op-Ed


Published: January 25, 2010
(Opening excerpt)

Politics, some believe, is the organization of hatreds. The people who try to divide society on the basis of ethnicity we call racists. The people who try to divide it on the basis of religion we call sectarians. The people who try to divide it on the basis of social class we call either populists or elitists.

David Brooks

These two attitudes — populism and elitism — seem different, but they’re really mirror images of one another. They both assume a country fundamentally divided. They both describe politics as a class struggle between the enlightened and the corrupt, the pure and the betrayers.

Both attitudes will always be with us, but these days populism is in vogue. The Republicans have their populists. Sarah Palin has been known to divide the country between the real Americans and the cultural elites. And the Democrats have their populists. Since the defeat in Massachusetts, many Democrats have apparently decided that their party has to mimic the rhetoric of John Edwards’s presidential campaign. They’ve taken to dividing the country into two supposedly separate groups — real Americans who live on Main Street and the insidious interests of Wall Street………..

Click here for the full Op-Ed

One Response to “The Populist Addiction: David Brooks on creating divides rather than bridging divides.”
  1. Martin says:

    There is an interesting timing to David’s article as I was just having a very similar conversation on a plane two weeks ago. I mentioned to a conservative restaurant developer that perhaps what we needed was a populist discussion about jobs, and he quickly mentioned that he wanted “nothing to do with populist anything.” He said that it tended to frame the issue in terms of the people vs. business and he saw no good coming from that! (At least in his perspective.)

    So I totally agree that we need to be careful in our casual use of loaded words and remember that one man’s populist hero is another man’s anti-business villain.

    Thanks for suggesting the article…

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