Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Joel Kotkin — The three faces of populism

More than at any other time in recent memory, American politics now are centered on class and the declining prospects of the middle class. This is no longer just an issue for longtime leftists or Democratic or right-wing propagandists. It’s a reality so large that even the most detached and self-satisfied Republicans must acknowledge it.…
So, if populism will become a dominant theme in the next election, what form will it take? Populism itself is more a sentiment than a program; it reflects people’s deep-seated fears about the future and a festering resentment of the seemingly unassailable power of financial and other corporate elites.
But the ways of addressing these concerns are often contradictory and almost impossible to agree upon. Right now, we see three distinct types of populism. Two variants, that of the Obama administration and its critics further on the left ["progressives"], share an allegiance to Democratic Party orthodoxy on issues such as climate change, racial redress, feminism and other social issues. 
The third – and, as of now, least-coherent – variant could be described as constitutional conservatism, one that seeks to improve middle-class prospects by reducing federal regulations and taxes and by decentralizing power away from the Washington leviathan…
Over the coming years, party factions that can form a convincing and broad-based populist agenda will have an advantage. Any party that believes, as some Democratic shills now say, that things are “pretty awesome” misses broad-based public sentiment, which remains very negative about the state of the country and the economy. Growing inequality, reduced opportunity – particularly for the new generation – will remain the defining issue of our time. It is time for the political class, in both parties, to confront this reality.
Orange County Register | Opinion
Joel Kotkin: The three faces of populism
Joel Kotkin | R.C. Hobbs Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University in Orange and the executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism

Note that Orange County is one of the most conservative counties in the United States.

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