How Did We Get Here?
Here’s another interesting juxtaposition: Glenn Greenwald’s post about how the otherwise alarming Ron Paul is attracting support, money and excitement thanks to his emphatic pro-Constitution and antiwar positions; and David Sirota’s post on how Mike Huckabee and John Edwards are running as anti-corruption, anti-oligarchy, anti-economic-inequality populists.
[Warning: Paragraph composed entirely of questions to follow. You may want to avert your eyes.]
I don’t like any of Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee’s other positions, but how strange is it that two Republican candidates are offering stronger antiwar, pro-rule-of-law, populist messages than the two front-running Democrats and the entire party leadership? How did this happen? Shouldn’t all of those messages be core elements of the Democratic brand? Could it be that we’re seeing a People Party/Money Party divide instead of a Republican/Democrat divide? Is it even possible for Republicans to belong to the People Party? Maybe Huckabee belongs to the Grassroots Theocrat Party instead?
Here’s an ethical and strategic question to consider: If Paul and/or Huckabee (or some other fundamentalist candidate backed by the We-Hate-Rudy Religious Right) decides to make a third-party run, should Democrats and progressives help them get on the ballot, like Republicans and conservatives did for Nader? It’s underhanded but not illegal, and it would be chock full o’ poetic justice.
Finally, a comment on populism’s upside that I couldn’t integrate gracefully into the rest of the post: When done right, like in John Edwards’ great New Hampshire speech, it reminds people who are struggling of why they’re struggling. They’re not struggling because of the blacks or the gays or the immigrants or the women’s lib, they’re struggling because the rich and powerful have rigged the system for their own benefit. This would be a very powerful message for the Democratic party, if they cared to use it.