Why Liberals Have Never Gotten Populism

old BR / new BR

My essay “Real Americans” is out from Boston Review, both online and in the cool-looking relaunched print version of that well-regarded, well-established publication. (You can’t tell in this picture, but my essay is flagged on the new cover.) The cast of characters includes Sarah Palin, Woodrow Wilson, William Jennings Bryan, Frank Rich and others. The idea is to base a discussion of the Tea Party, etc., on a critique of liberalism and its tropes.

Feel free to comment on BR’s site or here or both; updates to follow.

[UPDATE: Since I’m inviting people to comment on the article over at Boston Review’s site, it’s unfortunate that in Internet Explorer 7, at least, comments there are not displaying. I think BR is working on it, but in the meantime, the site as a whole is best accessed in another browser.]

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2 thoughts on “Why Liberals Have Never Gotten Populism

  1. Many, many americans deny class issues and “distinctions”; many also sublimate these same issues, which has a corrosive, social effect. I believe this cannot be left out of the discussion that is presented regarding “merit” and “expertise” in this society. In addition, it is worth pointing out that one of the main, social alternatives to “maritocracy” and a society that runs of managerial expertise is unionism, and that many of the same people who reject meritocracy and expertise also reject unionism. I do not see how these conditions can be synthesized whatsoever. Many “popular” responses and “positions” in american society are this messy and inchoate, and in the end, reveal a genuine penchant for a kind of american idiocy, with a special emphasis on what “idios” means in ancient greek. In addition, as both Louis Jordan (put down that racing form and PAY attention!) AND Socrates knew (how can you persuade me if I refuse to listen–from the beginning of the Republic) if people DON’T listen and ARE inattentive, discussion and thinking will NOT occur, nor will persuasion of any kind.

  2. I’ve always liked that particular Louis Jordan moment, enjoyed the reference. I could not agree more that the issue in the end is about American denial of class — and I’ll buy “idiocy,” the way you mean it.

    “…many of the same people who reject meritocracy and expertise also reject unionism.” Yup.

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