As a general rule, I try not to track punditry as it relates to political contests. It strikes me that a lot of what’s said following the results of something like, oh, let’s say the Iowa caucuses, proves to be spectacularly overblown if not just outright false.
I understand why they write and/or broadcast it. I’m a journalist, of course, and I’ve covered elections in the past. Something has to fill all of those column-inches or minutes of air, so you take your best stab at what it all means and lay it out, even though “only time will tell” who’s right in the end.
All of that said, I did read some of the post-Iowa punditry, and it was interesting to find out how much agreement there was on one point: The victories of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee revealed a dark threat in our current politics, and that threat is Populism.
Conservative commentators seem to be especially upset, including George Will and Jonah Goldberg.
I’ve never understood the passion that Populism brings out among its opponents. It seems to be essentially American and democratic – putting policies in place that first look out for the average person, and then look for ways to keep the elite of society happy. But nearly every time something with a Populist bent is brought up, elite commentators get fired up. Politicians, of course, are more subtle about it because they depend upon our votes. But the pundit class has no problem writing screeds against people who at least say they would stick up for the rest of us.
By the way, a writer named David Sirota is an avid defender of Populists and Populist policies. Here’s one article he wrote on the Iowa contest.