Populism: the Last 50 Years

Frank Cannon at The American Spectator has some thoughts about the assassination of Robert Kennedy 50 years ago this month. Yeah, 1968 was quite the year, a major watershed, seemed like it then and it has proved so.

His impact has resonated well beyond 1968, however. As my late friend Jeff Bell argued in his book, Populism and Elitism, Robert Kennedy’s short-lived campaign drew strongly on populist impulses — that is, an optimism about the ability of people to make decisions about their own lives, rather than relying on elites to do it for them. This approach seemed to be giving Kennedy the momentum in the race, until that fateful moment on June 5th:

Kennedy’s assassination on the night of the California primary put a halt to that effort, not just for 1968 but (in large part) for the decades since. No subsequent liberal leader has made an effective effort to develop a form of left populism… Subsequent polling in 1968 found many white Kennedy voters lining up for Richard Nixon and George Wallace, although, with great difficulty, [Hubert] Humphrey got some of them back by the November election. But no Democratic presidential nominee has ever done as well as Humphrey with these voters in the five elections since. In short, the effort to keep the Democrats’ majority coalition together with a more populist appeal began and ended in the three months of Robert Kennedy’s campaign.

That is, I think beyond question. Many of Kennedy’s policies didn’t appeal to me, even then, but he did, then and now. In truth, of the brothers, with what we know now, he is the only one who does.

In addition, it strikes me that perhaps this is where the traditional liberalism was mortally wounded, as misguided as much of it was, in my view, it was honest and really did want to help people. What we have now merely uses people in an attempt to take and keep power.

In 1964, with the nomination of Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party had taken its first tentative steps towards a conservative populism. Since the 1950s, it had been defined by such leaders as Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller, who could best be described as conservative elitists. However, beginning with the tumultuous election campaign of 1968, this ground quickly began to shift. Richard Nixon and his “silent majority” powered a counter-conservative Republican populism, culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan a decade later. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party came to be dominated by elite progressives, who had begun to gradually take over vast swaths of the culture and American institutions.

Since then, this state of affairs has come to predominate, though not without a few twists along the way. After Reagan, the conservatives who had found success with him during his presidency formed their own elite establishment, best represented by institutions such as the Chamber of Commerce, which dominated conservative policymaking, elevating business-friendly policies to the detriment of more populist issues — at least until 2016.

And then came Trump, the heir of both Bobby Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. The author makes the point that Trump is different still again. Rather than conservative, he is anti-progressive (and a lot of that is conservative in nature). But it also owes a fair amount to Teddy Roosevelt, and his love for “The Strenuous Life”.

And in some ways, I suspect it is a very specifically American thing. We really are different, rowdier, prouder, and more passionate about our system, than pretty much anybody in the world. That doesn’t (and never has) precluded us from cooperating with other organizations who have similar goals or opposing those who would overly compromise freedom in any place or time. The main difference really, is that it is the almost unfiltered views of the American people. And the ‘elites’, left and right, don’t like that one bit, but that is how you get more Trump, longer.

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Another Late Edition of the Week in Pictures

And so, a couple days late.

Thomas the Tank Engine in his Goth phase.

Of course

Mostly, but not entirely, from PowerLine and Bookworm, as usual

Picture This Week

So, another week in the books.

YANNY, LAUREL, OR….

Muppet Outtakes!!!

Once upon a time, P.J O’Rourke gave a most cogent explanation of why America doesn’t get invaded. You might remember it. In any case, here is the visual aid.

Mom taught us to share, right?

Congratulations to  Kaitlyn Marie, a graduate of Kent State University, class of 2018. Now she can protect herself on campus.

As usual, mostly from PowerLine and Bookworm, and diverse other places. Enjoy!

ps.

And just a royal wedding quibble or two. A couple of my Anglican friends, @DrJulesGomes and Gavin Ashenden had reservations on the Bishop’s message at the royal wedding yesterday. I don’t disagree with them, and the bishop will likely never have a more bully pulpit, But I have my doubts that anybody was really paying all that much attention, it was after all a show wedding, and I don’t know about you, but at my wedding, I had a few other things on my mind beyond what the preacher was preaching at me.

It also struck me that if this was my daughter marrying into the British Royal Family, I’d want her to have the best and that Rolls Royce she went to church in, while a pretty decent car, and rare too, wasn’t considered the best when it was built. This was:

That is a 1936 Packard All Weather Cabriolet V12, which quite a few reviewers at the time thought was a better car than the Rolls Royce. This particular one would have been highly appropriate having both show business and British connections. How does that work, you ask? Well, its original owner was a chap by the name of Charlie Chaplin.

Ask the man who owns one.

Of Special Relationships

Well, in case you missed it there was a wedding at St. George’s Chapel, in Windsor castle this morning. A half black American divorcee married Prince Harry. I didn’t plan on watching but I was up, so I watched a fair amount of it. It was an interesting service, a combination of traditional Church of England and American African Episcopal. It worked amazingly well together. But then the United Kingdom and the United States usually do.

St George’s Chapel is the mother church of the Order of the Garter, the oldest and most prestigious order of chivalry in the world, founded by King  Edward III, also the founder of the order in 1348.

It is also the burial place of King Henry VIII and George III (and a fair number of others) but those two are arguably the two most important in American history, one the author of the original Brexit, and the turning of England away from Europe and out into the world, and the other one of the causes of the United States. Wonder what they would have thought!

So maybe it’s a good time to take stock of the general Special Relationship. Despite Brexit (as the BBC would surely say) and Trump. it continues with a deep bond between our peoples. Actually, I think that both Brexit and Trump strengthen it. Both are well within our character. Neither country is likely to take well to being ruled by a foreign so-called elite.

Ginny Montalbano interviewed Nile Gardiner about that very thing.

Ginny MontalbanoHow do you see the U.S.-U.K. alliance under the Trump administration so far?

Nile Gardiner: I think overall the current state of the special relationship is very strong. And so the interaction between the British government and the U.S. administration at the moment is very close-knit.

I would say that it’s stronger today than it was under the Obama administration, when there were significantly more tensions and disagreements between the two sides. And a good example of that was the Obama administration’s lack of support for Britain over the Falklands issue against a backdrop of Argentine aggression.

Right now the special relationship is in very good health. You have a U.S. administration that is very pro-British, is very pro-Brexit, that is strong in favor of a U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement, and works incredibly closely with the British government in every area.

Montalbano: Sort of unexpectedly, President Trump has struck up a great dynamic with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. Has that dynamic affected our relationship with the U.K.?

Gardiner: I don’t really think that the recent state visit by the French president makes any difference in terms of the U.S. relationship with Britain. Clearly, Emmanuel Macron has launched a charm offensive in Washington.

But the reality remains that as much as the French aspire to their own special relationship with Great Britain, there is only one special relationship, and that is between the United States and the United Kingdom.

France, of course, is an important ally of the United States, but the strength of the bond between the United States and the United Kingdom is far, far deeper.

I would say that unquestionably today America’s most important ally on the world stage remains Great Britain. When you look at the U.S.-French partnership … there’s a lot of disagreement between the two sides on a wide variety of policy areas.  And I think ideologically Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump are worlds apart.

So while they have struck a good working relationship,  the worldviews of Macron and Trump are very, very different. There’s more synergy, I think, between the foreign policy of U.S. administration and Great Britain right now than there is between the U.S. and France.

MontalbanoThe royal wedding is coming up. Meghan Markle, who is 36, is older than Prince Harry, who is 33. She’s American, biracial, and divorced. What are the implications of this American actress marrying into the royal family?

Gardiner: You have an American marrying into the royal family for the first time certainly since the days of Edward and Mrs. Simpson. This is highly significant, because this will undoubtedly strengthen the bond between the United States and the United Kingdom, the two most important defenders of freedom on the world stage.

With an American marrying into the royal family, that can only be a huge positive for the royal family and for the U.S.-U.K. relationship. I think Meghan Markle will be very warmly welcomed by the royal family and by the British people, and I think she already has been.

I have no doubt that she and Prince Harry will be tremendous representatives for the royal family, not only in Britain but across the world.

I pretty much agree with him, and one thing that I like about Harry, now Duke of Sussex, is that he is the first royal in a long time to be a combat veteran, in Afghanistan, we have seen often how much better that makes men, and I doubt it is different with him,

And I really like that they invited no (none, nada) politicians to the wedding. Not to mention that sewn into her veil was a flower from each of the Commonwealth countries. A family affair.

We’ve been friends with the cousins now for a century, and I see no reason for it not to last as long as our countries do.

Week in Pictures: Finally Sunday

Quite the week, never a dull moment was there?

Spreading the revolution.

Seriously bad language here, NSFW, You have been warned.

This is what winning looks like

A proper childhood:

All the things mentioned here are still echoing down the corridors of the internet, and doing (not so) Great (anymore) Britain untold harm.

By definition: Real News

And a very nice early fifties Dodge pickup to end with.

Mostly from PowerLine this week. Enjoy!

Week in Pictures, Make-up Edition

So, Sunday, again.

The President wants us to be healthy!

Concealment can be difficult.

From PowerLine and Bookworm, and other diverse wonderful places.

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