Newsflash: Populism Is Popular
By David Sirota
April 17, 2008 - 1:08pm ET
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Whenever pundits and political elites express surprise at the power of populism, I always think back to the tongue-in-cheek headline of Chris Hayes' In These Times article that read "Economic Populism Proves Popular." Populism is an ideology that says that government should - gasp! - reflect what actual people want. It is just so damn funny when the same political Establishment professing reverence for our democracy then expresses outrage and surprise that politicians once in a while are forced to reflect what the public wants.
So I was laughing today when I read this Bloomberg News piece breathlessly telling us that "Democrats Pushing Obama, Clinton Toward Populism" - as if that's something so outrageous and odd as to be shocking. Here's the critical news from Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina - three states whose primaries are coming up:
Democrats in all three states had a negative view of trade, with 58 percent in Indiana, 55 percent in Pennsylvania and 61 percent in North Carolina saying it has hurt the economy. At least three in 10 in each state say it hurt a lot.
This finding conforms with earlier polling showing voters of both parties are sick and tired of lobbyist-written trade policies that undermine our economy and destroy the environment and human rights in the developing world.
Additionally, the same poll shows the public is angry about our politicians using their power to hand over more goodies to the banks and Wall Street firms that created the financial crisis:
A majority in each state favors a government bailout of homeowners in danger of foreclosure, according to a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll of likely Democratic voters...After mortgage lenders, voters in the three states faulted insufficient government regulation, as well as irresponsible borrowers, for the housing crisis...Respondents in all three states say, by margins of 2 to 1 or better, that the federal government should regulate the financial industry more aggressively.
That news outlets seem so surprised that the public supports populist policies to deal with our economic crisis just shows how out of touch with mainstream public opinion our political elite is from the rest of the country.
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