Everybody’s a populist

Just about everybody in politics is claiming to be a “populist” these days–leftwinger Elizabeth Warren, rightwinger Ted Cruz, establishment icon Hillary Clinton, the Christian right’s Mike Huckabee, Occupy Wallstreeters, Tea Partiers, and on and on.

Rutgers history professor David Greenberg points out that the term once had a very specific meaning, relating to the farmer/labor coalition against the railroads and bankers in the late 19th century,  as led by William Jennings Bryan.  The ideology combined a type of socialist economics (nationalize the railroads!) with respect for “ordinary” Americans (a man of the people! champion of the common man!).  Today liberals are seizing upon the economic part (while comprising the cultural elite that the old populists scorned), while conservatives are seizing upon the ordinary American part (a demographic that today tends not to like socialism).

But this reminds us that the left owes a big debt to William Jennings Bryan, today often mocked for his creationism at the Scopes Monkey Trial.  And that there was a time when evangelical Christians were often leftists. [Read more…]

The conservatives’ choice?

Three thousand conservative activists held a convention known as CPAC and were wooed by  prospective Republican presidential candidates.  In the final straw poll, Rand Paul won, for the third year in a row, with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker coming in a close second.

Jeb Bush came in fifth, despite busing in supporters to drown out the boos.  For all of his big money, he is doing poorly in the polls.  Walker, though, seems to be surging in popularity.  But CPAC showed that conservatives are tilting libertarian, not just in picking Paul.  Delegates also wanted to legalize marijuana and were opposed to new military ventures.

Who would you pick?  Do you think conservatives will rally around a standard bearer, and, if so, who?  Will their candidate get nominated?  How about elected?

[Read more…]

Anti-science liberals

Democrats are reviving the notion that “conservatives are anti-science!”  But what about the anti-science stance of liberals when it comes to abortion, genetically-modified foods, fracking, and environmental apocalypse?  And did you know that far more Democrats than Republicans believe in astrology, flying saucers, fortune telling, and New Age medicine?  David Harsanyi and Ian Tuttle both make that case, after the jump. [Read more…]

Woes of both the public and the private sectors

Conservatives are skeptical about the government and look to the private sector to solve our problems.  Liberals are skeptical about the private sector and look to the government for solutions.  Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers says that our problem is that BOTH the public sector AND the private sector are dysfunctional. [Read more…]

Rise of the Conservatarians

There is a new word in the political lexicon, gaining currency as Rand Paul builds a following in the high-tech crowd:  Conservatarian.  A combination of “conservative” and “libertarian.”

So would any of you describe yourselves as Conservatarians?  What are its tenets?  How is it different from regular old “libertarian”?  Or regular old “conservative”?  Might this become a winning political ideology? [Read more…]

Liberal culture & conservative culture

A new Pew study of the political polarization in this country has found some distinct cultural differences between liberals and conservatives.  Read about it after the jump, where I also offer some observations and propose something for us to discuss. [Read more…]