24 February 2008

Obama equals a new populism? I'm sorry , no.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, one Michael Cohen of the New America Foundation, suggests that Barack Obama "could lead to a redefinition of presidential campaign rhetoric" because he is not a traditional antibusiness or antigovernment populist.

His opponent is decisiveness and rancor, and his political movement is among the most inclusive ever seen in American presidential politics.

After his victory in Wisconsin, Mr. Obama said: "The only way we will bring about real change in America is if we can bring new people into the process, if we can attract young people, if we can attract independents, if we can stop fighting with Republicans and try to bring some over to our side. That's how we win elections; that's how we will govern." He is not the first politician to speak in such unifying terms. But rarely has it been couched so clearly in the context of a populist movement.

I am sorry, but I live in Wisconsin. I listened to Mr. Obama's campaign commercials during the run up to the primary. The other in Mr. Obama's commercials is the guy making more than you are. He calls for "economic justice" and then assaults CEOs who "make more in 10 minutes than the average worker makes in a year." That is typical class warfare rhetoric. I suppose Mr. Obama's alternative would be... what? The government setting pay scales? Draconian taxation levels for those whom the market has determined are worth the most?

This is not a new populism. It is the same old antibusiness, anti-rich guy populism that has been around for a long time. The big problem with it today is this: most Americans now owns stock through their 401(k) or other retirement plans. The rich guy that this populism wants to soak is you and me

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