Take populism back from the flim flam man

Forrest Johnson

I’m not quite sure how it happened that the New Conservative Neanderthal Party (NCNP), formerly the Republicans, has managed to pull the old switcheroo on the populist movement.
The Tea Party, “The Rebellion to Stay the Same,” is also in on the heist, and I suppose to a lesser degree so are the religious factions who somehow have lost sight of the words from the original populist, one Jesus of Nazareth, to side with the conservatives.
Put simply, was Jesus a conservative or a progressive?
What conservative causes do we celebrate as a people? Is the Constitution a progressive or conservative document?
William F. Buckley is gone and we are left with, in my mind, a hollow rhetorical menu that speaks in terms Orwell so eloquently described. Turn the tables on meaning, blame the messenger, keep your freedoms by shedding freedoms. Claim populism in the name of patriotism.
Have you noticed that the NCNP and Tea Party (Fee Party) fervor to rid oneself of oppressive government includes imposing restrictions on freedom? As the spoken NCNP platform describes an oppressive and all-consuming government menace creeping across the land, the efforts to restrict are well underway, set to appear on ballots in this state and other states as constitutional amendments.
How else can you describe votes to amend the constitution that are stacked against minorities? In the worry over the notion of marriage, the worrywarts are asking the vast majority of the non-gay population to take a stand against an absolute minority. That sounds like the kind of election that takes place under authoritarian rule. The same holds true if the clowns in the circus can push (No) Right to Work legislation onto the November ballot. Less than 11 percent of working Americans are protected under union contracts, so under the guise of freedom for the worker to choose if he or she wants to join the union, the 89 percent of people working at-will in non-contract jobs will be asked to determine the freedoms of less than 11 percent of their fellow working Americans.
If these folks had been around in 1964 and 1965, perhaps the notion of civil rights and voting laws might have been avoided for another generation or two by getting those questions on ballots for a popular vote. That’s the way it works when majorities vote against minorities, when the constitutional idea of majority rule, minority rights is ignored in a democratic society.
What a country.     
In my youth, the left was the one fighting against a conformist and oppressive government bent on diminishing individual rights, waging wars, and stopping protest. It didn’t matter if it was Ronald Ray-gun in California or Richard Daley in Chicago—the status quo was to be protected and dissent made criminal. The civil society was to be upheld at the cost of civil rights.
Populism has been hijacked.
Today the false populists are urging Americans to limit freedoms in order to restore the freedom of conformity. The conformists have somehow commandeered the notion of populism away from those who were able to fight oppression by waging the political and cultural struggles over the past 100 years.
All I can say is that Teddy Roosevelt would take the big stick to the confused hordes of fellow Americans who have taken populism away from the people and handed it over to the worrywarts and flim flam man.