Populism's a Losing Strategy

Voters too smart to buy into class struggle, writes David Brooks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2010 5:15 AM CST
Populist American politician Huey Long smiles while sitting behind several NBC microphones during a radio broadcast.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Populism is back in vogue but politicians scrambling to bash the elite forget that it's almost always been a losing strategy, warns David Brooks. Politicians—whether they're Democrats taking potshots at Wall Street or Sarah Palin blasting the cultural elite—should remember that America was built by people like Alexander Hamilton who "rejected the idea that the national economy is fundamentally divided along class lines," Brooks notes in the New York Times.

Voters are smart enough to realize what's bad for the elites won't be good for them if it holds back free enterprise, and that attacking the rich and powerful won't solve the country's problems, Brooks writes. Politicians attacking enterprise and capitalism will increase uncertainty about the economy, and "will have traded dynamic optimism, which always wins, for combative divisiveness, which always loses," Brooks warns.

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