Today’s faux populists also feast on emotions—anxiety, anger, resentment—that intensify in hard times. But they are more accurately described as plain old reactionaries, a wonderfully precise word that has gone out of common usage. They’re reacting against the pace of change and feeding right-wing nostalgia for a bygone era when a liberal black man wouldn’t dare run for president. And that’s what will likely save us. That instead of wanting to be president, [one] just wants her own talk show, [another] (whose ratings were in steep decline before he left CNN) merely hopes to boost his speaking fees, and [still another] aspires to nothing more than dethroning [still one more other]. The Foxulists all know that actually running for office is a lot harder than signing books and mouthing off about Obama…. But even the most artful use of new technology won’t likely make a populist president. That’s because the country is conservative in a deeper sense. Populism—reactionary or progressive—is disruptive of the social order at a time when most people crave some sense of control over fast-moving events. Sure we want someone to give voice to our frustrations. But from the heart and head, not the spleen.
via Jonathan Alter