from Peggy Noonan at the WSJ, Trump, Oprah and the Art of Deflection
We will not go back for a long time, maybe ever. We are in the age of celebrity and the next one will and can be anything—Nobel laureate, movie star, professional wrestler, talk-show host, charismatic corporate executive.
The political class can bemoan this—the veteran journalists, the senators and governors, the administrators of the federal government. But this is a good time to remind ourselves that it was the failures of the political class that brought our circumstances about.
When at least half the country no longer trusts its political leaders, when people see the detached, cynical and uncaring refusal to handle such problems as illegal immigration, when those leaders commit a great nation to wars they blithely assume will be quickly won because we’re good and they’re bad and we’re the Jetsons and they’re the Flintstones, and while they were doing that they neglected to notice there was something hinky going on with the financial sector, something to do with mortgages, and then the courts decide to direct the culture, and the IRS abuses its power, and a bunch of nuns have to file a lawsuit because the government orders them to violate their conscience . . .
Why wouldn’t people look elsewhere for leadership?
Progressivism sought to accomplish many of the populist goals of its day. In doing so it created a political class that was removed from the whims of the voters. It preached more democracy while it created less democratic accountability. The political class practiced diversity of every sort except intellectual diversity, and became increasingly isolated. Populists need demons and their demon today is the elite, created in the laboratories of Progressive ideology.
Populism is a check on the ruling elites. They would be wise to listen.
If Trump is successful and the conditions invigorating the populists are mitigated, the passions of populism will have much less power. Populism ususally subsides because the problems solve themselves, the saviors fail to deliver on their promises, or the interests of the voters change.