Bill Lind argues that a successful populism would be culturally conservative and economically liberal. It’s true that research shows that Republican voters lean to the left of their elites on economics and that Democratic voters lean to the right of their elites on social questions. But this ignores the fact that the Democrats and Republicans represent the left and right wings of the ruling class. Their objectives are to defend their own class interests or at least the sectors of their class they represent.
Any “populist” stances they adopt are purely rhetorical, propagandistic, opportunistic and cynical. Look how hard the establishment Republicans worked to keep Trump from getting the nomination. And Trump governs as a normal Republican most of the time anyway. Look how hard the Democrats worked to prevent Sanders from getting the nomination. Additionally, both parties have built their constituencies by persistently reaching out to the cultural fringes for decades, and turned movements like the religious right or the SJW left into reliable voting blocks. They’re not going to toss these.
By William S. Lind
The measures taken thus far by President Trump, Congress, and the Fed to provide financial relief to companies and individuals during the coronavirus panic seem to have been the right ones–with one possible mistake. What is that? Giving people who have been laid off $600 per week in addition to their normal unemployment benefit. While well-intentioned–we all want to help those who are struggling–it is already having some negative effects and promises more down the line.
The problems stem from the fact that, for many hourly workers, they are now receiving, thanks to the extra $600, more money in unemployment benefits than they normally earn from their job. Some unintended consequences are already visible. While many businesses have been hurt by the panic and related closures, others have seen sales grow enormously. Those businesses need more employers to meet the demand. Here in Ohio, 40,000 jobs are going begging. Why should people take those jobs when they get paid more to stay home, thanks to the extra $600?