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This is my first Member Post, and it started as a quick comment. I soon realized it was getting at something I have wanted to explore a tad deeper, so I have brought it here for your reading pleasure. Thoughts and feedback are highly appreciated. Thank you Ricochet, and thank you dear reader.
Near the end of the most recent Law Talk with Richard Epstein and John Yoo, (#145 The Housewarming Party), Prof. Yoo discussed a recent dissent by Judge Laurence Silberman. Yoo spoke to the change in Silberman’s rulings/philosophy and GOP/Conservatism as one that has become more “populist, anti-institution.” I couldn’t agree more – though perhaps not for the reasons that the culinary savant Yoo may think.
Prof. Epstein makes a good retort that it is because they (the institutions) have “behaved badly.” This explains the changed stance toward corporations and institutions that GOP/Conservative coalitions are going through at the moment. This “populism” is best understood as, “the general public’s movement towards political and institutional changes because of dismay with their elite.”
Populism defined as a du jour movement paints too broadly and fails to highlight the reason for the change.
Epstein lists several examples of “behaving badly” and also points out that the Left is also experiencing its own populist movement. The difference lies in which direction the changes are going and how the parties themselves are changing.
The Left is finding itself further captured by internal forces that are in thrall of a system-leveling, utopian march that has been growing for the better part of the last century. Whereas the Right, once champions of the very cultural and political institutions that were (often properly) viewed as the bedrock of this American society, has seen a dramatically accelerating shift in the direction of these institutions. Not at all led by social/political bottom-up change through slow integration and understanding as is desired by the Right, but rather through direct top-down realignment by those who should rightfully be referred to as the Elite.
The Elite are turning the corporate behemoths in this country into something more akin to Mussolini’s National Council of Corporations; those Elites in the political institutions are bringing about the new Red Scare in their continual Blue-Anon conspiracies; those Elites in the cultural and literary circles raising up new Cathedrals and Pravdas – complete with their own ever-expanding lists of sin from which the only repose is acceptance and conformity. Not a glimmer of benevolence or conversational dignity is to be found.
It is against this Elite that Yoo’s former judge-boss is turning. I applaud those complaining that the mortar of our American foundation that should be repaired and renewed is instead being dismantled. The stones not just chipped away at but rather unceremoniously carried off and casually discarded. The structure will not stand without a solid foundation (perhaps the goal for some), and thankfully it seems (according to polling/social science study) that the general masses are none-too-pleased to see Demolition Crews arriving on the sites of their own communities. The people are asking in their pluralistic ways (both Left, Center, and Right – but really driving many into the Realigning Right – more on that another time) for the return of Restoration Workers.
When faced with a corrupt and captured Elite, the only proper answer for the people is to take a stir at the Populist pot and distill from that stew the hopeful cure. This hopefully fragrant Balm of Gilead will inspire, reinvigorate, motivate, and awaken that American spirit in those who will lead our future institutions, and in due course, reconstitute a proper elite focused on building and beauty as opposed to iconoclasm and destruction.Published in