Rasmussen has defined a really fantastic concept for its poll interpretations: the Political Class. The very name evokes images of power elites and pundits, fervently applauding their own efforts while peppering their language with meaningless phrases like “the American people” and “Main Street” (vs. “Wall Street”). Oh, you didn’t get all that from it? Well, I did… Maybe I’m too bitter. Anyway, the Political Class is that small group of elites and its ardent supporters, the ones who try to brand themselves as populists but are in fact concerned primarily with the goodness of their own power and authority.
- Generally speaking, when it comes to important national issues, whose judgment do you trust more – the American people or America’s political leaders?
- Some people believe that the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Has the federal government become a special interest group?
- Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors?
The idea is that each one has three acceptable answers (the populist answer, the elitist answer, and “I don’t know”), and your category is assigned based on your responses. So if you give the elitist answer to 2 questions and I don’t know to a third, or the elitist answer to all three, you’re in the Political Class. Similarly for the Populist Mainstream. I gave the so-called populist answer for all three questions.
This interests me because it’s a definition of populism that’s very much about public sentiment. It’s not that I’m a populist because I support protectionist trade policies (I don’t) or because I support giving a small voting majority free handouts (I certainly don’t) as our elites would have us believe populism really is, but rather that I’m a populist because I think the elites — wherever they are found — are, for the most part, working against popular interests and for their own exclusive advancement.
Don’t misunderstand — I don’t have any objections to people working in their own interests in the private sector. I do, however, have a serious objection to the government acting in its own interest — because that is practically by definition against ours.
It is in the populist answers to those three questions that the true nature of the reform this country rightly yearns for can be found.