Populist Conservatism Needs a Home

As we suffer through another day of empire worship in the twin cities, you should check out Bill Kauffman's speech on YouTube from the Rally for the Republic to see what real, heartfelt conservatism looks like. Here's Kauffman on a PBS show:

I'll talk about populism for a second as an example. It has a good side and a bad side. The goodpart of populism is when it's grounded in the particular. A Henry James' character had a line, "Patriotism, like charity, begins at home." A good populism is that, you know, William Jennings Bryan in his 'Cross of Gold" speech said, "Our is not a war of conquest; it is a war in defense of our homes, our families, our freedoms, our communities."

On the other hand, when you have a sort of a populism of rootless people -- that is, sort of, you know, deracinated operatives -- what you end up getting is, you know, scapegoating of immigrants or Jews or things like that, or you get an entirely phony and factitious populism of the Newt Gingrich sort. I think it's illustrative that Gingrich in graduate school is said to have responded to someone when asked, "Where are you from?" "I'm from nowhere." That's very dangerous. We need people who are from places, people who want to defend those places, and people whose politics and way of looking at the world comes from those places.

Conservatism may not be the label I apply to my own politics, but I must confess a deep admiration for such passion for particularism in the face of homogenous empire.

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Written on Thursday, September 04, 2008