The conservative grassroots are thriving, and the wealthy members of the permanent political class who have everything to gain by working with both political parties to expand government and enrich themselves are deluded in their thinking that the populist spirit against them is dying.
So says liberal writer Frank Rich in New York magazine in response to recent reports that the Tea Party may be on the wane. These reports have come even though the movement has forced establishment Republicans, especially those running for re-election, to move to the right on a host of issues.
However, Rich wrote that while “some in the top one percent of both parties want to believe that populism is dead,” that is hardly the case.
“The fact remains that populism is alive and well in the GOP grassroots (as it is among Democrats),” he said. “Rank-and-file Republican voters loathe the Bush administration’s bank bailout today no less than they did yesterday,” he pointed out. He noted that “populist stars like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz remain far more popular among the Republican base than the Establishment candidates that plutocrats like Ken Langone see and applaud on MSNBC and CNBC.”
Wealthy Republicans recently told Politico that they “see signs that the political zeitgeist may be shifting,” but Rich said, “It’s not clear what those signs are.” Groups that have vowed to spend millions waging war against the Tea Party–like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads network and liberal Republican Steve LaTourette’s Main Street Partnership–have been on the run after getting considerable blowback from grassroots conservatives. In addition, the Tea Party movement, as Rich noted, formed to protest much of the domestic spending and the government spending of President George W. Bush, as well as the GOP Congress of the last decade that turned Washington, D.C., into the country’s preeminent “Boomtown.”
Furthermore, as Rich stated, conservative candidates like Cruz and Paul do better than establishment politicians in 2016 presidential polls, and he observed that the only places establishment candidates are hyped are on liberal stations or channels favorable to Wall Street’s interests. The populist spirit against cronyism is alive and well on the left, as well, and establishment Republicans pushing for more moderate candidates may find that they are actually not in sync with what the “zeitgeist” actually is.