Many Americans Identify Themselves as Populists

A 1980 political survey asking carefully structured questions to people on the street concluded that 20% of Independents, 18% of Republicans and 37% of Democrats answered the questions in such a way as to classify themselves as "populists" (Source: Center for Political Studies). Why is it that we seldom read or hear about these Americans and what exactly is it that these Americans believe which disqualifies them from being called liberals or conservatives? In this letter, I will attempt to answer these mysterious questions.

Populists are strong nationalists ("Americans and America first"). Not only are they against illegal immigration, but they are pretty much, as a matter of principle, against any immigration of foreign people into the United States. They believe that liberals and conservatives (most party Democrats and Republicans) are internationalists. Populists are not for "free trade" or what conservatives and libertarians call the unhampered free market. To a populist, free trade is not "fair trade" because they believe there are special interest groups of super rich people who grow richer, building monopolies with free trade, while the majority of Americans are taken advantage of.

Populists are for abolishing the federal reserve bank, which they believe is under the direct control of one-world conspirators. They want the issuance of money to be handled by congress. They believe the rich should be taxed at a much greater rate in order to reduce their influence in national and foreign affairs which benefits them at the expense of everyone else.

Populists believe in strong tariffs added on to the price of imports to prevent foreign competitors from underpricing American companies (this is called "protectionism"). They are against giving foreign aid to other countries. They are also against getting involved in wars on foreign soil, which they believe are started by rich internationalists in order to protect their foreign investments of wealth. Populists are very patriotic and once a war includes the fighting soldiers of America, they support the war efforts of the American military without reservations.

Populists believe the world conspirators are internationalist bankers who have learned through many years of experience to control money, nations and people. Because neither liberals or conservatives address the concerns which populists have for the events they see unfolding in the world in general and in America in particular, they tend to say, "A plague on both your houses!" Populists claim past presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as fellow populists. They believe contemporary personalities Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan hold to a lot of populist viewpoints.

Some in the media (including Rush Limbaugh) call populists "nativists" and "isolationists", while populists would change those labels to "nationalists" and "noninterventionists". Many liberals and conservatives think of populists as conspiracy nuts, kooks, alarmists, or fearmongers. Populists are always expressing concern for the loss of American sovereignty to a world conspiracy which they say wishes to abolish Christianity, inheritance, private property, the family unit, and national patriotism. All of this is to be replaced by a New World Order Plan which a super rich elite have in store for all the rest of us.

I am not a populist. However, I am aware of all of their concerns. I sympathize with them to some degree, but mainly because I feel they are getting cheated out of expressing their opinions in the national political dialogue. I believe this effort to censor their perspective by so many conservatives and liberals will cause more problems and merely energize the suspicions of populists.

Some in the media (including Rush Limbaugh) believe that the political philosophy of populism is so dead wrong that to argue for or even against any of the populist opinions jeopardizes one's credibility and distracts from the important political issues of the day. I, myself as a conservative, also see this as the greatest weakness of populism.

In conclusion, whether they turn out to be right or wrong, I believe that populists are so focused on a possible social, political and economic conspiracy, that they often lose focus on the very real dangers to society which are clearly all around us every day. However, to ignore their arguments and their very existence in the population will not benefit liberals or conservatives, the long run.

--Kenneth J. Wolf #39 (12/07/94)

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