Read what Thomas Frank writes in the WSJ:
What is populism? To judge by this coverage, populism is a trick that politicians perform—a clumsy disguise they adopt or a fake-folksy rhetorical line they try to put over. Populism is a species of demagogy, a backwoods form of class war, a sinister cross of Lenin with Li'l Abner.
Populism also seems to mean liberalism, only expressed in more fiery language than the pallid, technocratic drone that makes Washington happy. But whatever they mean by it, journalists and opinionators seem to agree that populism is dangerous. It scares the markets. And it is the duty of every right-thinking citizen to resist it.Now, Frank begs the question here: he doesn't talk about what the real danger of populism: instead, he goes off on a historical tangent that has little or nothing to do with the subject at hand.
You see, populism is really nothing less than the demands of the mob, of the emotionally distraught who want vengeance on whichever devil brought them into the state of affairs that they find themselves in, and above all is a tool for the cynical politician and party which manipulates the mob into torching whatever that politician and party finds undesirable, then justifying it "in the name of the people".
But more fundamentally, Frank seems to truly believe that an elected official is beholden to the interests that elected him, rather than being elected to act as their representative. What is the difference?
Huge: representing someone is not the same as doing as one is told by those who elected him. In one elects someone with character and resolve; in the other, one elects someone who grovels and will appease. World of difference there.
It's not so much that individual Democrats don't believe that we are a republic: it's much more that the ideal Democrat is simply a cog in the machine, a cynical participant in the manipulation of the masses for the goals of the party.
Which does describe the perfect Democrat.
Frank's further legerdemain is weak: by claiming that it is the right that practices populism, he fails to understand what drove his examples. Joe The Plumber wasn't railing against policies that prevented the rich from getting even richer, but rather against policies that make it hard for the middle class to keep up with the Joneses. He makes the mistake of mixing tax protests with pro-life protests, as if the two had anything to do with either populism or the Republican party.
He fails to understand that populism is the rule of the mob: he'd love to see the designated victims of his party - the bankers (except when they donate to the Democrats, of course, and hence receive enlightenment and dispensation) and the financiers - be taken down.
Little does he understand that the founding fathers didn't want a democracy exactly for that reason.
They might also begin searching for a different term to describe the situation when elected representatives start doing what their constituents want them to do. My suggestion: Call it "democracy."
That's democracy: that is the rule of the mob, as political philosophers have rightly pointed out over the ages.
That's why we should be happy to be a republic. One whose actors are determined by a democratic process, but not one that panders to the mob.
Unless their name be "Democrat".