The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

July 4: Why I Am a Populist

Posted on | July 4, 2021 | Comments Off on July 4: Why I Am a Populist

One evening in the fall of 1997, we finished loading up the U-Haul truck in our driveway in Rome, Georgia. Friends from our church had come to help us with this task, as my wife and I prepared to move our family to Gaithersburg, Maryland. Four days later, I was to begin my new job as an assistant national editor for The Washington Times, and I was both excited and stressed over this new phase of my career as a journalist.

It’s a long way from Rome, Georgia, to Washington, D.C. — more than 600 miles, geographically, but even further, in political terms. Our nation’s capital is a center of power and prestige unequaled in the world, whereas Floyd County, Georgia . . . Well, not so much.

Folks down home don’t think much about power. There isn’t much of it around, and the difference between the most influential and least influential citizens of Floyd County is far less than the gap between any of them and the world-class power brokers in Washington, D.C.

There is more equality in small-town America than there is in the wealthy urban metropolises where the super-rich reside. The media celebrities who will be partying this weekend in the Hamptons do not even consider themselves rich, by comparison to the trust-fund barons and arbitrage wizards of Wall Street. One reason for the liberal tilt of the media is that so many journalists — including millionaire network anchors — are not grateful for their success, but rather are consumed with envy toward the billionaire class. People that most of us would think of as rich (e.g., Joe Scarborough, who gets $8 million a year from MSNBC) walk around with a chip on their shoulder because they’re not really rich, the way Warren Buffett or Bill Gates are rich. But I digress . . .

After the truck was loaded in November 1997, and we were getting ready to pull out for the long drive north, our friend Lamante Attaud shook my hand and said, “Don’t forget where you came from.”

This has been my mission ever since — to speak on behalf of those Ordinary Americans who don’t have access to media platforms, and whose voices are routinely ignored by the power-wielding elites.

Let it not be said that small-town America is homogenous in opinion. No doubt many of my friends down home are deeply divided over the political issues that confront us as a nation and, alas, even some of my close relatives are Democrats. But these divisions of mere opinion are not so significant as the yawning chasm that separates Ordinary Americans from the vast power of the influential elite, and the reason I consider myself a populist is because I know whose side I’m on in that conflict.

Despite everything that might lead me toward a pessimistic view of our nation’s future, I remain stubbornly hopeful, because I know the decency and common sense of Ordinary Americans can yet preserve our liberty, no matter how corrupt and decadent our elite may be.

This is the true cause of our struggle. There is nothing wrong with America that the ordinary citizens of this nation can’t solve for themselves, if only their efforts were not thwarted by the decadent elite.

Thank God for the Supreme Court majority in the Brnovich v. DNC case, which rejected claims by the Democratic Party that Arizona was not capable of running its own elections without federal interference. What this case was really about is not “voting rights,” but rather about centralized authority. Do we really want to say that no local election is legitimate, unless the rules and the outcome are approved by the Powers That Be in Washington, D.C.? I don’t think so, and if there is anything that can unite populists in America, it should be opposition to further centralization of power. You see, the decadent elites love centralized power because the elites exercise enormous influence in Washington, whereas their influence in Arizona (or Georgia) is not so decisive.

Some would say that my populist impulses are rather crude, but I can think of no better rule for public life than this: Figure out what side of the issue the New York Times is on, then join the other side and fight like hell. So here I am, once again asking patriotic readers to remember that the Five Most Important Words in the English Language are:


Maybe I’ll make a last-minute run to buy some fireworks.



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