Conservative populism and liberal populism are entirely different things. Liberal populism posits that the rich wield disproportionate influence over the government and push for policies often at odds with most people's interest. Conservative populism, by contrast, dismisses any inference that the rich and the non-rich might have opposing interests as "class warfare." Conservative populism prefers to divide society along social lines, with the elites being intellectuals and other snobs who fancy themselves better than average Americans.
Consider this analysis recently offered by Bill Clinton in
: "The great divide in this country is not by race or even income, it's by those who think they are better than everyone else and think they should play by a different set of rules." This is precisely the dynamic that allows multimillionaires like George W. Bush and Bill O'Reilly to present themselves as being on the side of the little guy. A more classic expression of conservative populism cannot be found. Clarksburg, West Virginia
. . .
Likewise, Bill Clinton recently declared, "The people in small towns in rural America, who do the work for, and represent the backbone and the values of this country, they are the people that are carrying her through in this nomination." The corollary--that strong values and hard work is in shorter supply among ethnically heterogeneous urban residents--is left unstated. Hillary Clinton's statement about "hard-working Americans, white Americans" simply made explicit a theme that conservative populists usually keep implicit.
Here's a bit more from the Big Dog's mouth:
Per ABC News' Sarah Amos, this is what the 42nd president of the United States said Friday in Ripley, W.Va.:
"Hillary is in this race because of people like you and places like this and no matter what they say," Clinton said. "And no matter how much fun they make of your support of her and the fact that working people all over America have stuck with her, she thinks you're as smart as they are. She thinks you've got as much right to have your say as anybody else. And, you know, they make a lot of fun of me because I like to campaign in places like this, they say I have been exiled to rural America, as if that was a problem. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be here than listening to that stuff I have to hear on television, I'd rather be with you. There is a simple reason: You need a president a lot more than those people telling you not to vote for her."
I'm so glad team Clinton is moving away from all the divisive rhetoric.