Home/Daniel Larison/Reassessing Huckabee’s “Populism”

Reassessing Huckabee’s “Populism”

All of us have been buying into the idea that Huckabee is actually an anti-establishment candidate, and I am particularly guilty of advancing this argument.  Huckabee has been milking this for all it’s worth, but he really isn’t any such thing.  In any oligarchic arrangement, you will have some who portray themselves as friends of “the people” and who will use the crowd as leverage against their rival oligarchs, but at no point do any of the rivals intend to change the fundamental mechanisms of power or overthrow or dismantle the establishment.  They will use and take advantage of citizens who may very well want to do just that, and their support for this or that oligarch is then used by the oligarch’s enemies as proof of the threat he poses to them, but the oligarch is simply using those people as a springboard for his ambition.  The oligarch’s enemies have mistaken the use of their own methods of manipulation for an actual revolt, or more accurately they are trying to protect their own fiefdoms within the establishment against a rival claimant and so portray the interloper as a radical departure from everything that has come before.  Huckabee wants to throw out certain members of the GOP establishment, but does not actually propose to do much of anything very differently on key policies.  Huckabee represents, in fact, a continuation and endorsement of the Bushian status quo.  Fleeing from the sinking ship of the current administration, conservative elites are not thrilled at the prospect of boarding another of similar design.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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