Maximizing the Conservative Populist Movement in California

AUDIO: The rise of conservative populism in California and how it can be either nurtured or squandered, and how Californians of all ideologies can unite behind practical solutions to many of the state’s most challenging problems through the ballot initiative process – 42 minutes on AM 590 San Bernardino – Edward Ring on Unite the Inland Empire with Greg Brittain & Agnes Gibboney.

Who Will Support California’s Populists?

A recent article published in the Kennedy School Review by American Affairs editor Julius Krein makes a strong case that conservatives have no future as a political force in America. The one flaw in this article, entitled “Can Conservatism Be More than a Grudge,” is it may be a little too pessimistic. It’s well argued and is a must-read for anyone serious about reviving conservative political power in places like California.

The only hope Krein offers is the power of populism, harnessing a multi-racial coalition of working-class and middle class Americans. But conservative populism, ascendant today in California, is about to be squandered by an establishment that lacks the leadership and authenticity to tap this extraordinary energy.

One of Krein’s understated but most powerful points regards patronage. He writes: “The Democratic coalition is no less incongruous than the Republican one. There are, however, two important differences between them. First, the Democratic economic base is composed largely of ascendant and prestigious economic sectors and firms, from Silicon Valley to Goldman Sachs, while Republicans are predominantly supported by declining sectors, like natural resource extraction. Second, the Democratic patronage system is coherent, even if the Democratic coalition is not. In other words, the Democratic Party is capable of using policy to directly benefit its various constituencies and to create new ones. Together, both of these factors ensure that Democrats’ patchwork constituencies have reasons to overlook their coalition’s internal contradictions. That is simply not the case on the Republican side.”

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