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Not in Kansas Anymore

Rod Dreher comes at us with an actual fresh look at the Right in exile. Not whining, not paeans to President Ronald Reagan’s tailor. And not slavering over Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin’s saccharine shtick … candy-coated conventional Republican ideas with a bright red culture-war gloss. Palinism co-opts and deflects legitimate populist anger by allowing its adherents to hate elites without really challenging the system. A true conservative populism would not tolerate an arrangement in which the few profit at the expense of the many – which, no matter how many flags she waves or hockey games she attends, is all Palin offers.

Dreher, instead, sees the right reviving itself as a “populist,” anti-Wall Street movement, and holds up the bookish paleoconservative Caleb Stengell, a newly-elected district attorney, as an example. Over at RedState, Warner Todd Huston waves this off.

The conservative grassroots will tend to focus on the folks farther down the line from corporations. This focus won’t be a populist revolt against corporations, but rather a shift in focus that doesn’t necessarily make corporations and Wall Street into an enemy in the sort of adversarial process that populist movements always seem to fall into. In fact, if any groups become the center of conservative grassroots anger it will be the Old Media and liberals.

That’s totally unconvincing—that’s what the Right has been definining itself against since 1933 or thereabouts, and that’s the attitude it’s had towards business since roughly 1979. Since then, the American people have warmed back up to redistributive liberalism (or don’t you remember the 2005 Social Security fight?) and “Old Media” has becoming less and less powerful. I don’t know if Dreher is right, but at least he’s looking at different models of conservatism instead of repackaging some cant.

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