SEIZING THE PULPIT ON `AMERICA'S NEW POPULISM'
Historically, populism in America has often been associated with the knee-jerk reactions of a disenfranchised electorate ("America's new populism," Cover Story, Mar. 13). However, today's dissent stems from government's seeming inability to carry out the mandates of its electors rather than a bigoted attempt to return America to the past.
The anger that arises out of some Americans' circumstances is directed toward the government that they, themselves, have elected and less toward particular interests or minorities. Populism today crosses all ethnic, economic, and racial barriers.
"America's new populism" is hardly new. It is an old-fashioned mix of racism, sexism, nativism, moralism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, and fascism.
Charles E. Everett
As long as people let Newt and his special-interest buddies do their thinking for them and buy the GOP's self-serving mantra, the real reasons for our problems--such as global competition and the lack of secure, well-paying jobs--won't be adequately addressed.
Your article confirms my growing suspicion that your magazine has been infected with proponents of the liberal ideology.
Your motives for denigrating conservatives and their spokesmen as "angry," "militant," "radical," and "hate-mongering," in the guise of honest concern for America's future, are very obvious and cast doubt on the veracity of other information in the magazine.
B. Clark Smith
Crystal Lake, Ill.
The negative phrase "big government" is a meaningless one that only distorts the truth about our country. We live in a huge country; therefore, we have "huge government." There will never be "little government" in this country but only the kind that we feel serves our individual ideology.
Your story drew an excellent portrait of the frustration of the American people at the lack of leadership in dealing with a changing world. Most of our leaders, to their discredit, are either exploiting this anger for their own
purposes or hoping it will blow over.
The leadership vacuum presents a tremendous opportunity to the business community. With a huge stake in the world economy, and as suppliers of millions of jobs dependent on world trade, business leaders need to counter the demagogues and show grassroots Americans they have nothing to fear from today's changes, that in fact their lives can be immeasurably richer because of them.
While there is certainly a conservative element in modern populism, your poll hints at a different story. The only truly pmpular individual was Colin Powell. Jesse Jackson also had a following. Surprisingly, Bill Clinton was the only politician in the group to be liked by more people than disliked him. In fact, liberals and moderates dominated the upper ranks of the rated public figures. When we turn to the negative ratings, we see that a majority of the respondents did not like Pat Robertson, Oliver North, and Rush Limbaugh. Ross Perot and Newt Gingrich also had high negatives.
This is amazing, since these people were mentioned in the article as a driving force behind the new populism.
Red Bank, N.J.