Elitism is populism for rich people.
Being a populist, one has to admire the spirit of those Americans who have taken to holding townhall meetings at which their national representatives seem to have been receiving more direct critique than I can ever recall seeing before. This is true populism - the little people really getting in the face of those who run their lives, giving orders as opposed to taking them. And by God, don't the big guys hate it! Bring it on!
And yet, and yet, and yet...
It is an unfortunate truth that national populisms tend to clash. While believing that a dose of populism would be a worthy laxative for the constipated British body politic, populism should be an expression of love for one's fellow man, public recognition that we're all in the business of life together as moral and civic equals, and should thus always be tempered with respect for others. This is in direct distinction to elitism, which proceeds from the position that all men are not equal and do not deserve the same level of dignity and rights.
I only give this as an example, and I am sorry if the eyes of my very loyal American readers and friends glaze at this point, but are the guys at the townhalls primarily interested in rejuvenating the American republic and returning it to its founding principles, or do they only want to go back to the good old days of recent boom years? Do they want to roll the clock back to July 4th 1776, or to September 10th 2001?
If the former, good. Bravo and best wishes. If the latter...well, I'm not so sure. The spirit of the former would prove that populism could be successful without the need to involve itself in other nations' affairs. The spirit of the latter might prove the precise opposite - and would give credence and ammunition to the claims of the elitists, many of them so dangerous and malevolent themselves, that populism is inherently dangerous and malevolent.
The aims of populist uprisings (and in their own way, the townhalls can certainly be defined as uprisings, if only because the Establishment can't ignore them) must always be absolutely clear. They should be as much about respecting the right of the little guy next door, whether next door is next door, down the block, on the other side of the country or the other side of the world, to be able to get on with his life unmolested by anyone just as you want to get on with yours in the same way. As soon as that is understood and practiced, populism becomes not just a good thing; it also becomes a safe thing. Strange as it may seem to say, it might also then become one of the best hopes the world has ever had.