ually occurs after a presidential electionrnis the speedv return of the citizens tornpolitical dormancy. Most citizens havernmore important things to worry aboutrnthan political issues, and they typicallyrnallow the country’s brotherhood of professionalrnofficeholders to monopolizerntheir fate for a few years. But the currentrnwave of populism is occurring in thernwake of the last election, and there is everyrnreason to think it will become evenrnmore intense as the wheels of the electoralrncycle begin to churn again.rnBut the continuing political activity ofrnAmericans is not the only peculiar featurernof the new populism. Almost all thernactivism of the last year comes from thernright; if it does not explicitly identify itselfrnwith the right, it is readily identifiedrnwith the right by virtue of its alignmentrnaround the themes of traditional morality,rnnational interest, and national identity.rnYet at the same time almost none ofrnthese efforts owes anything to the “conservativernmovement” or the Beltway conservativernestablishment. Indeed, some ofrnthe populist initiatives like opposition tornimmigration and NAFTA are stronglyrnopposed and even held in contempt bvrnthe Beltway right, and hardly any of thernlocal efforts are due to help from thernlabyrinth of light-fingered eggheads inrnWashington who are always pleased tornsend you letters demanding money butrnwho never seem to be at work when yourncall to find out what they’ve done withrnyour contribution.rnSecondly, not only does the new populismrncome from the right, and in a wayrnthat it has not come for a good manyrnyears, but it also centers around issuesrnthat arc themselves relatively new. Therncontro’ersies about homosexuality mayrnin some respects merely be extensionsrnof older orthodox and mainstream conservativernconcerns about traditionalrnmorality and the family, but in the debatesrnover immigration and NAFTA appearrnvalues and concepts that enjoy respectablernancestry on the political andrncultural right but have not generallyrnbeen articulated in the right-left conflictsrnof the recent past. Whatever mayrnbe said about Mr. Perot’s real politicalrnidentity, his opposition to the Gulf war,rnthe Somali and Balkan adventures, andrnNAFTA shares a common, though notrnyet explicitly articulated, principle withrnany serious movement of the right: therndetermination to put the interests ofrnone’s own nation first. The new populism,rnthen, appears to have severalrnunique features: it is largely authenticrnand spontaneous, in contrast to the contrivedrnand largely fake popvilism of therncomputer console and mailing list thatrnhas buzzed about the countr for thernlast decade and more, and as an authenticrnpopulism it demands and succeeds inrnenlisting the energies and efforts of realrnpeople—not just professional activistsrnwho make a lucrative career out of crusadingrnor pretending to crusade. It isrnright wing, conservative, and nationalistrnin its content, centered on what “we”—rni.e., Americans, Christians, workers, citizens,rnthe law-abiding, the nation, orrnwhatever other reference group is involvedrn—want and need, not on what isrngood for Mexico, immigrants, sexual perverts,rncriminals, the Global Economy,rnMankind, or World Peace. And, finally,rnit is militant—not in the sense of beingrnextreme but rather meaning that it is serious,rnmore insistent on attaining its goalsrnthan in acquiring political office for itsrnadherents, and uninterested in settlingrnfor compromise solutions that fail tornachieve its goals but placate incumbentrnelites. What is perhaps most strikingrnabout its militancy is the verv absence ofrnextremism; most right-wing populism inrnthe United States has quickly attracted tornitself the most banal fringe elements,rnwhose preoccupation with combatingrnthe Elders of Zion and Satanic conspiraciesrnof one kind or another has alwaysrnsucceeded in repelling normal Americansrnand guaranteed the marginalizationrnand trivialization of the cause. For thernmost part, the nuts don’t seem to be involvedrnin the new populism (maybe becausernthey all have jobs in the Clintonrnadministration); its driving force appearsrnto be the serious concerns of citizensrnwho are mentally and socially wellwrappedrnand who have no secret agendasrnfor repealing the Federal Reserve Act orrnrestoring the Habsburgs.rnIndeed, the thrust of the new populismrnis pragmatic, and it may well berntoo pragmatic for its own good. Either itrnwill succeed in achieving its specifiedrnand limited goals or it won’t. If itrnachieves them, it will disappear, becausernit will cease to have any further purposernin existing. If it doesn’t achieve its goals,rnit may disappear anyway, because thoserninvolved in it will find themselves frustrated,rnwill not make money or gain fromrntheir activism, and will eventually find itrnunrewarding if not harmful to their personalrninterests. Moreover, in the kind ofrnderacinated democracy that America hasrnbecome, there is little institutional reinforcementrnfor enduring populist movements.rnAmericans now mo’e in and outrnof their neighborhoods and local communitiesrnlike vagrants in a flophouse,rntheir economic interests are dependentrnon vast industries and anonymous bureaucraciesrnover which they have littlerncontrol, and the managed cultural milieurnin which they are enveloped is dedicatedrnto inculcating passivity and complacencyrnrather than the healthy and activernhabits of militancy that a free people requiresrnto keep its freedom. And, even ifrnthe new populism does endure, it may itselfrnsoon go the wav of most other movementsrnin a mass-managerial society, becomingrndependent on a professionalrnbureaucracy and all the technology ofrnmanufactured and manipulated consentrnand illusory participation.rnNevertheless, the new populism suggestsrnthat the American people—or atrnleast some of them—retain enough social,rneconomic, and psychic independencernand integrity to recognize threatsrnto their material interests and culturalrnidentity and to mount serious politicalrnmovements to counter those threats. Inrna sense, of course, “populism” is always arnbit of a fraud, since most of the populusrnis inherently too passive, uninformed,rnstupid, lazy, or distracted to bother withrnits own future. A truly successful populistrnmovement is almost always thernbreeding ground for the birth of a newrnelite, centered around emerging socialrnand political interests and myths that expressrnand define such interests and preparedrnto challenge an incumbent eliternwhose apparatus of power has becomernan impediment and a threat. The newrnpopulism may well be just such a movement,rnand what it needs now is an institutionalrnstructure that can perpetuaternand magnify its efforts without emasculatingrnthem, a national leadership thatrnwill respect and reinforce its dvnamismrnrather than exploit and ruin it, and a politicalrnmyth that formulates a coherentrnnational vision around which less activernand less committed Americans can gather.rnNone of these is available in either ofrnthe two major parties and certainly notrnin the ridiculous Clinton administration,rnand the new populists will have to lookrnoutside the present political establishment,rnright and left, to find or invent forrnthemselves what they need for definitivernnational victory.rn) AN UARY 1994/11rnrnrn