Who Can We Shoot?rnby Bill KauffmanrnWho better to kick off a discussion of American populismrnthan Henry James? In The Portrait of a Lady SocklessrnHank had Henrietta Staekpole define a “cosmopolite”: “Thatrnmeans he’s a little of everything and not much of any. I mustrnsay I think patriotism is like charity—it begins at home.” Likewise,rna healthy populism must be grounded in a love of the particular,rnor else it is just a grab bag of (mostly valid) resentments.rnJames understood the consequence of the Spanish-AmericanrnWar to be “remote colonies run by bosses”; expansionrndiluted true patriotism and would “demoralize us.” His diagnosisrnis still sound, though the American people are now cast inrnthe role of the Filipinos. The alliances and friendships concretingrnas the American Empire staggers through caducity andrnhastens, one hopes, to a long-overdue demise are every bit asrnrefreshingly meet as those spawned in the depths of ManilarnBay: a backwoods hippie wearing a “Buchanan ’96” button isrndescended from the sturdily Republican poet-editor ThomasrnBailey Aldrich, who announced in 1899 that he would notrn”vote for McKinley again. I would sooner vote for Bryan. To bernruined financially is not so bad as to be ruined morally.”rnThe dire predictions of the anti-imperialists came to pass:rngentlemen such as James and Aldrich were no match for TeddyrnRoosevelt. A century later Newt Gingrich, TR’s biggest fan,rnhaunts our demoralized land. Gingrich may never have baggedrnan elk, but he is much like his heroes, the cousins Roosevelt andrnHarr)’ Truman: a picked-on kid raised on war games who probablyrncan’t throw a baseball as far as Olive Chancellor could.rnWhen asked about his provenance by a fellow graduaternstudent, Gingrich replied, “I’m from nowhere.” So were mostrnof the blustery swindlers who disgraced the populist label whilernrising to prominence in the 1970’s and 80’s. They are the gas-rnBill Kauffman is the author of Every Man a King, CountryrnTowns of New York, and America First!rnconading “populists” of the right who operate out of NorthernrnVirginia post office boxes: Big Bad Foes of the New Worid Orderrnwho dwell in sprawling apartment complexes and could notrnname a neighbor if their lives depended on it. Anticommunistrnand pro-nothing, they cozened money out of credulous TV addictsrnfor Ollie North and before him Jonas Savimbi—one ofrnthem dreamt of nominating his ebon god for President in 1988,rnif only that xenophobic native birth clause in the Constitutionrnhad not disqualified the Angolan. Today they trumpet “familyrnvalues” from the mountain tops of junk mail, while down belowrnin Chevy Chase their neglected children enter Riot Grrdrnsuicide pacts.rnThe populist “left” of the Dark Age was no better: it consistedrnof a few earnest student council presidents trudging door torndoor in strange neighborhoods gathering petition signatures tornsave the whales or the ozone layer, anything so long as it hadrnnothing to do with the workaday lives of the lunkheaded prolesrnwho answered the doorbell.rnBut as Newt himself might crow, it’s the beginning of a newrnage, and vascular American populism is resurgent. You can tellrnbecause Newsweek and that hoary and reliable enemy of thernOld Republic, the New RepubUc, portentously invoke RichardrnHofstadter’s hilarious The Paranoid Style in American Politics—rnwhich ascribed all dissent from the Cold War Vital Center consensusrnto mental illness—and Alan Brinkley (Hofstadter bornrnto a TV star) is trotted out to explain, like the girl in the LournReed song, why “down to you is up,” and why anything smackingrnof popular rage is not really populism.rnThey want populism to be Rush Limbaugh and CommonrnCause, and I am very sorry to indulge in hate speech, but we arerntalking Daniel Shays and the Loco Focos and Tom Watson andrnHuey Long and their swelling band of offspring who are gatheringrnunder the Tree of Liberty. (If you can’t beat ’em, co-optrn’em. How the corporate media clamored for an independentrnMARCH 1996/17rnrnrn