I have always been a populist.
Populist: represented or connected with the ideas and opinions of ordinary people. (Cambridge)
Populist: a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people. (Merriam-Webster)
(Actually those definitions seem distinct and different to me – and there is a separate issue about how I balance populism with curmudgeonry – but don’t let me distract myself.)
How do I know I am a populist? As a film student, I wrote my thesis on Frank Capra’s populist masterpiece Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Watching an interview, I’d rather hear from the man-on-the-street than a celebrity. And so forth.
This is such an exciting time to be a populist – consider just these few examples of ways that populist movements are changing our world:
- The Occupy kids started discussions that now infuse mainstream politics.
- The Arab Spring is still toppling governments.
- Self-published books have an escalating share of the publishing industry.
- Open-source software expands coding in so many directions.
- Popularity bred by browser clicks has become so important that people now tout their expertise with “viral marketing”.
- And – sustaining all the above and more – social media give voice and influence to everybody.
I can’t wait to see what comes next.
P.S. What else should be on my list?