Rick Weiland may be on to something with his "I'm a populist" rhetoric. Democratic strategist Doug Sosnick senses that the country is ready for some populist leadership:
There is a pent up desire for dramatic change that has been shaped by a confluence of major events in the United States and around the world. In the last 10 years the country has fought two wars, faced the greatest worldwide economic meltdown since the 1930s and experienced the most significant technological transformation since the Industrial Revolution. The nation has also undergone a major demographic makeover, shifting from a majority white country to an increasingly multicultural society. Throughout this period our leaders have failed to manage the pace of all this change and to face up to the severity of our challenges, resulting in disillusionment and deep divisions among the public by race, age and income.
Writing at the National Journal, Ron Fournier sums up Sosnick's analysis and adds some concrete examples:
Populists from the right and the left—from the tea party and libertarian-leaning Rand Paul to economic populist Elizabeth Warren—are positioning themselves among the insurgents. Sosnik pointed to six areas of consensus that eventually may unite the divergent populist forces:Thinking about traditional Republicans going on tilt over a fusion ticket combining Rand Paul and Elizabeth Warren may make me smile for the rest of the summer. (The quotation doesn't mention a fusion ticket, but a blogger can dream.
- A pullback from the rest of the world, with more of an inward focus.
- A desire to go after big banks and other large financial institutions.
- Elimination of corporate welfare.
- Reducing special deals for the rich.
- Pushing back on the violation of the public's privacy by the government and big business.
- Reducing the size of government.
The populist agenda that Sosnick and Fournier outline should make Weiland smile as well. Weiland can take that agenda for his own, but Rounds cannot, even if one counts eliminating the Department of Education as a serious effort to reduce the size of government.
Rounds, of course, will spend nearly all of time trying to tell voters that Weiland will increase the size of government and hope that they will not notice that the former governor will maintain the status quo on the the other five issues
The devil, as always, is in the details, but quite frankly, this would be a platform worth supporting. If Weiland can craft the details carefully, the race may become much more competitive,