Why can’t liberals capture the populist moment? There is something more powerful than economic self-interest, hatred of Wall Street kingpins, Republican trickery, or even liberal self-congratulation. And that something is condescension. As much as they hated what they considered economic injustice, the hatred of condescension is the very essence of populism. It is easy for conservatives to manipulate this hatred — to portray liberals as Eastern, Ivy League-educated elitists. It is even easier because liberals often are Eastern, Ivy League-educated elitists. Americans don’t like being told that their opinions don’t matter, that they are not smart enough, that they ought to leave politics to the professionals and experts.
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