Monday, December 12, 2016

Trump, Keillor, Populism

It was meaningful when Garrison Keillor stepped out of the folksy, understated persona he'd convincingly cultivated for years on Prairie Home Companion to train his intellect and sharp humor on George Bush and his ruinous invasion of Iraq. Something serious had to be at stake for Keillor to show that Lake Wobegon had principles worth fighting for.

It is in the same vein that Keillor has been skewering Donald Trump.

As he put it on 11/9/16, immediately after election day, in an op-ed for the Washington Post:

Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out, and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president.

Did Keillor then go about blaming elitists like him — "librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, bird-watchers, people who make their own pasta, opera-goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch" — for failing to address the anguish of the white working class?

Though that was and is very much the fashion, Keillor did not succumb.

He wrote:

Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity.


Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones, and they will not like what happens next.

"Populism" is a word that gets a lot of play these days, as if Trump, a billionaire surrounded by billionaires could be a populist.

It's a strange use of the word. I think Garrison Keillor comes closer to demonstrating its meaning.

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