George Will’s column today draws parallels between the populist messages of Mike Huckabee and John Edwards, and finds them both wanting.
Although Huckabee and Edwards profess to loathe and vow to change Washington’s culture, each would aggravate its toxicity. Each overflows with and wallows in the pugnacity of the self-righteous who discern contemptible motives behind all disagreements with them and who therefore think that opponents are enemies and differences are unsplittable.
The way to achieve Edwards’s and Huckabee’s populist goal of reducing the role of “special interests,” meaning money, in government is to reduce the role of government in distributing money. But populists want to sharply increase that role by expanding the regulatory state’s reach and enlarging its agenda of determining the distribution of wealth. Populists, who are slow learners, cannot comprehend this iron law: Concentrate power in Washington, and you increase the power of interests whose representatives are concentrated there.