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Independent Populist

What in the world is Lou Dobbs talking about?

by Michael H. Thomson

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Independent Populist
Sometime about Christmas of last year, I started paying attention to Lou Dobbs. His theme of "War on the Middle Class" resonated with me. It is still resonating. Dobbs is not perfect. I can find holes in many of the things he says, but he is saying things nobody else is saying. I don't think the immigration issue wouldn't be on people's minds as much if Dobbs were not bringing it to our attention on a daily basis. His attention to the issue more than likely helped defeat the bi-partisan Comprehensive Immigration Bill that was supported by President Bush...
Dobbs didn't cause the biggest mortgage crisis since the Great Depression, but he is one of the few commentators who are telling us the facts about how it happened. He was beating the drum about Chinese imports long before our dogs started dying and our children faced the danger of harmful chemicals in their toys. Lately he has been heralding the term "independent populist."
When I first heard this term in January of this year, I rather thought I knew what it meant. I knew from long ago political science courses in college that a "populist" is a "believer in the rights, wisdom, and virtues of the common people."
Who are these common people? I think the definition changes with time. Right now, I think the "common people" are those of us who are struggling to keep gas in our cars, pay our mortgages without late fees, save enough money to take our families on a 1-week vacation, keep our kids from the local drug dealer, and protect ourselves from drowning in a flood of potentially harmful imports. I also think that "common people" are victims of inefficient government, overblown pop culture, uncaring multinational corporations that have more influence over our government than we do, quality healthcare that is unreachable, and a deteriorating quality of life generally.
I think the adjective "independent" used by Dobbs is more of a leadership term than actually describing an individual as an "independent populist." I think Dobbs is describing himself as a populist leader (at least in the media) who is independent of all those forces that "common people" find themselves victim.
Dobbs keeps hinting on his TV program, Lou Dobbs Tonight, that sometime before the 2008 general election that we will have a dynamic independent populist presidential candidate who could upset politics, as we know it. Dobbs denies that the candidate is himself, but unless Dobbs is positioning himself as a kingmaker, I don't know who else would fit the independent populist label better than he would.

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