At the core of populism is a recognition that commerce and profit are inseparable from the wellbeing of the people, culture, and strategic interests of a nation.
Free enterprise and taking initiative are traditional values of the American nation but this always meant prosperous farmers, small businesses, or even big factories that breathed life into entire cities. Under globalism, corporations that span the planet are allowed to wield tremendous power in the affairs of nations. These vast, rootless entities are bereft of loyalty to any people or place. Whenever their interests are in conflict with the nations they pass through, they do not hesitate to serve themselves first. This presents a major strategic liability that cannot escape the attention of any competent government. This is just one reason why globalism leads to bad governance—it’s the governance we all expect from an absentee landlord with no personal stake.
In our present order, both political parties have prominent elements that reinforce this inept system in their own way. Many democrats perpetuate the myth that family, culture, and homeland don’t matter and the sexes are identical and interchangeable. This doctrine is used to reduce everyone to replaceable parts and to delegitimize the very idea of territory and borders. Most of the GOP preaches that international corporations are to be treated no differently than small businesses. From this premise, they argue that anyone who wants to limit these world-wide behemoths is an enemy of free enterprise—even as real entrepreneurs who take risks get choked out of existence by monopolistic forces.
When both of these toxic perspectives are combined, we get a nihilistic world view used to justify programs such as mass immigration, mass abuse of legal work visas, endless foreign wars, a cancerous health care complex, prisons for profit, and predatory college loans. All of these activities primarily benefit the black holes of international monopolies and a sprawling constellation of contractors that need never face real competition.
The traditional American idea of commerce is about rewarding the creation of genuine value that contributes to the happiness of others. The nihilistic attitude reinforced by globalism encourages a willingness to shatter windows, sell window repairs, and then boast about the highest numbers ever. The numbers are deceptive where they do not reflect real actions that better the lives of citizens.
The answer to this globalist sleight of hand is populism. America was a staunchly populist country a little over a century ago. The decades following the Civil War were a Gilded Age of monopolistic tycoons who secured their own benefit first, at the expense of everyone else when it suited them. Populism was the natural and inevitable reaction to the unchecked power of commercial dynasties just like it is in our present Gilded Age.
This said, even the Carnegies and Rockefellers of an older time thought of themselves as part of the American nation and felt some semblance of obligation. For all their faults they were not completely absentee landlords. They gave back in the form of theaters, music halls, museums, libraries, and entire universities. Present day globalists feel no obligation to anyone, living in their own totally disconnected universe. They take pride in giving nothing in return besides the bare minimum of pay and ugly brutalist office buildings. They actively despise the traditional American people and culture—and the traditions of wherever they go—as sad relics to be stamped out and buried in the past.
In reaction to these excesses, we can already see the dawn of a new age of populism and we have a rich tradition to inspire us. There were leaders like Theodore Roosevelt who saw no contradiction between protecting both the people and the environment. Both goals were part of having a real country worth passing on to future generations. Once upon a time, L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz, a story in which he proposed the financial system serve the interests of productive citizens first. It was understood then that commerce is a tool to better the whole nation, not an end unto itself that benefits only a few.