There is a growing right-wing populist sentiment in the United States. It is a feeling which expresses the mistrust, fear and anger directed at the government by the population including a section of the working class. The main organizers and spokesmen for this right-wing populism are a number of television and radio personalities with links to the Republican party. They take the economic and social problems that people have and blame them on Government policies or on immigrant workers entering the country illegally. These personalities, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Lou Dobbs put forward these politics in television and radio talk shows that are followed by millions of people. With the Democrats in power in the White House, the Republican party has begun taking advantage of the resonance these politics have to mobilize support in opposition to the Democrats.
The right wing talk show hosts are not all talk. Last summer they called for town hall meetings, rallies in opposition to Obama’s health care plan. Many of the core of local organizers of the tea-party demonstrations are drawn from ultra-right wing and racist groups with roots in the anti-Civil Rights backlash during the 1960s. Their efforts met with a response from a number of ordinary working class people. Across the country people rallied at the town hall meetings, expressing a violent opposition to Obama, sometimes showing up with guns. These meetings culminated in a demonstration on September 12th in Washington, D.C., the capitol of the United States. Almost 60,000 people turned out for this demonstration. While this is not an exceptional number, it still represents more than just the core of committed right-wing activists. Many of the faces in the crowd were ordinary working class people, and many of the slogans of their signs and chants were directed against the bank bailouts and what is seen as the government’s complicity in the economic crisis. These sentiments are mixed with thinly veiled racist attacks on Obama himself, and hyperbolic claims about Obama’s supposedly socialist policies. The focus is on Obama, and the anger is expressed in personalized attacks.
What is behind this distrust and anger? In the debates over the government’s policies, the lines have been drawn by the Democrats. Either you’re with Obama and his so-called national health plan, or you’re opposed to any health care program at all. Workers mistrust a government that has given the banks trillions of tax dollars, doing nothing while millions of people have lost their homes and their jobs. The Republicans are using this anger for their own purposes, to prepare a base for their return to power in the coming years’ election.