Is Elon Musk the new face of a growing populist rebellion?
However odd that may seem, populism lends itself to surprises. No one predicted that Donald Trump would be the catalyst for a resurgent and indeed triumphant populist right; so why should we be surprised if the pot smoking Tesla CEO has suddenly taken the lead in the growing rebellion against lockdown leftists?
Fresh off his mocking of CNN, Musk has now had enough of liberal California’s coronavirus restrictions. He announced that he’s not only suing Alameda County in California where he has a major Tesla facility, but that he is indeed going to take Tesla out of the tyrannical state and move his company to either Nevada or Texas. Alameda County is notoriously leftwing; when Ronald Reagan won the national popular vote by a nearly 20 percent margin back in 1984, Alameda County actually voted for Walter Mondale by a slightly larger margin! And so, what Musk has discovered is that even though his other plant in San Joaquin County is allowed to operate, Alameda County has thus far refused to allow their Tesla facility to open, which of course is crippling Tesla’s employees.
The latest is that Musk is waiting neither for court nor caravan; he is opening the plant in direct defiance of the radical county’s lockdown orders. Musk’s tweet reflected characteristic populist rhetoric: “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
So what’s going on here?
It seems that Musk is awakening to what hundreds of millions of people have awakened to all over the world: what a number of scholars are calling a mass populist uprising. Pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen were ahead of the curve when they published their book Mad as Hell back in 2010. Rasmussen and Schoen found substantial data here in the States that showed a major paradigm shift taking place among the American electorate, one where the old political divides between left vs. right or liberal vs. conservative were dying away, and a new political divide was rising: a divide between the political class vs. the people, the rulers and the ruled.
Political scholars Matthew Goodwin and Eric Kaufmann have come to the same conclusion. Their analyses of the successful Brexit referendum and the Trump campaign in 2016 found that the old class divisions of rich vs. poor that characterized 20th century politics had given way to concerns about nation, culture, and identity. The Brexit and Trump political earthquakes were followed by a series of aftershocks that saw the toppling of leftist globalist governments in Bulgaria, Moldova, Austria, Italy, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia in Europe and Brazil, Columbia, Paraguay, Guatemala, and El Salvador in Latin America.
At the heart of this uprising is the notion that the political class no longer represents the concerns of the vast majority of the citizens. Matthew Goodwin cites studies that found that between Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Barack Obama in 2012, the percentage of people who felt the government was being run for the benefit of all slumped from 64 to 19 percent, while the percentage who suspected it was being run for a few big interests soared from 27 to 79 percent. A comparable collapse in confidence in the political class pervades Europe as well.
Moreover, there’s an overwhelming sense that the political class is not merely disinterested in the concerns of the populace, but actually disdains them. Whether dismissing border and immigration controls as xenophobic, or economic protectionist advocates as obtuse, or anxieties about cultural change as bigoted and racist, the political class hardly hides their hostility towards populist concerns. No sooner had Elon Musk tweeted his decision to leave California than the Democrat Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez tweeted out: “F*ck Elon Musk.” With the latest revelations of Obamagate in the background, especially the deliberate attempt by Deep State officials to overturn the results of a presidential election, it’s no wonder that a growing number of Americans are concluding that there’s a fundamental hostility between the political class and the people.
And so, the growing rebellion against draconian lockdown measures has just gotten a rather high-profile figure for its newest member. And if Musk’s sentiments are indeed reflective of the emerging paradigm shift reshaping the world’s political order, the current populist revolt is not just getting bigger with every passing day; in many respects, the uprising has only just begun.
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