Selective populism

SELECTIVE POPULISM…. More than a few bloggers, including me, have raised questions about the propriety of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) becoming the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, given his history on race relations. With that in mind, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) shuddered yesterday at the thought of bloggers having political influence.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Republicans would fight back hard if Democrats or liberal groups try to make the Supreme Court confirmation process about Sessions’ record, rather than about Obama’s nominee to replace Justice David Souter.

“If people try to go down that road, it’ll blow up in their face, because Jeff is a good guy,” Graham said. “My hope is that our Democratic colleagues — if you start listening to the bloggers — if we’re going to let the bloggers run the country, then the country’s best days are behind us.”

The notion that bloggers might try to “run the country” is silly, and the idea that Democratic lawmakers are somehow inclined to take marching orders from the netroots is belied by reality.

But what I found interesting about Graham’s comments is the elitism behind them. I don’t much care that Lindsey Graham doesn’t like bloggers. I do care about the larger pretext behind Graham’s thinking — only certain kinds of people are entitled to get involved in politics.

For example, when regular ol’ mainstream Americans take to the streets, waving tea bags because of a 39% top rate, they deserve the respect and the attention of policymakers. When regular ol’ mainstream Americans host (and call into) conservative talk-radio shows, their opinions need to be taken seriously.

But when regular ol’ mainstream Americans write about politics online, they deserve to be ignored and dismissed. Indeed, if these Americans’ concerns are taken seriously, it might ruin the country.

It’s nice of Graham to explain this to us.