[T]hese people in Congress, and this mess, are the voters’ fault. We put Democrats in control in 2008, and they’d no sooner started to govern when we put Republicans in charge....
At least in 2010, the insurgents were an unknown commodity, produced by the faux populism of talk radio and the Tea Party. If this majority is voted back in, we’ll have nobody to blame but ourselves for a democracy that, at this moment, no longer has the will to self-govern.
"The voters" are an amorphous goo that can be shaped for discussion in many ways, but for the moment let us put it this way: In an engaged, informed democracy, Citizens United and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and the Koch Brothers etc. etc. would not be the bogeymen they are, because so few would be paying them any serious notice. "Faux populism" would still exist--the political fringe will always be with us--but David, Charles & Friends wouldn't be pouring billions of dollars into a rathole of cranks and crackpots, if the vast non-crank, non-crackpot population bothered to engage.
But let's give credit to the faux populists of the unartificial right: at least they engage their transcendent crankology and delusional crackpottism at the voting booth. As to the left's activist populists, whose activism by virtually all accounts reflects more closely the common, real-life concerns of The Everyman? They've done, and continue to do, what the galvanized left loves to do most: march, protest, carry banners, shout slogans and denounce "the system"--all of the system, including those who are systemically trying to help.
OK, so there's nothing wrong with marching and protesting. But a far better method would be to postpone perambulations of Wall Street and instead march down the residential sidewalks of Main Street and then up to front doors for some enlightening engagement with non-voters who permit the tyranny of crankology to dominate at the polls. And in swing states and swing districts, which is another way of saying fundamentally conservative regions? These require the left to swallow hard and to momentarily forget the cosmic tragedy of a bygone "public option" and to mobilize on behalf of centrist candidates; Dennis Kucinich-doppelgangers just ain't gonna cut it in Arkansas.
The problem with Egan's argument is that "faux populism" isn't "faux" if it outmatches the opposition in active numbers, motivation and mobilization. On a rational plane, its political objectives may be "faux" in the sense of unworkable delusions, but delusional thought has dominated revolutionary systems for centuries--and the manifestations of that thought have been viciously real. Yet "the voters" cannot stop the madness; this isn't their fault, as Egan further charges. Only non-voters, converted to voters, can do that. And in terms of motivating and mobilizing their own friendly numbers, the activist left is blowing it.