Rod Dreher claims to understand that populist movements only have to be “credible,” not “flawless,” though I’m skeptical he even holds that position. He writes at the American Conservative:
[Tea Party groups] have failed to appeal beyond a hard core, in part because they are so highly and unrealistically ideological. They seem to exist as a protest movement, not as a movement that can actually get things done. I’ve talked to some Tea Partiers who are reasonable, even if I don’t share their passion or their ideology. But many Tea Partiers of my experience are like better organized version of Occupy: long on outrage, but short on any serious idea about what might be done to fix the (very real) problems that provoked their outrage.
Dreher is expecting too much. The point of a populist movement is to spark mass attention to a specific cause and mobilize. It’s the job of those who agree with the group’s basic ideas—and are politically savvy—to articulate the message and see it translated into policy.