Start with Salena Zito, perhaps meditation on Eric Cantor's being fired.
Populism is much more complicated than most people realize; it cannot be manufactured, cannot be forced, and no one person or handful of people can claim to inspire it. Populism, at its core, is driven by personal economics, disconnection from representative government and frustration with the lack of power to change either.
Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, usually the house organ of business-as-usual statist smugness, Jack Stripling attempts an even-handed treatment of the intellectual foundations of contemporary libertarian populism.
Ruth L. Braunstein, who is writing an ethnography of a Tea Party group in the Northeast, said her fieldwork indicated that supporters of the movement are not overtly antagonistic toward academe.

"It’s not so much an animosity toward higher education per se, and more toward a cultural elitism among liberals and concerns about liberal biases on campuses," said Ms. Braunstein, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut.

Within Tea Party groups, Ms. Braunstein added, there is often a "resident philosopher or economist" who takes on a professorial role in meetings that cover issues such as tax policy.
Yes, there are intellectual foundations for libertarian and conservative policy prescriptions, but sometimes, it's as simple as the failure of the Establishment to deliver on its promises.  Consider Juan Cole, analyzing the origins of turmoil in Iraq.
Sunni Iraqis had been in the 20th century cosmopolitan and often modernists. Many were liberals yearning for democracy. From 1968 they turned to more of a Soviet model, a strongly secular one. They have turned in desperation to rural fundamentalists who want a medieval caliphate only because of the vast reversal in their fortunes resulting from the Bush invasion and occupation, and the unfair policies of the Shiite government, which has turned them from an elite into an underclass. They are capable, trained, educated people. They aren’t going to put up with that, and if turning to al-Qaeda is the only way to avoid that fate, they are often willing now to do it.
There's a lesson the self-despising multiculturalists of the developed world can draw from Professor Cole's argument.  Substitute "Consciousness Revolution" for "Bush invasion" and "Great Society and Obamination" for "unfair policies" and be grateful that mainstream Americans have the Spirit of '76 to draw on, rather than having to turn to more authoritarian strains of politics.

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