American populism has almost always concentrated its anger against the educated rather than the wealthy. So much so that you might describe contemporary American politics as a class struggle between those with more education than money against those with more money than education: Jon Stewart’s America versus Bill O’Reilly’s, Barack Obama versus Sarah Palin.
Digging back in memory, this fits with theories of Richard Hofstadter and perhaps Robert Wiebe, whose works I read as an undergraduate, or shortly after. The Tea Party phenomena has been the most interesting and scary item to watch of late. Intellectually, it's incoherent, as Frum recognizes, but it captures feelings, and feelings are much, much stronger than ideas. In thinking about our recent Iowa Supreme Court election vote, I was struck by the attitude of resentment expressed more than the anti-gay aspect. VanderPlats didn't do any overt gay-bashing, he couched his argument in terms of "elites" and "activist judges" "re-writing the Constitution". This is the real problem. The problem of crowds, the uneducated, the demos, the mob, and so on. When do we move from a democracy to a tyranny of the many? The Greeks, like Aristotle and Plato, understood the downside of democracy, and as I learn more, I gain a greater appreciation of their concerns (although I still don't buy any alternative).
Getting back to Frum, it's a really thoughtful piece. Here! Here! to more conservatives like him.