Paul Johnson, in his book The History of the American People, wrote about ordinary Americans in the beginning:
It was short step from admitting ordinary folk had a right to the best to giving them a full share in government--and giving it to them not grudgingly but eagerly. Words like 'husbandman,' 'yeoman,' 'esquire' quickly dropped out of use, being replaced by 'citizen'--a decade before the French Revolutionaries took it up. Collectively, the citizens were the 'Publick.' Cato thought: 'Every ploughman knows a good government from a bad one.' Jefferson agreed. 'State a problem to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it often better than the latter, because he had not been led astray by artificial rules.' John Adams invented a hick-farmer archetype, Humphrey Ploughjogger, and extolled his sense and shrewdness in newspaper ariticles. He was 'made of as good a Clay as the so-called Great Ones of the world.' The mob, the herd and the rabble, as the Great always delight to call them.' were, wrote Adams, 'by the unalterable laws of god and Nature, as well entitled to the benefit of the air to breathe, light to see, food to eat, clothes to wear, as the nobles or the king.' All that was necessary was to educate them, to add knowledge to their native wit.
Populism was part of the early American mindset, and it was, and has been, a double-edged sword in need of context. The final sentence in the above passage from Johnson is one key to understanding. While it's part of a great American philosophy that all people deserve the air to breathe, light to see, etc., not all Americans have complemented their "native wit" with education. Recently, both Republicans and Democrats have participated in a dishonest populism. Democrats have used populist rhetoric to gin up anger at companies like Bain Capital and their CEOs, like Mitt Romney once was. The recent Democrat attack ad against Bain Capital and Romney shows some ordinary people who are claiming Romney didn't care about workers and their situation, only about making money.
I grew up in poor, then later middleclass, communities and lived in such communities until I was around 30 years old. I've heard this type of resentment expressed thousands of times against the owners of business or at some general idea of rich people -- those people with money. The populist anger at the rich is passed along with little thought given to economics, the market, the nature of wealth management, etc. This is because most of the people who simply repeat the attacks on the rich haven't received an education, for whatever reason. Then, there are those who do receive an education, but the education entails a bias against capitalism, so their view toward companies like Bain Capital are skewed. Honest thinkers on the Left like Steve Rattner, Corey Booker and Harold Ford, Jr. have spoken out against the unthinking, populist attacks on Bain Capital and their type of business.
The Right is guilty, at times, of an anti-intellectual populism, sort of like the patronizing praise from Jefferson from above. Is it true an ordinary farmer is more insightful than a professor? Well, it depends. Ordinary working people usually have a type of practical intelligence that's missing among intellectuals, but there's no natural, "native wit" that's superior to higher learning. If a farmer has learned the practical lessons of work and necessity and has complemented his "native wit" with a broad, objective education, then the farmer might have an edge on an intellectual who hasn't lived much in the work-a-day world, and his insights might be richer.
Ordinary people who haven't received an education can believe things that make no sense, and they can say things that are incredibly ignorant. This reliance on populism is a con game played by the political elite to expand their voting base and gain more power -- those ordinary people flattered by pandering pols who praise the uneducated, ordinary, natural intelligence are being played, and if the time ever comes when they want the pols to really listen to and act on the brilliant things they have to say, they'll discover who it really is that doesn't care about their situation but only about gaining more power over their ordinary lives and choices.