A Populism of Hope

The waning years of the 1800s bore an uncanny resemblance to the present. The U.S. economy was transforming and globalizing, leaving behind many hardworking people. Then, as now, a populist uprising was underway in national politics against politics as usual. Then, as now, tough-talking contenders tried to position themselves as spokesmen for the people.

That earlier populism shared many of the complaints about widespread economic stagnation and urban elites that animated voters in 2016. But, rather than in the apocalyptic preaching of a reality TV star, the movement’s backbone lay in feats of economic self-help. And this made all the difference. The proposals those populists sought called for fuller democracy, not authoritarian retrenchment.

This was a populism of hope, not a populism of fear.

Read the rest at YES! Magazine

 

Go to the GEO front page