Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Tue May 7 02:26:01 UTC 2002

The "classic" populist American politician is Robert LaFollette of
Wisconsin, a Republican Senator who ran for president in 1924 under the
banner of the Progressive Party. Populist = grass roots, not right wing.

I wouldn't label Clinton or either of the Roosevelts as "populist," but the
rest of the Google list seems dead on.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of Rick Kennerly
> Sent: Monday, May 06, 2002 5:21 PM
> Subject: Re: populist
> :
> :In the USA "populist" means "pandering to simplistic views in the
> :electorate"
> I take a more generous view of populist rhetoric.  It is generally the
> appeal, often during hard times, of the outsider candidate.
> A quick Google scan for populist and--pick your
> politician--finds these
> politically diverse American candidates being referred to as populist:
> Newt Gingrich - Contract with America
> Bill Clinton - I feel your pain
> Jim Hightower - the consummate political outsider
> Teddy Roosevelt  - during his Trust Busting and Bull Moose Party days
> Jesse Ventura - return government to the people
> Ralph Nader - making corporate America more responsible for defective
> products
> FDR - the New Deal
> Ronald Reagan - get government off the backs of the people
> William Jennings Bryan - Crown of Thorns
> A brief survey of populists movements shows certain defining themes:
> Government's out of touch with the will of the people
> The proper focus of any political system should be on the
> common man in the
> street, not business or government (Kansas and Oklahoma
> probably have the
> most populist state constitutions in the union, going so far
> as to enshrine
> the maximum price of a gallon of kerosene stove fuel in their founding
> document)
> government is captured by business and xxx special interest group
> A nostalgic longing for times past (early populists were
> reacting to the
> industrial revolution)
> in the struggle between the belief in a natural aristocracy
> (gifted leaders
> springing up naturally to run the government) and a natural
> democracy (while
> an individual man may be mistaken, the great body of mankind
> is like a hive
> of bees, wise and capable beyond the sum of it's parts), you
> can imagine
> where the populists come down.
> at times, strongly anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic (the
> second rising of the KKK in Kokomo, Indiana, had strong
> populist ties which
> made poor Irish, Swedes, Italians, Germans and other new
> arrivals flooding
> the Midwest the main target)
> Given these tendencies, I'd say Le Pen fits quite nicely into populist
> traditions.  The error is tagging populism as right wing.
> rhk

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