Out Today: Populism with a Brain

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Dear Citizen,

To many Americans, “populism” is a bad word. It means being a racist or a demagogue, or perhaps simply promising voters what you can’t afford to deliver. That’s why this year the media have often labeled both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as “populists.”

But a century ago, Populism was a mainstream American political philosophy—that aimed to protect the interests of regular people by fighting monopoly and the concentration of economic and political power. As Phillip Longman and I argue in the new Washington Monthly, Populists stood firmly in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. And the successes of the Populists profoundly shaped American political life in the twentieth century, from the 1912 election of Woodrow Wilson to the advent of Ronald Reagan.

In our new article, “Populism with a Brain: 10 Old/New Ideas to Give Power Back to the People,” Phil and I explore what a Populist of 100 years ago would do to fix some of the ills of America’s twenty-first century political economy.

A number of leading voices in America’s growing movement for a people-centered economics also contributed to this article, including Zephyr Teachout, Thomas Frank, Marcellus Andrews, Jeffrey Rosen, K. Sabeel Rahman, Lina Khan, Donald Kettl, Teddy Downey, Leah Douglas, Brian Feldman, and Kevin Carty.

You can read our article here.

All the best,

Barry C. Lynn

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