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  •  Liberals should embrace economic populism (6+ / 0-)

    but no one should be under any illusions that it's the magic bullet that will win back white middle America.

    Judis's explanation of populism both left and right highlights why it is that those whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers were supporters of the Populist movement, FDR, and the New Deal are today adherents of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party.

    Such folks still don't like Wall Street or big business, but big government and mooching minorities have long since overtaken Wall Street and big business as the Great Satan of white middle America.  When Democrats and liberals became seen as being on the side of big government and minorities, that superseded any shared hatred of Wall Street and big business that white middle America had with Democrats and liberals.

    And in fact, the more Democrats and liberals and big government became seen as the enemy, the less supportive white middle America became of activist government policies.  Ironically it was white middle America that led the charge in passing things like the progressive Income Tax, the minimum wage, maximum work hours, protections for unions, Social Security, and so on.  Yet today they are more likely to be supporters of untrammeled capitalism.  It is this fact that explains why many Democrats like Bill Clinton embraced a more business-friendly, free market approach, in a misguided effort to win over white voters they saw as headed more in that direction.  

    Democrats should nevertheless embrace economic populism, but mostly because it appeals to their base of nonwhites, women, and young people.  Also, they should embrace it because the New Democrat, neo-liberal approach has, despite its intentions, failed to win over white voters.  If being Republican-lite isn't producing any results, then Democrats might as well stand on principle rather than running as Republican-lite.  Hell, it might even work better, especially since there are still segments of white middle America that don't particularly like Wall Street or big business.  All we need to do is win over a few of them to get a governing majority.  Maybe offering them a starker contrast from the Republicans on economic issues will do the trick.  But as I mentioned, no one should believe it's a magic bullet to win over whites.  That old New Deal Coalition is not coming back.

    "Those who have wrought great changes in the world never succeeded by gaining over chiefs; but always by exciting the multitude." - Martin Van Buren

    by puakev on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:04:49 AM PDT

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