The Populist Persuasion: An American History

The Populist Persuasion: An American History

by Michael Kazin
     
 

ISBN-10: 0465059988

ISBN-13: 9780465059980

Pub. Date: 01/28/1996

Publisher: Basic Books

Our Constitution promises a government of the people, by the people, and for the people - but who are "the people"? And who can honestly claim to speak for "the people"? Here, in the first comprehensive history of populism in our nation, Michael Kazin examines the strange career of populist politics from the era of Thomas Jefferson to the era of William Jefferson…  See more details below

Overview

Our Constitution promises a government of the people, by the people, and for the people - but who are "the people"? And who can honestly claim to speak for "the people"? Here, in the first comprehensive history of populism in our nation, Michael Kazin examines the strange career of populist politics from the era of Thomas Jefferson to the era of William Jefferson Clinton. Once identified with the dispossessed, the poor and exploited workers from farm and factory, populism in recent years has been brought to the forefront of the political landscape, embraced by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Jesse Jackson and glibly applied to figures ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Rush Limbaugh. Kazin calls populism an impulse rather than an ideology. He defines it as a mode of political persuasion that combines anti-elitism, adoration of the common people (usually defined as hardworking, pious, and, until quite recently, white), and a belief in the American ideal of democracy that the power brokers in business, government, and academia have betrayed. Kazin argues that populism has undergone two major transformations since the defeat of the People's Party, the original Populists, in the mid-1890s. The first was a split between those who viewed "the people" as a group belonging above all to God and those who viewed ordinary Americans in primarily economic terms. The second, an ongoing shift to the Right, began in the McCarthy era. The movement was transformed by the onset of the Cold War, the ideological mellowing of the labor movement, and the New Left's self-imposed alienation from the American mainstream. In the 1960s, George Wallace showed how to attract blue-collar Democrats with populist rhetoric. Then Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan captured and refined populist themes for the benefit of the Republican Party. Kazin shows that the Right's conception of a struggling middle class beset by an inept, immoral state remains vigorous and limits what Bill Clinton or anyone to h

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465059980
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
01/28/1996
Edition description:
Older Edition
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.06(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.09(d)
Lexile:
1520L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Author's Note to the Cornell Paperbacks Edition
Introduction: Speaking for the People1
1Inheritance9
2The Righteous Commonwealth of the Late Nineteenth Century27
3Workers as Citizens: Labor and the Left in the Gompers Era49
4Onward, Christian Mothers and Soldiers: The Prohibitionist Crusade79
5Social Justice and Social Paranoia: The Catholic Populism Of Father Coughlin109
6The Many and the Few: The CIO and the Embrace Of Liberalism135
7A Free People Fight Back: The Rise and Fall of the Cold War Right165
8Power to Which People? The Tragedy of the White New Left195
9Stand Up for the Working Man: George Wallace and the Making of a New Right221
10The Conservative Capture: From Nixon to Reagan245
11Spinning the People269
Conclusion: A Language We Need?287
A Note on Method291
Notes293
Good Reading364
Index371

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