From Truth Out: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20882-populism-rising
These are but the opening skirmishes of what is likely to be a fierce battle inside and outside the Democratic Party. Populism, by definition, doesn’t trickle down from the top. It spreads as a bottom up movement that chooses and elevates its own leaders. It doesn’t spread because Elizabeth Warren is espousing politically toxic and unpopular ideas, as the Third Wayers charged. Rather Warren is threatening because she champions attitudes and ideas that enjoy widespread popularity outside the beltway, but are slighted inside of it.
Populist movements grow out of popular discontent. For over thirty years, inequality has been growing. Profits and productivity and CEO salaries have risen, but workers haven’t shared in the growth. But hard times, as Lawrence Goodwyn, the great historian of the Populist Movement notes, do not generate democratic movements. Times have been “hard” for most people for a long time. When families lose ground, people tend to believe that they are at fault, that their luck has been bad, that they made the wrong choices. They work harder; they take on debt; they get by. Resignation and deference are normal. Movements start only when reality – and organizers – begin to open people’s eyes.
The economy hasn’t worked for working people for a long time. Wall Street’s excesses then led to the Great Recession. Yet the banks were bailed out; banker bonuses were paid, while homeowners were abandoned. The wealthy recovered, while most Americans struggle to stay afloat. Occupy Wall Street helped crystallize people’s sense about the 1%. They rig the rules, as Elizabeth Warren put it, to benefit themselves. Running for re-election in a lousy economy, the president was wise enough to embrace populist themes. And Mitt Romney, with his money summering in Cayman Island tax havens, proved the perfect foil.
Continue reading at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20882-populism-rising