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The people are revolting! A brief introduction to populism

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by Jim Hightower

"If you’ve paid attention to the trends behind recent headlines, this “news” probably won’t shock to you: During the last 35 years or so, a cabal of elite corporate executives and immensely rich investors has been tightening its grip on the American people’s rights, wages, opportunities, communities, elections, courts, and media. But let’s take a moment to consider just a few of the specific changes that have skewed America’s balance of power and wealth in favor of the plutocrats:

Citizens United
 * Voter Suppression * Perpetual War

Tattered safety net
 * Too Big To Fail
 (or Jail) * Legalized tax-dodging

Crumbling infrastructure * Debtor’s prisons * Payday loan schemes

Stop and frisk * Police militarization
 * Bans on unions
 * Surveillance society

Poverty wages * Mass incarceration * Deregulation

Mandatory arbitration * Exorbitant student loan rates

All of these (and more) have added up to an enthronement of the rich and the normalization of inequity. They threaten to squeeze the life out of America’s core values of democracy, equality, and justice.

But there is a medicine to fight this disease, a powerful antidote deeply entwined with our nation’s history: populism—a political doctrine rooted in the rebellious spirit and commitment to the common good of ordinary, grassroots Americans. Time and again throughout our country’s history, populist rebellions have been sparked when ordinary folks were being run over by abusive concentrations of power. And so it is today: hundreds of thousands of Americans—young and old, white and black and brown—are again speaking up and standing against the armed robbery of the people’s rights and the grand theft of the American Dream. That is populism..."

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