by Ted Rudow III, MA Monday Oct 10th, 2011
The Populist movement started the end of the first Gilded Age in the 1890s. The movement developed from farmers' alliances formed in the 1880s in reaction to falling crop prices and poor credit facilities.
The leaders organized the Populist, or People's, Party (1892), which advocated a variety of measures to help farmers. It form to be a mass disruptions and mass protests by unemployed workers, especially in the 1930s during the Great Depression. It took roughly four years for the organize to happen. We first started seeing the first uprisings around 1933, and continued in 1934, ’35, ’36. Thirty-six, ’37 is the Flint sit-down strike. Marches of unemployed, people going into the street, in some cases actually occupying factories, as we saw later on with the Flint sit-down strike. So there was massive unrest and disruption across the country, from both farmers as well as unemployed people. And what’s interesting about that is it was farmers who were in debt both in the 1890s and the 1930s. Today it’s students in debt, to a great extent, to large banks. That energy was channeled into what we now know as the New Deal. Since the ’30s, and especially starting in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, the right actually claimed the label and mantra of populism, and they have successfully changed the entire discourse and politics of this country under populist rhetoric. New research shows household income has declined more in the two years after the recession officially ended than it did during the recession itself. Money needs to flow from the top down, not from the bottom up.
Ted Rudow III, MA