Populist Party Platform, 1892. (It could have been written for today)

Populist Mary E Lease

The populists of the 1890’s arose in response to the Robber Baron excesses of that Gilded Age of robbery and plunder by a few against the many – an era quite a lot like ours.

Update the language in their 1892 platform, and it could be written about our current times.

The conditions which surround us best justify our co-operation; we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box…. The people are demoralized;… public opinion silenced…. homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists. The urban workman are denied the right to organize for self-protection, imported pauperized labor beats down their wages… and [we] are rapidly degenerating into European conditions. The fruits of the toils of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind…. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes ­ tramps and millionaires.

The national power to create money is appropriated to enrich bond-holders….

Controlling influences dominating both… parties have permitted the existing dreadful conditions to develop without serious effort to prevent or restrain them. Neither do they now promise any substantial reform…. They propose to sacrifice our homes, lives, and children on the alter of mammon; to destroy the multitude in order to secure corruption funds from the millionaires….

We seek to restore the government of the Republic to the hands of the “plain people.”

I’ll have a series of posts about the Populists starting Monday.


  • Ivo

    The Omaha Platform is great stuff. “The Populist Moment”, which is the abridged version of “Democratic Promise” by Lawrence Goodwyn, should be required reading for American citizens.

  • Stan Black

    The robber barons did not cease to exist; they only changed shape. The hierarchy of social structure has not changed much at all.

    • Exactly. I’ll have a series of posts on the populists of the 1890’s starting Monday. The similarities between their time and ours is striking.

      • A conspiracy theorist, or student of Howard Zinn, could have a field day with this.

  • Ron

    Yea! Finally liberal populists are getting their message out. I have been a Teddy Roosevelt type Populist for many years now. I’m quite discusted at the wacky media calling Glenn Beck and types as Populists. Sure, they say they are fighting the power but really what they are fighting is some amorphous “big government” built from straw men. In the long run they love the concentrated wealth and despise the poor people who they claim are living off the sweat of their brow. That is the direct 180 degree opposite of populist in the dimension or world I live in.
    When will they realize that the big government is being run by big money. I’m not trying to pimp my blog Bob but I invite you to mine. It may help you find your way and give you some new resources if you are truly interested in liberal populism. Bless you for your efforts. It’s exactly where the debate needs to go.

    • Populism really bridges the left-right divide. Those of us on the left can find plenty of common ground with populists on the right. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of a resurgence of populism. Good.

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