From the Missouri State University online collection of populist cartoons of Worth Robert Miller, who has assembled a huge online resource about US populism.
Populists claimed that Democratic and Republican politicians agitated meaningless issues, such as tariff revision, in demagogic attempts to divert people’s attention from the real problems that producers faced. Notice where the politician’s right hands are located.
There are many parallels between what the Populists of the 1890’s stood for and fought against and our current time. They opposed the formation of large, greedy, soulless corporations who evaded responsibility using the guise of corporate personhood, railed against bankers who gouged and exploited everyone, and thought the two-party system and Congress were mostly corrupt and bought off. For a while, they achieved major political power. I find them inspirational and a possible model for our time. and will be blogging about them this week.
Their appeal seems to go across traditional party lines. Interestingly, they were based in rural areas, not cities. They wanted co-ops that would buy their crops at decent prices and make loans to them at reasonable rates, rather than the existing system which ground them to dust with larcenous interest rates and which resulted in many foreclosures. Like I said, there are many parallels between their time and ours.
Seems to me they were sort of semi-socialist without the dogma and rigidity that can come with Marxism and were a homegrown, rural phenomenon.