What is populism, really? (ft. Steve Babson)

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What is populism, anyway? There’s a lot of talk about populists and the concept of populism in today’s political discourse but little talk about what the roots are and what it actually means.

Author and labor educator Steve Babson joined me in the studio to discuss his book, “Forgotten Populists: When farmers turned left to save democracy.”

This conversation hits a number of points:

03:29 – Populism as an alternative to capitalism

05:40 – One of the most notable populists was legendary Detroit mayor Hazen Pingree, who was both an entrepreneur and a one-time factory worker. His policies revolutionized the city and set it on a path for its golden age.

09:03 – We discuss how different American elections were, as there was no secret ballot.

11:03 – Changing rules

13:19 – The legacy of populism

14:19 – The Works Progress Administration, the New Deal, and examples locally like Keyworth Stadium that were built using populist policies

16:43 – A historical comparison of populism

18:11 – How is the modern UAW different than the past, and the populist threads in that?

19:47 – Why author Steve Babson wrote this book

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