September 3, 2015

THE LAST ONES IN...:

The Populists (GEORGE PACKER, 09_07_15, The New Yorker)

Thomas E. Watson, the populist from Georgia who had a long and increasingly demagogic career in American politics, wrote in 1910:

The scum of creation has been dumped on us. Some of our principal cities are more foreign than American. The most dangerous and corrupting hordes of the Old World have invaded us. The vice and crime which they have planted in our midst are sickening and terrifying. What brought these Goths and Vandals to our shores? The manufacturers are mainly to blame. They wanted cheap labor: and they didn't care a curse how much harm to our future might be the consequence of their heartless policy.

The objects of Watson's bile were the Italians, Poles, Jews, and other European immigrants then pouring into the United States. A century later, in the populist summer of 2015, some of their great-grandchildren have been cheering Donald Trump as he denounces the latest generation of immigrants, in remarkably similar terms.

American populism has a complicated history, and Watson embodied its paradoxes. He ended his career, as a U.S. senator, whipping up white-Protestant enmity against blacks, Catholics, and Jews; but at the outset, as a leader of the People's Party in the eighteen-nineties, he urged poor whites and blacks to join together and upend an economic order dominated by "the money power." Watson wound up as Trump, but he started out closer to Bernie Sanders, and his hostility to the one per cent of the Gilded Age would do Sanders proud. 

...always oppose the next ones.
Posted by at September 3, 2015 6:53 PM
  

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