Tuesday, September 27, 2016


If you feel that ordinary working people should have the strongest political voice, you can say you believe in populism.
In politics, the term populism can have different meanings depending on who is using it and what their political goals are. At its root, populism is a belief in the power of regular people, and in their right to have control over their government rather than a small group of political insiders or a wealthy elite. The word populism comes from the Latin word for "people,"populus.
This is a definition from vocabulary.com.  The populist movement was a big moment in American History.  This was the late 19th Century during the Gilded Age.  This was a time of corruption, and many felt oppressed financially.  To help see this - here is a video about the politics of the Gilded Age and why it was so corrupt.

One group that was furious were the farmers.  They felt unheard politically and financially!  At this time the railroads controlled everything, and the farmers found them unfair.  The biggest thing was freight prices.  It cost an arm and a leg to ship product to American Markets.  

The Populist had a long list of what they wanted to happen.  They wanted better representation politically, graduated income tax, currency, and government ownership of railroads and communication lines.  They felt like if the government controlled these industries it would be fairer.

To get any kind of progress this Populist movement had to get political!  It will become political, and a huge supporter will be Frank L Baum.  That name might sound familiar because he wrote a famous book that was a political allegory of the Populist movement!  The Wizard of OZ!

Everything in this story symbolizes and represents aspects of this movement.  Here are some of the thing represented in the Wizard of OZ:

Dorthy represents Mary Elizabeth Lease - A mover and shaker in the  Populist Movement
Yellow Brick Road represents the danger of the Gold Standard
Silver Slippers (Ruby Silvers) represent silver coinage will save us
OZ represents ounce referring to gold and silver
Scarecrow represent the Western wise but naive farmer
Tin Man represents the dehumanized industrial worker
Cowardly Lion represents William Jennings Bryan - history does not remember him fondly
Wizard represents Gilded Age presidents

There are more symbols of the Populist Movement, but those are the big ones.  Everything represents something!  William Jennings Bryan put a huge spotlight on the movement when he gave his Cross of Gold Speech.  Where he discusses the danger of the Gold Standard.

Sadly the Populist Movement did not accomplish many of their goals, but the Progressives will pick up many of their goals, and be successful!

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