Essay by YunichiiUniversity, Bachelor'sB, October 2004

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Populism is a movement begun in the mid-1890s by farmers and other rural residents at the time. It quickly gained strength and has undergone many changes since then. It has not only changed in its views, but also in the political parties who utilize it not as an ideology but rather as a mode of persuasion. Populism is defined in the book as a language whose speakers see the people as one and not as a people bound by class restrictions, who see the elite politicians who oppose them as self-serving, and who wish to bring these "average people" together to fight against the overbearing powers of the political elite. Populist speakers voiced their discontent with elites who ignored, corrupted, or betrayed the ideal of American democracy, which consisted of rule by the common people. After the farmers created what we know as populism in the mid-1890s, there was a parting of the ways.

In the early twentieth century, farmers' enthusiasm waned but two other groups' did not. These groups consisted of the wage earners and the evangelic churchgoers. They argued that unions were now the best representation of the "average man". At the same time, middle-class Protestants were mounting campaigns as well. This was the first transition of the populist movement. . The second transition came in the late 1940s when populism began a migration from Left to Right. Conservative groups and politicians altered the speeches once given by reformers and radicals. Many reasons are given as to why this transition took place. Some of these included: the onset of the Cold War, the fact that most white Americans came to see themselves as middle-class consumers and taxpayers, and the growth of evangelical churches whose political stance was as conservative as their theology. Gradually and unevenly, a...