- This event has passed.
Populism and Anti-Populism: Thomas Frank
Mon October 19, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
Denunciations of populism had been commonplace for years but flowered into a full-blown panic in 2016, when commentators identified it as the force behind the unlikely presidential bid of celebrity billionaire Donald Trump. Then came Brexit. Populists were charged with misleading people about globalization, with disparaging elites, with subverting traditional institutions of government.
Our speaker Thomas Frank writes in his new book, The People, NO: A Brief History of Anti-Populism, that this is all a mistake. The author and political commentator argues that the real story of populism is one of enlightenment and liberation. It’s an account of American democracy itself, of its promise of a decent life for all. From the tumultuous 1890s, when the radical left-wing Populist Party fought Gilded Age plutocrats, to the reformist triumphs under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, Frank points out how much is owed to the populist ethos.
Our current president? Not a populist at all, Frank maintains, but a candidate who made promises of “populist-style reform, none of them sincere,” that sounded good enough to enough voters to secure his election by one of the least populist of institutions, the Electoral College.
Frank, a former columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Harper’s and founding editor of The Baffler. In his books What’s the Matter with Kansas? and Listen, Liberal, he focuses on the relationship between culture and politics in the United States.
Sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action’s Legislative/Political Committee. Register to attend.