Populism's Power: Radical Grassroots Democracy in America by Laura GrattanPopulism's Power: Radical Grassroots Democracy in America by Laura Grattan

Populism's Power: Radical Grassroots Democracy in America

byLaura Grattan

Paperback | February 4, 2016

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Uprisings such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street signal a resurgence of populist politics in America, pitting the people against the establishment in a struggle over control of democracy. In the wake of its conservative capture during the Nixon and Reagan eras, and given its increasingubiquity as a mainstream buzzword of politicians and pundits, democratic theorists and activists have been eager to abandon populism to right-wing demagogues and mega-media spin-doctors. Decades of liberal scholarship have reinforced this shift, turning the term "populism" into a pejorative inacademic and public discourse. At best, they conclude that populism encourages an "empty" wish to express a unified popular will beyond the mediating institutions of government; at worst, it has been described as an antidemocratic temperament prone to fomenting backlash against elites andmarginalized groups.Populism's Power argues that such routine dismissals of populism reinforce liberalism as the end of democracy. Yet, as long as democracy remains true to its meaning, that is, "rule by the people," democratic theorists and activists must be able to give an account of the people as collective actors.Without such an account of the people's power, democracy's future seems fixed by the institutions of today's neoliberal, managerial states, and not by the always changing demographics of those who live within and across their borders. Laura Grattan looks at how populism cultivates the aspirations ofordinary people to exercise power over their everyday lives and their collective fate. In evaluating competing theories of populism she looks at a range of populist moments, from cultural phenomena such as the Chevrolet ad campaign for "Our Country, Our Truck," to the music of Leonard Cohen, andhistorical and contemporary populist movements, including nineteenth-century Populism, the Tea Party, broad-based community organizing, and Occupy Wall Street. While she ultimately expresses ambivalence about both populism and democracy, she reopens the idea that grassroots movements - like theinsurgent farmers and laborers, New Deal agitators, and Civil Rights and New Left actors of US history - can play a key role in democratizing power and politics in America.
Laura Grattan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College.
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Title:Populism's Power: Radical Grassroots Democracy in AmericaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 0.98 inPublished:February 4, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190277637

ISBN - 13:9780190277635

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Aspirational Democratic Populism: Enacting Popular Power at the Horizons of Democracy2. 'Fanning the Spark of Hope': Populism's Rebellious Commonwealth3. America's Populist Imaginary: Brought to You by Chevrolet and Leonard Cohen4. Populist Resonances in the Twenty-first Century: The Tea Party and OccupyConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Populism's Power offers a timely treatment of fundamental questions of political theory, activism, and historical interpretation. Grattan shows why radical and democratic politics cannot do without populist sensibilities and movements. In illuminating the connections between the populistimaginary and practices of organizing and struggle, and in revealing populist movements' pluralist possibilities, her original and boundary-stretching book rescues populism from mainstream critics and prominent defenders. For all that's been written on the topic, I know of no book like Populism'sPower." --Mark Reinhardt, Professor of Political Science and Class of 1956 Professor of American Civilization, Williams College