The Atlantic

Democrats Pitch a Kinder, Gentler Populism

With the unveiling of the party’s new agenda, the rhetorical battle for the allegiance of the middle classes has begun.
Source: James Lawler Duggan / Reuters

Last week was an intriguing one for fans of economic populism. Maybe not a White-House-staffers-threatening-to-sic-the-FBI-on-each-other level of intriguing. But intriguing nonetheless for anyone wondering how the U.S. landed itself in this topsy-turvy political freakshow.

On Monday, Democratic lawmakers unleashed upon the nation their “Better Deal,” the latest move in the party’s scramble to win back the love of the white working-class. As the accompanying web site grandly proclaims, “The Democratic Party’s mission is to help build an America in which working people know that somebody has their back.” Too many Americans, the site laments at length, feel like “the rules of the economy are rigged against them.”

The plan’s anodyne name—a response to Donald Trump’s dealmaker posturing—prompted much sniggering. Some people considered it an uninspired echo

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