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

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic13 min readPolitics
The 2020 Congressional-Retirement Tracker
For the second consecutive election, more Republicans than Democrats are forgoing reelection, a potentially ominous sign for the GOP in 2020.
The Atlantic7 min read
The Date Hong Kong Protesters Can’t Escape
The year 2047 is a deadline that has come to symbolize the end of the territory’s way of life.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
The Ukraine Transcripts Are a Road Map for Impeachment
The experience of following the impeachment inquiry over the past week has been a bit like that old Buster Keaton skit of a man being taken down by an ever-expanding newspaper. The 1921 clip from the silent movie The High Sign shows Keaton settling d