Magazine June 1, 2021, Issue

Learning from Populist Movements of the Past

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In Defense of Populism: Protest and American Democracy, by Donald T. Critchlow (University of Pennsylvania Press, 224 pp., $29.95)

In 1978, Chilton Williamson Jr. published an eerily prescient broadside against populist conservatism in the pages of National Review called “To the Nashville Station: Country & Western Marxism.” Williamson’s main target was Kevin Phillips, whose 1969 book The Emerging Republican Majority pointed toward a new center-right politics that would move away from the northeastern “establishment” and toward the middle and working classes and the emerging power of the Sun Belt voter. Phillips argued that social and cultural issues would attract more downscale voters to the GOP. Even as Phillips veered toward the kooky left later in his life, The Emerging

This article appears as “Our Populist Past” in the June 1, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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