Populism and '92

Discussing the Clinton campaign, I think Ezra Klein erects too much of a dichotomy between populist and New Dem "sides" to Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. It was much more like a synthesis, a weaving of key New Dem concepts into traditional Democratic populism, then it was a question of sides. Certainly several of the key New Dem interventions in that year -- the Ricky Ray Rector incident, the original Sister Souljah moment -- were cultural populism to go alonside Clinton's economic populism.

What's more, at the end of the day Clinton's promise to "end welfare as we know it" and put poor black women to work was a very populist idea. Welfare reform mixes with the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules you shouldn't be poor to make a pretty seamless blend of cultural and economic populism, bounded together by a shared notion of the social value of work.