Update America: Barack Obama just rebranded himself a champion of the middle class. In a Dec. 6 speech, he defended a vision of America where "everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, [and] everyone does their fair share." It's a message that draws on a long history of populism going back to the late 19th century.
'This isn't about class warfare. This is about the nation's welfare.'
Crucified on a Cross of Gold
Back in the 1890s, the so-called Great Commoner churned up a short-lived populist movement by giving stirring speeches to desperate farmers. Bryan invented stumping, orating up to six hours a day, so we have him to thank for the Progressive reforms of the early 20th century--and today's endless campaign speechifying.
The Unholy Alliance
After leaving the White House, the mustachioed 26th president turned his attention to the nefarious connections between politics and business, eventually forming the Bull Moose Party in 1912. The Occupy Wall Street crowd owes a great debt to Roosevelt's crusades against corporate malfeasance.
Share Our Wealth
The charismatic Louisiana governor and U.S. senator made his populist bones …