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Dems Try Populism

It worked in 2006, and it can work in 2008. On Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail, Democrats are increasingly moving toward a full-t

It worked in 2006, and it can work in 2008.

On Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail, Democrats are increasingly moving toward a full-throated populist critique of the current economy.

Clearly influenced by some of their most successful candidates in last year’s Congressional elections, Democrats are talking more and more about the anemic growth in American wages and the negative effects of trade and a globalized economy on American jobs and communities. They deplore what they call a growing gap between the middle class, which is struggling to adjust to a changing job market, and the affluent elites who have prospered in the new economy. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, calls it “trickle-down economics without the trickle.”

Populism is hardly new in the Democratic Party. Al Gore vowed to fight for “the people versus the powerful” in his presidential campaign seven years ago, and Republicans have long accused the Democrats of practicing “class warfare.”

But the latest populist resurgence is deeply rooted in a view that current economic conditions are difficult and deteriorating for many people, analysts say, and it is now framing debates over tax policy, education, trade, energy and health care.

Given that we're in the midst of a modern-day "Gilded Age," in which the United States has the most dramatic concentration of wealth at the top since the 1920s, it's probably a good time for a populist message.

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