From JONATHAN MARTIN
Labor unions hoped to turn the Wisconsin recall election into a rallying cause for their ailing movement. But a Democratic president couldn’t be dragged off the sidelines for the fight.
Anti-Wall Street activists were itching to see JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon bashed like a piñata at a congressional hearing just two weeks after his firm blew $2 billion in risky speculation. But Democratic senators greeted him with flowers, not fury.
And, as President Barack Obama attempts to make Mitt Romney’s history as a wealthy buyout artist a centerpiece of his 2012 message, he is second-guessed and hushed by some of the leading voices in his own party.
What the hell ever happened to populism in the Democratic Party?
The recent convergence of setbacks on the left has activists and historians alike pondering anew how the modern Democratic Party has severed its connection to its own history — a tradition that many liberals wrongly imagined was about to spring back to life in the Obama years.
Populism — with its rowdy zeal to brawl against economic elites on behalf of the working classes — was for decades the party’s defining cause.
In language that highlights the tameness of contemporary class warfare, President Franklin D. Roosevelt railed against “economic royalists” and the “forces of organized greed,” and, of his business opponents, he gloated, “I welcome their hatred.”