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Jim Hightower: A ploy to dilute the Democratic party’s message

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Here’s a jarring headline: “Economic Populism Is a Dead End for Democrats.”

That’s the title on a recent op-ed piece written by a couple of longtime political flacks for Wall Street and published, naturally, in The Wall Street Journal.

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Take it from me, when the barons of big money start rolling out this kind of scolding screed, it’s not because they really think populism is a loser, but because they’re terrified by the fact that it has already gained mass appeal and is on the move all across grassroots America.

Indeed, to put a thin veneer of legitimacy on this op-ed, they had to resort to the fiction that it is a political warning written to Democrats by Democrats — specifically by an inside-the-Beltway outfit calling itself Third Way.

But this group is to authentic Democratic Party principles what near beer is to stout — only, not as close. Third Way is just the same old Wall Street way. While it wears a Democratic mask, it pushes for policies that are Wall Street fantasies, including gutting and privatizing Social Security.

Why would a group wanting you to believe that it has genuine Democratic genes be an advocate for further enriching Wall Street’s Republican elite at the expense of America’s middle class and the poor?

To find out, just peek behind Third Way’s organizational curtain. You’ll see that its funders and governing board include no one from labor, senior citizen, consumer, environmentalist, small-farmer, student, African American, Latino and other core Democratic constituencies. Instead, of its 29 board members, 20 are Wall Street bankers, hedge fund hucksters or venture capital vultures.

Third Way dead-ends at Wall Street. So, fronting for the selfish interests of its backers, it doesn’t want any party championing economic populism. But the people do, and that’s who Democrats should heed.

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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