By Joseph Lowndes

About Joseph Lowndes

Joseph Lowndes is Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon  He is the author of From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism and co-author (with Daniel Martinez Hosang) of Producers, Parasites, Patriots: Race and the New Right-Wing Politics of Precarity.

4. Intersectionality & Populism (Keywords Now)

For a limited time, read the full keyword essays on “Intersectionality” and “Populism

So much changes, so much remains the same.  We excerpt here a passage from our recently co-authored Common Dreams article since it extends themes we developed in our keyword essays on “Populism” and “Intersectionality.”

Tens of millions of Americans believe that they were victims of a left-wing coup. For many of them the storming of the Capitol was a democratic act. They watched as people like themselves acted together to disrupt that supposed coup, and defend popular sovereignty. Right-wing insurgency is endlessly nourished by populist narratives that pit the “the common people” against elites, which includes both the storming of the Capitol and the pleasures of excess once inside—from feet on the desks of legislators to the wrecking of historical artifacts.

The bipartisan condemnations of Trump and those who besieged the Capitol have …


Populism is an unusual political term in that its meanings vary widely, both for those who claim the label and those who use it as a term of derision. It is rooted in the republican notion that all legitimate political authority is grounded in the people as such. Yet populism has never meant the same thing as popular sovereignty. It describes not a type of regime, but an active demand for political power. To those who claim it as a political identity, it is meant to describe a struggle for majoritarian rule against threats from above, below, or within. To those for whom it is a term of derision, populism describes an antiliberal desire for mob or authoritarian rule.

The term was first used by reporters and by members of the U.S. People’s Party in the late nineteenth century to denote its claim to speak and act in the name …

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