Populism’s Kansas Roots

The word “populist” appears often in the news these days. Whether their politics are right, left, or center, people complain that the system is rigged against them and that they cannot adequately provide for themselves and their families.

It may surprise you, as it did me, to learn that the word “populist” was coined in the 1890s to describe a political movement begun by farmers. The movement was especially strong in Kansas, where it took hold among farmers plagued by years of drought and low commodity prices.

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