May 26th, 2004

kansas

Populist Tradition in Kansas

It's hard to explain to people that my home state actually has a long progressive/populist tradition. You'd barely know it now, looking at the politics coming out of the place. But it's true, and there are vestiges of it in the culture of the place, if you look closely at how natives often talk and act about many political and social issues (even while they're making disastrously stupid decisions).

The old populism was strong in the middle of the country at the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th. I reckon I need to educate myself about it more fully if I want to talk about it at any length. In the mean time, though, check out

this piece from the Lawrence paper

about the recent article in Harper's by Thomas Frank, author of the forthcoming What's The Matter With Kansas? (the state being, he argues, a microcosm of the whole U.S. of A.).

The article has some good links, including one to the 1896 essay of Wm Allen White from which Frank's book takes its title.