Progressive Populism Works
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 11:53:04 PM EST
After the Beltway elite read the results of the special Senate election in Massachusetts last week as an indication of conservatism on the rise, Oregon voters clarified the message: It's not conservatism, but rather populism that is on the rise.
The notoriously anti-tax voters in Oregon went to the polls this month to vote on measures that would firm up state finances by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. The state's fickle electorate had spurned countless tax measures in past years, and indeed had not approved an increase to the state's income tax since 1930.
But with roughly 80 percent of the precincts reporting as of about 8:45 PM Pacific, Oregonians are bucking their anti-tax trend. By a 549,277-vote (55 percent) to 450,190-vote (45 percent) margin, voters are approving of increased taxes on high-income earners. By a similar 547,670-vote (54.3 percent) to 460,477-vote (45.7 percent) margin, voters are backing new taxes on corporations.
The message out of Oregon, like the message out of Massachusetts, is resonating: Voters are in a populist mood right now -- not an anti-government one, necessarily, but a populist one nevertheless. The progressive brand of populism that resonated with Oregonians this month is slightly different than the one that rang true in Massachusetts. Yet the message is just as clear.
The real question now is whether DC will listen, or if instead it will continue to cling to its common wisdom.