04/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Politics of the Populist Moment

I appeared on ABC's World News Tonight and ABC's Nightline last night about the economic meltdown. You can watch the Nightline clip here.

As I've written in my column and in my book, The Uprising, populism as a political force can drive policy in many different directions, and there is certainly a terrific opportunity for progressives to channel populism into transformative New Deal-style policies. But if Democrats cede the populist mantle to Republicans - if, for instance, political insiders in the White House keep implying that AIG bonuses are no big deal - we should expect the GOP to try to capitalize.

I don't think the GOP will be able to capitalize just yet - they still have the stench of Abramoff and Bush all over themselves. But over time, and in the lead up to 2010, they will make a populist play to portray Democrats as part of the economic problem, not the solution.

We have to stop them - and the only way to stop them is to keep pushing to pass the major tenets of a progressive economic agenda (financial regulation, universal health care, EFCA, etc.).