Yesterday a group of elite Democratic strategists gathered to discuss how they can convince voters they are not the party of the elite. So, naturally, the conference was organized by an oil heiress and a former aide to the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

Leah Hunt-Hendrix, an oil heiress turned liberal activist, organized the event with Adam Jentleson, a former top aide to Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader and senator from Nevada who died last year.

Jentleson, who now runs a progressive communications strategy firm called Battle Born Collective along with Tré Easton, said in an interview, “Democrats must find a more effective way to meet working-class voters where they are, and channel their very real anger — or else Republicans will.”

Jentleson championed an economic philosophy called “inclusive populism” — essentially, left-leaning economics without the nastiness of past populist movements, which have often channeled working-class voters’ resentment toward immigrants or racial minorities.

Inclusive populism isn’t a newly coined term. This dictionary of populism offers a definition:

Inclusionary populism, also called left-wing populism or social populism, is a political ideology that combines left-wing politics and populist rhetoric and themes. Its rhetoric often consists of anti-elitist sentiments, opposition to the establishment and speaking for the “common people”…

In Greece, inclusionary populism, whether it was led by Andreas Papandreou’s PASOK or Tsipras’ SYRIZA has dominated the populist political landscape…

To Markou, left-wing populist forces in Latin America such as those led by Morales in Bolivia and Kirchner in Argentina, have managed to fulfil many popular demands and to create the conditions for a new ‘pluralistic’ and a more democratic society.

Evo Morales in Bolivia has identified himself as a “pragmatic socialist” one who nationalized the energy sector in Bolivia. The Greek party SYRIZA started out as a coalition of the far left which moved from Democratic Socialism to Social Democracy over time. So while it’s a bit difficult to precisely locate “inclusive populism” on the American political landscape, it’s clearly to the far left. And the attendees of the conference yesterday jibe with that impression:

Among the other speakers at Tuesday’s gathering — which was called Sound Check — were Representative Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat from New York’s Westchester County; Heather McGhee, the board chairwoman of Color of Change, a civil rights group; and Zachary Carter, a journalist and the author of a biography of John Maynard Keynes…

An informal coalition of progressive groups helped put on the event: Way to Win, a donor community led by Ms. Hunt-Hendrix; Fight Corporate Monopolies, a relatively new advocacy group led by Sarah Miller, founder of the American Economic Liberties Project; the Economic Security Project, led by Taylor Jo Isenberg; and Popular Comms, a progressive strategy group co-founded by Jonathan Smucker.

Regular readers are already familiar with Rep. Jamaal Bowman who fits in as a later addition to the Squad. The Economic Security Project is focused on guaranteed income and “anti-monopoly action.” So I don’t think it’s a misread to say this is a far left gathering looking for a way to launch a kind of populist socialism in which corporations are the enemy of the people. Frankly, what they’re describing sounds a lot like the sort of rhetoric Bernie Sanders has been embracing for years, i.e. attacks on “the billionaires” and big corporations.

I have no idea if this sort of thing will work. President Biden has done his best to blame inflation on Putin and corporate greed and so far it doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe if the economy winds up in a recession this message, that it’s all the fault of the elite, will sound more convincing. But generally speaking it seems a bit of a stretch to argue that the party that controls Congress, the White House and most of our major cultural institutions is somehow not the party of the elite.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...