Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, is trying to organize a “populist caucus” in congress. Like-minded members of congress have formed different groups or “caucuses” over the years in order to pursue a common agenda. On the Democratic side, there’s a “Blue Dog Coalition” of conservative Democrats, the “New Democrat Coalition” of moderates in the party and the “Congressional Progressive Caucus.” Braley’s trying to form a fourth.
“Which focuses on middle class, pocketbook issues…and gets people engaged in talking about issues that have a direct impact on creating jobs and keeping communities healthy not just in the first district of Iowa but all over the country,” Braley says. Braley will be sworn in for his second term in congress next month.
“Part of the work that my staff and I are going to be doing when we resume in January is getting that populist caucus up and running and setting an agenda forward and starting to move to achieve those goals,” Braley says. Braley describes himself as a “prairie populist.”
“If you look at the campaigns that I’ve run and the issues that I’ve focused on, I think that a prairie populist is a good description,” Braley says. “My roots are deep in the prairies of Iowa and I’m trying to make sure that we maintain a way of life and a lifestyle that keeps our communities active and vibrant, like the ones that I lived in growing up in Iowa.”
Braley grew up in Brooklyn, Iowa, where his family owned a farm. Populism is sometimes used to describe a speaking style, while at other times it describes the clash between the masses and the elite. Braley’s new group is about ideology and Braley says he sees a resurgence in populism in American politics.
“I think that that resurgence has been very evident in light of some of the issues of the financial collapse that we’ve seen in people wanting solutions that are going to have a direct impact in their lives in Main Streets all over the Midwest and around the country and not just have things dictated to them by people living in New York and Washington,” Braley says.
According to Braley, he’s found a common sense of purpose among politicians from “Rust Belt” states and from places like Oregon and California as well as others who’ve campaigned under a “populist” theme when they ran for Congress.