WE THE PEOPLE: Populism and Party Realignment in the United States
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Populism is an increasingly relevant topic in the current American political sphere. From the People’s Party to George Wallace, there is plenty to be learned about this movement and its previous influences on the American political party system in order to predict what influences it could potentially have in the future. This thesis seeks to tie the occurrence of third-party populist movements with political party realignment in the United States. This is done through case study analyses of three different third-party populist movements at three times of political party realignment: the 1890s, 1930s, and 1960s-1970s. The resulting analyses show a strong link between the rise of populist third parties and populist third-party candidates with the occurrence of political party realignments. This link is further strengthened as deeper analysis shows that the political system at the time either reoriented around issues that were critical to populists and/or influenced the changing platforms of the major parties.