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Insurgent DemocracyThe Nonpartisan League in North American Politics$
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Michael J. Lansing

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226283500

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226283647.001.0001

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(p.238) 6 Legacies
Insurgent Democracy

Michael J. Lansing

University of Chicago Press

Even as the League began to fade from the national political scene, former members persevered in their commitments. Most of the League’s legacies remained overlooked. It showed the significance of citizen-centered democracy in the Progressive Era. It empowered rural women to not only participate in but also affect electoral politics. It fused farmer and labor interests into powerful third parties in both the United States and Canada. It launched the careers of insurgent U. S. Senators who influenced national politics in that body into the late 1930s. It established the legality and promise of state-owned enterprises. It successfully extended older anti-monopolist popular politics into an urbanizing and industrializing America. It applied principles of economic cooperation to politics. It deployed novel electoral tactics to make politicians more responsive to voters. It combined contemporary corporate efficiencies with a critique of corporations. It articulated an agrarian moral economy that envisioned an alternate future for American capitalism. Ultimately, the League offered the biggest challenge to party-politics-as usual in twentieth-century U.S. history.

Keywords:   women, labor unions, farm bloc, liberalism, New Deal, middle class, isolationism, New Left, Northern Lights (1978), state enterprises

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