This week I read Charles Postel's Bancroft Prize-winning book, The Populist Vision. So today when it came time to start writing my paper, John Mellencamp's Rain on the Scarecrow, a song he wrote for Farm Aid back in the 1980s, is on repeat. Reading Postel's book this week, I felt a special connection to the Populists. To a certain extent, I can understand what they were going through. I received a rural public school education. We didn't have the classes that most schools do, but we got by. And I'm proud of what I've accomplished with that education as my base. I've played in the irrigation that sprayed across the road like it was a sprinkler. I love the smell of corn in the field on a hot summer day. I've seen farmland sold off and zoned commercial.
I first came into contact with Populism in American History with Mrs. Green during my junior year of high school. It was all William Jennings Bryan and his Cross of Gold back then. As an undergraduate I got a little more of the picture. Then as I studied Lyndon Johnson (I miss researching him, by the way) I learned that his father and grandfather were Populists. So now after reading Postel's book, so much more makes sense. I love it when I can make connections like this.