Reaganomics VS Populism: Are the Rich Our Friends or Foes

Populism has been thrown around a lot recently by people on both sides of the aisle, but what is it, and how does it compare to Reaganomics?

What is Populism?

Populism in the US


During Reagan’s administration, he appealed to regular Americans by promising tax cuts and prosperity, but he didn’t blame the wealthy or the elite for everyday Americans’ problems. For example, he helped popularize the idea of “trickle-down economics,” a theory that giving significant tax cuts to the wealthy will benefit the middle class. Reagan’s charismatic nature helped make the rich seem like a friend of the regular people instead of an enemy of the people — the stark distinction between economic populism and Reaganomics.

Where are we now?

Reaganomics has dominated economic policy over the past 40 years and has been met with mixed results. We have seen some of the most prosperous economic times in our history as well as some of our largest recessions. We have seen unprecedented individual and corporate wealth, especially in industries like Tech, that has continued to keep America powerful, yet we’ve also seen continued growth in income inequality with the income of top earners increasing at a higher rate than that of middle and lower class earners. Due to this growth, it cannot be denied that a larger Populist movement is happening within both parties and within the voter base on both sides which leads to the conclusion that at some point we will see some more Populist style policies from both sides. We would have to look back at the New Deal to see an era where those policies were prioritized, but it’s tough to think those effects would be comparable to the modern economy and is a topic for another full blog post. Where this leads the country in the modern era of economics is unclear, but it seems we may find out soon.

Unlock The Grid is a national, youth-led bipartisan organization that aims to reduce polarization in Congress by promoting working across the aisle.