The Lure of Political Outsiders

How have outsider legislators changed American history? On this episode of Now & Then, “The Lure of Political Outsiders,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the history of the eccentric and anti-establishment members of Congress, from the frontier politics of Jackson-era Tennessee Representative Davy Crockett, to the conspiratorial works of post-Civil War Illinois Representative Ignatius Donnelly, to the headstrong socialism of World War I-era Wisconsin Representative Victor Berger, to the autocratic impulses of 1930s Louisiana Senator Huey Long. How do insurgent politicians help to shore up American democracy? When can their disruptions begin to negatively impact the rule of law? And how should we view iconoclastic lawmakers in Washington today?

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