One need not reject out of hand these traditional accounts of the Mugwumps to take issue with some of their specific conclusions. For example, in Building a New American State, Stephen Skowronek offers a more complicated twist on these nineteenth-century reforms, and in doing so, has produced a more nuanced account of Mugwump regulatory thought. Skowronkek distinguishes between "political Mugwumps" and "economic Mugwumps." Like the Mugwumps depicted in Sproat and Fine, political Mugwumps" tended to cling dogmatically to laissez-faire doctrines." But economic Mugwumps, Skowronek observes, "would use the state in a positive way to compensate for the market's most manifest deficiencies."
The juxtaposition of serious historical analysis of regulatory thought and the word Mugwump, which sounds like a spin-off from Fraggle Rock, is just impossible to read without sniggers. Which may explain why my coffee-shop neighbors think I'm weird.