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A Populism of Hope Begins When People Feel Their Own Power

A Populism of Hope Begins When People Feel Their Own Power

Nathan Schneider
At work behind almost any great social movement is an engine of counter-economy.
At the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, attended by an estimated 200,000 people, a group heads down a street carrying protest signs. Dr. Martin Luther King can be seen on the left side at the head of the group. August 28, 1963 (Photo: © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Since Bryan was mentioned, perhaps we should heed what a contemporary has to say about him an speculate about what would happen these days if support was offered to a similar populist.

“William Jennings Bryan denounced Judge Parker as a tool of Wall Street before he was nominated and declared that no self-respecting Democrat could vote for him, and after his nomination he charged that it had been dictated by the trusts and secured by “crooked and indefensible methods.” Mr. Bryan also said that labor had been betrayed in the convention and need look for nothing from the Democratic party. He made many other damaging charges against his party and its candidates, but when the supreme test came he was not equal to it, and instead of denouncing the betrayers of the “common people” and repudiating their made-to-order Wall street program, he compromised with the pirates that scuttled his ship and promised with his lips the support his heart refused and his conscience condemned.”

“Bryan was once a great reformer. That was he came fresh from the ranks of the people in 1896 — I supported him that year. Then he was fearless in his opinion. But little by little he has compromised to help his chances for the presidency. He tries to be for the corporations and for the workingmen at the same time.”

“Now let me show you that Mr. Bryan is no more your friend than is Mr. Taft. You remember when the officials of the Western Federation of Miners were kidnaped in Colorado, and when it was said they should never leave Idaho alive. It was the determination of the Mine Owners’ Association that these brave and loyal union leaders should be foully murdered. When these brothers of ours were brutally kidnaped by the collusion of the capitalist governors of two states, every true friend of the working class cried out in protest. Did Mr. Bryan utter a word? Mr. Bryan was the recognized champion of the working class. He was in a position to be heard. A protest from him would have tremendous weight with the American people. But his labor friends could not unlock his lips. Not one word would he speak. Not one.”

Let us now heed Debs when he says:
"I don’t want you to follow me or anyone else. If you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of the capitalist wilderness you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into this promised land if I could, because if I could lead you in, someone else could lead you out.”

Another of Debs poignant quotations is “I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want, and get it.”

and what would gov’t do if the people took to the streets? are we capable of making our voices heard? ask any republican voter and they will say ‘i don’t care’ as if trump were perfect in their eyes.