1896 was quite the year for the thirty-six-year-old William Jennings Bryan who calls Nebraska home, as he gave his most famous at the 1896 Democratic Convention. In turn, this speech roused a vast amount of delegated and opponents of Bryan began referring to him as a so-called “socialists”. For those that aren’t exactly sure, a socialist is someone who advocates or practices socialism. Additionally, according to merriam-webster.com, socialism is a system of society or group living in which there is no private property. In other words, socialism is an economic system where the different ways of making a living are owned by the whole society, instead of a specific group of private citizens.
Furthermore, Bryan was indeed a socialist and opponents of Bryan were in fact not misusing the term. However as one might be wondering, a populist and a socialist are very similar in terms of definition as they both have the ultimate goal of appealing to ‘the people’ instead of giving to specific groups of people. Additionally, Bryan proved his practice of socialism throughout Chapter 18 by being the first leader of a major party to call to order an expansion of the federal government in order to assist the working and middle class.
Along with helping the poor, discontented, and oppressed against the financial and industrial elite, Bryan also chose to be provocative and disruptive while “speaking passionately for the unlimited coinage of silver and against Cleveland’s “do-nothing” response to the depression”. While producing his famous speech known as the “cross of gold”, he claimed to speak for the “producing masses of this nation” and against the eastern people who had manipulated the money supply.
Likewise, the labeling of Bryan a socialist can be compared to today’s labeling of political opponents as “socialists”, such as Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders a democratic socialist, much like Bryan, wanted to reform the political system as well as bring recognition to healthcare and education as rights. Sanders believed in an “economy that worked for all, not just the very wealthy” that would make everything equal and fair for everybody that would ultimately be financed by broad-based taxes.
Nonetheless, a candidate with the ideology of socialism is presumed to be such a powerful criticism because it is very hard in present day to take money from the hard working and give it to the ones who aren’t out striving to better themselves each and everyday and bringing that income in for themselves. Additionally, there are, however, some countries that are successfully making socialism work. Such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Belgium, although a little failure will always play in factor due to human nature. The human nature is always willing to help others when in need, but wanting to keep the money one dedicated everything to earn will always knock socialism from being totally successful.