History: In the 1896 election



In the 1896 election, opponents of William Jennings Bryan called him a "socialist."  What exactly is "socialism"?  Was Bryan, in fact a socialist or were his opponents just misusing the term?  How does the labeling of Bryan as a socialist compare to other efforts, some very recent, to label political opponents as "socialist"? Why is the identification of a candidate with that ideology presumed to be such a powerful criticism?

    Socialist or socialism is the most misused word in the political arena. Since 18th century US elections till present elections this word is mainly used to discredit any candidate planning to offer any need it social advantages to the population.

    The Merriam Webster dictionary defines socialism as a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies. In fact during the 1896 election William Jennings Bryan called for welfare expansion to working middle class and farmers. He also planned to tax the rich and break monopolies. It’s especially for these reasons why his opponents backed by corporations and wealthy donors labeled him as a socialist. The question should not be if Bryan was socialist or no but, were his ideas helpful to common Americans? Identifying a candidate with socialist ideology is considered as powerful criticism because it’s a stereotype feed with the ignorance of common people. Most Americans do not understand the difference between communism and socialism. An ignorance cultivated by media and politics playing this card against their potential appoints. The most recent example is labeling President Obama as socialist because he proposed a universal health care system. In reality America is partially socialist due to the presence of social security and number of governmental agency supporting the needy in our society.

    Finally, most political systems in the world are mixture between communism, socialism and capitalism including the US system. Instead of focusing in the ideology, we should work to make people’s existence better. Isn’t Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness at the heart of the United States declaration of independence?