Since it is election season, I am offering a small piece of history. On September 28, 1914, (98 years ago today) a short article appeared on Page 5 of the Atlanta Constitution. I have included a copy of the article at the right. There are several things notable about the story. First, I doubt that the socialist platform would get even a small space in the Atlanta paper today. Was the political climate more open 100 years ago? Perhaps. The fact is that about 6% of Americans were voting Socialist that year, and any decent newspaper would be keeping track of the local races. It’s also important to note that there were many political parties then, including multiple leftist parties, and it would be not unusual to have half a dozen candidates for any office.
Also of note is that socialists were already closely aligned with labor unions, and this is evident in the platform planks.
And to those who think the socialist movement in America has been a failure, take a look at the list of platform planks from 1914: women’s suffrage, clean schools, child labor laws, free schoolbooks, public sector unions, workplace safety inspections, etc. Socialists have been incredibly successful over the past 100 years. Let’s not let the backsliding of the past 20 years get us down. Most of the policies we advocated 100 years ago have been adopted by the majority of Americans regardless of their political affiliation. As much as Conservatives want to claim that they are the last defense against socialism, they lost that battle decades ago.
Lastly, I know a little bit about this little known Atlanta mayoral candidate, Sam Kreisberg. He was my great grandfather. Sam’s daughter Sadie, my grandmother (may her memory be for a blessing), was only 7 years old at the time of the Atlanta election. In her later years she told me that the only thing she remembered about Pa’s mayoral campaign was that a famous man came to their house to visit. There was a lot of excitement. It was Eugene Victor Debs. He had come to Atlanta to stump for Pa.