Lessons from the American Elections
The results of the elections for President make interesting reading. The Communists, masquerading as the Workers’ Party, had a programme of immediate demands or reforms running into considerably over 100 and calculated to sweep the country. They polled 40,000 votes, or less than half the membership they claimed when they began in 1919 and before they adapted their name and programme to appeal to the masses.
The Socialist Labour Party polled 21,000 votes, against 30,000 four years ago. Their periodicals were full of “Electionitis,” although the S.L.P. believes that “only the trade unions can set on foot the true political of labor,” a claim which they have fathered on to Karl Marx, but can’t find where and when he said such a thing.
With a party like the S.L.P. claiming that religion is a private matter, in a country chock full of belief in spooks they should have polled a heavy vote. The Socialist Party of America received about 250,000 votes, or about one-quarter of what they received when they ran Debs for President. With a long reform programme appealing to Labour as well as to “all classes,” they can’t stop their vote from falling.
To trim their sails a little more, the Socialist Party of America have recently decided to eliminate from the application for membership form, all references to “class struggle,” “Capitalist Class,” and “collective ownership,” and replace this with a sentence affirming belief in independent political action.
These bodies with popular appeals and reform programmes are continually asserting that their method is one calculated to get the masses with them, but as these Election results show, the policy of dangling political carrots in front of the workers fails.
In America, Al Smith, the Democratic Candidate, was able to offer all kinds of captivating reform promises, and with a fair chance of election. So Al Smith got all the reform votes.
If the Socialist Party of America had preached Socialism and got votes for Socialism, neither Republican nor Democrat could have enticed their votes away.