I believe that the political process at the turn of the century only took into consideration a limited group of people. Women did not have a right to vote and with the discrimination against the African American population, their voice was probably not viewed as legitimate. Even though African American men were legally allowed to vote, white employers and other racist groups threatened them into not voting. In addition, buses, schools, and bathrooms were segregated, so I can only assume that voting booths would be too. It would be very easy to not count those votes in elections.
In addition, it seems like politics only reflected the views of the wealthy. The two party system had Republicans and Democrats, neither of which took into consideration the rights of the working class. Furthermore, nothing was being done in politics. There was a political stalemate and the parties shot down every idea that the other party had. Nothing was being done and nobody was taking the sides of the working class, so a group of people took things into their own hands.
A third political party, the People’s Party, was created in hopes of finally giving a voice to the less wealthy. The People’s Party was actually started by a group of farmer’s alliances (later the National Alliance) with a point to nominate pro-farmer candidates who would help their situation. Some topics that were very important to this group that had been ignored in the past were issues like corporate regulation and currency and tariff reform. Although this party was started by farmers, it also supported industrial workers who were being exploited at this time. The People’s Party was very successful at local elections, but fell short in the presidential election of 1892.
Women, who were not granted the right to vote until 1920, started making their case to obtain a right in the late 1800s. Women were becoming college educated at alarming rates and were starting their own political rights groups, such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Working men were tired of being treated poorly and started making their own ways of protest. When a depression hit and millions were put out of work, Jacob Coxey started a march to Washington D.C. Many groups of workers joined this march for at least part of the way. Although minorities were many times barred from entering these activist groups, they created their own groups with similar goals in mind.
Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States. Volume 2, 3/e. Boston: Pearson.
Author Unknown. Race and Voting. Constitutional Rights Foundation. crf-usa.org