American Politics: Then and Now


Many Americans began to move from from rural areas to urban cities from 1860 to 1900s. Cities and urban areas were becoming more and more popular as agriculture became more and more merchandised less labor was needed in the rural areas. Since there were so many people moving to Urban areas the population grew as well as poverty and disease rates. People thought migrating to Urban areas would bring more prosperity however, they arrived to find densely packed homes and factories along with poverty and many new diseases.

Political machines were also a major problem in urban areas. Political machines were major problems with the Democratic Party. They would block off large chunks of working-class and immigrant workers to secure votes. These machines created numerous opportunities for politicians. Winning elections no longer depended heavily on your families name or wealth. Political success now depended on how well you could get up enthusiasm and earn votes. Machines were also able to reward supporters with jobs, services, and even cash handouts. In exchange for these rewards recipients were expected to vote for the political candidates when election day came around.

Today all legal American citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote; this wasn’t always the case. At the turn of the century women were still fighting for the right to vote and there was still high discrimination of African Americans. The political process that was present at the turn of the century was very different than the process we have in place today. I think the process at the turn of the century was very unfair in that women and African Americans weren’t allowed to participate in political elections. Since women and African Americans didn’t have the right to vote politics was only inclusive of less than half of the American population. This was important because the candidates that were up for election only had to appeal to one type of person, the wealthy white male. Only white men that were somewhat wealthy since they owned land had the right to vote so the process was very bias. There were also political machines swaying people to vote one way or another so I believe the political process was very effective.

Politics in my opinion were definitely an arena for the wealthy. Women and other minorities didn’t have a say in political affairs because they didn’t even have the right to vote. The wealthy had the power to sway political elections through political machines and the right to vote. The political process today has changed drastically. Today there is no discrimination, every legal American citizen of the age of 18 or older has the right to vote and politicians aren’t allowed to use bribes.

During the late nineteenth century there were many organizations that were created in attempt to gain more women’s rights. One group was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). This union was formed in 1890 and had over 160,000 members. The members of this union and the clubs that made it up gave women many more opportunities outside of their domestic sphere. Women now had the opportunity to exert political influence, become leaders, and learn from other women who had the same goals for reform as them.

In 1890 many women joined the Women’s suffrage movement to get voting rights for women. In 1869 the movement had split because of debate over the fourteenth amendment however, in 1890 they reunited to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Women first won suffrage in Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in 1896. Then in 1920 the nineteenth amendment gave all white women the right to vote.

Image result for women's suffrage

African Americans were excluded from all campaigns so they had to start their own. The National Association of Colored Women who fought for temperance and suffrage even started to fight for all African Americans as a whole. Ida B. Wells launched a campaign against lynching in 1890 which began the fight for reform and civil rights. Today all men and women black or white are treated equal.

The people’s party was another major group that changed American politics. It was created in 1982 to represent the common people such as farmers and to challenge the republicans and democrats. The platform of the people’s party was to emphasize the unfortunate situation of the American farmers because of greedy businessmen and politicians. Mainstream political parties were worried about the people’s party because they had the ability to take votes from them. Because of this campaigns were launched to discredit the party.

In the late 1800s many people were enthusiastic about politics and voting was at an all time high with 79% of the population voting in 1876. There were still many problems with the political system in the late 1800s. One problem was that the electorate was evenly divided between the two parties so when elections came along they were very close. The elections were also unfair because the electorate with the popular vote wouldn’t always win, the opponent with the most electoral votes won.

There were many groups that changed American politics for the better. In the 1800s politics were limited to less than half the population because women and African Americans we excluded from the political process. These groups were National American Woman Suffrage Association which gained voting rights for women and National Association of Colored Women which fought for African American reform and civil rights. Without these groups American politics today would be much different.

Image result for politics

17 thoughts on “American Politics: Then and Now

  1. Reading this reminds me how far America has come. Some people don’t like to talk or learn about the past. But I believe the past is important because we can use what we overcame as motivation to overcome today’s problems. I think a lot of people take for granted the right to vote because they don’t have a deep understanding of what people had to go through to vote.

    1. I completely agree! Today some people just don’t vote because they think one vote doesn’t matter but back then those not being able to vote i’m sure were upset and frustrated and would want their one vote to count. In a way I think its every bodies duty to vote and voice their opinion. Though I may not agree with it, I defiantly believe everyone should make it their duty to vote.

    2. I agree that a lot of people take for granted the right to vote. They see their vote as unimportant because its only one vote but if everyone thinks that way, thousands of votes aren’t made which can change our whole political party. Americans worked so hard fighting for our right to vote and taking that for granted is foolish.

      1. Women and minorities went through a lot to get the right to vote. I feel that if you don’t exercise your right to vote then you shouldn’t complain about who was elected or what laws and policies were passed.

        1. I think its sad that a lot of people are so disenfranchised that they don’t think it matters who they vote for, or if they vote at all. I can kind of see with the two parties going back and forth why many people tune out. After a while it just seems like a lot of finger pointing and noise.

        2. That is exactly right. If you do not go out and vote you should never be able to argue or be disappointed with our government. You are essentially giving up your powers that a citizen has in a democracy, you’re just hand the keys to the car off to the government.

      2. I completely agree that taking for granted your right to vote is very foolish. A lot of people think that their vote doesn’t count and are not very educated on the voting system. It is sad that our rights as women and Americans were fought for so hard and now people don’t even know what they are voting on. People vote on who’s is more liked or popular. No one actually looks to see what these politicians are for or against.

  2. Looking at this in the way you did really opened my eyes to how far America has come politically. From only wealthy white men being able to vote to now where any legal citizen over the age of 18 can vote, it is easy to see how some of us take it for granted that we can vote. If those women, African Americans, and others did not fight for their right, we would not have those rights now. That is not something that we should take for granted. People who brush off voting or think that their vote does not matter obviously have not put enough time into learning about politics and what they mean for a country. Everyone’s opinion matters when it comes to political issues. Everyone should be heard, and that’s why we should all be thankful for those who fought for us so we could have the rights we have today.

    1. This blog also opened my eyes on how far we’ve come with politics. I think you make a great point in the fact that if nobody fought for their voting rights, the only people voting today would be the wealthy white men. This always makes me think twice about voting and even if I “don’t really care” I should still vote because there were hundreds of people who fought for my (and others’) right to vote.

  3. I see both sides to why we need an electoral college and why we do not, especially when we want everyone to vote (which I agree with). When we encourage everyone to vote, they do not do all their research and may only look at one issue that concerns them and vote accordingly. When voting, it is crucial to look at all the issues and choose the person that benefits them in more than just one way.

    1. The problem is that in our country today, we all have the capacity to know the exact same thing that everyone else knows about a candidate, regardless on what we believe. Now some people do not care and will vote for one part regardless. But, in the age of the internet there is no excuse for the electoral college, we are just as educated, if not more so, than our electorate.

      1. One thing that concerns me about the internet is the spread of misinformation. There are a lot of people who believe anything on their newsfeed without questioning it or checking sources.

        1. I agree that the spread of misinformation on the internet is concerning. I see some of the most crazy things being shared sometimes and people just take it at face value and assume it’s correct. Usually an easy google search can shoot it down, but I guess that’s too much work for some people. And while I don’t necessarily agree with having an electoral college, I don’t think it’s due to people being misinformed but more so to keep highly-populated places from controlling too much of the outcomes.

    2. Absolutely, That is why I am in more for having the Electoral College. It is a common occurrence for a voter to vote with zero knowledge of the eligible candidates other than knowing their name. Having the Electoral College is kind of the unspoken insurance to electing a leader that I believe is so vital.

  4. I feel like it is important to point out that although politics were really corrupt it is kind of amazing that 79% of people back then were voting, nowadays it’d be rare to get anything more than 50% voter turnout. It’s also so interesting to see how so many issues were happening at once with suffrage. Such as how racism prevented colored women from voting even after the initial women suffrage movement. Not only is it a sad thing to think about but honestly it’s also so interesting. A lot of these things are alien to us living in a time where we expect universal rights to vote, but back then these women thought “I deserve the right to vote, why can’t I vote just because I’m a woman?” but at the same time these same people also thought “Why do we need to give this colored person a right to vote?” It’s absolutely bizarre and frankly awful. I am happy to live in a time where we’ve made so much progress.

    1. I was suprised to read that the voter turn out at that time was 79%. Our turnout in 2016 was only 55%! I agree that we have made so much progress and that everyone has the right to vote, but nearly half of us still don’t. I think during those times of conflict and struggle, voting gave people hope of change for the better and that their voice could be heard. Hopefully more people today will realize this and start getting involved.

  5. I like how well you put that! I agree that some people take for granted the right to vote. People in today’s society do not understand what people had to go through and how much they had to fight for basic rights. Even I take for granted the right to vote. I turned 18 in may and still have not registered to vote yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s