During the Gilded Age, politics in America were not exactly an equal playing field for all to be involved in. With the countries two main political parties, democrats and republicans, being lead by educated, wealthy white men, many Americans did not have a voice in politics. The book supports my opinion that wealthy Americans believed that the working class, women, and minorities were not rich enough to have a say in political debates. Although all men were allowed to vote during this time period, I believe many African Americans and other minorities were discouraged from voting with threats and other methods of racism. Also, I think that it would be very easy for powerful political figures to not include many of the African Americans’ votes.
When the 15th amendment was passed and all U.S. citizens were allowed to vote, many women felt they had been overlooked. Women came together and began to organize themselves to campaign for voting rights of their own and a say in their countries politics. Although they were not granted this right until 1920, women of the gilded age felt they deserved to be apart of the American political picture and impacted political decisions with their different groups and campaigns as much as they could. When women began to join the working class in the industrial revolution, I think many people finally began to see them as a part of society and decided that they should have a say in the countries decisions. Women also worked to organise child labor laws and workers unions to protect their families in the workplace.
Even though they had the right to vote, I think that working class white men were often not included in political conversations as well. While their votes may have been counted, they did not have a political party to support that understood the wants and needs of the average middle class family. Struggling to get a candidate that would help the working class into one of the wealthy political parties, the farmers and other working class people started the People’s Party. This party would nominate candidates that would help the average middle class family and improve their quality of life.
Although women, minorities, and working class men did not have much of a say in big political decisions, I believe that they influenced local elections and politics more. Many town mayors and officers may have been decided by the minorities and working class people of a town or area. These elected officials could have then spread their towns ideas and political preferences in politics higher up on ladder. Other than this impact, I think the countries politics were really only for the wealthy to be included. Only people with large sums of money were considered when making government decisions and who to nominate as a candidate. Low income people and minorities were not listened to because the wealthy believed they were better than those of a lower class.
Keene, Jennifer D., Saul T. Cornell and Edward T. O’Donnell. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume, 3/e. Boston: Pearson, n.d.