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away from Long's Louisiana and the New Dealers in Washington, Upton
Sinclair raised his voice with his mighty pen throughout most of his
life, and while his Socialist views were largely known to his reading
audience, when he announced that if elected Governor of California he
would "End Poverty in California," he caught the attention of more than
just his usual literary crowd. Not branding it Socialism, but rather a
Democratic Party platform, Sinclair wanted to lead his sheep to greener
pastures. He proposed an end to joblessness, homelessness, and poverty
through a return to agrarianism combined with cooperative farming where
production would be for use, not for profit.
Sinclair lost the election, but one can speculate on him enacting his EPIC plan and returning California to agrarian days of yore. An agrarian revolution where Socialist principles prevail over the evil oppression of capitalism. And, where an economy of production-for-use and California government-made scrip keeps everyone housed and fed. If it seems too utopian to think of it now, it seemed that way then, too, especially to wealthy capitalists such as Mayer and Hearst. They quickly put an end to Sinclair's utopian plan with a smear campaign that in the end squelched not only Sinclair, but the disaffected revolutionaries following Sinclair's EPIC plan. However, and more to the point, the utopia Sinclair was advocating was nothing short of Socialism and his platform, along with his followers, would have brought an economic and social revolution to California.
The 1930s was a great awakening for Americans. The economic and social challenges brought on by the Great Depression challenged not only what it meant to be an American, but the political and economic direction of the nation. Armed with a history of rebelliousness, revolution, and social dissent, Americans were naturally critical of the failure of capitalism and the government's lack of immediate economic relief. Voices like that of Father Coughlin, Huey Long, and Upton Sinclair, gave many Americans an alternative to the current New Deal thought and action on relief. These three men were voices for the disaffected, and had their platforms of redistribution of wealth been enacted, America may have seen quite possibly the greatest revolution since our departure from England in 1776. And, these revolutionary words from the Declaration of Independence, quoted yet again and cannot be repeated enough, are as one with the with the voices of Coughlin, Long, and Sinclair as they were in 1776:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The Great Depression ended with America manufacturing and selling munitions to the war effort against fascism in Europe. A few New Deal remnants remain today such as, Social Security, TVA, and Rural Electrification, but most relief efforts were mute as America entered the war indirectly through munitions sales, then directly after Pearl Harbor in 1941. In 2005, 75 years later, America is still a capitalist democracy where the inequitable distribution of wealth goes unnoticed by most, but is rather a smoldering ember waiting to for the right time to burn brightly. There are surely Father Coughlin's, Huey Long's, and Upton Sinclair's among us who are ready to receive the flame, and ready to be a voice for the disaffected.