“There is also concern that… no longer will hard work and a conscientious effort to save money bring them a nice home in the suburbs”

If one goes to college, works hard, and saves enough money, a secure lifestyle is almost guaranteed right? Not in the seventies it isn’t (well, not today either). The seventies in the United States was a time where a profound sense of uneasiness consumed the psyche of most Americans. On an economic level, the seventies becomes a time where the golden age of capitalism that took place in sixties falls completely apart in return for a trade deficit and a period of stagflation. This economic unrest created a sense of panic in families that had previously been doing well.  In 1975 the Times reported,

“Inflation, the apparent inability of the country to solve its economic problems, and a foreboding that the energy crisis will mean a permanent step backward for the nation’s standard of living have made inroads into Americans’ confidence, expectations, and aspirations… .

There is also concern that… no longer will hard work and a conscientious effort to save money bring them a nice home in the suburbs” ( Zinn, 557).

Americans not only found everything they once knew unraveling on an economic level but on a political level with president Nixon and the Watergate Scandal and cultural level with the various liberation movements occurring as well as identity politics as well. This was devastating. Zinn states “perhaps much of the general dissatisfaction was due to the economic state of most Americans (557). I completely agree, as families not only had to worry about their country but also if they would have a place to go home too as well.

Time For Revolt

Mary E. Lease, The Money Question (1892)

 “This a nation of inconsistencies. The Puritans fleeing from oppression [in England] become oppressors [in New England]. We fought England for our liberty and put chains on four million of blacks. We wiped out slavery and by our tariff laws and national banks began a system of white wage slavery worse than the first… Money rules… The parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us. (For the Record  pg. 86)”

One thing is for sure. Mary E Lease, a passionate speaker for the Populist Party is angry.  She is enraged that a country that was founded on such noble ideals is contradicting them in every way. The political forces that are currently in power at this time known as the Gilded Age are exploiting the common folk. They are having these people toil away farming and in return giving them barely enough money to survive. Institutions such as the Santa Fe Railroad and loan companies are robbing them  blind and taking them for everything they have. The reality of the situation is that the mass of people are being oppressed by those few percent in power. It is also interesting to note that Mary E. Lease is a woman. The Populist movement was able to allow women new opportunities to exercise their political voice who otherwise would not have had the chance to. She is also a minority, so she is in a place of social consciousness to other minorities such as black people.  Lease is undoubtedly using her voice to promote social change. By raising awareness,  she is urging farmers to stand up for themselves in order to get the money and land that is continually being stolen from them.