Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

How are going things in Mexico? Because with Johnson anxiously looking for a foreign crisis/enemy to keep the nation marching toward his authoritarian anti-Reds leadership that could fill perfectly, especially if Villa e Zapata are winning the Mexican people for their cause.
TR maintained a policy of neutrality with Mexico during their revolution, and any interactions would have been vastly overshadowed by the World War. Like OTL, there were minor border engagements between the two counties, but no manhunt for Pancho Villa. The Mexican Revolution unfolded as it did in our timeline for the most part. On the topic of Pres. Johnson, though direct intervention in the final years of the revolution may be tempting, I believe he would have his hands full with the situation in Canada and domestic unrest. It's fairly likely he would have toyed with the idea of defending Carranza against Zapata, but I would wager Lodge as Secretary of State would have effectively advised against entangling the U.S. in yet another military adventure. The risk would outweigh the rewards, even for TTL's Johnson.
Part 7: Chapter XXVII - Page 177

"Anything on the Hip?", Nelson Harding Cartoon from The Literary Digest, 1920 - Source: Wiki Commons

The Democratic Party struggled to find an identity in the Roosevelt period, and for a time were arguably lost in the weeds on the subject. Former President Bryan epitomized the reformed Party of Jefferson for an entire generation. Many Democratic leaders and state chairs fully intended on handing the mantle over to Bryan for another try at the White House. There were few reasons to doubt Bryan's ability to rush headlong back to a position of power and respectability, especially now that his irrepressible rival was permanently out of the picture. Nothing quite exemplified a return to sunny normalcy like the Great Commoner, and some speculated that his familiar use of a "plutocracy versus democracy" narrative dating back to the last century could theoretically kneecap the Socialists and bring industrial workers into the Democratic Party. Yet, though Bryan was once a young pioneer in the field of proto-class-based politics, he was clumsily out-of-touch with the present state of affairs in the country. He absolved himself of political ambitions following his failed 1916 run, and after embarking on a brief speaking circuit in Europe in 1919, settled back home keen on retirement. Routine medical examinations had revealed to Bryan the realization of his biggest fear: He was diagnosed with diabetes, the same disease that ended his father's life. Worn and in less-than-stellar health, Bryan announced in an article featured in The Commoner that he would not again actively seek the presidential nomination.

This sent the party into somewhat of a panic. Bryan was viewed as the last of a dying breed of nineteenth century progressive Democrats, and perhaps the only man able to contain the burgeoning inter-party contest between Northern liberals, moderate agrarian Westerners, standpat Midwesterners, and conservative Southern planters. His contemporaries in government had all either retired or passed away by 1920. The lone exceptions were failed gubernatorial candidate William Sulzer and former State Secretary John Lentz, both of whom were disgraced for their service to President Hearst and neither of whom held office. As for the exiled and secluded newspaper magnate, he collapsed in terms of any genuine influence on the Democrats or the now-defunct Civic League. None of them could dare hope to capture the same spark and awaken the same demographics as Bryan. The nomination for the presidency thenceforth became an absolute free-for-all. Bryan, the unbridled kingmaker, was reserved to sit back and declare his preference when he saw fit.

Dozens entered the race on the Democratic side in the final months of 1919. Each candidate served to represent his own specific geographical and ideological brand, morphing the burgeoning field into a mix of favorite sons and boss-endorsed officeholders. Some of them were fresh faces on the national scene, like Arizona House Speaker Fred Colter (D-AZ), the pro-labor protégé of former Governor George Hunt, but their appeal was limited and their records bare-bones. Others were familiar, albeit unwelcome and non-competitive. The latter group included former Senator Joseph W. Bailey (D-TX), the irrelevant, conservative Bourbonite, and sitting Senator Furnifold M. Simmons (D-NC), a contemptible statesman known for instigating the 1898 Wilmington coup. Insofar as Southern Democratic candidates, neither Bailey or Simmons were at all indicative of where Texans and North Carolinians were, politically-speaking. Four years ago, firebrand Senator Thomas Watson, whilst loudly advocating for white supremacy and espousing anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic conspiracies, unveiled the party's seedy underbelly when he secured an astounding second-place finish at that year's national convention with 305 delegates. The Watson Campaign's incorporation of antebellum race pseudoscience and populist economics nearly granted him the nomination.

Nativism was an exponentially powerful force in the increasingly racialized Democratic Party. Many of its members fully endorsed the notion that the wonderous geopolitical success and industrial advancement of the United States stemmed from its white, Anglo-Saxon ancestry. In the view of this clan, all postwar troubles were due to the unbalanced influence of urban and immigrant communities. Nativists, sometimes called "Native Americans," carried an intense resentment of the country's minority and non-English speaking populations, and certain politicians were quick to capitalize on the scapegoating for their own benefit. Not too dissimilar from Johnson in their approach, this-or-that candidate in the nativist wing of the Democrats would tend to agree with the president's brutish treatment of the Wobblies and his defining them as foreign agents. Tom Watson, like Ben Tillman before him, spearheaded the South's steady transition from the old Bourbon orthodoxy to its blend of White Populism. He and others of the nativist creed drew massive support from white textile workers and sharecroppers based in the Southern states, though nativism was not exclusive to the South. In the aftermath of Watson's 1916 run for the nomination (which served to bring his ideas to the party's accepted mainstream), these politicians began catching glimpses of support among former Bryanites. One favoring economic populism and anti-corporate policies yet disfavoring coordination with ethnic and religious minorities may have found oneself a nativist in 1920.

An additional controversial matter encircling the Democrats in 1920 and in the preceding decade was their relationship with the temperance movement. Prohibition advocates once locked arms with William J. Bryan in a joint call to abolish alcohol sales and consumption on the federal stage, and that group had no intention to abandon the fold. This blossoming faction of "Dry Democrats" found itself at odds with the Johnson Administration for its conscious decision to sideline the temperance issue, and with the more neutral National Democratic Committee. Once the president (and subsequently, the whole of the Progressive Party) announced mid-war abject disfavor with a national prohibition law, proponents of such a program turned to the Democrats. However, under the stewardship of septuagenarian Judson Harmon, the DNC professed neutrality. This stirred a snowball effect within the party proper as Anti-Saloon League propagandists and Protestant reformers pressed "Dry State" Democratic officials to declare favor for nationwide prohibition and consequently designate moralist convention delegates. Temperance evangelists viewed the sale of alcohol as lethal practice and a corrupting force on the body politic. Waffling on the liquor interest would be met with their ire. Furthermore, the weight of this albatross around the necks of Democratic legislators was only compounded by Bryan's lurking presence in the background. As indicated in Nelson Harding's apt political cartoon, the prevailing narrative of the day placed Bryan in a gunman's shoes as he held the party hostage on this particular issue.

The above two tendencies captivated a sure-fire segment of the Democratic-voting electorate, but not all of it. In the North, elected representatives from the Democrats belonged to opposite camps from that of their Southern and (rural) Western brethren. As discussed in regards to the 1918 congressional and gubernatorial elections, a new class of post-Bryan liberalism had been in the process of taking over the Northern and Midwestern state parties since intra-war disillusionment with the Columbians greatly reduced the latter's influence and representation in Congress. Liberal Democrats were urban-centric and unlike the nativists with which they sharply opposed, they did not alienate Catholics and European immigrants. This sect recommended a federal amendment to enshrine equal suffrage under the law and, though this branch of Democracy fell short of outright endorsing or applauding the IWW, members refused to condemn the activity of so-called radical labor unions. Senator David Walsh (D-MA), for example, looked back on the bloody conclusion of the labor rebellion and named it a tragedy. "[The federal government's response] was disproportionate and cruel. There is no justifying the actions of this administration." Northern Democrats too chiefly disagreed with the enforcement of a national prohibition of alcohol, joining a majority of Republicans, Columbians, and Socialists in their shared skepticism.

Perhaps the embodiment of liberal Democracy, Senator John F. Fitzgerald (D-MA) declared in late December an intent to run for the presidency. The shrewd Bostonian observed since his arrival in Washington an unmistakable crescendo of dissatisfaction and disenchantment with the Progressive Party and its inaction. His very own constituents relayed local concerns that Johnson and the Columbians had outright deserted their commitment to bring about transformation in government. In his declaration address, Fitzgerald answered this crowd directly, pledging to enact legislation to bring about a nationwide eight-hour working day as well as a federal law to legalize participation in a labor union.
"It is a minimum," he stated, "to do right for the workers. We must be the party of progress." Boston's beloved mayor and the Bay State's incumbent Class 1 senator immediately gained sufficient press coverage and notoriety for his words, and he managed to follow that up with a spree of endorsements. He won quick favor with his state's governor, Richard Long, and achieved a full-throated recommendation from New York Assembly Speaker Alfred Smith. Utilizing a nickname Fitzgerald received for his ability to entice even bitter rivals to his side, "Honey Fitz for President," was plastered across nearly every paper in New England.

As party regulars observed Fitzgerald's entrance in the race whilst mulling over much-anticipated news of Speaker Champ Clark throwing his hat in the ring, news broke of an announcement by the president. Hiram Johnson rather expectantly recited a short address to declare his interest in gaining a complete presidential term. He filled that speech with the usual suspects, decrying communist labor organizing and sprinkling suspicion onto, "radicals that may have infiltrated federal, state, and local governments." Johnson noted, "The Party of One Nation abides by its nation alone," and in no other moment brought up the name of a political party. Some reporters pondered the absence of the standard "Progressive" phrasing, but not until January 10th did the purposeful nature of Johnson's wording become apparent. In an otherwise inconsequential interview with the Washington press, Republican National Committee Chairman Martin G. Brumbaugh reflected,
"Our primary function is to preserve the integrity of the Constitution. We must not permit a reproduction of Chicago."
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A joint Republican-Progressive ticket makes a lot of sense. But considering the ideological gulf between the two is down to a minimum, I wonder if the parties will simply reunify? The 4 party system is chaotic and has resulted in multiple parties that have near- identical stances. A Progressive-Republican party would be far stronger together than the two separate.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a powder keg about to blow, it's just a matter of who lights the fuse. And I love it. Actually kinda stunned to hear about JFK's grandfather coming in to run for the Presidency. I imagine that certain factors are going to hamstring his attempt however, give what I've read on him.
All the other parties keep shooting themselves in the foot,leaving the Socialists as the only real option for those who want some kind of genuine reform.

It sounds to me though from that last post that Bryan is making a mistake by not running again: he's the only one who can appeal to both liberals and progressive as well as those longing for a nostalgic Old Days. Not to mention his devoted base would probably overlook some of his more unorthodox positions. All he would have to is maybe update his rhetoric a bit and maybe have a younger, urban running mate.
It sounds to me though from that last post that Bryan is making a mistake by not running again: he's the only one who can appeal to both liberals and progressive as well as those longing for a nostalgic Old Days. Not to mention his devoted base would probably overlook some of his more unorthodox positions. All he would have to is maybe update his rhetoric a bit and maybe have a younger, urban running mate.
Problem is, he might not be able to. He's old, in bad health, and well, is facing a pretty uphill battle.
Great political writeup, as the others before it
I echo the words of the last posters, this powder keg only needs a match.
Fun to see the elder scions of political dynasties appearing over there, also.
Part 7: Chapter XXVII - Page 178 - 1920 SNC I

Crowds Gather in the Chicago Coliseum for the Socialist Convention, May 8th, 1920 - Source: Chicago Tribune

Approaching the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Socialist Party of America, the National Executive Committee made the appropriate preparations for a momentous celebration to coincide with their upcoming national convention. Two long decades had come and gone since the Indianapolis Unity Conference, when disparate socialist factions joined together and formed an independent political party. Unbeknownst to the founders, the SP would prove itself, in no short order, an integral part of the American Labor movement and a salient vehicle for working-class representation in government. Its unbreakable ties with the IWW solidified the party's relationship with the grassroots and served to propel membership throughout every state and local branch to levels higher than any on record. The presence of Socialist congressmen, mayors, and supervisors demonstrated the synchronicity of the SP with the voting population of the United States, and auspicious gubernatorial polling exhibited an ever-widening scope on that front. It all seemed a far cry from day one.

Electoral wins over the past decade allowed for a leftward tilt in the zeitgeist as alternative perspectives upended legislative debate and shone a light on corruptive practices. Socialist representatives, for example, were among the fiercest in the uncompleted fight for a women's suffrage amendment. Their role in the war for gender equality, especially as Progressives retreated on that issue, did not go unnoticed. Feminism had become an essential part of the Socialist program, with voting rights now merely the tip of the iceberg. Additionally, the short-lived congressional sparring over U.S. involvement in the Great War, characterized by the filibusters of Senators Ashley Miller and Robert La Follette, helped to formulate the upswing in antiwar activism over the following years. Knowing the significance of the anniversary and recognizing the party's most recent political triumph, Secretary Wagenknecht authorized the NEC's unanimous decision to allow Chicago to host their nominating event.

Mayor Fitzpatrick prudently lifted all remaining pandemic restrictions upon his inauguration, quickly setting a precedent for reversing the unpopular policies set into place by Carter Harrison. On the eve of the convention, the new mayor also signed off on the repeal of an anti-demonstration law, increased the base wages of municipal workers, and requested Chief of Police Chief John Garrity keep his officers strictly within the confines of the law. Chicago under Fizpatrick thus far was not much different from his predecessors despite fearmongering by Governor Lowden and fellow anti-socialists. Beyond his plans to implement municipal ownership of public transit and fund a public housing district, life went on as usual. Nevertheless, a consortium of Society for Americanism rally goers and devotees of William H. Thompson organized a rather intimidating protest just outside of the Coliseum's perimeters. Some shouted down identifiable officeholders as they arrived, blasting them with disrespectful ridicule and distasteful, sometimes racist or sexist, slurs. NEC members paid the protests no mind, and simply recommended delegates ignore the rabble and that all doors be closed while the processions were underway.

On May 8th, the Socialist Convention officially began. By far the most hyped of any such nominating event in the party's history, it was estimated that delegates, card-carrying members, and journalists arrived from all 48-states to engage in the sprawling affair. "The momentum was breathtaking," wrote Benjamin McIntyre. "It mustn't be understated, the energy and the flair, as the Socialists sang 'The Internationale'. The enormous tragedy of the war, and the realization of the working class that it was all for naught, fed into mass revolution overseas. First Russia, then France, then Poland, Romania. Revolts threatened to break apart the Austro-Hungarian dichotomy. Turmoil engulfed the heart of Zollverein: the German Empire. It was only natural that the revolutionary spirit would breach the American fortress sooner or later. The 1918 strike wave was merely a rehearsal." Indeed, new bastions of socialist agitation were cropping up across the world. The troublesome part was choosing which branch to identify with. One of the most contentious matters of debate at the convention was deciding whether to align the party along the terms of the Third International (otherwise known as the Communist International/Comintern) or the reconditioned Second International.

The Russian Bolsheviks as led by Vladimir Lenin established the Comintern in March of 1919 as a mechanism to further their goal of arousing global revolution. Communist and far-left labor parties from dozens of nations opted to respond in the affirmative to Petrograd Soviet Chairman Grigory Zinoviev's plea, jointly convening the Founding Congress of the Comintern in Moscow. Though the Industrial Workers did elect to participate in the conference, no formal U.S. political party attended apart from a smattering of SP-adjacent activists and authors. The SFIO, the governing party of the Fourth French Republic, was split on the Comintern. Prime Minister Jean Longuet and a majority of the SFIO had unquenchable reservations over the unilateral governing tactics of the Bolshevik Party. Longuet, who held the true reins of power in France under their new constitution, recognized the elephant in the room and openly cited his opposition with a Moscow-based International. A neutral organization must be formed, he explained, to uphold the "international ideal" and usher in an age of socialist democracy. Therefore, Longuet, in tandem with socialist parties of Western Europe and South America, worked to resurrect core elements of the Second International to form a Socialist International. This new Paris-based World Congress was structured into an inclusive federation of autonomous political parties headed by a participant-elected Executive Committee. It explicitly forbade any one country from controlling its sections unilaterally, a clear jab at the Soviets. The leftmost sect of the SFIO soon splintered in a fit of outrage, founded the French Communist Party, and joined the Comintern - though in doing so sacrificed their negotiating abilities as the FCP struggled electorally.

In their observance of the SFIO's clobbering of the far-left Communists and center-left Parti Radical in their recent legislative elections, the American Socialists were, if pressured to choose, more receptive to the French vision of legalist, democratic socialism over that of Soviet Communism. Not all agreed, however. The 1919 NEC conference did not set parameters for affiliation in either International. The adopted compromise resolution only declared flat solidarity with the struggling workers of Europe. Therefore, argumentative debate lasted days.

These nations have openly or tacitly recognized that socialism alone has the moral and intellectual resources to rebuild and revivify the shattered world, and in this, as in all other vital currents of modern life, the United States cannot effectively or permanently seclude itself from the rest of the world. Nor do we, American socialists, depend for our hope of success solely upon the precedent and example of Europe. The conditions in our own country and the record of our own party as the gauge of our ultimate victory here. I am a determined and enthusiastic supporter of the Soviet Government of Russia, but it is crucial a distinction be made from the government and the International. We cannot abdicate our own judgement and follow every dictum that comes from Moscow.
Morris Hillquit, Socialist Convention Speech, May 9th, 1920
The Socialist Party must support the Third International, not so much because it supports the Moscow program and methods, but because Moscow is doing something which is really challenging world imperialism. Moscow is threatened by the combined capitalist forces of the world simply because it is proletarian. Under these circumstances, whatever we may have to say to Moscow afterwards, it is the duty of socialists to stand by it now because its fall will mean the fall of socialist republics in Europe, and also the disappearance of socialist hopes for many years to come. We ought to support Moscow, and Paris as well. One cannot survive without the other, and our only hope for an international workers' republic rests with affiliation in the International which supports the dictatorship of the proletariat.
J. Louis Engdahl, Socialist Convention Speech, May 9th, 1920

On May 11th, the delegates of the SNC finally agreed, by a majority vote, to align with the Socialist International. Curiously, it simultaneously rejected the inclusion of Hillquit's demand to condemn "Lenin's Communist society," which he cited as a, "miscarriage." In order to find a mediated solution, the SP voted for a middle-ground which did not bar itself or its members from coordination with the Comintern (A crucial point, as their partners in the IWW would be expelled). The truth of the matter was any flagrant alliance with the hardline Soviet Comintern meant assured defeat in November should Johnson or the Democrats capitalize on red-baiting or nativist xenophobia. Even if they personally disapproved, a bulk of the delegates understood this as well. Inversely, the old Second International was a multinational group traditionally associated with the Socialist Party, and entry in a revived iteration would hardly raise eyebrows. Debs and Haywood ensured that the decision would not explode any unearthed tension by the left-wing, lest they be ousted or bolt like the ill-fated FCP. Members in stark opposition to the majority vote, namely a supremely frustrated John Reed, were persuaded to stay and continue the fight for a more radical program, somewhat satisfied in the defeat of Hillquit's motion and the SP's reaffirmed stance on internationalism. "Insofar as we stand with the IWW and the pursuit of One Big Union, Reed later wrote, "we stand with the workers. America is stirring, awakening to new ideas, revolting against its leaders - becoming revolutionary! [...] the Socialists, the International, and Organized Labor are intertwined."

The remainder of the afternoon and evening was filled with procedural delegate speeches and confirmation votes on the final party platform. Well-known Socialist officeholders from across the country presented arguments both for and against specific planks and proposals. This included New York Assemblymen Louis Waldman and Algernon Lee, State Chairman Emil Seidel, National Civil Liberties Bureau co-founder Norman Thomas, National Brotherhood of Workers of America President A. Philip Randolph, and Sons of Vulcan organizer James Maurer. A written statement from House Minority Leader Meyer London was also read aloud as the congressman was in Washington. Yet perhaps the most thrilling speech of the day was delivered by war veteran Jack Parkman in support of a plank expelling elected Socialists who voted for military appropriations. "The upper class, the men living on high in their golden castles, sent us to the trenches, but they dared not send their own sons. One dead worker is replaceable to the capitalist. They see us as fodder, both in war and in the factory." Parkman closed his address to a standing ovation.

On the comparatively serene morning of May 12th, as a light drizzle fell outside and delegates settled in to coronate their presumptive nominee, a ghastly shadow cast itself over the Coliseum. The SNC was interrupted by a sharp crack which broke through a sea of mild-mannered conversation. As if pounding back to earth an inflated sense of elation gained from the day before, that sound pierced the air twice more. Then, realization struck. An unidentified intruder had fired three shots from a revolver. Two men had fallen to the ground, their shirts now stained with blood. One was a state delegate from the Kentucky Socialist Party, Josephus Daly. The other: Eugene Debs. Daly stayed conscious, Debs did not. Medical attendants navigated through the panicked crowd and expeditiously transported them to a nearest hospital for diagnosis and possible treatment - while a man named Thomas Lufkin was arrested near the convention entrance with a firearm in his trousers. Surgical staff confirmed that the bullet had pierced a major artery, and any amount of treatment would be futile. Eugene Debs was dead. Murdered.
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And so we come to the prologue, and to a future unfettered by preordained events. We already know that this martyrdom is a unifying force, but as a self-proclaimed anarchist, an anarchist of the deed, as it were, I suspect Lufkin has furthered the divide between socialists and anarchists, common to the time and place. If it comes out (or at least, is widely believed) that this was orchestrated by reactionaries, perhaps not, but I doubt it. I'm excited to see where the movement goes after this, I can see further radicalization and mobilization, certainly. What unifying figures will hold the party together now, however? Will the more reformist contingent become more subsumed under relatively more radical leaders, and get further radicalized themselves?
Part 7: Chapter XXVII - Page 179 - 1920 SNC II

Washington Herald Article on Eugene Debs, May 14th, 1920 - Source: LoC

The sentiment of the delegates, freely expressed, never flew past the executive committee. Convention results were predetermined, always. We had had an organization built up enough to override persistent squabbling from the technocrats and lessen the odds of an uncontrollable power struggle. There can be no doubt that all of it, the ceremony in full, was calculated beforehand. It is easy to flash back with nostalgia and reverence on the early days for that reason. Not all was tranquil, but we knew which direction the wind was blowing. The great majority of the membership was not about to repudiate the Third International any more than they would permit Hillquit's motion and lead the American movement into the ditch.
In the end, the calculations meant nothing: When that madman waved his gun around, he saw to that. All order unraveled and utter confusion and unruliness prevailed, at first, putting to the grave any chance of a serene ceremony. It risked spiraling the party to a dark and dismal place. That man would have grinned all the while. But we did not stumble. We recovered, and in a big way. The loss hit us hard, but the NEC rebuffed an indefinite postponement. The conference reconvened and a full day was dedicated to the legacy of Eugene Debs. The members, delegates, staff, everyone in the halls, somber with tears in our eyes, looked upon our fallen comrade's spirit and paid due tribute to the mainstay of Labor and American Socialism.
James Patrick Cannon, House of the Red Sun, 1956

Somewhat recovered from the shock and stun of the paralyzing events of May 12th, the NEC officially reopened the National Convention of the Socialist Party the next morning with stricter security protocols and limitations on non-members. As explained by Cannon's testimony, the speeches and proclamations recited on that day were all devoted to the memory of Eugene Victor Debs. Even if for a moment, the delegates tossed aside their political differences and banded together for a common purpose. Spokespersons reflected on the triumphs of the Labor Movement in the time of 'Gene Debs, from his radicalization in the aftermath of the Pullman Strike to his role in the founding of the IWW. Secretary Wagenknecht provided the lengthiest and more conventional memoriam address followed immediately by a brief yet personal statement from Eugene's younger brother, Theodore Debs, which was read aloud by Indiana delegate John Howard. Yet, the stirring speech offered by one Seymour Stedman, a civil liberties attorney and former two-term Illinois representative, proved instrumental in rebounding and redirecting the purpose of the Socialist convention.

The former congressman too echoed Debs' milestones and celebrated his fallen friend's accomplishments in that regard, but he made certain to do so whilst linking Debs to the greater movements for freedom, peace, and socialism. "Terre Haute hadn't birthed a revolutionary. The change-makers and doers of the world are not born great men. He was matured and transformed by his own observations, by his own experiences. Debs launched the roaring locomotive of history forward only after seeing with his own eyes the profound injustices faced by the American worker. [...] The example is set for us, our candle is lit. We will carry on and we will liberate the working classes of this nation, and of all nations. We are for Socialism because we are for humanity." Stedman was greeted with massive applause for his hastily-reconfigured speech. It appeared the Coliseum delegates concurred with the Chicagoan's emotional message. Others continued in the same manner, likewise extolling Debs' powerful and uplifting personality, his sterling principles, and his unique ability to Americanize socialism in a way easily understood by the average industrial worker. The thematic message was clear: Debs gave his life for the movement and that movement shall go on.

During the remainder of the national convention, the atmosphere and the speakers' rhetoric stayed confined in the realm of gloom and melancholy, though underneath that lied a subtle, raged-fueled undercurrent. Convention goers and sympathetic activists from coast to coast knew the intention of the assassin was to tear the party apart. No other motive seemed tenable. Having survived the arch conservatism of the Depew years and the chaos of the Great War, and thus far endured A. Mitchell Palmer's attempts at a Red Scare, the delegation was hardly about to lie down and allow the moment to pass them by. Per the words of Senator Ashley Miller, "repression in all of its forms is doomed to fail." The ever-determined Socialist Party fastidiously picked up the pieces and bravely proceeded with the nomination. Fortunately, the platform was settled by the end of May 11th. It was designed to work in tandem with the anticipated presidential campaign of Eugene Debs, but the NEC was confident any plausible nominee would benefit similarly to the wide array of unity planks vested in their platform.

Factionalism was strong in 1920. The unity platform incorporated mediated proposals and compromise solutions on everything from wages to war. The Left had an edge due to their NEC majority position, but to reconcile with the party regulars and avoid confrontation on the floor, they adopted moderated positions in certain avenues. Its preamble explained how the political party was merely a vehicle for the working class, and the question of a Workers' Commonwealth was only to be answered by the proletariat. The platform laid out a concise alignment with the Socialist International without maligning the Comintern. It recommended nationalization of all industries for the "welfare of the people," proposed eliminating the Federal Intelligence Authority and abolishing strikebreaking agencies, and demanded the release of Jim Larkin, Benjamin Gitlow, and William Z. Foster from prison. The delegates also voted to do away with a gag rule once generously applied against the left-wing minority. Its shortcomings were plain to see. It laid out no legislative plan to "secure full civil, industrial, and educational rights for Negroes" despite the inclusion of this wording. A more complex proposal was to be considered on May 12th, but the vote was tabled in lieu of the assassination.
Harry Braverman, 6th President of the New York Assembly, The Early Socialists: A Prelude to the Revolution, 1969

Undaunted in its quest to fulfill Debs' dream of a Socialist America, the convention moved to the nominating process. Several notable candidates were considered for the presidential slot, among them Miller and Seidel who each fervently declined, but at the urging of the Illinois delegates, Seymour Stedman allowed his name to be placed in nomination. His odds were extraordinarily favorable from the outset. Stedman was close to Debs for over twenty years. They first met during the Pullman Strike, and the two became well acquainted socially and politically from that point on. They were both present at the founding of the Social Democratic Party following Debs' fallout with the Democratic Party and Stedman's with the Populists, and the latter could boast of his perfect convention attendance and deep ties with the Socialist founders. He also worked vehemently for the election of John Fitzpatrick in the Chicago mayoral election and was often credited by the incumbent mayor for helping build his campaign from scratch.

Once Fitzpatrick called for Stedman's nomination, Seidel seconded it, as did Waldman and Lee. A segment of the Socialist Left briefly tried to talk Max Eastman into entering the unexpected, open contest, but Eastman knew it was a foregone conclusion and declined to be considered. In addition, some union officials preferred James Maurer or Bill Haywood over a stuffy congressman like Stedman, yet even this component failed to muster support from the delegates. In the final count, by a landslide of sorts, Seymour Stedman was confirmed the nomination and Theodore Debs was granted the vice-presidential slot. The campaign slogan wrote itself.
"For Gene"

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This is a hard ticket to ignore, truth be told. It is very effective at grabbing the eye, and I can't help but imagine that this will garner them a good to great result in the election. I'm not quite sure, truth be told, if it's a victory they'll win, but it'll certainly bring the left's standing forward a considerable amount and no mistake.
A bit disappointed that they didn't choose Big Bill Haywood, but it looks like a fine ticket.

Also, what exactly was the divergence/different circumstance which led to the old NEC's plot to expel the Left failing? I couldn't quite make it out in that chapter.