13 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Populist Sensibility

William Jennings Bryan, born on March 19, was a Democratic Party candidate for the President of the United States during the years 1896, 1900 and 1908; he was also a lawyer, and the 41st Secretary of State of the United States under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.  He was one of the most well-liked speakers in the American history and was famous for a deep and commanding voice. He was a pious Presbyterian, detractor of railroads and banks, supporter of well-liked democracy, adversary of Eugenics, head of the silverite movement during the 1890s, peace supporter, leading person in the Democratic Party, prohibitionist, and one of the most important leaders of the Populism during the late 19th- as well as early 20th century.  Due to his confidence in the rightness and goodness of the ordinary people, he was labeled as The Great Commoner.  He called on Democrats to reject states rights to battle the big banks and trusts, and embrace populist ideas.  He was perhaps best recognized for his movement against the theory of evolution that ended in the 1925 Scopes Trial.

Religious language confirmed fundamental to Bryan’s victory politically.  While never succeeding in the presidency elections, it was shown that he incorporated these ideas to the American awareness, initially to the Democratic Party then soon, to the majority of the citizens. Bryan was not merely a believer, but he astutely understood the authority of such pictures like the Cross of Gold harked back people of their accountabilities to the fellow citizens and the idea’s tagged thorough were, actually, fundamental to America’s leading Judeo-Christian heritage.  His efficiency as a recurrent candidate was, it appears, due to a convergence of numerous factors, one of which is his religious visions which were infused and sincere to his politics with customary morality.  Though constantly a devout, ardent Christian Bryan ascended to national approbation not on the root of his religious world vision but due to a populist platform, which was more than a little essential for his time.  Kazin points out that Bryan’s political visions were enlightened by his Christian viewpoints.  His religious beliefs might also be associated to the antiwar position he took as Secretary of State.  He resisted the government’s recognized movement to war even as it pointed its continuing neutrality. Bryan’s firm religious beliefs put him on the part of social development and not on the part of reaction.  His well-known defense on anti-evolutionary laws in the renowned Scopes Trial is within his life-long loyalty to religious belief.  His Christianity, consequently, formed the center of his political beliefs, having root on a longing to construct a state of Christian small producers.  Millions of ordinary people, frequently old-stock white Protestant, who resisted politics in religion, considered Bryan as their Savior’s principal spokesman on earth, establishing their morality and religion to the politics.

Let the people regulate is a watchword which the people can give to stand.  This slogan was one of the essential ideas of the Bryan, which he pointed not merely during the war, to compose the world protected for democracy, but repeatedly throughout his adult life.  According to him, democracy means the regulation of the people, which is established upon the principle of human brotherhood, lives for one reason, and the protection of human rights.  It would be tremendously hard to choose from his political profession an idea he highlighted more than this.  “This is your country.  Don’t let the big men take it away from you” (Kazin).  This quote was taken from chapter 5, which characterizes the spirit of people as well as their persuaders into The Populist Persuasion. He assumed that political history included a continuous clash between people and an elitist minority. This elitist minority, which is identified by several different names, ruled through fear and coercion.  He concluded that the lone government which could defend the people was the one wherein the majority ruled.  If such majority made a mistake in its decisions, they can correct their mistakes, but when the elitist decreed repressive decisions can not be reversed. During the nineteenth century the aptitude of capitalists to manage politics and economics weakened American freedom. Capitalists employed their affluence to control political parties as well as governments while abusing the working class. Desperate laborers and farmers organized to battle the growing concentration of power and wealth.  As the elitist minority had huge money and time, the people must put in order to battle oppression.  People must continue to be politically informed and active. Bryan believed that the Republican Party had given up to large business thus, the Democratic Party, then, was the merely party which could defend the people.  From the year 1894 to 1912 he crusaded to have the Democratic Party provide for the people’s interest.  He developed a national scheme wherein he maintained steady communication with the reform-minded Democrats. He achieved this through his regular correspondence, lecture tours, speeches, and journalistic activities.  He was the leading voice in molding Democratic Party Platforms during the years 1896, 1900, and 1912.  In the 1904 and 1908 he completed compromises with conservatives regarding the platform, but stayed to be an essential influence.

In economy, he appealed to labor and farmer, during a day when the sentiment is sneaking through the state that the gold standard performed as a stop upon the increased earning capability of those who labor with their hands.  His argument in contrast to the arguments previously that universal wealth requires superior issuance of coin in distribution; that enlarged circulation of currency supported by valuable metal requires improvement of the specie customary to embrace silver valued at a secured rate as compared to gold.  He associated broadened affluence straightly to agriculture as well as to the buying power of labor. He struck out vehemently at the traditional argument that true affluence requires initially a steady base for devoted wealth, wherein affluence may extend downward and outward to the workers.  Much of his political career is devoted to economic equality.  Bryan appealed to the working class more than anyone. To farmers, Bryan was seen as a defender of agrarian virtues and fighter of depreciation and debt; to laborers, he was seen as a promoter of employment and economy.

He had little experience in foreign policy but had been selected secretary of state, for that was the most significant position in the Cabinet; however he studied international questions carefully. Bryan struggled to master foreign policy, conveying more dedication and energy than insight. He helped obtained passage of the domestic legislation, most particularly the Federal Reserve Act.  For Latin America he supported a policy of security of American business interests, telling that more financial interference by the U.S. government may thwart European influence. His Latin American policies, chiefly those concerning Nicaragua, rooted an excellent deal of friction. He was predominantly interested in discussing arbitration treaties with 30 countries, because he assumed that such treaties will avert war. Antiwar leanings made him more pacifying than the President’s toward Germany. He supported a rule of impartiality in World War I, anticipating that the United States may play the part of arbitrator among the conflicting sides.  The president, however, did not obey his advice; in objection over the President’s second note regarding the plummeting of the Lusitania, in which he sensed the president had deserted America’s neutral pose, he resigned in June 1915.  Bryan rejected American interfering in foreign affairs.  He was speedy to condemn America’s way on foreign policy during the McKinley administration. In a speech, he criticized American existence in the Philippines being a colonial policy that compromised primary democratic principles.  Later during the same month, the senate approved the Paris Peace Treaty l. It was unquestionably a document of imperialism, for it approved the appropriation of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. One may have anticipated Bryan to counter the treaty, but he desired a finish to the war thus, he moved for its authorization. His support for the said treaty bewildered staunch anti-imperialists.  He simplified that without said ratification, the president would have a justification for military expenditures that cannot be rationalized after the finale of peace; in addition, he frightened that there was a probability that the Spain would take over the Philippines again if the said treaty did not pass. The passage of said treaty was a little sacrifice for him, for he had trust in American people to ultimately withdraw imperialism and provide the Filipinos their independence.  Among his contributions, he was, ever since the 1890s, the foremost proponent of the Sixteenth Amendment, giving for the income tax, the Seventeenth, offering for the straight election of senators, and the Eighteenth, Prohibition, approved 1919 and rescinded in 1933.

Palin presented herself as an heir of Bryan, who turned into a reform-oriented Governor that disciplined the political elites in state capital and can also do the same in nation’s capital.  The Democrats streamed that Barack Obama is today’s the rightful heir to the decent and eloquent Bryan.  Like Bryan, Obama is a captivating young politician with a slight political record.  Obama is not greatly a populist at all, but wanting everybody to pull together and trusting in the common good.

He had spoken vehemently and with enormous effect to the ideals of moral, religious, economic, and political to an important portion of America.  “Recognition of labor unions, collective bargaining, minimum wages, maximum hours, workers compensation, insured deposits, the Federal Reserve System, corporate regulation, woman suffrage, gender equality for women, international organizations to deter war, cooling off periods, opposition to American imperialism, and many more, all the stuff of reform and the impulses that formed roots of the New Deal, were promoted early and often by WJB” (Fulkerson, ¶1).  Kazin believes him to be the primary of the 20th century considered celebrity politicians, who are better identified for their communications skills and personalities than their political visions.

Works Cited

Fulkerson, Randal C. Reviving the democracy: William Jennings Bryan and his crusade to save the Democratic Party. 2007. Digital Commons. October 27, 2008. http://digitalcommons. unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3293922/.

Kazin, Michael. A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan. Knopf. February 7, 2006.

15 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: Effective Metaphors For Describing Race In America

Throughout its history, the United States has been a haven for people with differences.  During its birth, the country was unique in allowing religious freedoms that other western countries prohibited.  Later, the country began to offer more liberties to women and blacks, as well as open its doors to an influx of immigrants from all over the world.  Today, America’s ethnic and cultural diversity surpasses that of any other nation.  Perhaps, this is the reason why the country has been referred to as a variety of metaphors including melting pot, implying that the country is slowly assimilating the differences into one culture.  However, America more closely resembles a salad, where the different cultures and ethnicities create a vibrant and colorful salad.  Unlike a melting pot, a salad’s different parts are distinct and individual, even when they are combined. Many sociologists agree with this perspective based on extensive research, history, and analytical theories.

The myth of the melting pot has been proven false time and time again by non-caucasian Americans who don’t feel that the country is changing them, rather, they are changing it.  The term “americanization” has become anachronistic in a sense; the notion of the blond haired and blue eyed stereotype no longer prevails in the minds of many immigrants.  Take into consideration Maria Jacinto’s attitude toward the United States, since moving here a decade ago:

” ‘In the Hispanic tradition, the family comes first, not money. It’s important for our children not to be influenced too much by the gueros,’ she said, using a term that means ‘blondies’ but that she employs generally in reference to Americans. ‘I don’t want my children to be influenced by immoral things’ ” (Branigin, 1998).

Immigrant families like the Jacintos are rightfully wary of idealized American culture.  Oftentimes, children are influenced by the worst aspects of society.  True assimilation requires both good and bad learning, and as Sociologist Ruben Rumbaut says, “It doesn’t always lead to something better” (Branigin, 1998).

Even children of immigrants share the same attitude as their parents.  While they are fluent in English and have an easier time assimilating to the culture, a recent study of children of immigrants from Haiti, Cuba, West Indies, Mexico, and Vietnam suggested that they, themselves do not consider them pure Americans.  Rather, the children preferred to label themselves as hyphenated Americans (eg: Korean-American, Mexican-American) instead of American, and few of the children believed in the ideal that the United States was the best country in the world. (Booth, 1998)  Even for kids, the salad bowl scenario is far more appropriate.  These children speak the common American language, but view themselves culturally distinct from the mainstream.

Furthermore, in many states, immigrants have a tendency to cluster into niche neighborhoods according to specific ethnic populations.  Rather than adopting typically American lifestyles, these groups import their unique cultural identity to the country.  Almost every major city has an Asian, African, European, and Latin American community with an array of restaurants, museums and shops, and cultural center.  In cities like Los Angeles, where an influx of immigrants arrive daily,

“It almost goes without saying that today’s new arrivals are a source of vitality and energy, especially in the big cities to which many are attracted. Diversity, almost everyone agrees, is good; choice is good; exposure to different cultures and ideas is good” (Booth, 1998).

Once considered exotic, foods like sushi and burritos have now become staples of American culture.  As different culture continue to pervade into the American mainstream, once-unique attributes slowly become associated with the commonplace.  Again, we see that instead of seeing people of different backgrounds trying to embody once central stereotype, they actually share their differences with one another and combine them to create an identity composed of a variety of influences.

Many groups prefer settling into areas with similar ethnicities.  In fact, ethnic dispersion in the country is quite limited.  Most immigrants tend to move to only six major states:  California absorbs 30.9% of the entire immigrant population, New York- 12.8%, Florida-10%, Texas – 8.6%, New Jersey- 4.3% and Illinois- 4.1%.  Based on these 2000 US Census Bureau statistics, it is evident that not all Americans mix everywhere, thus proving the inaccuracy of the melting pot scenario.  Like a salad, there can be more concentrations of certain elements in some areas, whereas other parts will not.

Different ethnic Americans advocate their distinct identities in the mainstream media and politics.  According to sociologists Leonard Dinnerstein and David Reimers, the salad bowl thesis is applicable to today’s society.

For example:

“Italian Americans vehemently protested the alleged prejudicial treatment that the media and law enforcement officials displayed.  They resented, for example,television programs in which the underworld figure’s name always ended with a vowel.  They also railed against alleged discrimination by the FBI, which they claimed unfairly portrayed Italian Americans as criminals” (1977, pp 191).

Instead of the Italians trying to assimilate to the traditionally mainstream culture, they fought to preserve their identity and fight the unfair stereotypes.  As more immigrants have moved to the country, the trend in ethnic advocacy is only growing.  Today’s Asian American community, once considered the quiet minority, has become more outspoken and visible in the media.  They follow the footsteps of the African American and Latin American communities that have deep rooted political movements as well as special entertainment niches.  Historically, African Americans have contributed significant political influence into today’s society.  Though Blacks have made up the largest minority group since the country’s birth, it was only since the 1960s when legal segregation ended.  African Americans exemplified the salad bowl motif in their adjustment into American society.  Though they began to move to white urban areas in large number hoping to find opportunities and fair treatment, they encountered much resistance.

With the passing of Brown vs Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Black community organized themselves to address issues that continued to plague them.  Social justice came in the form of seeking for reforms in schools and educational opportunities, improving neighborhoods, and easing racial relations.  Like a salad, Blacks tried to integrate themselves into American culture, but still demanded recognition for their own rights. Brilliant advocates like Martin Luther King Jr, Jesse Jackson, and now, Barack Obama provide a definite sense of cultural importance to society with their vision for America.  The democratic presidential candidate recognizes that the American identity is still fractured within the country:

“Race is still a powerful force in this country. Any African American candidate, or any Latino candidate, or Asian candidate or woman candidate confronts a higher threshold in establishing himself to the voters … Are some voters not going to vote for me because I’m African American? Those are the same voters who probably wouldn’t vote for me because of my politics” (2006).

As the first African American to have a decent shot at becoming the President of the United States, Obama has surpassed the expectations of many Americans.  One may argue that Obama’s success is indicative of the melting pot theory, because it shows that a black man can assimilate into a traditionally caucasian office.  However, Obama’s appeal actually comes from the fact that he markets his differences to the public.  In a time when the traditional “white” and “upperclass” leaders have been guilty of numerous scandals and corruption, Obama offers a fresh and different alternative that is disparate from what Americans are used to.  He is a new type of ingredient in the American salad- offering hope and change that minorities can associate with.

Rival Hillary Clinton also represents the changing political climate as well.  Though she is caucasian, Clinton may become the first female president in history, which also parallels the notion of the salad.  Evidently, America no longer wants the same old thing– we are finally admitting that different can be good, if not better.


Branigin, William. 1998.” Immigrants Shunning Idea of Assimilation.” Washington Post: A1. URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/meltingpot.htm

Booth, William. 1998. “One Nation, Indivisible: Is It History?” Washington Post: A1. URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/melt0222.htm

Dinnerstein, Leonard & Reimers, David M. 1977. Ethnic Americans: A History of Immigration. New York: Columbia University Press.

2006. “Who is Barack Obama?” Spokane for Obama Organization. URL:,+Los+Angeles+Times,+%22Dec.+11,+2006%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=us&client=firefox-a

2003.”We Raise Our Voices: Celebrating Activism for Equality and Pride in Boston’s African American, Feminist, Gay and Lesbian, and Latino Communities,” the online edition of a Northeastern University Libraries exhibition. Boston: Northeastern University Libraries.  URL: http://www.lib.neu.edu/archives/voices

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