William Jennings Bryan (1860—1925) was a three time Democratic Presidential
candidate. Though he 'struck out' in his effort to win the highest office
in the land, many of his ideas—a progressive income tax, 'trickle-up' economics
rather than trickle-down—won acceptance, if not in his lifetime then thereafter.
Herbert Hoover complained bitterly that the New Deal was just "Bryanism."
In this era of the 'Religious Right,' it is striking to realize how many
of the social arrangements conservatives despise owe their inspiration
to this man, a fervent and sincere Christian who truly cared and diligently
studied what the Bible says about the rich and the poor and about war and
peace. What a contrast he presents with George W. Bush, a man pushed forward
by his backers as a Christian, though he does not think it matters much
if one is a Muslim or a Christian, and does not believe the Bible to be
"literally" true.* This web page is presented in the hope that contrasting the genuine with
the fake will awaken some people.
The modern Republican party is a 'three-legged stool,' clamped together
by Ronald Reagan. Evangelical social conservatives join with the less numerous
laissez-faire capitalists and militarists to form a potentially winning
coalition. It is understood that the social conservatives, despite their
weight of numbers, are the one leg who are never to expect any governmental
action beyond the symbolic on their concerns, such as abortion. While Bryan
would have shared the social conservatives' bewilderment at 'gay marriage,'
he would never have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with deregulators like Alan
Greenspan or the neo-imperialists who invaded Iraq.
And where do these ideas come from? From the gospel? Alan Greenspan's muse
was the atheist novelist Ayn Rand. Atheist economist Friedrich von Hayek
inspired Margaret Thatcher's neoconservatism. Laissez-faire economic theory
received a great impetus from Social Darwinism, a viewpoint first enunciated
by Charles Darwin himself in the 'Descent of Man.' The Social Darwinists
and their successors lamented that governmental assistance to the poor
encouraged these weak, unfit persons to breed, which they could not do
if allowed to starve. But the Darwinian viewpoint that life arose by chance
is at odds with the Biblical viewpoint of creation. Neither is it a Biblical
project to invade nations around the globe, such as Iraq, to shower them
with the blessings of democracy. What keeps a three-legged stool made up
of such heterogeneous elements from splintering? And why are American Christians
willing to allow themselves to be spoken for by a low buffoon like Rush
Limbaugh, when this is their heritage?
Not until Hubert H. Humphrey pushed through a civil rights plank in the
1948 Democratic Convention did the Democratic Party become the party of civil rights.
However, readers who follow Clarence Darrow's questioning of Bryan in the Scopes trial
realize that one of these men is a racist, and it's not Bryan, whose
views on Darwinian evolution are laid out in 'In His Image.' Bryan's political work revolved around his perception that the unitary
gold standard then in force was deflationary, thus disadvantageous to debtors
who were obliged to pay back their mortgages in dollars worth more than
those they had borrowed. On issues of taxation, he championed the progressive