Being unable to hold him back, she sent word by the mail-carrier to old Peter Drew to come up and help; the old farmer hitched up his bony mare and drove to see them, and for a couple of hours talked America while Jimmie talked Russia. Was America to lie down before the Kaiser? Jimmie would answer that they were going to bring down the Kaiser in the same way they had brought down the Tsar. The workers of Russia having shown the way, never more would the workers of any nation bow to the yoke of slavery. Yes, even in the so-called republics, such as France, which was ruled by bankers, and America, which was ruled by Wall Street—even here, the workers would read the lesson of revolt!
“But in America the people can get anything they want!” cried the bewildered old man. “They only have to vote—”
“Vote?” snarled Jimmie. “An’ have their votes thrown out by some rotten political gang, like they got here in Leesville? Don’t talk to me about votin’—they told me I’d moved into a new district an’ lost my vote—lost it because I lost my job! So it’s old man Granitch has the say whether I can vote or not! You’ll find the same thing true of two-thirds of the men in the Empire Shops—half the unskilled men in the country got no votes, because they got no home, no nothin’.”
“But,” argued the old soldier, “how will you run your new working-class government, if not by votes?”
“Sure, we’ll run it by votes,” Jimmie answered—“but first we’ll turn out the capitalists; they won’t have the money to buy political machines; they won’t own the newspapers an’ print lies about us. Look at this Leesville Herald right now—just plain downright lies they print—we can’t get any truth at all to the people.”
And so it went. It was of no use for the old man to plead for the “country”; to Jimmie the “country” had let itself be lost, suppressed, taken over by the capitalists, the “plutes”. Jimmie’s sense of loyalty was not to his country, but to his class, which had been exploited, hounded, driven from pillar to post. In past times the government had allowed itself to be used by corporations; so now it was in vain that the President made appeals for justice and democracy, using the beautiful language of idealism. Jimmie did not believe that he meant it; or anyhow, Wall Street would see that nothing came of his promises. The “plutes” would take his words and twist them into whatever sense they wished; and meantime they went on pouring abuse on Jimmie Higgins—throwing the same old mud into his eyes, blinding him with the same old hatred. So there was no way for an old soldier and patriot to break through the armour of Jimmie’s prejudice.