American socialists used to get a lot of support, and votes. Many of them were “ordinary” (small-town, middle-class white) people.
The largest conglomeration of socialists, middle-aged and middle American, bore little superficial resemblance to the socialist proletarians of Europe. Foreign visitors and even New Yorkers could hardly understand that the Appeal to Reason, the nation’s largest weekly political newspaper, came from small-town Kansas. A later study of the “Appeal Army,” the volunteers who sought new subscribers, revealed a mostly middle-aged cadre, a combination of craft workers, small farmers, and ministers’ wives—the very social types sometimes ridiculed by European Marxists. But they educated themselves, built local socialist chapters, and often published their own local newspapers.