Agriculture

“Change” Elections: 1800, 1828, 1860, 1896, 1912, 1932, 1960, 1968, 1980, 2000, 2008, And Now 2016?

America has now had 58 Presidential elections, and it can now be said that 12 of them, about 20 percent, have been transformational elections.

In 1800, for the first time. the “opposition” won the Presidency, when Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams.

In 1828, the “common man”, Andrew Jackson, was elected over John Quincy Adams, and all white males over 21, whether or not property owners, were able to vote, and Jackson was perceived as representing the western frontiersman and the urban worker.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln’s victory ushered in a new political party, the Republican Party, as dominant for the next half century, and the Civil War developed out of the split over slavery and its expansion between the Union and the Confederacy. But the sectionalism of that period still exists in many ways in 2017.

In 1896, William McKinley’s victory over William Jennings Bryan promoted the growth of industry and urbanizastion over the previously predominant agricultural and rural nature of America, but in reality, that conflict still exists in 2017.

In 1912, the high point of progressive reform, and the evolution of government playing a major role in the economy from that point on, became a long term reality, with three Presidents–the past President Theodore Roosevelt; the incumbent President William Howard Taft; and the future President Woodrow Wilson—all competing in promoting what one could call the most reform oriented election, with all three Presidents being “progressive” to different degrees.

In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s victory over Herbert Hoover, was the time of the beginning of Democratic Party dominance, and ever bigger national government, even beyond the Progressive Era of the early 20th century.

In 1960, the election of John F. Kennedy was the triumph of overcoming the “religion issue”, as our first non Protestant President, a Roman Catholic from Massachusetts, was accomplished.

In 1968, the election of Richard Nixon marked the beginning of a turn to the Right, although Nixon actually continued and expanded elements of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson in domestic affairs.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s victory marked the sharpest turn to the Right since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s, and began an era of conservative government, that in many respects, continued under his successors, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

In 2000, the Supreme Court intervention in the Florida vote count, and the awarding of Florida to George W. Bush by 537 votes, giving him the Presidency, was a revolutionary change that changed the course of history, when Al Gore won the popular vote by more than a half million, and with the economy having improved during the Clinton years, should have led to Gore in the White House.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s victory over John McCain was a sharp turn to the left after what were arguably 40 years of conservative government to different degrees, including under Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and Obama overcame the race issue, in becoming the first African American President.

And now, in 2016, Donald Trump’s victory MIGHT be a sign of another “change” election, with the white working class voting for Trump, giving him the victory in the Electoral College, even though rival Hillary Clinton won the biggest popular vote margin of a losing candidate (2.85 million), greater than many Presidents won on their road to the White House,

But it may eventually be seen as a “fluke” election, and may not be long lasting, and only time and events will tell us what the reality is.

Barack Obama Now Insured Of Stature As Historic Domestic Reform Leader With Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, And Lyndon B. Johnson!

The victory yesterday of ObamaCare at the Supreme Court, by a margin of 6-3, insures that Barack Obama will be listed historically in the company of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson in their massive accomplishments in domestic reforms!

Woodrow Wilson accomplished the passage of the Federal Reserve Act; the Federal Trade Commission Act; the Clayton Anti Trust Act; and the enactment of the first federal labor laws and assistance to farmers. His programs were both the “New Freedom” and elements of Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt accomplished the massive list of reforms known as the “New Deal”, in the areas of banking, the stock market, government intervention in business, labor, agriculture, housing, and most significantly, in Social Security and other aid to the poor, as well as major public works programs. He also took us out of the worst of the Great Depression.

Lyndon B. Johnson accomplished the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, along with immigration reform, civil rights legislation, greatly expanded aid to education, and the “war on poverty”, all part of the “Great Society.” Johnson also enacted consumer and environmental legislation and two new Cabinet agencies. He brought about the greatest amount of domestic reform since FDR, who he idolized.

Barack Obama has now accomplished health care reform to cover all Americans, a massive step first proposed by Theodore Roosevelt in his “New Nationalism” campaign as a third party campaign for President in 1912. Additionally, he has promoted environmental legislation by executive order; advancements in civil rights enforcement; a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Wall Street reform; immigration reform through executive order; and many lesser reforms that all add up to the best domestic record of achievement since the 1960s! He also took us out of the Great Recession, the greatest economic downturn since FDR and the Great Depression! He is the greatest reform President since Lyndon B. Johnson!

The California Drought A Tragedy For The Nation!

Climate change and global warming is becoming a crisis for America’s economic future, and particularly in California, where one out of every eight Americans reside.

The drought going on in California is historic, and it will affect agriculture directly, but also the entire economy not just of the Golden State, but of the nation at large.

Shortages of fruits and vegetables will dramatically raise the cost of living, and these are foods that are so important for the health of all human beings.

Jobs will be lost as the parched earth of California continues to multiply, and water supplies are rapidly dwindling, and water is a basic of all sustenance.

Santa Ana winds and generally high dry heat conditions otherwise lead to massive fires that destroy much of the forested areas and threaten homes and lives.

And while the center of attention is California, the same situation affects the western half of the nation, from the Midwest to the Great Plains to the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest.

There are no easy answers as to how to address this crisis, but political stalemate on the environment insures long range damage that will harm America, its economy, and long range well being!

The Rehabilitation Of President Calvin Coolidge: Is It Legitimate?

In an age of conservative talk radio and Fox News Channel, and the constant conservative attempt to transform our law, our science, our history, our politics, our economics, our educational system, the charge is on to rehabilitate a hero of conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and many others.

That “hero” is our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, who served five and a half years in the White House, from August 1923 to March 1929, succeeding President Warren G. Harding, and winning an easy victory over Democratic nominee John W. Davis and Progressive Party nominee Robert La Follette, Sr. in the 1924 Presidential Election.

Calvin Coolidge can be given credit for several things:

His administration paid off the national debt by the time he left office, a debt built up by our involvement in the First World War.

His Presidency was a clean one, and the corruption of the Harding Administration, the greatest since Ulysses S. Grant, was fully prosecuted, leading to convictions and prison terms for some of the Harding personnel.

Coolidge picked a distinguished Vice President, Charles G. Dawes, who would have made an outstanding President.

Coolidge selected Harlan Fiske Stone as his Attorney General, and then appointed him to the Supreme Court, and Stone was later elevated to Chief Justice in 1941 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, turning out to be one of the all time, outstanding Supreme Court Justices in American history.

However, Coolidge also was responsible for:

The promotion, by his tax policies under Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, an earlier version of “Reaganomics” and “Bushonomics”.

The raising of protective tariffs to their all time high, leading to the revival of monopoly capitalism in America, harming small business, labor and consumers alike.

The refusal to regulate big business in any form, by his appointments to the Federal Trade Commission and the Interstate Commerce Commission, and his decision NOT to use the Clayton Anti Trust Act and Sherman Anti Trust Act in lawsuits against corporations.

His refusal to help depression ridden farmers, by his veto of the McNary Haugen plan, which was desired by farm state Republicans.

His criticism of organized labor set back the labor movement until the time of FDR.

A new book by Amity Shlaes, is the most detailed and strong defense of Calvin Coolidge, but it fails to recognize that the Great Crash of the stock market, eight months after Coolidge left the Presidency, and Herbert Hoover became President, is not due only to Hoover, but much more to Coolidge and his policies in office.

Herbert Hoover has taken too much blame for the Great Depression. He can be blamed for his slow reaction to the collapse of the economy, but it is clear that Coolidge, with his doctrinal belief in “Laizzez Faire”, would not have been willing to take even the belated actions that Hoover took in 1931-1932, for which conservatives condemn him, by saying Hoover was the forerunner of the New Deal of FDR!

Just because Amity Shlaes, who is connected to the George W. Bush Institute, loves Calvin Coolidge does not make Coolidge, suddenly, a great or near great President. And neither does the fact that Ronald Reagan displayed his portrait, in place of Thomas Jefferson, add to Coolidge’s appropriate rating as, at the best, a below average, or even, a mediocre President.

In fact, to put Herbert Hoover lower really is a miscarriage of justice, as Hoover became the victim of the short sighted Coolidge policies!

Transformative Presidents In Domestic Affairs: Impact On American Democracy!

With Presidents Day coming up on Monday, it is a good time to reflect on which Presidents were transformative in domestic policy making.

The list of Presidents who made a real difference in domestic affairs would include the following, chronologically:

George Washington—under whom a National Bank and protective tariff, promoted by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, were adopted, having a long range effect on America’s growth.

Thomas Jefferson—under whom recognition of the wisdom of Alexander Hamilton’s economic policies was recognized.

Abraham Lincoln—under whom a promotion of the transcontinental railroad, adoption of the Homestead Act providing free land for settlers, revival of a centralized banking system, and the enactment of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, occurred.

Theodore Roosevelt—under whom conservation of natural resources became a major policy, the first regulation of meat, food and drugs took place, the first intervention in labor disputes without an anti labor attitude evolved, and first anti trust law suits succeeded in breaking up monopolies.

Woodrow Wilson—who accomplished the most domestic reforms until his time, including labor laws, agricultural credit legislation, the Federal Reserve being created, and the first regulatory commission for big business (the Federal Trade Commission) was created.

Franklin D. Roosevelt—under whom the New Deal transformed America domestically with a myriad of programs, including labor laws, Social Security, agricultural aid, and public works programs, with anti trust law suits being pursued.

Lyndon B. Johnson—under whom the Great Society programs, including ideas of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy not accomplished in their terms in the Presidency, were passed into law, including civil rights, education, Medicare, the War on Poverty, and numerous other programs, including consumer and environmental legislation, the most change since the New Deal.

Richard Nixon—under whom the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety Health Administration, and Affirmative Action were passed into law.

Barack Obama—under whom a national health care law was passed, the most significant legislation since the 1960s.

Other Presidents who had an impact, to a lesser extent, include:

Grover Cleveland
William Howard Taft
Harry Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Jimmy Carter
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush

The Symbolic Decline Of Labor: Thirty Years Ago Today, Ronald Reagan Fired The Air Traffic Controllers For Going On Strike

On this day in 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers for going on strike, and this marked the symbolic decline of labor unions in America ever since, with Republican governors now having declared war on public workers in labor unions in 2011!

Ironic that a former labor leader as head of the Screen Actors Guild became the image of an anti labor President, and even more ironic that tens of thousands of workers working for the Federal Aviation Administration are now out of work over a funding dispute between the Republicans in the House and the Democrats in the Senate. There is absolutely no concern by the Republicans over workers not getting paid, losing their homes, and disrupting the economy, as long as they win the point that only big business matters, as under Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s.

The coming to power of Calvin Coolidge to the Presidency on this day, a leader who thought big business corporations were not “special interests”, but that labor and farmer and small business were such, and did not deserve any government favoritism, demonstrates that the Republican Party has not changed its image despite it being nearly a century later!