Progressive Era

Republican Party History And Reputation Under Attack In Present Constitutional Crisis

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 in opposition to the expansion of slavery, and included many abolitionists within its midst.

The Republican Party became the Party of the Union, and under Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, the Civil War was fought, and the Confederate States of America was defeated, and slavery was abolished.

The Republican Party then promoted citizenship and the right to vote for African Americans.

Then, the party lost its way and became the party of Big Business in the Gilded Age, and was engaged in widespread corruption.

But in the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, under President Theodore Roosevelt, and Congressional leaders such as Robert La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin and George Norris of Nebraska and many others, the party became one of reform oriented ideas.

Then, in the 1920s and through the years of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, the party became one of opposition to progressive ideas, with a few exceptions of leaders in Congress and in the states.

With the coming of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the rise of the liberal wing of the modern GOP, under Nelson Rockefeller, William Scranton, and George Romney. and many US Senators, the battle was fought against a takeover of the party by the extreme right, headed by Senator Barry Goldwater, but despite his defeat for the Presidency in 1964, the coming of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan ushered in conservative ideas, and the GOP became captive to the myth of Reagan.

The party became captive to a foreign policy of intervention in the Middle East, and promotion of massive tax cuts to the wealthy, and destruction of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but were stopped in their quest by Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Now, however, the Republican Party has become more extremist under the most corrupt President in American history, much more than Richard Nixon.

Donald Trump is for the wealthy elite, and that is why the Republicans in Congress are overlooking the disaster occurring before our eyes daily.

The Republican Party history and reputation are under attack in the present constitutional crisis, while at the time of the Nixon constitutional crisis, many Republicans spoke up and led the struggle against the illegalities of the Watergate Scandal.

The future of the Republican Party is at stake, and this could be the time that we will look back on and realize that it led to the demise of the Republican Party as we know it!

“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.

Major Historic Splits In Democratic Party

The Democratic Party has existed for 188 years, since the election Of Andrew Jackson in 1828.

In that nearly two centuries, there have been major splits and divisions:

In 1860, the party split, and the Northern Democrats. the official party, nominated Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas for President, while Vice President John C. Breckinridge was the nominee of Southern Democrats.

In 1896,  the “Gold Democrats” refused to back the party nominee, the  “silver tongued orator”, thirty six year old William Jennings Bryan, who promoted “free silver”, and drew support from the rural states in the Midwest and Great Plains and Mountain West, and kept the South loyal to the party.

In 1948, Southern Democrats broke from the convention that nominated Harry Truman for a full term, and ran South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond as the States Rights (Dixiecrats) candidate.

In 1968, Alabama Governor George C. Wallace formed the American Independent Party, and ran against Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey.

Notice that it was the South that caused three of the four splits, with the result being Douglas and Humphrey losing because of the split, while Truman won despite Thurmond’s opposition.

The other time, it was the rural West that revolved against the “Eastern Establishment”, represented by Wall Street, but Bryan, nominated three times for President, was unable to win the Presidency, although he helped to shape the Progressive Era with some of his reform ideas.

 

Most Significant Election Since 1968: Presidency, Senate, And Supreme Court Are In Play!

It is becoming very clear that the Presidential Election of 2016 will become the most significant election since 1968, when we saw the beginning of the Republican resurgence under Richard Nixon, due to the splintering of the Democratic Party under Lyndon B. Johnson, due to the turmoil around the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

The Democratic New Deal coalition had lasted 36 years, with only Dwight D. Eisenhower, really a non politician who ran on the Republican line after being briefly considered by Democrats in 1948, breaking the Democratic dominance, which also included Democratic dominance of the Congress, except in 1947-1948 and 1953-1954.

Since 1968, the Republicans controlled the White House for all but for the four Jimmy Carter years up to 1992, and then won a contested election in the Supreme Court, giving the Presidency and the Republican Party control in the early 2000s under George W. Bush.  And the Congress was Republican, except briefly from 1994-2006, and again after 2010 in the House of Representatives and 2014 in the US Senate, after the Senate had been Republican in the first six Reagan years of the 1980s.  And the Court appointments after 1968 have been 13 under Republicans and only 4 under Democrats, but with the death of Antonin Scalia, the possibility of a permanent (for a generation) Democratic and liberal majority is within reach.

Now, after a long period of Republican control of the Supreme Court, it will come to an end if the Democrats can win the Presidency again, and if they can regain control of the US Senate, so this is easily the most transformative election in a half century!

It would transform America IF the Democrats can gain the upper hand in the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency, and the hope is that the House of Representatives might be different after reapportionment after 2020. with the goal now to create a smaller GOP margin in the lower House in the interim.

One period of Democratic dominance was replaced by a period of Republican dominance, and with the GOP splintering around Donald Trump, we might be seeing a return to the concept of the New Deal-Great Society and a new Progressive Era.

It all depends on voter turnout and commitment, and for anyone to be lackadaisical and not vote, is inexcusable in the present circumstances!

“We Must Take Our Government Back!”—To What, May We Ask?

Carly Fiorina said it last night in the GOP debate; Donald Trump has said it; so has a multitude of others in the Republican Party debates so far—“We must take our government back!”

Back to what, is the question!

Back to a time when women were “dutiful” housewives who stayed home, avoided education and employment, and were totally dependent upon their husbands?

Back to a time when “Negroes” were segregated by law and custom and “knew” their place not to complain?

Back to a time when “Negroes” were lynched at will and no one seemed to notice?

Back to a time when gays and lesbians were openly discriminated against in all areas of life without any protection or support of their rights?

Back to a time when child labor existed as young as six years old, and they and poor women who worked were paid far less than men?

Back to a time when there was no Social Security system for the elderly and disabled?

Back to a time when immigrants were barred from coming to America if they were Jewish or Catholic or Asian in origin?

Back to a time when labor unions did not exist, and work places were totally unsafe, and there was no workers compensation for injuries at work?

Back to a time when corporations “raped” and pillaged the environment for their own selfish purposes?

The list could go on and on, and who would “love” if all this was to return, from the 1950s, 1920s, and the “Gilded Age” of the late 19th century?

Conservatives who have fought against and resisted all of these changes and reforms brought about by progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt; Progressive Era reformers at all levels;  Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal coalition; Harry Truman; John F, Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; 1960s reformers at all levels; Jimmy Carter; Bill Clinton; Barack Obama; and the constant battle of modern progressives and liberals to protect and expand all of the great political, social and economic reforms of the 20th century, hard fought, and the battle goes on in 2015!

 

Theodore Roosevelt’s 157th Birthday A Moment To Celebrate His Great Influence On American Political Reform!

Today marks the 157th anniversary of the birth of our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt.

TR was one of our greatest Presidents, usually ranked number four or or five on most scholarly lists of Presidents, seen as “Near Great” right behind the top three, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George Washington.

TR transformed the Presidency and started its modernization, and he believed the President could assert his authority over Congress and the courts, and use the news media to appeal to the American people, using his so called “Bully Pulpit”.

TR believed in the federal government intervening socially and economically, and he promoted new government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and labor reforms.

TR also supported political reforms, including the direct primary, limitation of Supreme Court terms, and the breaking of the two term tradition for the Presidency, when he ran for President on the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party line in 1912, four years after completing nearly two full terms as President as a Republican.

TR loved to call himself “Progressive”, and he promoted the Progressive Era with the power of his personality.

TR believed in the environment, and the protection of our natural resources through quadrupling of our national parks and forests, and worked to end corporate monopolies.

TR was a breath of “fresh air” in  the Presidency, which had declined in significance and quality of leadership from the time of Abraham Lincoln.  He believed in giving America a “Square Deal.”

TR has been attacked by many right wing conservatives in the Republican Party for “grabbing power”, but he had a dramatic effect on many future Presidents of both parties, setting a standard for Presidential power.

TR remains more controversial in foreign policy, where he made America a world power, but gained an image in Latin America and in Asia of being a “bully” and an imperialist, but even in that area of policy, despite controversy, it is clear that TR dramatically moved America toward its world role.

TR is also one of the most interesting personalities in the White House, a fascinating figure who has had a long range impact on the future of America, both domestically and foreign.

Controversy will remain, but TR will continue to be ranked as a Near Great President in the future!

 

 

The Tea Party, Or Freedom Caucus, Or Liberty Caucus Of Republicans: A Danger To Political Stability Of The Nation!

There is a group of extremist right wing Republicans in the House of Representatives, coming almost exclusively from “Red States”. with particular emphasis in the South, that is out to destroy any chance of political stability in the nation.  They are supported by many radio talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Mark Levin and Ann Coulter, among others.

They are in the process of causing the disintegration of a major political party, the Republicans of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and even Ronald Reagan in their mad quest to take us back to the Gilded Age of the 19th century, as they pursue destroying the good faith and credit of the United States, and wiping out the reforms of the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society.  They want to shut down the government, and refuse to raise the debt limit, radical actions which would undermine our nation’s economic stability.

They promote racism, nativism, misogyny, and Islamophobia, and the worship of unbridled capitalism and the libertarian philosophy of Ayn Rand, mixed with a mean spirited view of Christianity toward the poor and the disabled, sick and elderly in American society.

They want to promote a high moral standard on society, while they do not practice it themselves, but spout extreme religious dogma, and they want to send America into wars overseas even though most of them have never served in the military, and would not allow their sons and daughters to sacrifice their lives in foreign crusades.

They have a hatred toward President Barack Obama bordering on obsessive-compulsive behavior, and many would applaud the demise of our President by violence, as they have no moral compass despite their claims of religiosity.

They find the leadership of their party as insufficiently conservative, attacking Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, and Senator John McCain as examples of insufficient conservatism, considering them RINOS (Republicans In Name Only).

They call themselves the Tea Party Caucus, or the Freedom Caucus. or the Liberty Caucus, but their precise membership is fluid, but includes from three to four dozens members of the House of Representatives, with the greatest number from the major populated states of Texas and Florida, numbers two and three in population nationally.

They are holding the Speakership of the House of Representatives hostage, and the uncertainty about who the next Speaker will be, and what he will do on crucial budget issues, is undermining faith in our government. And the fact that the Speaker, whoever he is, is second in line for the Presidency under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, endangers the Presidency itself, in case of an emergency!

Predatory Capitalism: The Pharmaceutical, Petroleum, Automobile, Banking And Other Industries Create A New “Gilded Age”!

Recent news about many industries make it clear that we are living through a new “Gilded Age”, following the original predatory capitalism of the “Robber Barons” of the late 19th century, followed by the abusive practices of the Ronald Reagan era, predated by the Richard Nixon administration.

Now we have the pharmaceutical industry holding hostages of the sick, disabled, and elderly, with the price of medication going sky high, as with the despicable young hedge fund billionaire who raised a price 5,000 percent until social media forced him, finally, to drop the price increase.

We have the petroleum industry, which does not give a damn about pollution damage, as in the British Petroleum oil spill in 2010, which will damage the long term environmental future in the Gulf of Mexico.  And now oil companies want to drill for oil in Alaska, the worst possible outcome, as we should learn from their mistakes, which have been many over the years.

And we also have Volkswagen having purposely avoided meeting the emission standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, which should lead to billions in assessment, but also put corporate leaders in prison.  And the General Motors scandal on faulty ignition switches, which caused many deaths and many injuries, should also  lead to prison time and major fines to punish that automobile company.

The banking industry continues exploiting homeowners and their mortgages, and has no conscience in their practices, and their leaders come to Capitol Hill and are worshiped by many members of Congress, when instead, they should be facing prison time for their illegal and unethical business practices.

It is long past time for a major increase in government regulation and intervention to make all corporations accountable, and force them to change their practices, which include horrible exploitation of their work force, as well as consumers.

A new Progressive Era, that promoted by Theodore Roosevelt, needs to develop, along with expansion of the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson, along with the reforms under Barack Obama.

But to do so, the right wing Republican party , which stands in the way of regulating capitalism appropriately, must be defeated for the Presidency, as well as Congress.  And only a future Democratic President can make judicial appointments to insure the long range future of regulation and intervention of the corporate world!

Do All Potential Presidential Candidates Represent The Wealthy And Powerful? NO, Not Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren!

What does a person do if he or she is disgusted with our political system, and the growing theory that no matter who we elect, Wall Street and the wealthy gain?

Well, what he or she can do is promote the Presidential candidacy of two United States Senators, who have made it clear in their time in public office that they are enemies of Wall Street and the Establishment!

Those two Senators are Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren!

One problem that Bernie Sanders has is that he will be 75 years old in 2016, and has totally white hair, and he will be a year older than Vice President Joe Biden. He also is a Capital S SOCIALIST, and the vast majority of Americans think Socialism is evil because of their ignorance on the term, while not realizing how much of our social and economic reforms in the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and Great Society years are Socialist ideas! This nation has benefited greatly from “Socialist” programs, but there is a fear of anything which is to the advantage of the middle and lower classes, much of it implanted in the minds of Americans through wrong headed propaganda!

But Bernie Sanders, the longest serving Independent in the history of the Senate and House of Representatives, is the real article, a sincere, genuine, authentic, articulate advocate for the middle class and the poor, and every criticism he makes and every idea he enunciates cannot be refuted if one really examines the facts! But facts often seem not important, as mythology and promotion of fear reign instead!

Bernie Sanders would be a revolutionary President, in the sense that he would truly change the direction of the nation in a positive way, but of course, the conservative right wing and Republican Party would fight him tooth and nail, and accuse him of every sin possibly conceived, and with a viciousness matching Barack Obama in the White House, because, after all, Sanders would be a “real” Socialist, not the phony one painted on Barack Obama, and in the distant past, Franklin D. Roosevelt! Sanders has made it clear that he will not accept large contributions, and will have, therefore, great trouble in raising money, so it is not clear if he will, ultimately, run for President.

At the same time, Elizabeth Warren, former Harvard Law School professor, became controversial for her advocacy of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s creation, and could not be confirmed to head that agency that was created under Barack Obama’s Presidency, and instead ran for the US Senate. She has become a great favorite of those on the left, and now is being boosted for President by many, including the Boston Globe and MoveOn.org, along with many other groups.

Warren is seen as better than Hillary Clinton, because Clinton is seem as too cozy with Wall Street, and too hawkish in foreign affairs, so Warren is seen as a more ideal choice for the Democratic Party liberals, who worry that Clinton could be a disappointment in the Presidency. Warren has resisted running, however, so just like Sanders, may not be willing or able to run a national campaign, and she knows she would gain vicious attacks as Sanders would, and as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have experienced too often!

But there is no certainty that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will announce for President, so we may not gain the opportunity to have either of these talented legislators offered to us for the Presidency!

It Is Time For Other Democrats To Start Presidential Campaigns!

It has been a foregone conclusion to many political observers that former First Lady, former New York Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to announce for President, and based on polls, is a runaway winner of the nomination, and likely to be our first woman President, and to be our 45th President of the United States!

It has never been a good omen that other Democrats have been reluctant to challenge Hillary Clinton, and are, seemingly, afraid to “test the waters” and announce their own candidacies.

Never in American history, except often when a sitting President or sitting Vice President is running for President, have we seen so many potential party challengers in either party simply stay on the sidelines, and of course, there have been challenges to sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents that make them sharper and insure they are better candidates. Such cases as Richard Nixon in 1960, Hubert Humphrey in 1968, George H. W. Bush in 1988, and Al Gore in 2000 have run better races because of challengers. Presidents such as Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush have had to work harder to gain a nomination for the next term, and they all failed to be elected, but this was part of the political game.

So why anyone, including Hillary Clinton, should expect to have no rivals, is outlandish, and not good for the Democratic Party or democracy.

And frankly, after Hillary Clinton’s poor, unacceptable explanation on her emails on Tuesday, refusing to hand over the server of her email, eliminating thousands of emails by her own decision claiming privacy rights, and basically taking a hard stand on the whole matter, there is a clear cut reason for challengers to her nomination for President. Hillary Clinton has opened up a major wound in her candidacy, and it will not go away, and now it seems highly likely she is a flawed candidate in a major way, and is not anywhere near insured that she could carry enough states and electoral votes to become our 45th President.

The Democratic Party and the nation NEED challengers, instead of putting all their “eggs in one basket”, gambling that Hillary Clinton will be able to overcome the old Clinton image of the 1990s, of cover ups, of deceptions, of victimization claims, of stalling tactics, of creating legal issues, that so soured many people about the Bill Clinton Presidency.

Yes, Hillary is brilliant, and qualified, and talented, and intelligent, but she is not the only man or woman who is such, but to put the future of the Democratic Party in her hands is a tremendous gamble, and the country needs a Democratic President more than they need Hillary Clinton herself!

Added to her stubbornness and secrecy about the emails is her stated refusal to return contributions to the Clinton Foundation from leaders and citizens of nations, many in the Middle East, who abuse women and deny them equal rights, a subject Hillary Clinton is well known for advocating since her time as First Lady, attending the conference in Beijing, China in 1995, and speaking up for equality and fairness for women around the globe. But now, suddenly, that issue is on the back burner, and the millions in contributions are more important, and that shows that, having become wealthy, and having tons of money in the foundation as well, that Hillary Clinton has lost her sense of values and principles, and just wants to be President, because she wants to be President, as Ted Kennedy wanted to be President in 1980, when he challenged President Jimmy Carter, but had no real agenda other than wanting to occupy the Oval Office!

Hillary Clinton is not entitled to be President, any more than any other candidate, but for the good future of the party and the American people, it is time for other Democrats to come out of the woodwork and declare their candidacies, and fight hard for the nomination, and save the American people from a horrific set of alternatives for President in the Republican Party.

At this point, Hillary Clinton could take down the Democratic Party and the nation, crashing in defeat, and as a result, leading to a GOP Supreme Court that would last for the next 30 years; and a repeal of much of the good programs of the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and beyond!

We could see the good work done in domestic affairs by Presidents of both parties, including Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, destroyed by a right wing Congress, a right wing President, and a right wing Supreme Court.

We could also see the “neoncons” being triumphant, and taking us into more foreign wars, particularly in the Middle East, and leading to the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of American men and women, sent to fight by a burgeoning defense industry that would make record war profits!

And we might see the end of any sense of what is right and wrong about women’s rights, minority group rights, gay rights, labor rights, and environmental rights.

The nation’s future is more important than what happens to Hillary Clinton, as she has had a stellar career in so many ways, but that does not mean that she is automatically entitled to become our next Commander in Chief!

And if the next President is not a woman, so what? That will come in time, but should not be the crucial factor in selecting the next President of the United States!

So, Democratic Presidential “wannabes”, come out of the shadow, show courage, and announce for the Presidency, as time is afleeting!