Reconstruction

Is Donald Trump The Third President Without A Party, As Was The Case With John Tyler And Andrew Johnson?

We have had two Presidents who lacked support of a party, and we may now have a third one in Donald Trump.

Two Presidents were elected Vice President as part of a “fusion” team to help elect the Presidential nominee, and then quickly became President upon the death of the President.

John Tyler, a Democrat, ran on the Whig Party line with William Henry Harrison in 1840, and Harrison died of pneumonia 31 days after the inauguration.

Tyler disagreed with the Whig Party principles, and came into conflict with Whig leadership, including Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky and Congressman John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts.

His entire cabinet resigned after a few months, with the exception of Secretary of State Daniel Webster, and Tyler had great troubles with confirmation hearings, with four cabinet appointments and four nominees for the Supreme Court rejected by the Whig controlled Senate. The Congress refused to pass funding for fixing of the White House, which was in disrepair, and an attempted impeachment was prevented only by the Whigs losing the House of Representatives in 1842.

So John Tyler was a man without a party.

The same can be said of Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, who was the Vice Presidential nominee with Republican Abraham Lincoln in 1864, with Lincoln concerned about reelection, so choosing a loyal Southern Democrat to shore up support among some Northern Democrats.

When Lincoln was assassinated 45 days after his second inauguration, Johnson became President but clashed quickly with Radical Republicans over Reconstruction policy, and when he vetoed significant legislation, and went out and campaigned against them in midterm congressional elections in 1866, an open split was clear, and Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, which prevented the dismissal of any cabinet officer appointed by the President, without majority backing by the majority of both houses of Congress, an unconstitutional action.

Johnson now faced impeachment on flimsy charges, and was found not guilty, but it weakened his ability to govern, and he was unable to gain the filling of a Supreme Court vacancy, and was truly a President without a party.

Now, Donald Trump has alienated many Republicans, who are willing to investigate his Russian ties and possible collusion in the Presidential Election of 2016. He has denounced the Freedom Caucus membership which prevented his health care legislation from passing, and many US Senators, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, and others, have been strong critics. Additionally, he has hinted at working with Democrats, even though he has also antagonized them repeatedly with his utterances and policies. His public opinion rating is the lowest for any new President, since the beginning of polling 80 years ago.

The possibility of impeachment is there, as even top Republican leadership, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have found it difficult to work with a President who is constantly tweeting and criticizing, in a very divisive way.

So Donald Trump could end up being the third President without a party, recalling that for a long time, he was sounding years ago like a liberal Democrat!

From Strom Thurmond To Paul Thurmond: Is The Civil War Finally Over In The South?

South Carolina, which started the Civil War at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, MAY have finally conceded defeat on June 23, 2015, with the courageous speech by State Senator Paul Thurmond, son of the notorious segregationist and racist Governor and Senator Strom Thurmond, who made his career on racial division.

A burden to the Democratic Party, when Lyndon B. Johnson was able to overcome Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans, and courageously get through Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Senator Strom Thurmond quickly switched to the Republican Party, and over the next generation, the Confederate South transferred its loyalties to the Republican Party, despite their hatred of the party because of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

The Republicans welcomed and embraced the segregationists, and did whatever they could to appeal to the prejudices of many Southern whites, rather than elevate them to a level of tolerance and open mindedness.

And when the Supreme Court damaged the Voting Rights Act in a 2013 decision, it was Republican state legislatures and Governors who rushed to pass voter restriction laws, designed to harm African Americans and other minorities, as well as the poor, reminding us of what had happened after Reconstruction ended in the late 19th century. They were not afraid to show their purpose, to deny people the vote on flimsy grounds, and showed no conscience.

This sudden transformation after the Charleston Massacre is what finally brought out the truth, that the Republicans have been promoting racism, and even after the disaster, many Republican office holders and Presidential candidates were slow to react.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was hesitant to call for removal of the Confederate Flag, but finally did so under duress, but it was state Senator Paul Thurmond, son of Strom Thurmond, who showed true courage and guts in denouncing what his father had stood for, and saying the flag must be removed.

There are still plenty of bigoted Southerners in South Carolina and elsewhere, who rushed to buy Confederate flags, shirts, and other paraphernalia, but thank goodness that Walmart, Ebay, Amazon and other retailers announced the end of such sales yesterday.

It is time for the Republican Party nationally to stop voting restriction laws, and truly compete for the African American vote and the Hispanic-Latino vote too, and also to stop the attack on women and on gays and lesbians, as they are now the party of so much hate. The white racist vote is rapidly declining, and the GOP is living in the past, reveling in its promotion of narrow mindedness and intolerance!

We are all in this together as a nation, and the Republican Party must change dramatically, and must repudiate the Tea Party Movement whackos, or it will expire in the near future!

The Complete Reversal Of American Politics: Republicans In The South, Democrats In Large Populated Northeastern, Midwestern And Western States!

The defeat of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu on Saturday marks the complete reversal of American politics from the years 1877 to the present.

After the Reconstruction of the South ended, with Union Army troops leaving, twelve years after the Civil War, the South became an area totally dominated by Democrats, resentful of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War defeat, and the passage of Amendments 13, 14, and 15, ending slavery, making blacks citizens, and giving the men the right to vote.

The South went into massive resistance, creating Jim Crow segregation to replace slavery, and until the election of Herbert Hoover in 1928 and Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, it was always a solid Democratic South with no black voting, due to discriminatory state laws that were ignored by generations of the federal government. Hoover won much of the South due to his Catholic opponent, Alfred E. Smith, in 1928, and Eisenhower won over Adlai Stevenson twice in the 1950s due to his personal popularity and World War II D Day reputation.

But only when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, starting in the 1950s, and reaching its peak with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under Lyndon B. Johnson, did we see the beginning of a mass exodus of office holders and ordinary white population, to the Republican Party, starting with Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 1964, switching parties to back Republican Senator Barry Goldwater against President Lyndon B. Johnson.

As the Democrats started to lose power in the South, the nomination of Southern governors Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and the rise of “New South” Governors like them and others in the Democratic Party, slowed up the switch to the GOP.

But the election of Barack Obama, considered anathema in the South, has now led to the entire wiping out of Southern Democrats in Congress, except for black and Jewish members of the House in districts gerrymandered that give the Republicans more total Congressional and state legislative seats in the South. Only a few other white non jewish members of the House remain, and they are endangered in the political climate of the South in 2014.

Only Virginia has both its Senators and Governor (Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe) as Democrats, and only Florida has one other Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson at this point, as we enter 2015.

And both Virginia and Florida have Republican dominated legislatures, as well as the other states that made up the Confederate States of America.

And, of course, Florida includes the heavily Northern South Florida, and Virginia has the heavily Northern North Virginia, influenced by being part of the DC suburbs, and otherwise, these three Senators and one Governor would not be in public office.

So the complete reversal of a century and a half ago has occurred, and is unlikely to be changed for a generation or more, at the least.

This means that the South will remain as it is now for a generation or more, and that the issue of race nearly a century and a half ago, again stands out as the key difference that separates that section from the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the heavily populated areas of the nation in the Northeast, Midwest and West are more Democratic than ever, and are unlikely to change either over time, creating political deadlock long term over the future, stifling change and creating constant political conflict and deadlock!

Cory Booker Becomes Fourth Elected African American Senator In US History!

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker has become the fourth elected African American Senator in US history, as a result of a special election to fill the unexpired time in the term of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg.

Booker will have to run for a full term in November 2014, but would be heavily favored, since he won the seat at an odd time for an election by the margin of about ten points.

So Booker follows Edward Brooke (R) of Massachusetts (1967-1985); Carol Moseley Braun (D) of Illinois (1993-1999); and Barack Obama (D) of Illinois (2005-2009) in being elected.

Senator Tim Scott (R) of South Carolina, appointed to fill the vacancy left by resigning Senator Jim DeMint in January of this year, will face election in 2014, and is considered likely to retain his seat in the US Senate.

Two others were temporary appointments—Roland Burris (D) of Illinois (2009-2010), who replaced Obama; and Mo Cowan (D) of Massachusetts ( four and a half months in 2013), who replaced John Kerry.

And Mississippi had two Republican Senators during Reconstruction who were African American, and were selected by the state legislature—Hiram Revels (1870-1871) for about one year; and Blanche Bruce (1875-1881) for a full six year term.

Booker would be seen as likely to have a long, productive career in the US Senate, and be a potential Presidential candidate in the near and far future!

The Most Diverse And Yet The Most Divisive Congress In More Than A Century: The 113th Congress!

It is ironic that the 113th Congress is the most diverse in history, but also the most divisive and partisan in more than a century, which does not bode well for any future cooperation or progress on the important issues facing the nation!

96 women, 42 African Americans, and 31 Hispanics serve in Congress, but the vast majority are Democrats!

Partisan polarization is endemic, however, more than in the past century or more, probably back to the Civil War-Reconstruction period!

Of course, we have never had a Congress, except in the 112th Congress and this one, in which there has been a Republican House of Representatives and a Democratic Senate, and only five other Congresses since 1900 in which there has been a Democratic House of Representatives and a Republican Senate, with those occasions (1911-1913, 1931-1933, 1981-1987) being much more cooperative and accomplished by comparison to the past two and a half years since the beginning of 2011!

Party unity in the House is now 72.8 percent, while in 2006, it was 54.5 percent!

Less than 50 percent of the time do we see Republicans supportive of the President’s agenda, an extremely low level historically!

Regional loyalty to a party is extreme, particularly in the Northeast, New England and Pacific Coast for Democrats, and in the South and Great Plains for Republicans.

The likelihood of any major change in this scenario is gloomy, sadly for the nation’s future!

Proud Day Of Civil Rights 49 Years Ago, And Now Backtracking On Lyndon B. Johnson!

49 years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson had his proudest moment in office, signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and then following up with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Finally, the tragedy of the years after 1877, the end of Reconstruction, was being rectified, 88 and 89 years after African Americans in the South were abandoned by the Republican Party in preference to an alliance with big business and industry committed to economic aggrandizement, and political insensitivity to not only African Americans, immigrants, women, children and even native born men that made up the industrial labor force, exploited until the Progressive Era started to rectify the worst evils of industrial capitalism!

And now, a half century later after Lyndon B. Johnson, it is the Republicans on the Supreme Court who are allowing unbridled capitalism to be seen as “people”, and in the process corrupting the system again, including victimizing all of the groups above, and negating the protection of minorities, the poor, elderly and college students in the states that had a long history of discrimination in voting rights, and now will have open access to do it once again, as if the civil rights era never occurred!

The Supreme Court majority is attempting to negate the Warren and Burger Courts in the great progress they made toward social justice and legal equality for oppressed groups, and this is a tragedy that will continue to emerge until and when Democratic Presidents can select more members of the Court to replace aging Justices, including Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy.

But sadly, the impact of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, the legacy of the two Bush Presidencies, is likely to continue for the long haul, and set back the nation on so many issues over the years to come!

The Centennial Of Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency: A Time For Debate Over His Legacy

A century ago day, Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as the 28th President of the United States,and helped to transform the Presidency in massive ways, some good and some bad.

Wilson has been under attack in the present climate of conservative attacks on reform oriented Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Barack Obama.

The facts are that Wilson, FDR, and LBJ were the three most accomplished Presidents in domestic affairs, but with plenty of criticism about their handling of wars and the domestic relationship to those wars.

Wilson accomplished the most domestic reform of any President before him, taking on parts of Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism agenda on the Progressive Party line in 1912, adding it to his own New Freedom legislative ideas.

So Wilson’s time saw the following:

Underwood Simmons Tariff

Federal Reserve Act

Clayton Anti Trust Act

Federal Trade Commission

Keating-Owen Child Labor Act

La Follette Seamen’s Act

Adamson Act (eight hour work day in interstate transportation)

Federal Farm Loan Act

Some of this did not work out well long term, and additionally, Wilson had major negative policies dealing with:

Woman Suffrage—opposing an amendment (although it came about despite him in 1920, via the 19th Amendment).

Race Relations—clearly racist policy of imposing Jim Crow segregation in Washington, DC; unfair treatment and recognition of African American sacrifices in the World War I effort; and endorsement of an openly racist film, D W Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION, which portrayed the Southern view of Reconstruction, a myth of long standing, which finally was proved inaccurate in the past half century of historical research and writing.

Civil Liberties Violations— including arrest and imprisonment of Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs for opposition to the draft and American involvement in World War I; the Espionage and Sedition Acts; and the Palmer Raids after the war.

In foreign policy, Wilson engaged in “Missionary Diplomacy” including interventions in Haiti, and more significantly in Mexico, attempting to pursue Pancho Villa for a raid across the border into Columbus, New Mexico, the worst incursion in American territory since the War of 1812. And of course, the controversy over Wilson and our entrance into World War I continues even today, and the whole debate and divisiveness over the Versailles Treaty and League of Nations in 1919-1920.

Additionally, being incapacitated by a stroke, but being unwilling to hand over temporary power to Vice President Thomas Marshall, and allowing his wife to run cabinet meetings, is another major issue in assessing Wilson’s Presidency.

So Wilson is a “very mixed bag” as a President, but usually is ranked in the bottom of the top ten of our Presidents, specifically because of his long range influence on America, rare among Presidents, for good or for bad, and there is clearly plenty of both!

Eleven Years Since September 11: What It Has Done To America

Eleven years ago, on a bright, sunny New York morning, just as today it is in New York, and on the same day of the week, Tuesday, America was struck by Al Qaeda and forces backed by Osama Bin Laden, causing the deaths of about 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, along with those slaughtered at the Pentagon in suburban Virginia, and those on the plane bound for the US Capitol or the White House, and forced into a crash by its courageous passengers in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

This is a day of commemoration and mourning for the loss of life, plus the deaths of over 6,000 Americans in unsuccessful wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since then, and the nearly 50,000 young men and women wounded, many of them severely, as a result of those wars.

We also mourn the loss of innocence that we had, that somehow, as the super power of the world, we were immune from such a shocking attack, and the sense of insecurity that it brought upon all of us.

Our lives have been transformed in so many ways that we can never reverse, and we can say that we have become ever more divided in the years since, politically, economically, and socially, and that we have a divided America more so now than ever since the Civil War and Reconstruction period in the middle to late 19th century.

We are a more stratified society economically, and we have become, more than ever, a nation of the coastlines versus the massive interior, a nation of blue versus red in political terms, and our country is rapidly changing in a way that worries us about the future, as to whether there is the potential for internal violence in the future, that might make the terrorism of September 11 seem like something minor, as compared to what could happen between the sections of the nation, the religious groups, the racial groups, the age groups, the gender groups, and the cultural groups that make America a complex nation in the 21st century.

Imagine going back to the year 2000, before the divisive Presidential Election of 2000, at a time when most Americans had never heard of Osama Bin Laden; when the World Trade Center dominated the Manhattan skyline; when there was no Facebook, Twitter, or Steve Jobs technology; when unemployment was only 3.9 percent; when the national debt was only $5.7 trillion; when gasoline was only $1.79 a gallon; and when the previous year, the biggest controversy was Bill Clinton’s sex life and his impeachment trial.

As America was entering the new century, we were extremely naive, worrying more about the effects of “Y2K” on computers, than the reality of what we were going to face in the first decade of the 21st century, which has worsened the outlook for America’s future in a dramatic way.

Oh, for the “good old days!”

The Republican Party Totally Changed From Its Founding: More Southernized Than Ever Before!

The Republican Party started as a party of anti slavery and anti slavery expansion, and became anathema in the South, fighting the Confederacy during the Civil War, and imposing military Reconstruction on the South after the Civil War.

For a century, the South was solidly Democratic in reaction, and the South subjugated African Americans in segregation and discrimination, while the GOP abandoned African Americans after 1877.

In the 1960s, moderate and liberal Republicans supported the passage of the civil rights laws, but southern Democrats started to veer to the Republican Party in reaction to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s advocacy and promotion of civil rights, with Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina leading the march to the GOP.

Richard Nixon pursued a Southern strategy, and after Ronald Reagan became President, the trend to “Southernization” continued, and now it has reached full development, even though we have two Northerners–Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin–on the Presidential ticket.

The Republican Party of 2012, based on its platform and its rhetoric, has hostility toward minorities, promotion of racism against Barack Obama, hatred of national government, belief in exploitation of low wage workers, and promotes religion over science, all reflective of the backward traditions of the Old South, which remains the poorest part of the nation economically, and yet is willing to support the Republican Party out of fear of change and modernization.

But, ironically, this is the last gasp of this trend, as the country is changing to a multi ethnic society, and the white population that is so anti change is rapidly becoming a smaller portion of the nation, and will be so, in a very obvious way, by the time of the Census of 2020 and after, when the Hispanic and Latino population of Texas and Arizona and Florida will likely turn those states “blue”,. from their momentary “red” status.

So the Republican Party is in the death throes of its Southernization, as even Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia are being changed demographically, rapidly before our eyes!

The Most Dysfunctional Congress Since The 1870s!

The 112th Congress is so dysfunctional that it is the worst one in performance since the Reconstruction years of the 1870s after the Civil War!

The 112th Congress has produced the fewest laws since at least 1947, with only about 150 laws

Congress is usually judged by how many laws it has passed, but with a Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives, nothing has been done, except for accusations back and forth.

The most conservative Democrat votes to the left of every Republican, and the most moderate Republican to the right of every Democrat, a situation that has never occurred before, with some across the aisle voting always occurring in the past, with a lot of it in the 1930s through to the early 1970s.

Congress’s popularity ratings are in the low teens, below of that of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, an unbelievable situation!

Unless either party wins control of both houses of Congress in 2012, another four years of paralysis is likely.

But if the Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress and the White House, their purpose would be to destroy the “welfare” state of the New Deal and Great Society, wiping out a century of social and economic reform.

That would portend a possible civil war, as a large portion of the population would not tolerate such right wing extremism, and it could lead to a breakdown of our society’s stability and to foreign policy adventures which would bring deterioration of our unity!