Texas Liberal

All People Matter

The Specter Switch—Republicans Unable To Get A Hold On Senate Since 1929 Crash

File:MLKjr and Specter.jpg

The switch of Arlen Specter from Republican to Democrat leaves Republicans with just 40 Senators in the 100 seat Senate. After Al Franken is seated in Minnesota there will be 58 Democrats and 2 independents who mostly vote with the Democrats in the Senate.  

( Above–Arlen Specter with Martin Luther King. Please click here for the best Martin Luther King reading list on the web.)

This weak Republican presence in the Senate is not out of line with Republican membership in the Senate since the 1929 stock crash. Beginning with the 1930 election, the first after the crash, Democrats have reached 60 or more seats in the Senate 11 times. Mr. Franken’s seating will make that 12 times.

The peak of Democratic control was the 76 seats won in the 1936 election.

(Below–Charles McNary of Oregon was leader of the very small Republican Senate minority after the 1936 election.)

File:Charles mcnary.jpg

The Republican high since 1930 is just 55 seats. This mark was reached in the elections of 1996, 1998 and 2004. The last time Republicans were as strong in the Senate as are Democrats today was after the election of 1920 when they had 59 seats. The Senate at that time had only 96 seats as Alaska and Hawaii were not yet part of the union.

Democrats have won more than 55 seats in the Senate 20 times since 1929 in contrast to the inability of Republicans to win as many of 56 seats since that year.

( Here  is the link to the web home of the U.S. Senate. There is a lot of information to be found at the Senate site. Here is a link to the divisions by party going back to the beginning of the Senate in 1789.)   

The last time Republicans reached 60 seats was the election of 1908. Republicans won 60 seats that year in what was a 92 seat Senate.

Democrats have had two main periods of dominance in the Senate since was 1929.  In the years between and including the first election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and his final election in 1944, Democrats never fell below 57 seats.

( Below—Republican Robert Taft of Ohio was Senate Majority Leader at the time of  his death in 1953.

File:Robert a taft.jpg

In 1958 Democrats won 65 seats and in 1978 they took 58. In between those years, they never went lower than 54 and seven times eclipsed 60.  

(Below–Mike Mansfield of Montana was Majority Leader of the Senate 1961-1977. That is the longest tenure in that position.) 

File:Mike mansfield.jpg

Republicans have only had two stretches since 1929 where they’ve won control of the Senate in consecutive elections. 

In the Reagan years, Republicans ran the Senate after the 1980, 1982 and 1984 elections. After the Republican Congressional landslide of 1994, Republicans won at least 50 seats each election up to and including 2004.  Though after the 2000 election Republican control was ended when Jim Jeffords of Vermont switched to the Democrats giving Democrats a 51-49 edge.

( Below–Howard Baker of Tennessee served as both Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the Senate.)

File:Howard baker jr.jpg

A qualification to all this could be that many Democrats in the years of Democratic control since 1929 were Southern Democrats who often voted with Republicans. True control of the Senate often eluded the more progressive elements of the Democratic Party.

There is truth to that qualification. But it must be said that the New Deal and Great Society programs that conservatives would like to undo were passed in these years. Civil Rights legislation also passed in these years though it took a long time and required the principled support of some Republicans in the Senate.

Today’s strong Democratic majority has moderate members, but nothing like the segregationists of the past. 

For 40 years, since the Sunbelt driven election of Richard Nixon in 1968, we’ve been hearing about the supposed realignment of American politics towards Republicans. Well–Where is it?

( Please click here to read about the Senate’s art collection.) 

Today’s Democratic majorities and the states that Barack Obama won come from all around the nation. In the South, Mr. Obama won North Carolina, Virgina and Florida. Senator Specter’s switch only adds to the 80 years and counting slump of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate.

( Coming soon -A look at membership of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1929. The story is much the same as it has been in the Senate.)

(Below—Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia has seen a lot of Senate history since he entered the Senate in 1959.  He is the longest serving Senator ever.) 

File:Robert Byrd Majority Portrait.jpg

Advertisements

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Art, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Today’s Conservatives Falsely Claiming Boston Tea Party Legacy

File:Boston Tea Party-Cooper.jpg

Far-right activists are staging so-called “tea parties” on April 15 to protest the fact that in a free society one must pay taxes and abide by the decisions of the electorate.  (Old-time image of tea party above.)

The claim being made by these extreme elements, when they are not advocating violence, is that somehow we are moving towards tyranny.

By trying to steal the symbolism of the Boston Tea Party, Republicans and the extreme right (no distinction appears to exist between the two) are confusing the idea of  no taxation without representation with bitterness about losing last November’s election.

(Here is the link to the Boston Tea Party Historical Society.)

Below is from the web home of a tea party web site. They say here that “Revolution is brewing.” Just what does that mean? Is it violence? What do they think a revolution is in this context?  

Tax Day Tea PartyThe actual New Englanders who were part of the real Boston Tea Party are the same people, or the fathers of the people, who would later become FederalistsUnitarians and abolitionists.  

Today’s Southern-based overwhelmingly white American right has nothing to do with the legacy of the Boston Tea Party.

The only historical  tradition these people are drawing upon is that of the treason of the first shot fired on Fort Sumter in 1861  to begin the Civil War. (Engraving below.)

File:Bombardment of Fort Sumter, 1861.png

America does have a visible representative of the best and most inclusive traditions of American History— The America of Thomas Paine, William Lloyd Garrison, Abe Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Sitting Bull, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez. 

That leader is the President of the United States and his name is Barack Hussein Obama. 

File:Ann Dunham with father and children.jpg

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Colonial America, Martin & Malcolm, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Which States Have Produced The Most Presidents—Here Are The Facts

Which states have our Presidents called home?  Which states have been the home states of the most Presidents?

(Above–John Tyler. He was the last President from Virginia.)

By home state. I mean the place where a President held office before becoming President.  In one case—Dwight Eisenhower—there was really no home state. He did a lot of moving around.  So I’ve made him “stateless.”

Zachary Taylor,a general like Eisenhower, is a close call on this matter. But he did live at a plantation he owned in Louisiana and his regional identity had a role in his election as President. So I’ll count Taylor as from Louisiana.

There are a few ways you could look at the question of what Presidents are from what states. You could list each state and count the number of Presidents from that state. This is what is done on the first list below.

You geta somewhat different picture if you limit the list only to Presidents who were elected, and exclude Vice Presidents who became President, but who never won election on their own.  (These Presidents are Tyler, Fillmore, A. Johnson, Arthur, and Ford.) Doing it this way offers a sense of states and regions of the nation  in the ascendancy at a given time. This is how the second list is complied.

(Below–Gerald Ford, in college here at the U. of Michigan, was not elected to the Presidency.)

Overall, 17 of the 50 states can claim a President.

List #1—-

New York (6) —Van Buren (8), Fillmore (13), Arthur (21), Cleveland (22 & 24), T. Roosevelt (26), F. Roosevelt (32)

Ohio (6) —W.H. Harrison (9), Hayes (19), Garfield (20), McKinley (25), Taft (27), Harding (29)

Virginia (5) — Washington (1) , Jefferson (3) , Madison (4) , Monroe (5), Tyler (10)

Massachusetts (4) — John Adams (2) , J.Q. Adams (6), Coolidge (30), Kennedy (35)

Tennessee (3) —Jackson (7), Polk (11), A. Johnson (17)

Illinois (3) —Lincoln (16), Grant (18),  Obama (44)

California (3)—Hoover (31), Nixon (37), Reagan (40)

Texas (3) — L. Johnson (36), G.H.W. Bush (41), G.W. Bush (43)

Louisiana—Taylor (12)

New Hampshire— Pierce (14)

Pennsylvania—Buchanan (15)

Indiana—B. Harrison (23)

New Jersey—Wilson (28)

(Below–Woodrow Wilson throwing out the first pitch in 1916.)

Missouri—Truman (33)

Michigan–Ford (38)

Georgia—Carter (39)

Arkansas—Clinton (42)

Lsit # 2—-

1789, 1792—Virginia (Washington)

1796—Massachusetts (John Adams)

1800, 1804, 1808, 1812, 1816, 1820—Virginia   ( Jefferson, Madison, Monroe) 

1824—Massachusetts (J.Q.Adams)

1828, 1832—Tennessee (Jackson)

1836—New York (Van Buren)

1840–Ohio (W. Harrison)

1844—Tennessee (Polk)

1848—Louisiana (Taylor)

1852—New Hampshire (Pierce)

1856—Pennsylvania (Buchanan)

1860, 1864, 1868, 1872—Illinois  (Lincoln, Grant)

1876, 1880—Ohio  (Hayes, Garfield)

1884—New York (Cleveland)

(Below–Grover Cleveland in 1905. He left the White House, for a second time, in 1897.) 

1888—Ohio (B.Harrison)

1892—New York (Cleveland)

1896, 1900—Ohio (McKinley)

1904—New York (T.Roosevelt)

1908—Ohio (Taft)

1912, 1916—New Jersey (Wilson)

1920—Ohio (Harding)

1924—Massachusetts (Coolidge)

1928—California (Hoover)

1932, 1936, 1940, 1944—New York (F.Roosevelt)

1948–Missouri (Truman)

1952, 1956—Eisenhower

1960—Massachusetts (Kennedy)

1964—Texas (Johnson)

1968, 1972—California (Nixon)

1976—Georgia (Georgia)

(Below–Jimmy Carter in 1937.)

1980, 1984—California (Reagan)

1988—Texas (G.H.W. Bush)

1992, 1996—Arkansas (Clinton)

2000, 2004—Texas (G.W.Bush)

2008—Illinois (Obama)

Our first six Presidents came from either Virginia or Massachusetts. Then there was a move west and towards the frontier with Jackson and Polk of Tennessee. Between 1860 and 1908 every elected President was from either Illinois, Ohio or New York. Hoover of California was in 1928 the first President from the West Coast. Beginning with Lyndon Johnson in 1964, every President gaining the White House by election was from either the Sunbelt or the South. Barack Obama of Illinois broke that trend in 2008.

Two strong online sources to learn about the Presidents are the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and the C-SPAN President’s web home.

Two good books to learn about the Presidents are The  American Presidency–The Authoritative Reference edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer and The Complete Book Of U.S. Presidents by William Degregorio. These books compliment each other well. The first provides short essays  about each President’s term and the second is more biographical information.

(Below–A bunch of them in one place.)

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Books, Political History, Politics | , , , , | 3 Comments

Should Political Leaders Declare Themselves Gods To Keep Power?—The Facts From Antiquity

What if recently deposed Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick had announced himself a god? Would this have kept him from losing his post? Is declaring himself a god an option to save the career of politically troubled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich? (above)

Let’s review the record from antiquity.  

In his History of Government from the Earliest Times–Volume I, Ancient Monarchies and Empires, the late Oxford political scientist S.E. Finer addressed the subject of rulers as gods or as chosen by heaven.

In ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh asserted divinity. Professor Finer wrote that these claims held the most weight in the early years of the Egyptian kingdom. But in time, as Pharaohs lasted for only brief stretches before dying or being usurped, the claim to divininty must have been nearly impossible for anyone to really believe.

In this era of 24 hour cable news and irreverent coverage by political blogs, it would seem, at best, that only some of the public would believe a claim by a leader that he or she was a god. If rulers had a hard time maintaining the fiction back in ancient Egypt, imagine convincing people today.

Professor Finer also wrote that the Egyptians responded to the diminished stature of the Pharaoh’s person by giving the throne divinity more so than the individaul holding the throne.

From Finer—

 “In my view…originally the (pharaohs) person was a sacred person, because, in accordance with certain rules or portents, he was, uniquely, indicated as the rightful possessor of the throne. But later it was the throne that made the king..irrespective of a particular individuals personal history or qualities.”

By this logic, the holder of the office of Speaker of the Texas House or the Governorship of Illinois would be a god by definition. It would not make any difference if  Mr. Craddick or Mr. Blagojevich were gods because their successors would be gods as well.  This, in my view, would limit the value of declaring yourself a god.  No matter what, you’re going to get a god in the position.

In ancient China, the Emperor had the “Mandate of Heaven.”

From Finer—

“…the Chinese emperorship…was irreducibly ritualistic:  ying-yang and the perfect harmony of Earth, Man ans Heaven turned exclusively upon the emperor’s actions….so the emperor, the Son of Heaven, was sacred because he alone could offer to Heaven the supreme sacrifices and maintain the harmony between the terrestrial order and the cosmos.”

Reading this you’d think a politician looking for a firm hold on power would try to establish himself as holding such importance. But the power of the Chinese emperor came with a catch not unlike what we have already seen in Egypt. The presumption was that if you challenged the emperor and prevailed, that you then had the Mandate of Heaven. 

The verdict here, informed by history, is that declaring yourself to be god or as heaven-sent is not a viable strategy to keep political power. Though it sure would be fun if someone would try. It does seem possible that Governor Blagojevich has at least considered this idea.  

(Below—Ancient Egypt)

January 9, 2009 Posted by | Books, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benjamin Harrison

original 

Above is the 1889 Inauguration of Benjamin Harrison.

Here is the link to the Benjamin Harrison home in Indianapolis. I’m glad to be able to report that I’ve visited this home.

Here is a comprehensive profile of President Harrison. Mr. Harrison was a Republican who served from 1889-1893. From the profile—

“When Harrison lost his bid for reelection in 1892 to Grover Cleveland, he had himself partly to blame. He had frozen out many of those who should have been most active in his support, and his own party was lukewarm toward him. Additionally, midway through this second election, near the end of Harrison’s term, his wife, Caroline, died of tuberculosis. Her illness and eventual death greatly distracted him, which accounts in part for the magnitude of his defeat. In 1892, the voters handed Cleveland the most decisive presidential victory in twenty years. Harrison told his family he felt as though he had been freed from prison.” 

President Harrison (below) always struck me as possibly having food in his beard.

January 6, 2009 Posted by | History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The First Inauguration/Washington Hugging Lincoln Because They Are Both Happy

The first Presidential inauguration took place on April 30, 1789 in New York City. The above painting of the event was completed in 1899.  It does not appear that the general public was invited. 

I guess the bloggers and media of the day had to stand out on street corners ringing bells and yelling out the day’s events.

Though members of the public who wished to mark and remember the event could buy buttons to note the day. The souvenir trade is a longstanding enterprise. 

Here is some good information about George Washington from the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. 

Here is President Washington’s first inaugural address.  

And here are pictures of the handwritten text of that address.

The swearing in took place in Federal Hall which is located at 26 Wall Street. This building, which still stands, was the first capitol of the United States. Below is what Federal Hall looks like today. Federal Hall is now run by the National Park Service. Here is the web home for Federal Hall.

Below is a rendering of George Washington and Abe Lincoln celebrating the election of Barack Obama. They are very happy.

While progress is not inevitable, nor once made irreversible, there is much to be said from the progression, and I think progression is the correct word, from the days of George Washington to the days of Barack Obama.

It is progress from the closed circle in 1789 evident in the painting at the top of this post, to the open festivities we will see later this month. ( Though what would President Washington have made of all the security our celebrations later this month will require?) 

Hopefully, President-elect Obama will conduct the office in a way that will continue to enlarge the circle of American opportunity in these hard times.  Though we hope that we can trust Mr. Oabma, we must not forget that we as citizens will need to keep on him all the time.

January 2, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Please Think Before You Vote—Galveston Voters Rejected Seawall in 1886

 Galvestonseawall.jpg

The great new book Galveston–A City On Stilts is about the building of the famous seawall (above) and other steps to make Galveston more safe from hurricanes.

This all took place in the years after the terrible Hurricane of 1900. The 1900 hurricane killed many thousands of people.

In Galveston  it says this—“In 1886, a commission of city leaders considered building a seawall to protect Galveston Island.  Citizens rejected this proposal because it seemed costly and unnecessary.”

When folks are voting this year on the absurd idea to do away with the income tax in Massachusetts, or voting for McCain because they just can’t accept a black President, think about the folks in Galveston in 1886. If they had been a bit more forward looking they would have likely escaped a great tragedy.

Please think before you vote.

(Below–Galveston in 1900)

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Galveston, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Readers Demand To Know—How Has Texas Voted In Recent Presidential Elections?

A kind Texas Liberal reader by the name of Kathleen has e-mailed me asking the results of recent Presidential elections in Texas.

You will see that Texas has voted Democratic for President just once since Lyndon Johnson of Texas left the White House. Regretfully, 2008 seems likely to continue that pattern.  

Here is how Texas has voted for President since 1948.

1948

Truman (D) 65.4%

Dewey (R) 24.6%

Thurmond (Dixiecrat) 9.3%

(Below—Harry Truman)

Truman pass-the-buck.jpg

1952    

Eisenhower (R) 53.1%

Stevenson (D) 46.7%

1956

Eisenhower (R) 55.3%

Stevenson (D) 44.0%

1960

Kennedy (D) 50.5%

Nixon (R) 48.5%

(Below–Richard Nixon in World War II.)

1964

Johnson (D) 63.3%

Goldwater (R) 36.5%

1968

Humphrey (D) 41.1%

Nixon (R) 39.9%

Wallace (I) 19.0%

1972

Nixon (R) 66.2%

McGovern (D) 33.3%

(Below—George McGovern)

George McGovern bioguide.jpg

1976

Carter (D) 51.1%

Ford (R) 48.0%

1980

Reagan (R) 55.3%

Carter (D) 41.4%

Anderson (I) 2.5% 

1984

Reagan (R) 63.6%

Mondale (D) 36.1%

1988

Bush (R) 56.0%

Dukakis (D) 43.3%

1992

Bush (R) 40.6%

Clinton (D) 37.1%

Perot (Reform) 22.0%

(Below–Clinton, Bush and Perot in 1992.)

Debates.jpg

1996

Dole (R) 48.8%

Clinton (D) 43.8%

Perot (Reform) 6.7%

2000

Bush (R) 59.3%

Gore (D) 38.0%

Nader (G) 2.2%

2004

Bush (R) 61.1%

Kerry 38.2 %

(Below–George W. Bush)

 

Thanks to Kathleen for the question.

I have many reference sources on politics and would be happy to reply to any question on American political history that you the blog reader might have. Just leave a question in the comment space.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

( Please click here for one of the most popular posts ever on Texas Liberal—Blog Readers Demand To Know What Is Done With Shamu’s Body After He Dies.)

October 29, 2008 Posted by | Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Black Men Named Powell Who Crossed Party Lines On Presidential Endorsements

Former General and Secretary of State Colin Powell (above), a Republican, has endorsed Barack Obama for President.

General Powell is not the first well-known black man named Powell to cross party lines with a Presidential endorsement.

In 1956 Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a Democrat, endorsed President Dwight Eisenhower over Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson. (The first link in the sentence is to a good essay on the A.C. Powell endorsement. It provides a sense of Mr. Powell and some context for his endorsement of Eisenhower.)

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

A strong book about Adam Clayton Powell (below) is Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: The Political Biography of an American Dilemma by Charles V. Hamilton.

Governor Stevenson, despite a reputation as a so-called liberal, had a poor record on Civil Rights. Mr. Stevenson had the support of many in the Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party, and often seemed more concerned with that support instead of making progress on issues of racial justice.

A good book about the silence on questions of Civil Rights by many leading political and literary figures of the mid-20th century, is Divided Minds by Indiana University professor Carol Polsgrove.

Adam Clayton Powell is a figure worth study. He was a strong advocate for Civil Rights and a greatly flawed figure at the same time. He had both legislative success and an inability to keep himself out of trouble. Few people could be both so right and so wrong at one time.

Mr. Powell served in Congress 1945-1971. Seemingly past his day, he was defeated in the 1970 Democratic primary by Charles Rangel. Mr. Rangel still serves in Congress and has had some problems of his own in recent months.

October 19, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What Is The Bradley Effect? Who Was Bradley?

The so-called “Bradley Effect” is a topic of conversation and, for Democrats, concern in the 2008 campaign.

What is the Bradley effect? Who was Bradley?

The Bradley effect is the idea that persons contacted by pollsters lie about support for a black candidate for public office. They tell the pollster they support a black candidate because they don’t wish to be seen as racist. But when they go to vote, they vote for the white candidate in the race instead of the black person they had told the pollster they favored.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact Of The Day.

A recent Associated Press story suggests that Senator Obama will have to have a lead in the polls of at least six points to overcome this factor on Election Day. This idea is disputed by a leading analyst of poll data. This New York Times article discusses the issue.

The term Bradley effect comes from the 1982 election for Governor of California. Los Angles Mayor Tom Bradley ( photo above), a black man, was leading in the polls over California Attorney General George Deukmejian. Mr. Bradley was a Democrat and Mr. Deukmejian a Republican.

Despite Mr. Bradley’s lead in the polls, Mr. Deukmejian won the election by a small margin.

From the New York Times 1998 obituary of Mayor Bradley

“Tom Bradley, the sharecropper’s son who became Mayor of Los Angeles and presided over the city for two decades of explosive growth and change, died yesterday..He was 80. Mr. Bradley was Mayor from 1973 to 1993, an era in which Los Angeles was transformed from a collection of suburban neighborhoods to what Mr. Bradley liked to call a ”world-class city,” a place with glittering skyscrapers, a striking new skyline and a vibrant downtown…. His election as the first black Mayor of Los Angeles, which was then the nation’s third largest city and largely white, reflected a significant change in local politics in the United States. For most of that time, Mr. Bradley was an immensely popular figure whose stately bearing and placid demeanor seemed to reassure his increasingly polyglot city….Soft-spoken and self-effacing, Mr. Bradley shunned some of the perquisites that his stature and office might have brought him. Calling it a foolish waste of money, he refused to use a cellular telephone that was installed in his car, a former aide recalled. Still, Mr. Bradley learned to move as easily in the society of the fabulously wealthy as he did in the world of the poor and disadvantaged from which he had come.”

Is the Bradley effect for real? Have we moved ahead in the 26 years since 1982? Will a kind of reverse Bradley effect take place this year where Senator Obama actually gains votes because he is black?

Nobody knows.

( Please click here for information about black governors in the United States)

(Please click here to read about black U.S. Senators.)

October 12, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Biden-Palin Debate Summary—I Did Not Watch A Minute Of The Debate

Due to other obligations, I was not home for the debate last night between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. I have it recorded, but I don’t think I’ll watch it. That would be 90 minutes of my life I’d be unable to get back.

I got home last night around midnight and saw some headlines online suggesting the debate had been pretty much a draw. Though some focus groups felt Senator Biden had done better. The two print newspapers I get each morning also said both candidates had done well enough and that no knock-out punch had been delivered.  

That tells me pretty much what I need to know. A great thing about live TV is that you can’t be sure one of the candidates won’t walk over the other and unload a kick in the shin. Once you realize that nothing like that took place, it all seems a bit less interesting.

I’ve written before that I make a point to spend only so much time following the Presidential campaign. It is not an edifying process. You’d be better off reading a good book of American political  history such as America’s Three Regimes–A New Political History by Morton Keller. Reading a book of political history provides more context about what is taking place now in politics than yet another tracking poll or debates over lipstick.

If the debate between Vice Presidential candidates has made you wonder about the history of the office and the people who have served as Vice President, the U.S. Senate has an excellent web home for the Vice Presidency. There is a history of the office and strong profiles of each of our Vice Presidents.

Above is Vice President Thomas Marshall of Indiana who served as Vice President under Woodrow Wilson between 1913 and 1921. Vice President Marshall was kept out of the loop after President Wilson had his stroke.

October 3, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Many Presidents Have Died Early In Their Terms—President Palin

When a President has died in office, it has often been quite early in his term. This has often made a big difference in American history.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

The first President to die in office, William Henry Harrison, expired just a month into his term. Harrison died in 1841. President Harrison, at 68 the oldest President to that point, was a Whig. His Vice President, John Tyler, was a representative of the Southern planter class picked to help balance the ticket and not in full agreement with the Whig mainstream. As President, Tyler pursued policies, such a veto of a national bank, that greatly distressed Whig leaders such as Henry Clay.

President Zachary Taylor passed on in 1850 after serving just 17 months of his term. He was succeeded by Millard Filmore

Abe Lincoln’s (above)1865 assassination occurred just a month into his second term. His Vice President, Andrew Johnson (below), who had not been Lincoln’s first term VP, had very different views than Lincoln on Reconstruction, and how the South and Southerners should be handled after the Civil War.

Here is a stark difference between the person elected President and the person elected Vice President. The United States got one month of a great President and just under four years of a terrible President. And black folks got a century of Jim Crow.  

James Garfield was shot in the first year of his term in 1881. He died a few months later. Garfield’s successor, Chester Arthur, might well have been an improvement. President Arthur sought Civil Service reform and was surprisingly independeant despite a reputation as a machine politician.

William McKinley was shot and killed in the first year of his second term in 1901. McKinley’s Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, who like Andrew Johnson had not been the first term VP, was a very different man than McKinley.

Franklin Roosevelt was shot at in 1933 in the time between his election and inauguration. Roosevelt’s Vice President-elect, John Nance Garner was far more conservative than F.D.R. You might never of had a New Deal if Garner had become President instead of Roosevelt.

Roosevelt would later die in the first weeks of his fourth term. Vice President Harry Truman who had not been VP in the first three F.D.R terms, took the White House and did a pretty good job.  

Also, Ronald Reagan was shot and seriously wounded in his first year as President in 1981.

Let’s say you are less than a hardcore Republican, yet are still considering voting for 72 year old John McCain. American history shows us that you may feel you’re voting for Mr. McCain, but that what you really may get is President Sarah Palin.

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

John Q. Adams Won Presidency With 31% Of Vote in 1824—In My Darker Moments About Democracy, This Warms My Heart

In the famous “corrupt bargain” election of 1824, John Quincy Adams won the election even though he won only 30.9% of the popular vote.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

In a four-way race, Mr. Adams (photo above) finished second to Andrew Jackson in the popular vote total.

Final popular results were Mr. Jackson of Tennessee 41%, Mr. Adams of Massachusetts 31%, Henry Clay of Kentucky 13%, and William Crawford of Georgia 11%.

31% is the lowest popular percentage ever received by a successful candidate for the Presidency. 

Because no candidate won a majority of the electoral college, the race went to the House of Representatives. ( Here is information about the Electoral College including what happens when no candidate wins an electoral vote majority.)

In the House, Mr. Jackson’s arch-rival, Henry Clay, gave his support to Mr. Adams. This allowed Mr. Adams to win the election in the House. Mr. Clay was subsequently selected by Mr. Adams to serve as Secretary of State. The position of Secretary of State was seen then as a stepping stone to the Presidency.

The charge was made, denied by both President Adams and Secretary Clay of a “Corrupt Bargain.” The allegation was that a deal had been cut exchanging Mr. Clay’s support for the Secreatry of State’s office.

Corrupt Bargain or not, Andrew Jackson easily defeated President Adams in 1828 by a margin 0f 56%-44%.

Some days, when I am down on the people, I take a small measure of satisfaction from this 31% President. He made all those Indian-hating, slave-keeping Jacksonians wait another four years. 

Abe Lincoln won the White House with 39.9% of the vote in his 1860 four-way race. Mr. Lincoln ,however, won enough electoral votes on Election Day. Mr. Lincoln’s total is the second lowest percentage total for a winning candidate.

I believe in democracy, but sometimes, as we all realize, the majority gets it wrong.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just One Republican U.S. House Member Left From New England—Let Us Hope He Is Defeated In 2008

There is only one Republican U.S. House member left from New England. There are a total of 22 House members from New England. The six New England states are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day. 

The remaining offending House member is Christopher Shays (Photo above) of Connecticut’s Fourth District. Mr. Shays was first elected in 1987.

This district includes both affluent New York City suburbs and struggling urban centers such as Bridgeport.

Like you and I as individuals, this district is your proverbial study in contrasts. 

In some cases, it may be best to keep at least a few Republicans around. For example, a city council with only Democrats may suggest that all the Republicans have move to the suburbs. A state legislature with one party in longterm total control may make that state legislature an even greater den of corruption. ( I don’t have the highest view of state governments.)

In this case though, the U.S. House won’t be running out of Republicans anytime soon and turncoat U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman can plead for Connecticut among Republicans.

So let’s hope Mr. Shays is defeated.

Running against Mr. Shays is Democrat Jim Himes. Mr. Himes is given a good chance of winning the seat.

The last time one party had full control of the New England House delegation was after the election of 1864. Republicans held all 27 New England seats between for the term completed between 1865 and 1867.

Here is some good information on the election of 1864.

Republicans dominated New England from the Civil War up until the Depression. From the Depression until the 1960’s, the area was somewhat more balanced. Southern New England, more urban, industrial and Catholic, had many Democratic voters. Northern New England stayed, for the most part, with Republicans.

Since the ’60’s, New England has moved more firmly to the Democrats. The Southern/Sunbelt social conservative bent of the modern Republican party has been a turnoff to voters in all six New England states.

(Below is a 1911 scene from Stamford, Connecticut. This is a city in Mr. Shay’s district.) 

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People Who Should Know Better Who Won’t Vote For Obama Because He Is Black

There have been some recent articles and polls suggesting that some union members and some Democrats are hesitant to vote for Barack Obama because he is black.

Though here is a contrasting view.

If some unknown number of union members and Democrats don’t want to vote for Barack Obama because he is black—Well, that is a decision that people are going to have to make. I just know that I’d rather lose the election than not have nominated a black candidate because of his race. 

I’m not talking here about consistent Republican voters. I’m talking about people who most often pull the correct lever on Election Day.

If after 40 years of voting for George Wallace, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and the Bushes, some blue collar voters still don’t get the idea that these people are not helpful for average working folks, then good luck to them in finding a future for themselves and their kids.

If cultural issues such as guns and gays are the most important things to these voters, that is a call they are free to make. I know the issue here is not God because Barack Obama is a fully believing Christian.

Every election of my adult life–I’m 41– has been about the same stuff. And our national life just seems to get worse and worse.   

I’m hopeful good sense and optimism will prevail and that Senator Obama will win this election.  But win or lose, maybe we need to look at some new options to make our lives better. 

How about a liberal only open-enrollment health plan? Or a liberals only credit union for car loans and college loans? There are millions of us. Enough to make grand plans work. We could work it out so that our organizations donate some amount of fees and dues to liberal causes. Discounts could be offered if you could show proof of a donation to liberal candidates or reliable voting in Democratic primaries.

I’ve wasted enough of my life waiting for people who should know better to come around. I’m not giving up on people. But this is one of those times when we are really going to see what is in some people’s hearts.

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments