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100th Birthday Of Hubert Humphrey

Today marks the 100th birthday of Hubert Humphrey.

Mr. Humphrey was a liberal champion of civil rights and full employment.

Mr. Humphrey was Vice President from 1965-1969 and the 1968 Democratic nominee for President.

From the Minnesota Historical Society about Mr. Humphrey’s time as Mayor of Minneapolis—

“In 1948, under his leadership, Minneapolis enacted the nation’s first municipal fair employment law. Buoyed, he went on to deliver a fiery speech at the 1948 Democratic national convention, an impassioned plea urging that a strong civil rights plank be included in the Democratic platform. Although the speech was not well received, Humphrey was instrumental in spurring the convention to add a civil rights plank to their platform.”

The Historical Society entry also has links to a number of reference sources about Vice President Humphrey.

The U.S. Senate website has good profiles of all the Vice Presidents.

From the Senate website about VP Humphrey—

As vice president during 1968—arguably the United States’ most politically turbulent post-World War II year—Hubert Humphrey faced an excruciating test of statesmanship. During a time of war in Southeast Asia when the stakes for this nation were great, Humphrey confronted an agonizing choice: whether to remain loyal to his president or to the dictates of his conscience. His failure to reconcile these powerful claims cost him the presidency. Yet few men, placed in his position, could have walked so agonizing a tightrope over so polarized a nation. Near the end of his long career, an Associated Press poll of one thousand congressional administrative assistants cited Hubert Humphrey as the most effective senator of the preceding fifty years. A biographer pronounced him “the premier lawmaker of his generation.” Widely recognized during his career as the leading progressive in American public life, the Minnesota senator was often ahead of public opinion—which eventually caught up with him. When it did, he was able to become one of Congress’ most constructive legislators and a “trail blazer for civil rights and social justice…”

Here is the full page of Vice Presidential profiles from the Senate.

Senator Humphrey was a liberal and an establishment politician. He took a risk that paid off with civil rights, while his failure to take an agressive stand one way or another on the Vietnam War would cost him later in his career.

Mr. Humphrey is worth taking some time to learn about. Learning about past political leaders offers insight not just on the times they impacted, but on the present day as well.

May 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 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

As Ford Did Not Offer VP Spot To Reagan in ’76, Obama Had No Obligation To Any Defeated Candidate

Taken as a general matter, since the current primary-heavy process of selecting nominees began in 1972, victorious Presidential nominees have not selected their nearest rival in contested nomination fights as the Vice Presidential nominee. 

Only twice in contested nomination battles beginning with 1972 has the Vice Presidential nominee been the second place finisher in total primary votes. The Democratic ticket in 2004 and the Republican slate in 1980 are the two.

The 2008 Democratic race was the closest in vote totals, but the ideological fight for the Republican nomination in 1976 (Convention photo above) may have been the more intense struggle.  

In 2008, Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York each won just over 48% of the popular vote in the primaries with Mr. Obama winning a few more votes than Mrs. Clinton. For Republicans, John McCain of Arizona took around 45% of the total with Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas each in the low 20’s.  

In going with Joe Biden of Delaware, Senator Obama has made his call. Senator McCain will do the same next week.

Here is some history on this matter—

John Kerry of Massachusetts won 61% of Democratic primary voters in 2004. His closest competitor, John Edwards of North Carolina, won 19% of all such voters and got a spot on the ticket. 

In 2000 Al Gore of Tennessee (76% of Democratic primary voters) did not pick Bill Bradley of New Jersey (20%). Nor did George W. Bush of Texas (63% of Republican primary voters) select Mr. McCain (30%). 

In 1996, Bob Dole of Kansas (61%) left Pat Buchanan of Virginia (24%) off the ticket.

In 1992, Bill Clinton  of Arkansas (52%) selected neither Jerry Brown of California (20%) or Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts (18%).

In 1988, George H.W. Bush  of Texas (68%) did not make Mr. Dole (19%) his running mate. Mike Dukakis of Massachusetts (43%) did not offer the spot to Jesse Jackson of Illinois (29%).

The 1984 Democratic race was hard fought. Still Walter Mondale of Minnesota (38%) denied Gary Hart of Colorado (36%) a place on the ticket. This was a race almost as close as 2008.

In 1980, incumbent Vice President Mondale stayed on the slate after President Jimmy Carter of Georgia (51%) beat Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts (37%) for the nomination.

In the 1980 Republican race, the second place finisher did get the second spot. Ronald Reagan of California (61%) picked Mr. Bush (23%) as his number two.  

In 1976, Mr. Carter (39%) did not offer the job to Mr. Brown (15%), George Wallace of Alabama (12%) or Morris Udall of Arizona (10%),

In the fiercely fought Republican race in 1976 , President Gerald Ford of Michigan (53%) did not offer the Vice Presidency to Mr. Reagan (46%). Senator Dole was President Ford’s choice.

1972 was the last time the nominee was not the top vote getter in the primaries. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota won 26% of the vote against 25% for George McGovern of South Dakota and 24% for George Wallace. The nominee, Mr. McGovern did not offer the VP spot to either gentleman.

( Governor George Wallace stands in the schoolhouse door blocking integration in Alabama. Neither George McGovern or Jimmy Carter thought it best to run with Mr. Wallace in a Presidential election.)

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Absence Of Political Memory

A recent New York Times story about the Rhode Island primary started off this way–

“For the first time anyone can remember, this small state is relishing its role in the presidential primary cycle.”

I’m not certain how many people reporter Abby Goodnough interviewed to reach this conclusion, but the Rhode Island primary was a big deal in relatively recent memory.

In 1976 Democrats Jimmy Carter of Georgia, Jerry Brown of California and Frank Church of Idaho campaigned hard in Rhode Island.

(Photo is of Senator Church.)

Coming into Rhode Island, Governor Carter had the clear lead in the nomination fight. Governor Brown and Senator Church entered the race late to see if they could catch up with Mr. Carter.

The 1976 Rhode Island primary was held on June 1. 

While winning after starting late not seem likely in today’s nominating process, Hubert Humphrey had won the 1968 Democratic nomination despite ignoring most primaries. A victory after a late entry seemed possible in 1976.  

Rhode Island was one of the first primary involving Carter, Brown and Church.

All three candidates came to Rhode Island. I shook hands with all three and had brief conversations with Mr. Brown and Mr. Church. I was 8. I remember meeting the candidates as if it were last week. I recall Walter Cronkite discussing how little Rhode Island was playing such a large role in the process.   

Governor Brown won Rhode Island in 1976. It was not enough. Governor Carter had a lead that could not be overcome.

Ms. Goodnough could not find anybody in Rhode Island who recalls the 1976 Democratic primary? No political science professor or Democratic party official? It was a big deal at the time. 

Or maybe it’s true that nobody does remember.

No matter–The past has relevance. 

The past is context for the present. It gives our lives meaning to know that something came before and that we are part of something larger than just the present moment.

The past is alive. It is always open to new interpretations and it is with us when we consider why things are as they are in our lives.     

I read Ms. Goodnough’s article and for just a moment I wondered if my own memories were correct.

They are.

The past exists if even people can’t be bothered to recall it, or even if they won’t do the work required to remind us that more exists than just the story of the day.

Please click here for other Texas Liberal political history posts.  

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

A History Of The Ohio Primary

Going back the Progressive Era origins of nominating primaries, the Ohio Presidential primary has a nearly century long history.

( Here are some basic facts and a brief history of Ohio. The population of Ohio is approximately 11.5 million. George Bush carried the state 51%-49% in 2004.)

Here is a history of some notable results from Ohio since the first primary in 1912.

The first Ohio primary featured something modern political observers can grasp—An ideological fight among Republicans.

Progressive challenger, former President Theodore Roosevelt, defeated incumbent President William Howard Taft, a more conservative figure, by a 55%-40% margin. President Taft was from Cincinnati. This outcome shows the bent of the Ohio Republican electorate at the time and offers a clue why the progressive reform of the primary was embraced early in Ohio.

On the other side, Ohio Governor Judson Harmon defeated Woodrow Wilson.

Judson had defeated Warren Harding in 1910 to become Governor.

(In November of 1912 in Ohio it was Wilson  41%, Roosevelt 27% and Taft 22%.)

In 1920, Ohioans had the chance to vote for locals in both primaries. The Republican winner was Senator Warren Harding who beat General Leonard Wood by an unimpressive 47%-41%. ( Maybe Ohio voters knew from experience that Senator Harding would be a bad President. He was in fact terrible President.)

Democrats in 1920 supported Ohio Governor James Cox with 98%.

However, despite the lack of unity in the primary, Harding beat Cox 59% -39% in November.

( The only time since 1920 that both major party nominees were from the same state was 1944 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt beat New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.)

Ohio Republicans in 1932 gave incumbent Herbert Hoover only 6%. The winner was Favorite Son Jacob Coxey.

Hoover was easily renominated despite winning only 33% of all primary votes in 1932.  It would not be until the 1970’s that primaries would begin consistently influential in the nominating process.

Coxey had been involved in politics since leading poor people’s protests in Washington in the 1890’s. He is interesting to read about.  

(Jacob Coxey)

President Taft’s son, Senator Robert Taft, was the 99% winner of the 1940 Ohio Republican primary. This was the beginning of a series of Taft efforts to reach the White House. Seen as a father of modern conservatism, and an author of the terrible Taft-Hartley Act, Taft was the choice of an “unpledged” slate of delegates that won the 1948 Republican primary. Taft also won the 1952 primary.

(Robert Taft)

For 1956, ’60 ’64 and ’68, Favorite Son candidates were the winners in both party primaries in Ohio. The only exception to this outcome was Richard Nixon’s nearly uncontested win in 1960.

The 1964 and ’68 Republican favorite son choice in Ohio was Governor James A. Rhodes. An outspoken so-called “law-and-order” politician, it was Governor Rhodes who ordered the troops in at the killing of anti-war protesters at Kent State in 1970.

The Democratic primary was sharply contested in 1972. Party establishment choice Hubert Humphrey was the 41%– 40% winner over liberal Senator George McGovern.

The 2008 Clinton–Obama fight seems an echo of the ’72 race to some degree.

While conservatives Taft and Rhodes had found favor with Ohio Republicans in the World War II and post-war era, a more moderate wing of the party prevailed in 1976. In ’76, incumbent President Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan 55%-45%. Not strong for an incumbent, but better than W.H Taft or Hoover had done in the Ohio primary.

The 1980 Democratic primary, contested in June when the race had already been decided, gave President Jimmy Carter a 51% 44% over Ted Kennedy. Another weak showing for an incumbent who would go on to lose.

Democrats in 1984 though went for the challenger to the party establishment. Senator Gary Hart defeated Walter Mondale42%-40%. The wonkish high-tech Hart’s win over a lunch-bucket union regular like Mondale in a state like Ohio showed the weakness of the Mondale campaign.

(Gary Hart)

In 1988, ’92 and ’96, the Ohio primary took place late in the process. Voters in each party primary voted for the eventual nominee of the party.

For 2000, Ohio moved it’s primary up to Super Tuesday March 7. ( Please click here for a history of Super Tuesday.)The George W. Bush/John McCain battle was still alive at that point. The more conservative Bush won a 58%-37% victory. This confirmed again the dominance of the right in Ohio Republican politics.

In March of 2004, John Edwards won 34% against 51% for John Kerry. This was one of Edwards’ strongest showings outside the South.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

(Post card is of Youngstown in 1910’s. Please click here for a history of Youngstown. )

March 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Cincinnati, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

History Of The Superdelegate

What is a Superdelegate in the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination? What is the history behind the awarding of these delegates?

A  “superdelegate” is a party leader, an elected official or otherwise, who is made an automatic delegate at the party nominating convention. This person is not required to win his or her place in a primary or in a caucus. They have a spot at the convention no matter what. 

The so-called superdelegate was created as a “reform” within the Democratic nominating process for the 1984 elections. Party leaders felt that the process had gotten away from them and was overly geared to primary voters and caucus-goers. 

According to Congressional Quarterly’s Guide To U.S. Elections

“This reform had two main goals. First Democratic leaders would participate in the nomination decision at the convention. Second, they wanted to ensure that these uncommitted party leaders could play a major role in selecting the presidential nominees if no candidate was a clear front-runner.”

Isn’t is great that Democratic party leaders had to be given a free pass instead of earning a place to take an active part in the nominating process?

The superdelegate idea was in in many ways a roundabout response to a process set in motion by liberal party activists who felt shut out at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Vice President Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota in 1968 was the last major party nominee to win the nomination without entering most of the primaries.

A commission was set up led by Senator George McGovern of South Dakota that led to an opening of the process and to more primaries. This openness was the trend in the 1972 and 1976 nominating races for the Democrats and Senator McGovern benefited from these new rules in his own successful 1972 nomination bid.    

For 1984, the party leadership reasserted some authority with superdelegates. It was a “reform” that was really a step backwards.   

Superdelegates in 2008 are Democratic members of the House and Senate, Democratic Governors, and members of the Democratic National Committee. Al Gore and Bill Clinton are also superdelegates. 

There are approximately 800 superdelegates of the 2125 delegates needed to win the nomination.

In 1984, four of five superdelegates supported Walter Mondale of Minnesota (photo below) over Senator Gary Hart of Colorado. This despite the fact Vice President Mondale won 37.8% of all primary votes in 1984 against the 36.1% won by Senator Hart. The party establishment was beyond Mr. Mondale regardless of how people were voting in the primaries.

 

Since 1984, the percentage of superdelegates has increased. It was 14% of all delegates in 1984 and is nearly 20% today.

As I write this in February, more superdelegates are pledged to Senator Hillary Clinton of New York than to Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.   

Superdelegates can change their minds if they wish. They can do anything they want.

It’s like some sort of House of Lords. ( Illustration below.)

This process is undemocratic. Delegates should be elected by rank-and-file members of the party. If a sitting Governor or Senator can’t win a spot in a primary or a caucus, what type of legitimacy as a popular leader does such a person have?   

I hope that at the least, superdelgates will reflect the wishes of the district or state they represent, or, for those not currently holding any political office, the state or local area they come from. 

2008 Democratic Convention Watch is a blog doing a good job tracking who superdelegates are supporting.  

Texas Liberal is leading the way in politcal history blogging in 2008.

February 7, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Texas Liberal Super Tuesday Live Blogging–Still Worth Reading Even Though The Day Is Done

Texas Liberal Live Blogging Of Super Tuesday Is Up & Running—(And Now That The Day Is Done, It Is Still Worth Reading!)   

Huckabee Wins W.V.—-6:00 PM 

Mike Huckabee got his Super Tuesday started right by winning the West Virgina Republican convention. He takes all 18 delegates from West Virginia.

What a shock that Republicans have winner take all primaries and conventions!

West Virginia was one the most Democratic states until George W. Bush won it in 2000 and 2004. It seems 71% of West Virginians live in a gun-owning household. I wonder if gun ownership entitles those folks to health insurance? 

John Kennedy’s 1960 primary win in West Virgina over Hubert Humphrey proved a Catholic could win an overwhelmingly Protestant state.    

Obama Takes Georgia—6:00 PM

Barack Obama has been called as the winner of the Georgia Democratic primary.

Georgia is 29% black. This means the Democratic electorate in Georgia has many blacks.

President Bush won Georgia with 58% in 2004. That means Georgia whites vote strongly Republican.

If Mr. Obama is nominated, by how much will Southern black turnout increase? Will Southern whites be open to a black candidate? CNN says Mr. Obama won 40% of the white vote in Georgia. But a Democratic primary is different from a General Election. 

Wrong To Bribe Voters, But Okay To Give Them Alcohol—6:15 PM 

Today I was reading America’s Three Regimes—A New Political History by Morton Keller.  

Here is what this book says about 18th Century Southern elections—

“…there was much treating of voters to drinks on Election Day—“swilling the planters with bumbo”—just as in English towns. But there appears to have been little overt vote buying of the sort common in 18th century English parliamentary elections.”

Seems like progress. I would not refuse a drink at the polls.

McCain Best In Connecticut—7:00 PM

John McCain has won Connecticut.

Mr. McCain had the endorsement of Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman. Mr. Liberman’s endorsement might help Mr. McCain with so-called “Independent” voters in November. It seems less clear this endorsement will help with the more conservative voters Mr. McCain is struggling to win.  

Unlike G.W.H Bush In 1980, Romney & Obama Win Home States—7:17 PM

Mitt Romney has won his home state of Massachusetts and Barack Obama has won his home state of Illinois.

It’s reassuring to win your home state

The first George Bush lost his home state of Texas to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Texas Republican primary. The margin was 51–47%. 

Hillary Clinton Projected In Oklahoma–Oklahoma 2nd Best State For Socialist Eugene Debs In 1912—7:25 PM

Hillary Clinton is the projected winner in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is one state Democrats will be avoiding in the general election campaign. President Bush won the Sooner State 60-38 in 2000 and 66-34 in 2004.

Oklahoma voters were not always so misguided. The great Socialist Eugene V. Debs won 16.4% of the Oklahoma vote for President in 1912. Nevada was the best Debs’ state that year. His national total was 6%. 

I have faith in the people of Oklahoma and I know they will wake up someday soon. 

McCain Winner In Tiny Delaware—He Could Be A Threat In Some Northeastern & Middle Atlantic States—7:50 PM

John McCain has won Delaware. This goes with wins already tonight in Connecticut and New Jersey. All three of these Atlantic seaboard states have voted for Democrats for President in recent elections.

If there is any Republican who could make a run at these places next fall it would be Mr. McCain.

Delaware was the only state to vote for the winner in every Presidential election between 1952 and 1996.  In 2000 and 2004 Democrats carried Delaware. 

Italy Moves Towards Elections—Rest Of The World Continues To Exist– 8:15PM

The center left government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi has lost its governing majority and an election seems likely within the next two months. Regretfully, conservative Silvio Berlusconi may return yet again as Prime Minister. Based on the last few Italian elections, it will be close.

No matter how focused we are on ourselves, the rest of the world still exists.   

Obama Is Alabama Winner–2nd Black Man To Win That Primary— 8:35 PM

Between 1932 and 1944, Franklin Roosevelt won at least 81% of the vote in the one-party Solid South state of Alabama.

In 1948, after Harry Truman desegregated the army, Strom Thurmond, running on a States Rights ticket, won 80% of the vote.

Now Barack Obama has won the Alabama Democratic primary. He is in fact the second black man to do so. Jesse Jackson won it in 1988.  

Obama Winner In Kansas—Governor There Possible VP, But She Most Likely Could Not Deliver Her State—9:24PM

Senator Obama has won Kansas. That state’s governor, Kathleen Sebelius, has been out working for Mr. Obama and has been mentioned as a possible running mate. But Kansas is so Republican that I don’t think she deliver Kansas on Election Day.

That would be just as John Edwards did not help in North Carolina in 2004, or Lloyd Bentsen did not help Democrats in Texas in 1988.

With the Electoral College map so tight, a potential running mate needs to be able to put a state in play. Kansas is not such a state for Democrats.

Romney says losing is “fun and exciting.”—9:38PM

Well, he did say “fun and exciting” and he was referencing the campaign—But I am paraphrasing to a degree. Romney said he is going to stay in the race past tonight. 

Governor Romney’s father, former Governor George Romney of Michigan, won exactly 3,830 Republican primary votes when he ran for President in 1968. So there is at least one threshold the son has surpassed.    

Obama First In Minnesota Caucus—I Think Paul Wellstone Would Have Been Pleased—10:09 PM

I can’t know for a fact, but I think the great liberal Paul Wellstone of Minnesota would have taken to the campaign of Senator Obama. Here is the link to Wellstone Action! They do a lot of good work for the liberal and progressive side of the debate. 

McCain Makes Lousy Surrender Comment—10:30 PM

I had the misfortune of watching Senator McCain on CNN today. He was saying that Democrats who favored a times withdrawal from Iraq were advocating “surrender.”

What does “surrender”mean here? Does Senator McCain think that Democrats advocate American troops in Iraq turning over their weapons to the militants and asking for mercy? That’s what surrender is.

Would a real man of honor make such a comment? No Democrat supports any type of surrender.      

Huckabee Somewhere Between George W. Bush and Pat Robertson–11:00 PM

Mike Huckabee has won Georgia, Arkansas, West Virginia and Alabama this evening. He says he is in the race to stay.

Governor Huckabee has the string support of Evangelical Christians. Evangelicals played a large role in the nomination of George W. Bush in 2000. But Bush also had the support of low-tax conservatives and the Republican establishment. Governor Huckabee is no George Bush.

On the other hand, he is more of a candidate than was Pat Robertson in 1988. Mr. Robertson never won a primary and as a “message candidate” won only 9% of primary voters. Running the same year on the other side, Jesse Jackson won 29% of Democratic primary voters. 

So Mr. Huckabee is more than Pat Robertson was in 1988–Though that will not be nearly enough.

McCain in California And Missouri– Can Schwarzenegger Make McCain Viable In California This Fall? 11:36 PM 

All night we’ve been hearing McCain had not made the knock-out punch. Well, it seems to me he at least has everybody else on the ropes pretty good. These two late night wins are most helpful to Mr. McCain.

An even bigger question than who will win the California primary tonight, will be is the more moderate Westerner McCain viable in California in November. You can bet that subject is already on the Republican radar. Just forcing the Democratic nominee to campaign in California this fall will be a Republican victory.

I’m certain McCain supporter Arnold Schwarzenegger is already thinking it out. (While his wife Maria Shriver will no doubt continue her work for Senator Obama.)   

Signing Off With Obama’s Alaska Win—The Race Now Moves On Texas, Ohio & Other Points–12:08 AM

Barack Obama is the winner is Alaska.

  

The race now moves on to Texas, Ohio, and other points.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

February 6, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Books, Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

An Explanation And A History Of Presidential Nominating Caucuses—With Pictures!

With the Iowa Presidential nominating caucuses due up on January 3, 2008, here is an explanation and a history of the modern caucus process. The source is the Congressional Quarterly Press Guide To U.S. Elections Volume I.

Does the caucus system exclude the public to the benefit of ideologically extreme and unrepresentative individuals? Or does the caucus system rightly allow for well-informed party activists to have a strong say in who will win Presidential nominations and help build strong parties after the caucus is completed?

Read the following and see what you think.

From the book

In the current primary-dominated era of Presidential politics, which began three decades ago, caucuses have survived…The impact of caucuses decreased in the 1970’s as the number of primaries grew…Previously, a candidate sought to run well in primary states mainly to have a bargaining chip with which to deal with powerful leaders in the caucus states. Republicans Berry Goldwater ( photo above) in 1964 and Richard Nixon(photo below) in 1968 all built up solid majorities among caucus state delegates that carries them to their parties’ nomination. Hubert Humphrey did not compete in a single primary state in 1968. 

After 1968, candidates placed their principle emphasis on primaries…More recently, there has been an increase in the number of states employing caucuses…mostly in smaller states. The increase was slight among Democrats, but more extensive in 2004, when Republicans  saw little reason to spend money or time in an uncontested renomination… 

Compared with a primary, the caucus system is complicated. Instead of focusing on a single primary election ballot, the caucus system presents a multitiered  system that involves meetings scheduled over several weeks, even months. There is mass participation at the first level only, with meetings often lasting over several hours and attracting only the most enthusiastic and dedicated party members.

The operation of the caucus varies from state to state, and each party has its own set of rules. Most begin with precinct caucuses or some other type of local mass meeting open to all party voters. Participants, often publicly declaring their votes, elect delegates to the next stage of the process.

In smaller states, such as Delaware and Hawaii (photo above), delegates are elected directly to a state convention, where the national convention delegates are chosen. In larger states, such as Iowa, there is at least one more step, sometimes two. Delegates in Iowa are elected at the precinct caucuses to county conventions, which are followed by the state convention….

Participation, even at the first level of the caucus process, is much lower than in the primaries. Caucus participants usually are local party leaders and activists. many rank-and-file voters find the caucus complex, confusing or intimidating.

As a result, caucuses are usually considered tailor-made for a candidate with a cadre of passionately dedicated supporters. This was evident as long ago as 1972, when a surprisingly strong showing in the Iowa precinct caucuses helped propel Senator George McGovern (picture above) of South Dakota, an ardent foe of the Vietnam war, toward the Democratic nomination.

In a caucus state, the focus is on one-on-one campaigning. Time, not money, is usually the most valuable resource. Because organization and personal campaigning are so important, an early start is…crucial.

The lone exception is Iowa (Great Seal above). As the kick-off point…Iowa has recently become a more expensive stop…But the accent in Iowa…is still on grassroots organization.

Although the basic steps of the caucus process are the same for both parties, the rules that govern them are vastly different. Democratic rules have been revamped substantially since 1968, establishing national standards for grassroots participation. Republicans have remained largely unchanged, with the states given wide latitude in drawing up their delegate-selection plans.   

For both Republicans and democrats, the percentage of delegates elected from caucus states was on a sharp decline throughout the 1970’s. But the Democrats broke the downward trend and elected more delegates by the caucus process in 1980 than in 1976. Between 1980 and 1984, six states switched from a primary to a caucus system; none the other way.

A strong showing in the caucuses by Walter F. Mondale (bust above) in 1984 led many Democrats—and not only supporters of his rivals—to conclude that the caucuses are inherently unfair. The mainstream Democratic coalition of party activists, labor union members, and teachers dominated the caucuses on Mondale’s behalf.   

The major complaint about the caucus process is that it does not involve enough voters, and that the low turnouts are not so representative of voter sentiment as a higher-turnout primary.

Staunch defenders, however, believe a caucus has party-building attributes a primary cannot match. They note that several hours at a caucus can include voters in a way that quickly casting a primary ballot does not. Following caucus meetings, the state party comes away with lists of thousands of voters who can be tapped to volunteer time or money, or even run for local office. 

Here is a link to some more specific history of the Iowa caucus.

Here is a link to the State Historical Society of Iowa which has a new Iowa Caucus exhibit.

What do you think? A good way to go or not? I feel a mix of the primary and the caucus is as good as anything else. There is a place for party activists and a place for a broader electorate.

Though public funding would make it all a lot better.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

December 28, 2007 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Texas Observer Endorsement Of John Tower & Snubbing Of Hubert Humphrey

  

In May of 1961, The Texas Observer, a liberal magazine of politics in Texas, editorialized that its readers should vote for conservative Republican John Tower (Above with LBJ) for the U.S. Senate in the 1961 Special Election. This race was to fill the seat left vacant by Lyndon Johnson winning the Vice Presidency in 1960.

The source for this post is the book  Fifty Years Of The Texas Observer.  

The Democratic incumbent was William Blakley. Mr. Blakley had been appointed at the beginning of 1961 to fill Vice President Johnson’s seat.

The Observer maintained Mr. Blakley was a Dixiecrat and that in any state outside the South he would be a Republican.  The Observer said that both liberals and conservatives had reasons to see Mr. Blakley defeated.

For liberals, forcing the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party would give the left a chance to run the Democratic Party. For conservatives and Republicans, it gave the Republican party a chance to become a real power in Texas.

And, with a strong Republican Party, Texas would finally become a two-party state consistent with modern Democracy.

(The Texas legislature is not yet a real two-party body in the sense of a having a majority and minority leader and a Speaker voted on by strict party line vote. In 2007, this is nearly beyond the conception of any thinking person)

Said the Observer—” It is to be granted, since politics is a game of risks, that when the Republicans have finally accomplished their formidable task, liberals may well be defeated for Governor and the state legislature. But they are being defeated anyway by pseudo-Democrats…..”

Mr. Tower beat Mr. Blakley by a margin of 50.4% to 49.6%. So it could be argued the Observer made an impact in this election.

While the liberal ascendancy has yet to arrive in Texas, I believe I would have supported the Observer in this debate had I been around in 1961. 

In 1968, The Observer wrote an editorial called “Humphrey Must Be Defeated to Save the Democratic Party.”

In this case, The Observer did not advocate voting for Republican Richard Nixon. Instead they suggested a write-in vote for defeated Democratic primary candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota.  

While acknowledging that Vice President Hubert Humphrey was clearly a better candidate than either Mr. Nixon or third-party contender George Wallace, The Observer said  Mr. Humphrey’s support of the Vietnam War and his tacit acceptance of Mayor Richard Daley’s brutal police tactics against demonstraters at the Democratic convention in Chicago made him unacceptable.

From the editorial —

“The aim of those on the left and in the center who seek a Humphrey loss…is the restoration of the Democratic Party as the key progressive force in American life. We cannot rely on the Republicans….but right now we cannot rely on the Democrats for progress either; so committed to this disaster of a war is that party that social reform so desperately needed here at home is a fiscal and psychic impossibility…..a Humphrey defeat will restore the party to control of it’s better elements….”

Not being old enough to recall the Vietnam War and 1968, I can’t know what my feelings would have been. The question of voting for Mr. Tower was a tactical question of party politics I can more easily imagine. I think the Humphrey question was one of those things you had to be there for.

Mr. Humphrey carried Texas in 1968 with 41.1% of the vote. Mr. Nixon won 39.9% and Mr Wallace ran third at 19.0%.    

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Books, Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments