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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

Third Party Candidates Who Carried A State In A Presidential Election

The following are third party candidates for President who have carried a state in a Presidential Election since after the Civil War.   

This is part of the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day series.

1892—Populist candidate James Weaver of Iowa ( photo above) won Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada and North Dakota. Mr. Weaver won 8.5% of the entire vote. Democrat Grover Cleveland of New York won the election. 

1912—Bull Moose Theodore Roosevelt of New York carried California, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington. Mr. Roosevelt was also the last third party candidate to finish ahead of a major party nominee. Incumbent President and Republican nominee William Howard Taft of Ohio finished third in 1912. Democrat Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey won the election. In 1912, Mr. Wilson won 42%, Mr. Roosevelt 27%, Mr. Taft 23 % and Socialist Eugene V. Debs of Indiana took 6%.

1924—Progressive Robert La Follette,Sr ( photo below) won his home state of Wisconsin. Mr. La Follette won 17% of the full national vote. Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts won the election.

1948—Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond of South Carolina carried Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Mr. Thurmond won 2.4% overall. He was not on most ballots outside the South. Harry Truman of Missouri won the election.

1968—George Wallace of Alabama won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Mr. Wallace won 13% of the nationwide total. Richard Nixon of California won the election.

Winning a state in a Presidential election is hard to accomplish. Ross Perot was unable to do so in 1992 even while winning 19% of the vote. Third party candidates must have some of concentrated regional appeal, as did Mr. Weaver, Mr. Thurmond and Mr. Wallace. Or maybe they just have to be Theodore Roosevelt.

( I’d suggest Texas Liberal readers check out the links to Weaver, Debs and La Follette. They were progressive and interesting figures.)

No third party seems likely to win a state in 2008.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Misguided People Of Kansas Have Not Elected Democrat To The Senate Since 1932

It will distress you, though likely not shock you, to know that Kansas has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day. This is a new feature I will post each day I’m  so inclined between now and Election Day.

Direct Election of United States Senators—meaning election by the public instead of selection by state legislatures—began with the enactment of the 17th Amendment in 1913.

In Kansas, the first ever popular election to the Senate was won in 1912 by Democrat William Thompson. Kansas allowed direct election before the Constitution mandated such elections.

A more accurate picture of the political future in Kansas came when Senator Thompson won only 34% in his reelection campaign in 1918.

In 1930, Democrat George McGill ( Picture Above) won a special election fill the term of Charles Curtis who had been elected in 1928 as Vice President under Herbert Hoover.  

The link for Senator McGill is a 1938 letter to the editor of Time Magazine article about the Senator. From the letter– 

In the Senate: Balddomed, small chinned, doleful and dull of mien, Senator McGill has only one conspicuous mannerism—a “haha” which he inexplicably tacks on the end of his infrequent speeches. His voting record is Yes to every Roosevelt proposal: so faithful is he that, along with New Mexico’s Hatch, he tried to launch a substitute Supreme Court bill after the President himself had given up.

Senator McGill was defeated for reelection in 1938 and that was it for Democrats in the Senate from Kansas. No state has gone so long without a Democratic Senator. No state has gone so long shutting out either of the major political parties from the Senate.

Incumbent Republican Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is seeking another term this year and is the strong favorite to win.

The people of Kansas are deeply confused on the question of who would best represent their interests in the United States Senate. They have been confused on this question for very many years now.

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 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

Photo From 1908 Democratic Convention In Denver

original negative

The 1908 Democratic National Convention was held in Denver, Colorado and nominated William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska for President. Mr. Bryan, nominated for a third unsuccessful run, lost to William Howard Taft of Ohio.

The 1908 convention was the first major party convention held in a western state.

The theme of the convention’s platform was “Shall the people rule?”

From the platform— The conscience of the nation is now aroused to free the government from the grip of those who have made it a business asset of the favor-seeking corporations. It must become again a people’s government and be administered in all its departments according to the Jeffersonian maxim, “equal rights to all; special privilege to none.

“Shall the people rule? is the overshadowing issue which manifests itself in all the questions now under discussion.”

On Election Day 1908, the people decided it would be best if Mr. Taft ruled.

Here are detailed results of the 1908 election.

Here is information about the 1908 campaign. 

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Political History, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Support Any Energy Policy That Wins Votes For Obama

So-called Energy Independence has been a topic of political debate for many years.

( Wind power has a long history. Maybe Mr. Obama should push for wind power.)

The following is from the 1976 Republican National Convention platform—

“One fact should now be clear: We must reduce sharply our dependence on other nations and strive to achieve energy independence at the earliest possible date. We cannot allow the economic destiny and international policy of the United States to be dictated by the sovereign powers that control major portions of the world’s petroleum supplies.”

Sure.

Dick Cheney, who was Chief of Staff for the nominee of that convention, Gerald Ford, says conservation is a “personal virtue.” John McCain mocks the idea of energy conservation.

These people were not serious 30 years ago and they are not serious today.

( Mr. Obama could show respect for rural America by backing an energy plan that makes greater use of animals.)  

The following is from the 1976 Democratic National Convention platform—

The huge reserves of oil, gas, and coal on federal territory, including the outer continental shelf, belong to all the people. The Republicans have pursued leasing policies which give the public treasury the least benefit and that energy industry the most benefit from these public resources. Consistent with environmentally sound practices, new leasing procedures must be adopted to correct these policies….” 

This debate may well go on for years to come.

Given all these years of empty talk, I don’t believe either party will seriously address this problem until forced to do so by events. Despite high gas prices in recent years and the fact that oil profits have helped fund terrorists, the public is not ready yet to talk about solutions that will either cost money at the pump, or that will involve scaling back our lives.

Mr. McCain’s view that mocking Mr. Obama’s reasonable suggestion that correct tire pressure makes a difference in fuel efficiency is a good campaign tactic, suggests a public not looking for real progress on energy independence.  

And falling, for the moment at least, for the quick-fix false promise of offshore drilling, again shows a public not serious about the issue.

If Mr. Obama wants to talk about more domestic drilling—fine. If gas prices go down for a few months, the issue will recede. If gas prices stay high, he’d likely have to bend in any case if elected President. It’s not worth giving Senator McCain an issue.

What either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain will do as President will be dictated by unforeseen events and the composition of Congress after the election. Just tell people what they want to hear on this one and maybe—against the odds—we can move on to an a issue where a more helpful discussion is possible.

Though don’t bet on that either.

(How about solar power satellite arrays serviced by fleets of yet to be built spaceships? If Mr. Obama can sell this idea I would be in agreement.)

August 20, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Signed Up For Obama Text Message—A First Use Of Telegraph Was Coverage Of 1844 Democratic Convention

I signed up to get the text message from the Obama campaign that will announce his Vice Presidential selection. I did so after reading today about use of the telegraph at the 1844 Democratic Convention in the book What Hath God Wrought—The Transformation America, 1815-1848. This book, by Daniel Walker Howe, is the most recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history.

The 1844 Democratic Convention was held in Baltimore and nominated James K. Polk of Tennessee for President and George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania for Vice President. Dallas, Texas is named after Mr. Dallas.  

Here is information about the 1844 Election. Mr. Polk and Mr. Dallas won the election over Henry Clay of Kentucky.

The telegraph was invented by Samuel F.B. Morse and was first demonstrated in 1844.  

From the book— “ within a few days of the initial demonstration…Morse was keeping members of Congress in Washington abreast of developments at the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore as they happened….The first practical application of Morse’s invention—to report a political party convention—was no accident. The formation of mass political parties, their organization on local, state and national levels, the application of government patronage to knit them together, their espousal of rival political programs, and the ability to command the attention of the public all combined to give this period in American history its distinctive politicized quality. The rise of mass parties has often been traced to extending the franchise…to include virtually all white males. However, no parties with mass following could have come into existence without a revolution in communication. …Newspapers quickly enlisted the telegraph in their quest to gather and distribute information….”  

It’s silly I suppose to have signed up for the text message. Yet reading about first political use of a new type of communication in 1844, made me want to be part of the first mass political use of a relatively new form of communication in 2008.

Here is information about the telegraph and the history of the telegraph.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m A Liberal Okay With Evan Bayh As Vice President

Some on the left object to the idea of Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana being chosen as running mate for Senator Barack Obama. The claim is that Mr. Bayh is a centrist, or within the context of the Democratic Party, on the right.

Here is an account of votes Evan Bayh has made in the Senate

Here is Senator Bayh’s Senate page.

Here is Mr. Bayh’s official Congressional profile.   

Here is a Chicago Tribune profile of Senator Bayh.

I don’t object to Senator Bayh’s possible selection. I want to win the election. If the Obama campaign makes the call for Mr. Bayh, that’s fine by me.  

Senator Bayh has shown the ability to win in Indiana. Indiana, bordering Mr. Obama’s Illinois, is seen as a swing state in 2008 despite a strong Republican history. If Mr. Bayh can help in Indiana, and maybe in next-door Ohio as well, then he is my man.

And I’m not so certain that Mr. Bayh is as to the right as is being suggested. The following is from his profile in the 2008 Almanac Of American Politics—

“… he joined filibusters to stop the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, the bill to limit medical malpractice lawsuits and several judicial nominees; he joined almost all other Democrats in rejecting individual retirement accounts in Social Security; he took a harder line stance on trade; he voted not just against Samuel Alito but also against John Roberts.

Mr. Bayh will adjust himself to the needs of the moment and the constituency. That’s what they all do within, much of the time at least, the confines of party ID.

One concern about Senator Bayh as VP is that the Republican Governor of Indiana is currently the favorite to win another term. Mr. Bayh as Vice President would cost Democrats a Senate seat. 

A black man named Barack Obama has a lot of work to do in this country to reassure voters that he is not a Black Panther. If Evan Bayh is the course to follow to accomplish this goal—then okay.  In contrast to a victory for John McCain, the difference between what Mr. Bayh would mean for the country rather than a more liberal Vice President is on the margins.

Here is the U.S. Senate’s Vice President web home. It describes the history of the office and has good profiles of each Vice President. It’s the best resource I have seen on the topic.

Below is Schuyler Colfax of Indiana. Mr. Colfax was Speaker of the U.S. House, and Vice President between 1869 and 1873 under U.S. Grant. Regretably, as the profile I link to details, Mr. Colfax had some ethical issues in his political career. 

August 17, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Women’s Suffrage Parade From 1913

color film copy transparency

Above is a picture of a women’s suffrage parade  in New York City from 1913.

Here is a history of the suffrage movement.

Women gained the vote in 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment.

It remains hard to imgaine that it took until 1920 for women to be able to vote in this country.

August 11, 2008 Posted by | History, Political History, Politics | , , , , | 2 Comments

Grover Cleveland Survived Love Child Scandal

Philandering Senator John Edwards denies that Rielle Hunter’s baby is his love child. This may or may not be a true statement. Who can know?

A love child might not be a problem. Read here the Univ. of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs  account of Grover Cleveland’s handling of the same type of issue in 1884—

In the election of 1884, Cleveland appealed to middle-class voters of both parties as someone who would fight political corruption and big-money interests. Many people saw Cleveland’s Republican opponent, James G. Blaine, as a puppet of Wall Street and the powerful railroads. The morally upright Mugwumps, a Republican group of reform-minded businessmen and professionals, hated Blaine and embraced Cleveland’s efforts at battling corruption. Cleveland also had the popularity to carry New York, a state crucial to victory.

But Cleveland had a sex-scandal to live down: he was accused of fathering a son out of wedlock — a charge that he admitted might be true — owing to his affair with Maria Halpin in 1874. By honestly confronting the charges, Cleveland retained the loyalty of his supporters, winning the election by the narrowest of margins.

( The cartoon above is of Mr. Cleveland.)

While Grover Cleveland was not quite the progressive figure he is made out to be here, it does seem  Senator Edwards should have come out with it all at the start. If this issue was not fatal in 1884, surely Senator Edrwards could have survived it in 2008.

If Mr. Edwards had won the nomination, how could this have been kept a secret?

August 9, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

1948 Republican Platform On The United Nations

Below is the 1948 Republican convention platform position on the United Nations—

We believe in collective security against aggression and in behalf of justice and freedom. We shall support the United Nations as the world’s best hope in this direction, striving to strengthen it and promote its effective evolution and use. The United Nations should progressively establish international law…and be provided with the armed forced contemplated by the Charter.

What a difference 60 years makes. Imagine today’s Republicans discussing collective security, international law and arming the United Nations. 

Though none of this is to suggest that Republicans of that day lacked a full compliment of Commie-hunting paranoids. Maybe though they were, for a brief moment, not fully in command of all the party.

The 1948 Republican convention was held in Philadelphia and nominated Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York (below). Though Mr. Dewey began the campaign as the strong favorite, he was defeated by President Harry Truman.

August 5, 2008 Posted by | Political History, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1920 Presidential Election—Who Was The Best Candidate?

Who was the best candidate in the 1920 Presidential election? 

The Republican nominee was Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio. Senator Harding, a deeply conservative and unimaginative figure, has long been regarded as one of our worst Presidents.   

No right-thinking person would have voted for Mr. Harding in 1920. The fact that 60% of the electorate did indeed vote for Mr. Harding only proves my point.

The Democrat was Governor James Cox of Ohio. Governor Cox’s record in Ohio did have its merits. He had regulated utilities, required lobbyists to register, built more up-to-date schools and advocated for a workmen’s compensation law.

A bad point about Governor Cox was that he had signed into law a bill that prohibited teaching students any language but English up until the eighth grade. This legislation was part of anti-German paranoia during WW I. The target of the law was the teaching of German in heavily German Ohio cities such as Cincinnati.

The Socialist was Eugene V. Debs of Indiana. Much of what Socialists proposed may have seem far-fetched at the time, but later became part of American life.

The 1920 Socialist platform advocated a minimum wage, an end to child labor, and rights for black Americans.

Mr. Debs had won 6% of the vote in the 1912 Presidential election and would win 3.4% in 1920. Not a bad showing for a third-party candidate.

In 1920, I would have likely voted for Mr. Debs. The election was a clear Harding victory. It would have worth the risk to vote for Mr. Debs and his greater social vision, at the expense of the more progressive of the major party candidates.

In fairness, it should be noted that President Harding pardoned Mr. Debs from jail. Mr. Debs had been put in jail by Woodrow Wilson’s Justice Department for his opposition to WW I.  Mr. Debs ran his 1920 campaign from prison.

President Wilson would not pardon Mr. Debs. President Harding was more humane and just in this regard.

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments