Skip to comments.Former GOP House leader, Illinois Rep. Bob Michel has died at 93
Posted on 02/17/2017 6:33:55 AM PST by rdl6989
WASHINGTON A former aide says former House Republican leader Bob Michel has died at age 93.
Michel was an affable Illinois congressman who served as leader of the GOP House minority for 14 years. His skill at seeking compromise with the Democrats was critical in helping Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush pursue their agendas during their presidential terms.
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Bob Michael was a really nice guy and a supreme gentleman, but he pretty much invented and sustained the GOPe’s mantra of, “Go along with Democrats to Get Along with Democrats”.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that Reagan came out of Illinois sometimes.
Mr. “Go-Along to Get-Along”.
Or California. Both liberal hellholes.
RIP. His legacy will be as the ‘RATS favorite RINO appeaser.
Whenever I saw the guy, he was jolly and laughing, while Democrats were cutting our throats.
His district bordered the one I lived in for 62 years, until recently moving to TN. We had Tom Railsback, who was much like Michel, but the libs and unions got Lane Evans in back in 82, iirc, a young lawyer that turned out to be as extreme left as any congressman ever, IMO. He never married, and was rarely seen with woman other than his mom.
Generally a good man, but little more than a trained houseboy for the democrats.
That said.. RIP, Rep. Michel.
There were still deomocrats to get along with in those days. The blue dog was alive and well, at least in the South. Sherman, Lincoln, and Grant had not yet been dead for four generations.
De mortuis.... but he was a lousy minority leader.
Very true. As I recall that was very much a time of transition in politics, but it took a long time (too long) for many in the GOP to realize that people like Tip O’Neal and Ted Kennedy, among many other Democrats, were engaged in raw political warfare.
He stood out like a lighthouse of conservatism against the sea of Rinos. Gingrich was out of favor in this forum until the crowd backfliped when he supported Trump but he should stand on his own and must be counted a great Speaker even if he had opposed Trump.
Just as the Democrats once had a conservative wing as wel as a liberal wing, so the Repbulicans once had an explicitly liberal wing as well as a conservative one. I doubt that those in the liberal wing, who now style themselves as moderates, or moderate conservatives, ever really had a problem with the agenda of the Democratic liberal wing.
Historically, the Republicans were the more liberal party up through the new deal, and only with Nixon does the liberal wing of the Pubs seem to be in a definite second place. With an emphasis on the word “seem.”
Newt gave us the “Contract with America.” He is an intelligent guy who doesn’t always think things through well before saying them.
I’m not sure what Bob gave us, but he seemed well-intended.
Was he conservative enough? I moved to Illinois in 2001, so I didn’t hear many of his views.
The rare Illinois politician who never went to jail.
What were the main differences between Republicans and Democrats, between 1950 & ‘70? I used google, to find that information, but that didn’t help. I was born in 1967.
In terms of philosophy, mostly which wing of the party was in ascendency.
RIP Mr. Michel.
Bob Michel was one of those guys who really thought he could work with the other side to get the best possible outcome for the US.
He came to Congress at a time when, though the Dems held power, there could be reasonable compromises made. That changed as the old-school Dems died off or were pushed aside for ones that were more assertive and more agenda-driven.
Michel was not a spineless guy but he wasn’t quite up to the partisan wrangling. Much was made that he was a PINO but if you looked at his voting record back then, he was at least as conservative as stalwarts like Gingrich, Trent Lott or Rob Walker.
Rest in peace, Congressman.
Well liked, bipartisan, sociable and a representative of the permanent Republican minority in the US House. He was a great friend of Dan Rostenkowski.
No sooner had Michel retired than the Republicans gained a majority in the House for the first time in forty years.
Congressman Michel was a World War II veteran. He earned a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars.
Newt led the rebellion against Michel. He was everything Newt couldn’t take.
He was the quintessential establishment permanent minority Republican, I believe he toppled Previous GOP Leader John Rhodes from the left, though it may have been more of a “time for a change” thing (DJ?). FR would have been all over him like spray tan on Boehner.
But he was a good man, great American, World War 2 vet and does deserve a lot of credit for getting stuff passed under Reagan. He would have been a hell of a better Speaker than damn Tip O’Niell and wouldn’t have embarrassed the great state of Illinois like Dennis “don’t drop the soap” Hastert did.
Yeah, Wilson was more conservative than Taft and so was GD WJ Bryan, right?
The democrats have been controlled by socialists on the national level since 1896, long before the New Deal, and prior to being socialists they were largely agrarian proto-socialist, slavery-apologist losers, the US would have remained a backwater if 19th Century Dems had their way. The Federalist/Whig/GOP has always been the better party.
As Impy pointed out, that is an incorrect conclusion regarding the GOP as the “more liberal party” until the New Deal. With the purge of the Bourbons under Cleveland in 1896, the Democrats’ main focus was modern leftism (it’s harder to judge right vs. left in our present understanding prior to the 1890s, which was more economic philosophies as opposed to necessarily social). Obviously, both parties had their left wingers and right for many decades, but the center-right was already the dominant force in the Republicans by 1896.
However, you do have a point regarding an aspect of the Republicans post-1930. Many of the Conservative GOP anti-New Dealers were defeated en masse throughout the period, leaving a small rump of Republicans who were left wing (whereas the Dems, which had huge majorities in the period, still had substantial numbers of center-right members, some of whom were already in office for a time, others defeating Republicans solely because of the unpopularity of the party).
The Republican party “establishment” started to move to the left and began to take on the unfortunate traits we’ve seen to this day of presenting a false front of opposing Democrat/Socialist big government expansion, while doing nothing to restrict it once back in power, feeling more comfortable in “managing” leftist programs (or even claiming they’re better suited to manage the Dem programs than the Dems are). This was never more clear than when Eisenhower, the preferred candidate of the party establishment left (over Conservative Taft), when given a majority in Congress at the start of his term, did absolutely nothing to begin to roll back 2 decades of big government. He could’ve served as a Democrat with very little difference. Ultimately, Ike and a statist GOP collapsed by the end of the 1950s, by 1958 returning to 1930s-level numbers in office (Dems getting 2/3rds of Congress).
The GOP would’ve continued to remain statist to near-irrelevant if it did not make aggressive attempts to appeal to the right (1966, 1980, 1994, 2010, 2016) in reaction to leftist Dem overreaches. As “Conservative” as Mr. Michel was in voting, he was not suited personality-wise to leading a fight to win a majority. He “accepted” that the Dems were the majority party and gratefully worked out private deals to achieve crumbs for not making a fuss. It’s no wonder the media at present loves to cite this era as their favorite, with the dominant left wing never challenged in their supremacy.
Michel, of course, should never have risen past a backbencher, but such was the situation in a very statist GOP that he would rise to leader, and would exit just as the party discovered its backbone and would fight for power.
No, John Rhodes chose to voluntarily step down in 1981 (although he did declare if the GOP won a House Majority in 1980, he would run for Speaker). The consensus seemed to be he wasn’t up to being a strong leader and public voice for the party during that difficult post-Watergate period, especially by the younger (Conservative) activist members. He actually remained in Congress for another term until 1983. Unfortunately for us and the nation, his open seat was won by McQueeg.
Ah, I figured it wasn’t voluntarily since he ran for reelection.
Did he or anyone think there was a chance at winning the House in 1980?
That they needed about 60 seats to flip made it unlikely (they came up 27 seats short, 191R to 244D). Of course, had the country voted then as they do now with the House/Senate seats generally going the same as the Presidential vote, they’d have won, what, over 350 seats ?
The big problem was that the GOP was still a weak minority party, in many areas it couldn’t or wouldn’t compete with substantive candidates, and even if it did, the candidates didn’t have the financial or GOTV resources to make them competitive (Dem gerrymandering was also a problem, as we would see, especially in California).
A proposal made in the early ‘70s was to try to form an alliance between the GOP and disgruntled Conservative Democrats to try to elect a Speaker to wrestle leadership away from the Democrat left, but that came to naught and the Dems stuck with their party. Neither Rhodes or Michel would’ve been nimble enough to entice 30 Boll Weevils to their side, since it would’ve been all those apostate Dems putting their necks on the line with no guarantees from the GOP to protect them (and with a weak GOP in many areas they hailed from, it would be difficult to do).
Wilson was more conservative than Taft
No. Taft was also more consrvative than Theodore Roosevelt. The wing represented by Roosevelt seems to memoredominant than the one represented by Taft.
Your post-1930 analysis strikes me as very sound.
However, I am not so sure that I see that:
the center-right was already the dominant force in the Republicans by 1896.
The Spanish-American war does not strike me as conservative, and Theodore Roosevelt doesn’t seem to me conservative at all. That Roosevelt was able to strip so much support away from Taft, a sitting president, and carry a higher percentage of the vote than Taft (who finished 3rd, four percentage points behind Roosevelt) says to me that the centre-right was not yet dominant.
Well, with the capture of the Democrats by the left in 1896 under Bryan, it was William McKinley who offered the country a continuation of center-right normalcy, closer in style to the outgoing Cleveland Administration. Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t a national figure yet at that point. It was New Jersey political operative Garret Hobart who went on the ticket with McKinley that year.
The Republicans weren’t entirely unified with the business class that year, with many plains and mining state Silverite left-wingers splitting from the party and going with Bryan. The Cleveland Democrats (Pro-Gold) even put up a ticket of their own in 1896.
TR was elected Governor of NY as a Reformist in 1898 and attracted national attention. The GOP party bosses weren’t too happy with him (they never are with outsider reformists, look at the opposition to Trump). With VP Hobart’s death before the 1900 elections, they placed him on the ticket with the President (and becoming VP in those days was almost the political kiss of death), hoping that would deflate any ambitions and keep him quiet for the next 4 years. Only with McKinley’s assassination did that “nothingburger” VP job mean something again (repeating the same situation as a NY pol by the name of Arthur did following an OH pol named Garfield to the Presidency 20 years earlier).
TR didn’t really market himself as a left-winger, but as a reformist against the party bosses and big business types (he did explicitly blast the Socialist Democrats). Again, it was somewhat Trumpian-style Populism. Aspects of it at the time could be viewed as antithetical to Conservatism, but it wasn’t of the pinko variety, it was a new appeal to nationalism. As it was, TR only ran one successful Presidential race, that in 1904, against a moderate Democrat opponent from NY, Judge Alton B. Parker (Parker trying to walk a fine line by appealing to both the old Cleveland wing and the Bryan firebrands, the latter having come off 2 failed runs in a row).
TR expected William Howard Taft to continue his style of governance (Taft himself was not really a politician, 1908 being the first time he had run a race for office, the previous jobs all having been appointed, such as Cabinet and Governor-General of the Philippines). I got the impression he wanted Taft to be a puppet for his policies, since TR had stupidly (for him) chose not to run in 1908. When Taft started to chart his own course, TR resented him and set out to defeat him by any means.
It seemed like Taft was never able to get any traction of his own accord and get out from under TR’s dominating force of personality to become a strong political force in his own right. The 1912 GOP Convention was a brutal and ugly affair, described as the worst since 1872 when the pro- and anti-Grant forces split. You had 3 major candidates, TR representing his own faction, Taft, and from the far-left, WI’s Robert La Follette, Sr. Had the TR and La Follette factions been able to unite the center-left Progressive wings, Taft could’ve been deposed at the convention and even a battered Roosevelt might’ve been able to defeat NJ Gov. Wilson in the general.
As it was, with 2 Republicans going into the general election, Wilson was going to prevail with a plurality (similar to the 1992 election, with the Dem base holding for Clinton and Republicans splitting between Bush, Sr. and Perot). The combined total for Roosevelt and Taft was 50.6% with Wilson getting just 41.8% (lower than Clinton’s 43%). The split was almost right down the middle, with 23% going for Taft, 27% for Roosevelt. It had to be difficult, too, for regular Republican voters having to figure who to vote for as November approached, stick with the President or go with Roosevelt, who was closer to beating Wilson if he could pull away.
Still, for all the claimed popularity of TR, getting just over 27% was not exactly an affirmation of that. Worse yet, because the two parties also ran separate downballot tickets, it enabled the Democrats to win Congress with pluralities, and gave Wilson carte blanche to do his worst as a Socialist (and again, TR did consider himself to be to Wilson’s right).
Despite the fissure in the party, it was able to reunite within 2 cycles and only due to some mistakes on the part of centrist Charles Evans Hughes in 1916, came within an inch of dispatching Wilson (California being the key to the election in the Electoral College, which sadly went to the Dem).
With the Dems being toxic in 1920, whomever the GOP nominated that year was likely to win. Initially the race was between Gen. Leonard Wood (representing the former TR forces) and IL Gov. Frank O. Lowden (an old-line McKinleyite). Wood lacked political experience and Lowden might’ve taken it had he not been seen at the convention attempting to outright buy the nomination. That left the dark-horse Ohioan Harding, a Conservative, to get the nomination, and gave the GOP the largest margins in the modern era (outside the South, still one-party Dem), and Conservative dominance until the former Progressive Hoover blew it, leading to FDR and all that came after.
Just as one last aside, FDR ran to Hoover’s right in 1932 claiming to be a fiscal Conservative (a gargantuan falsehood, as it turned out to be). Ironically, had FDR employed the same tactics President Harding and Treasury Secretary Mellon employed in 1921 in ending the Wilson Recession of 1920, we’d have been out of the Depression before 1936. FDR, of course, exacerbated it, successfully blamed it all on the GOP (even into the ‘40s). It really took close to 20-24 years to recover from the economic damage. By then, of course, the GOP had slumped into a “me too” party, and the aforementioned statist and moribund entity.
One last comment, I consider President Harding to be one of the great Presidents, which counters that of many historians (left-leaning). Harding was the last President to date who cut taxes and spending/government size in order to hasten the end of the Wilson recession and boom of the 1920s. Leftist historians hate Harding because he proved quickly and easily that Conservative economics works and spectacularly so. He was fortunate to have Coolidge to continue those policies. The 1924 election, curiously, was the last time that both parties put up right-of-center nominees for President, to the horror of the left (GOPer Coolidge and former Wilson Solicitor-General and WV Congressman John W. Davis for the Dems). That was also the last time the GOP carried a lot of now-stalwart Dem areas (such as St. Paul, MN, Boston-Suffolk in MA and every single county in NY state, including all 5 NYC boroughs). The left put up their own party under the Progressive label, running the Republican Socialist nutter Sen. La Follette.
RIP. Seemed like a good guy.
But a good guy that was satisfied being the leader of the permanent underling party.
What were at least three issues on which Republicans and Democrats usually disagreed between 1950 & ‘70? I wonder that because I heard that, in 1962, Kennedy proposed large tax rate cuts that were similar to the cuts that Reagan proposed in 1981, and few Democrats complained, when Kennedy said it. In 1968, then-VP Humphrey said that fewer Americans should have babies out of wedlock. Few Democrats complained about that speech, but many Democrats complained when then-VP Quayle said the same thing in his 1992 Murphy Brown speech.
Because of those issues, I think that, in the 1960’s, many Democrats were almost as conservative as the Republicans, but they became more liberal. When and why did they become more liberal? I used google, to find that information, but that didn’t help.
Before the explosion of social issues in the ‘60s/’70s, there were differences on domestic issues, foreign policy, civil rights. There was the genuine fear that 2 decades of Democrat Presidents had allowed extensive Soviet infiltration of the government, institutions and culture (proven correct) and helped rapidly move the country leftward, as many other countries were in Europe, Africa, Asia, et al, were.
The “supply side”-esque tax cuts proposed by JFK from the ludicrously high confiscatory rates up to that time was one of the few “Conservative” proposals of his. The GOP hadn’t touted such tax cuts since the Harding-Coolidge era and wouldn’t again until Reagan. Nixon embraced Keynesian economics, which was why the ‘70s was such a disaster, culminating with Carter.
The crisis of illegitimacy was raised by Daniel Patrick Moynihan during the 1960s (before he was a Senator), especially focused on the rapid disintegration of the Black family in that decade. He was denounced by the left as a racist, but it didn’t change the fact he was correct. If both parties had focused on dealing with that, the slide might’ve been stopped. Unfortunately, Democrats discovered it behooved them NOT to address it and allow more and more Blacks to become slaves to welfare and dependent upon leftist policies, even if it meant sky-high illegitimacy & unemployment, crime rates, drug usage, low education rates, et al. Almost all Democrats today benefit from the dysfunction, and the CBC members (Cong. Black Caucus) especially benefit from the misery and degradation in exploiting their own people (something Booker T. Washington, a Republican, warned about in the late 19th century).
Dems, of course, complained about Quayle’s speech because it was firing a shot at their destructive, libertine policies that were toxic to the family unit. They were purveyors of the fantasy that women alone were good enough to raise children (in the case of Moynihan, he was bemoaning poor Black women having multiple out-of-wedlock births, but in the case of Quayle, his was directed at the trendy notion of middle-class career women choosing to have a child without a dad in the picture. Each were wrong, but for different reasons. Economic security, via welfare payments/guaranteed housing or a high-paying job cannot be a substitute for the need for fathers).
The drastic social split between the two parties began in earnest once previously settled social conservatism grounded in religious values, which had been set in stone from the founding of the country up until the 1960s, started to manifest itself. The left embraced the trendy issues under the false claim of freedom in a race to the bottom (frankly, it was just another phase by the left in a way to undermine our strength and core bedrock principles and completely eradicate our nation, the Alinskyite method amongst others, the Marxist revolution). The right sought to resist the decay.
Unfortunately for the right, at the same time the left had infiltrated key aspects of our society: cultural/entertainment, education, religion, law. Producing footsoldiers to carry out “the cause” of completely undoing everything that made America great. Globalism, in their next phase, to undermine our borders and flood our country with aliens whose values system were often anathema to ours. We’ve been in a pitched war against the left for the greater part of the past century.
Much of this I never knew, other bits I have forgotten (like Roosevelt running to the fiscal right of Hoover).
Your knowledge of American History is truly impressive.
Thank you for your kind words.
Republicans were weak and let the commie dems rule over them like Kings, that doesn’t mean the dems were “as conservative” it means the Republicans were weak.
Kennedy’s tax cut, actually passed after his death and signed by Johnson, lowered the top-rate from a MAOIST shameful 91% to a still disgusting and un-American 70-77% (it fluctuated thought the next few years I don’t know why)%.
It also cut the corporate rate from 52%, disgusting, to a 48%, symbolical important as it allowed companies to not have to fork over the MAJORITY of their income the federal government, but hardly anything.
It passed overwhelmingly but some in both parties voted no, I don’t know why some Republicans did, a sizable minority of House Republicans voted no.
Reagan reduced the top rate to a low of 28%, acceptable for a free capitalist nation. It’s since been jacked up to 39.6%, the same level Clinton jacked it that lost him Congress.
Thinking about what I wrote here yesterday on the debate of left vs. right within the GOP, there was a very key point I left out, and that was the issue of partisanship itself. This effectively superseded ideology. We still see it today, but I personally regard it as an affliction of the weak minded/stupid, rather than that of serious discernment we should all seek to undertake when analyzing candidates.
What I’m basically saying here is that, from what I observed in research, and our resident political historian, LS, can either agree or refute me on, is that effectively from the end of the Civil War clear up for almost 100 years, with some occasional variances, you could look at a given state or Congressional district and given how it stood with respect to the Civil War, ascertain the likely party they’d vote for, be it Presidential or Congressional.
It was effectively irrelevant whether the nominee of the Republicans or the Democrats was of the left or right, in many of these districts of bedrock party affiliation, they simply voted PARTY. You could have a firebreather populist or a mild-mannered Bourbon, it didn’t matter. The South was almost inevitably going to elect a Democrat regardless of ideology, the Northeast, a Republican (with some exceptions, such as NYC or Boston, but those were different reasons - NYC because it was never fully with Lincoln during the Civil War and was run almost continuously by a corrupt urban Democrat Machine, Tammany Hall. Boston was competitive if only because it didn’t assimilate Irish Catholics into the Republican party (for a brief time in the 1850s during the dissolution of the Whigs, many joined the Know-Nothing party, which was anti-Catholic, and the Irish never forget or fully forgave the Republicans who came out of that movement. So the most urban Irish Catholic areas began to go Democrat in the 1870s and never went back to the GOP, except in rare instances).
In the case of most Southern states, especially after Jim Crow, Republicans ceased entirely to run candidates (such as in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and most especially South Carolina, which was like a one-party apartheid state). Although the Democrats didn’t cease to exist in the Northeast or New England, if you were a Democrat in Vermont, you had no chance of being elected Governor or to Congress. None (as an example, from 1851 until 2006, only on one occasion was a Democrat elected to the House, excluding Bernie Sanders, and that was on one occasion in 1958, and that man was defeated in 1960). The memories of the Civil War lingered for a long time, and you were likely to vote the way your father and grandfather did.
Now some states were unusual, like Indiana, which on some occasions, would have highly competitive races between the parties. If there was to be a close Presidential contest, Indiana would be a bellwether (in 1868 and 1872 it would go for Grant, 1876 for Tilden, 1880 for Garfield, 1884 for Cleveland, 1888 for Harrison, back to Cleveland in 1892, McKinley in 1896 & 1900, etc.).
Curiously, after a half-century had passed between Reconstruction and the 1920s, the “Solid South” was beginning to see a crack develop, even if from the top-down at the Presidential level, and some Southerners were warming up to the party of Lincoln. In 1920, my state of Tennessee went for Harding over Democrat Cox, elected a Republican Governor and 5 out of the 10 House members, the most extensive “crack” in the wall this far south for the GOP. TN was unusual that it did have a consistent Republican presence in East TN, though there again that had to do with which side it was on during the Civil War (and it was Unionist in that part of the state, with some bits here and there along the Tennessee River in West TN). The “big” casualty in the 1920 elections in my state was the defeat of Cordell Hull in a rural Democrat district (which would later elect the Gores). Hull would reclaim the seat in 1922 and go on to become FDR’s Secretary of State, but this was a big warning at that time that the GOP could and would make inroads.
Alas, because of Hoover and the mishandling of what should’ve been the “Panic of 1929”, it killed off the fledgling GOP inroads by 1932, and would not reappear again until the 1950s and 1960s (or later, indeed, as it would be not until 1994 that the GOP finally won back the Cordell Hull seat). That, of course, would set off the beginning of the national realignment of the GOP being the usual majority party from 1860 until 1932 (excepting for the 1870s/1910s), retracting and retreating only to the most bedrock of Republican areas in the Northeast (even when FDR won in 1932, most of the state preferred to stick with Hoover outside of NYC). Even Massachusetts resisted a Democrat wave, keeping at or just above a majority of Republican members even in the 1930s. Only with the advent of the Kennedys would the Republican party there collapse rapidly beginning in the 1950s.
Even when FDR was elected, he had to cater to the Southern Solons that were the real power, especially in Congress once the Democrats took a majority. Although some were fine with an expansive government (such as the infamous racist Sen. Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi, who was also a crook), most scarcely were far removed from their views on Blacks as their ancestors who fought the War of Northern Aggression. FDR had to navigate the new dominant Democrat party through a huge group of differing interests (urban leftists, Northern Blacks (post-1936), labor, and the old-line Southern Dems).
When FDR settled on leftism and activist government as his main cause, the party began to see fissures, although it wouldn’t begin to have national implications for some time to come. Because there was a large segment of Democrats who weren’t left-wingers, FDR saw them as an impediment to his agenda and began to launch a purge of these “problem people” by the mid to late 1930s, which led to the repudiation election of 1938, where many Republicans were able to reclaim the seats washed away with 1932. Within 8 years more, they were remarkably able to reclaim, however fleetingly, the majority in the House again, although both the 1946 and 1952 elections were the last gasp for the pre-1932 Republican majority party. When it collapsed to mid 1930s proportions in the 1958 elections, the GOP would have to build a new majority coalition from scratch nationally, which would take decades to do at the Congressional levels, not reaching fruition until 1994.
It really wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s when many bedrock party areas of the country started to look beyond blind party loyalty and paid closer attention to ideology itself when you started to see a collapse of these formerly strong areas (Vermont, 1958; The Deep South in 1964), especially where electing Congressmembers were concerned. The districts that had elected a Republican in 1946 or 1952 may no longer be able to do so in 1960. Worse, Conservatism had gotten a black eye because of the leftist/media persecution of Sen. Joe McCarthy (nevermind he was right and vindicated by the Venona files), and suffered again in 1964 due to canonization of Jack Kennedy.
Of course, it panicked the Republican Establishment, who had been drifting leftward since FDR, and they believed the wave of the future for the party was to go left across the board (although the claim of being “socially tolerant”, “fiscal Conservative” was pure nonsense, especially in the case of the latter. These Eastern Establishment pols were spendthrifts beyond their Dem counterparts, notably Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, who spent in the vicinity of a billion dollars in money of that era, to build his ugly Empire State Plaza in Albany, NY, which looks like it should be the capitol of the Empire in Star Wars). In one of the wealthiest districts in America, the Manhattan Silk Stocking district, from 1947 until 1959, it had a Conservative Republican Congressman named Frederic René Coudert, Jr. With the left-wing Rockefellerites in charge of the party, they all but ordered Coudert to vacate his seat for the handsome, urbane, left-wing (and STD-riddled) John Vliet Lindsay in 1958. Coudert kindly obliged. Lindsay would go on to later become one of the most destructive leftist Mayors in American history during his 8 years in New York City, which would ultimately result in a million residents of the city departing (including mine). Not until Giuliani 2 decades later would the damage he created begin to be repaired. Lindsay, of course, left to become a Democrat during his 2nd term, but the national party had little use for him.
This was not just a Republican thing, but even many of the remaining Conservative Democrats were similarly forced either to leave the party or move ideologically to the left in order to keep power. Many chose to do the latter (the falsehood that Southern Conservative Dems became Republicans is one of the “big lies” perpetrated by the media). The Conservative Dems were not necessarily just in the South, either. Even in NYC, you had James Joseph Delaney, but with Watergate and the flooding in of Congress in the 1970s by McGovernite radicals, hard-core Socialists and de facto Communists, they threatened the old Solons that if they were to keep their jobs, either as party chairs or even as Congressmembers, they would have to move hard to the left. Delaney did so, as did many Southern Democrats. Former liberal Democrats who had done the opposite and moved rightward, such as Portland (Oregon)’s Edith Green ended up leaving Congress outright (Portland would then elect a string of leftist moonbats ever since her departure), and she would endorse Gerald Ford for President in 1976.
To look at their Conservative scores pre-1974/76 and after at some of these Democrats was astonishing. They were forced to become national leftist Democrats. Those that didn’t just simply quit. Referencing the New Dealer liberal Sen. Theodore Bilbo, in MS, he was replaced by John Stennis in 1947. Stennis was once regarded as a Conservative, but by the 1980s, he was closer to Ted Kennedy than any Conservative Republican in his voting habits. Many of them considered themselves Democrats first, ideology be damned. It was due to the power of incumbency that some of these folks in both parties, however out of step they were with their districts ideologically, that allowed them to stay long after they should’ve remained.
Anyway, that’s a bit of the overview of ideology vs. party since the 19th century. I hope I didn’t put you folks to sleep.
I would only add to this excellent review that not only was it not ideological but from 1865 to 1900 it was HEAVILY religious. Paul Kleppner did a pathbreaking book showing that you could predict elections based on a dozen midwestern counties of certain protestant religious make-ups.
But as you point out, for the longest time, the Civil War determined everything-—”vote as you shot”.
Utah, for example, voted GOP for the longest time because of Lincoln’s positive treatment of the Mormons during the CW.
Re: partisanship and discernment
Historically you have a point and could maybe find individual cases not too long ago (Poshard/Ryan though redistricting would have given me pause as GOP retaking the State House was very possible) where one would prefer the rat (as you recall I didn’t agree on replacing L Graham with the Paulbot weirdo rat in 2008). Liarman/Weicker for CT Senate I believe Buckley backed Liarman. Color me “blank ballot” on that one, what a couple of prize turds. “Human Events” endorsed Kennedy over Lodge in 1952, a poor choice for more than 1 reason.
But today, it’s no longer acceptable to support any democrat in a partisan race (not that you have to back the RINO if you don’t want to) where you have another choice. The party’s agenda is purely Satanic and if you serve in hell you are a devil, period.
Ping to post 44.
Far from putting me to sleep, I found this to be an outstanding supplement to your previous post—though containing, proportionately somewhat less new material for me. Back in the 80’s my U.S. history teacher, using some of what you raised along with some other material, drove firmly home that between the Civil War and some point (likely 1930), that one essentially had, at the county level, a bunch of one-party systems that were not all that detatched from each other. About the same time I also came to realize that tribalism tops ideology with a solid majority of people.
With all that said, I’m still inclined to stand by my post 13—I think that to the founding ideology of the GOP was predominately a New England busy-body outlook coupled with a sort of snobbish moral superiority that I would identify as liberal, and think runs true through the Bushes—traceable in the family from Prescott to Jeb.
However, I think that you are far more equipped to argue both sides of the question than I, and I applaud your evenhandedness.
Thank you. I also learned about U.S. history at the same time as yourself, albeit with generalized and left-leaning social studies texts of the period. I was unusual in that I preferred to study these things myself and my mastery of the schoolbooks would bust the proverbial grading curve. The more I learned, however, the less leftist I became, to the chagrin of my teachers. Of course, I’ve lived in one of those “one party” Democrat counties here in Tennessee (Nashville), which although it has voted Republican on occasion for President (not since 1988, and that only barely) and for incumbent Governors or U.S. Senators with weak Democrat opposition, but otherwise last elected a GOP Congressmember during U.S. Grant’s reelection in 1872 (and that only because 2 Democrats split the vote in the general).
The study of political science in general can be a very difficult mastery if only because it is fraught with such illogic. Whereas in arithmetic 2+2=4, that’s an absolute. In politics 2+2 does not necessarily equal 4. It might be 5 or 6, it might be 3, or it might simply be “x.” I used to detest in higher math the requirement by the teacher to “show my work” as to how I necessarily came to a given conclusion. It was often not by conventional means I reached an answer, and by that same reckoning, how I’m able to navigate one of the ugliest endeavors of mankind, figuring out the ups and downs of politics and how they play out/work, etc. I try to stick to domestic politics, since foreign is often even more erratic and illogical.
I have to tread carefully not to make too generalistic comments on such a broad subject, as things aren’t often as cut and dry (as our resident political historian pointed out, injecting that religion has also played a substantial role, and the varying differences between the Christian sects from the Founders up to the modern era, or even the lack thereof in the past 50 years or so).
You’re also correct about tribalism (or racial politics). I have noted one thing, however, where the Democrats have basically never changed in their prevailing philosophy, explicitly that of a raw appeal to racism. Despite claims to the contrary by the media, the party has, since the era of the abolitionist, expertly exploited racial divides and fanned the flames of hatred, and continue to do so to this day. They like the notion of the perpetually aggrieved, be it in the 1870s where Southern populists were going to violent ends to throw off “Black rule” (or even more egregious to them, “Biracial coalitions”) or equally ugly and odious displays such as when Dubya ran for President that Black people would be being tied to and dragged behind trucks, Biden’s “They’re gonna put y’all in chains !” and all the ugliness we saw with the recent election.
With such ludicrous and laughably false rhetoric, especially aimed at a racial group that has been significantly diminished since they entrusted the Democrats with almost their entire group vote post-1964, and again often in urban or rural areas where they reside where Republicans hold no office locally up to the Congressional level during that aforementioned half-century period (or longer, such as the 1st district of IL, based in the South Side of Chicago, the “premier” Black district since 1928, whose last GOP representive left office in 1935, 4 years more recent than the last GOP Mayor of Chicago, whom was no prize himself) would require the services of not only a historian, but that of a clinical psychiatrist or psychologist to attempt to analyze the ramifications of that peculiar form of pathology.
In short, the definition of insanity (as Einstein claimed) is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. In the case of Chicago, 82 years of Blacks voting Democrat has gotten them precisely nowhere. It didn’t require a quantum physicist to reach the conclusion that Barack Obama would and could not produce a better outcome for them. Indeed, his was the inversion of MLK’s “dream”, that of electing a man on his race and not his character. Sadly, even when a Republican officeholder demonstrably improves the lot for Blacks, such as Reagan in improving the employment rate or Giuliani in NYC drastically reducing the number of Black murder victims from astronomical levels, neither get any credit for it.
Not even the Republicans in the 1960s who fought harder to get Civil Rights Laws enacted over obstructionist Democrats, instead rewarding the Democrats with 90% of their votes (or that the father of MLK, Jr. would appear with and campaign for someone like Jimmy Carter, who ran a notoriously racist campaign for Governor of GA in the 1970 Democrat primary !), while Republicans like Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen, whose photo ought to hang in every Black household in America, is now completely forgotten, is an egregious injustice. That many miseducated and indoctrinated Blacks identify Abraham Lincoln as a Democrat shows that what has been done to them as a people by that party is as criminal, if not more so, than anything the Klan could ever conceive of. That Republicans, as a party, have stood by and allowed this to have persisted unchallenged and unchecked is equally egregious.
As for the claim to the founding of the GOP being “predominately a New England busy-body outlook coupled with a sort of snobbish moral superiority” is not entirely an incorrect conclusion, albeit a bit more complex. As was the case with the Democrats and Republicans having wide swaths of differing ideologies under one tent, this extended backwards as well to the Jacksonian era of the 1830s. The pre-Civil War Democrats had under its tent both abolitionists and States’ Rights folks. That they did not come permanently unglued was curious, as what befell the Whigs, as they two had to contend with two competing wings, known as Cottons (the upper crust pro-slavery types) and the Conscience Whigs (abolitionists).
In my state of Tennessee, for example, as generally was the case with what was then the “Western U.S.”, in the early days, it was basically one party, the Jeffersonians. Although a few might be found here and there, the Federalists generally didn’t make it past the East Coast out here to the frontier and the few that managed to secure Presidential appointments early on didn’t survive politically past Jefferson (such as Arthur St. Clair of Ohio, its first Governor, or Gov. Winthrop Sargent of Mississippi, or in the case of Gov. John Sevier in my state, he left his Federalist Party affiliation back in North Carolina, where he served as one in Congress). Still, you can basically trace the Republicans of today back to the Federalists.
It actually took until Andrew Jackson becoming President when TN gave him 95% of the vote (poor Henry Clay, who was just next door to us, got barely 4.6%) that he drove a massive fissure through the party support in the state. He all but created not only a Whig Party in TN to oppose him, but a Whig majority, which must’ve been quite galling to him. I live not far from his home, “The Hermitage”, and in his later years, Nashville was a Whig stronghold (albeit of the Cotton vintage). For a brief period in South Carolina, Jackson’s former Vice-President, John C. Calhoun, left the Democrats to form a Nullification opposition party and momentarily even tried to align with the Whigs to try to use it as a vehicle for States Rights and leave the Democrats behind for the Unionists and High Tariff types.
Of course, with all those opposing forces within the Whigs, the party that stood for everything stood for nothing, and they had to nominate candidates that, while credible as men, had to walk a fine line so as not to offend a wide segment of their party. As you’ll well recall, the 2 Whigs that won the Presidency never served a full term, with WH Harrison dying a month into his term and Zachary Taylor dying barely into his 2nd year, so we never saw what such a long-term (or even a full term) dominance of the executive would’ve accomplished (and neither of their VPs did much, John Tyler being a closet Democrat, was swiftly kicked from the Whigs as President, the only President to be stripped of party credentials in the history of the republic; and Millard Fillmore, amongst one of the more forgettable occupants. I couldn’t name anything of note that he did without looking it up. Fillmore had served previously in Congress from New York as a member of the Anti-Masonic Party when that was briefly a big deal).
When the Whigs effectively disintegrated with the 1854 mid-term elections, it did give Northern Democrat Abolitionists, Free-Soilers and Conscience Whigs a chance to form a like-minded ideological party. That might’ve been termed “liberal”, however the objection to that label would seem to imply Conservatives approved of slavery. Therein lies the bone of contention amongst historians and others ever since in trying to apply our definition of those labels today to the past. The same problem applies to the issue with respect to the position of John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson. Adams clearly wanted slavery ended, would that make him a liberal elitist ? He was lambasted as a Conservative Monarchist (the worst epithet you could throw at someone within memory of the Revolution). What would that make Jefferson, who might’ve put on a good show, but clearly was in no hurry where slavery was concerned (setting aside any alleged dalliances with Miss Sally Hemings, the half-sister of his beloved late wife) ? Would he be a Conservative ? He was a fan of the French Revolution, the rawest display of unbridled democracy in all its horror. That would place him as a man of the left. Hence the problem with trying to apply today’s labels again.
Add to that, since the traditional definition of right would be “Monarchist” (by European standards), all the Founding Fathers would be radical leftists, but yet they are “Conservative heroes” who freed us from the stifling conventions of English aristocracy. All this and more is why I’m uncomfortable labeling left vs. right prior to 1896 when the modern associations came clearer into focus on the political scene. Of course, back to social issues, you couldn’t start labeling people in that regard until the 1960s or 1970s (i.e. abortion).
Obviously, there was a touch of the Puritanical in the New England Republicans of the period, they were religiously devout and saw slavery as an abomination unworthy of a free republic. Would that make them liberal ? The same could be applied to the Moral Majority of the 1980s who felt the same about abortion, permissiveness in sexuality, gay rights, pornography, etc. They were similarly denounced as “busybodies” by libertines. You couldn’t call the latter Conservatives. Slavery supporters could make the argument that it was their business, guaranteed in law, and not for anyone to interfere with. That almost is closer to the hysterical women today screaming about “their bodies” in more vulgar terms to halt any attempts to stop infanticide.
As I was arguing recently, I had a dislike of certain figures, such as Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, one of the early Republican figures (Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren now sits in his seat), if only because he was doing everything imaginable to deliberately foment sectional divisions to lead to war. A key, early hypocrisy of the party in wanting to end slavery did not extend to wanting to bring the formally enslaved peoples en masse to more sympathetic Northern states. It could be very easy living in such states wanting to dictate right and wrong far away in the South, especially when you didn’t have to live cheek to jowl with the ex-slaves. I recall a letter between a New England Congressman and a doctor discussing bringing ex-slaves up en masse, proposed by the doctor, but when the logistics and sheer numbers were hashed out and what it would do to the small, charming, lily-white towns being outnumbered by unemployed, uneducated slaves with limited skills, it would turn the most rabid abolitionist into a rabid segregationist.
Look at “liberal” Boston in the 1960s and early 1970s when school integration was ordered by federal judges and all hell broke loose (one group wanted to march to the house of and lynch the Republican Governor of the time, Frank Sargent). Gov. George Wallace went up there and snickered at the so-called tolerant Yankees completely losing it over busing, pointing out that most Southerners did not act out as violently. Obviously, folks don’t like the social order being jostled too much and too radically. Witness the left losing their minds with Trump and that in states with heavy illegal populations that they’re going to lose their cheap labor. The recent meme comes to mind that the Democrats haven’t been this angry since Lincoln freed the slaves. It really is true.
Anyway, I’d better stop for now. My posts are getting ridiculously long.
His wife ( who would have been shunned in Washington, D.C. society) conveniently died of a” heart attack” just before Jackson left to assume his role as president.
Convenient deaths seem to follow the Democrats ever since up until this day.
The personal attacks and stress of the 1828 campaign obviously proved critical to her. I’m amazed that Jackson wasn’t so deranged from anger when he took office that he didn’t take the proverbial flamethrower to DC.
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