Texas Legends #10: Lyndon Baines Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson | The White House

The last post I did on Texas Legends was in August, and the reason for this is that I am doing them in chronological order and the next guy was the most famous of them, Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973). I had great difficulty getting around to this because so many biographies have been written on him and have gone into greater depth on him than I could possibly hope to. Robert Caro alone has devoted so much of his long life to writing the ultimate biographical series on him. I sincerely hope he lives to complete his final volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson. This being said, I asked myself, what can I contribute to this subject? A profile like the others will not do as so much is covered about him in other works. Thus, I have decided to focus largely on his voting record on ideologically salient issues, as this is my specialty. I will be putting most of my focus here into his time as a representative and senator.

When Johnson was first elected to Congress in 1937, he was succeeding another significant figure in Texas politics, James P. Buchanan, who had died in office. He was an enthusiastic New Dealer in his Congressional years and backed key legislation such as the Fair Labor Standards Act and FDR’s reorganization plan that his critics called the “Dictator Bill”. Johnson’s first MC-Index score was a 12%. This placed him among the liberals in the Texas delegation, including Sam Rayburn and Maury Maverick. Already by the time of his entry to Congress Texans were starting to get more hesitant about the New Deal…the average House delegation score for Texas that session was 29% and it would grow in the years to come. Johnson was a master at courting whoever he identified as the most powerful person where he was. In the House, this was Sam Rayburn and in the Senate this was Richard Russell of Georgia. He acted as a bit of a surrogate son to these childless bachelors. Johnson’s record was throughout the 1940s a 100% interventionist on foreign policy and opposed civil rights legislation. Indeed, most Texans were as a matter of course voting against civil rights. The only exceptions in this time were Maury Maverick (thus suiting his name), Albert Thomas, and R. Ewing Thomason. Johnson further solidified his liberal record after his reelection in 1938, scoring a mere 3% on the MC-Index. The only issue he sided with conservatives on by this measure was his vote against Vito Marcantonio’s (ALP-N.Y.) proposal to recommit an anti-subversive bill. No Texan sided with Marcantonio on this one. He was also one of only three Texas representatives to vote against the Hobbs Bill for illegal alien detention, which was dubbed the “concentration camp bill” by its critics. In the 77th Congress, Johnson’s score jumps to a 40%, but he cast only five votes among those counted in this session. This was because he was busy trying to win a Senate election in 1941 (which he lost by a little more than 1000 votes, possibly due to voter fraud) and for much of 1942 he was serving in the navy. His votes for the conservative position were regarding the Vinson Anti-Strike Bill; Albert Thomas alone among Texans voted against this effort at limiting the power of unions. Texas Democrats had at one point been favorable to unions as a way of counterbalancing the power of Northern capitalists, but once unions started to threaten the low-wage system that characterized the old South most Southern politicians lined up against further union power. This served as a major exception to Johnson’s liberalism during the Roosevelt period. He remained an enthusiastic supporter of work relief, alphabet agencies, and public power. In the 78th Congress, Johnson scores a 21%, with his primary dissents from the liberal position involving again labor issues. He also voted to reauthorize the House Committee on Un-American Activities. However, Johnson backed strong price controls, opposed tax relief, and supported the retention of funding for New Deal programs. In the following Congress, Johnson scored a 17%. His primary differences with liberals were exclusively on issues regarding organized labor. Price controls, housing subsidies, and government ownership of means of production in power met with his approval. After the 1946 election, Johnson would face his first Republican Congress.

Johnson’s legislative behavior in the 80th Congress mirrored that in the previous Congress: his score was a 16% and again the issues he dissented with liberals on involved labor given his favorable votes on the Taft-Hartley Act. In 1948, Johnson again tried for the Senate after the man who bested him, Pappy O’Daniel, had become so unpopular that he chose not to run again. His foe was Coke Stevenson, a conservative Democrat who was more in step with Texans than O’Daniel and far more competent. However, Johnson had an ace up his sleeve: election fraud. He barely pulled off a victory in the Democratic primary, by 87 votes. 202 additional late votes had come in from Precinct 13 of Jim Wells County. All were votes for Johnson, all were in alphabetical order, and all had the same handwriting with the same ink. Retired election judge Luis Salas admitted in 1977 that he had certified ballots he knew were fraudulent for Johnson on the orders of political boss George Parr, stating “Johnson did not win the election – it was stolen for him and I know exactly how it was done” (The New York Times). The nickname of “Landslide Lyndon” was initially derisive given the nature of his victory.

The Senate: Johnson’s Prime

The position in which Lyndon B. Johnson functioned best was the Senate. He would after his presidency compare the House and the Senate to George H.W. Bush as “chicken shit” to “chicken salad” (Autry).  Johnson would in four years of being sworn in be elected leader of the minority Democrats. He did some things as senator that infuriated progressives, including his campaign against the renomination of Leland Olds for the Federal Power Commission, deriding him as an anti-capitalist zealot who opposed the oil industry. Olds had in his younger years held radical views and associated for a time with the Technical Alliance under Thorstein Veblen, an influencer of the Technocracy movement. He charged him with having communist sympathies and used writings of his out of context to falsely paint him as such (Caro, 10-12). Although conservatives would likely have voted against Olds without such a smear campaign given his New Dealish politics, he was defeated on a vote of 15-53 and never held a government position again. However, Johnson largely backed President Truman’s Fair Deal agenda. He also was always sure to defend the interests of Texas, and this most showed with his support of legislation to grant title over oil deposits to the states. This would benefit California, Louisiana, and Texas most.

In the 83rd Congress, Johnson would face his second Republican controlled Congress and even there he managed to exercise influence. I have covered his impressive defeat of the Bricker Amendment before, which he pulled off despite voting for the revised version of it. The 1954 election would return the Democrats to the majority in both the House and the Senate. Speaker Sam Rayburn and Majority Leader Johnson would frequently collaborate with President Eisenhower and he often relied on them. Indeed, Eisenhower had appreciated his takedown of the Bricker Amendment. Both of them shared an internationalist philosophy, and Johnson didn’t want something pesky like the Bricker Amendment interfering with his treaty making powers when he would be president.

Southern senators were skillful and coordinated in their support of maintaining Jim Crow and in support of other “Southern” causes, but this came at a cost: no Democrat from a Southern state had been president since Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, and he had been elected vice president on the Union Party ticket. LBJ knew that if he were to have a chance, he couldn’t be a typical Southerner. Other Southern senators understood this and thus he wasn’t even approached to sign the Southern Manifesto in 1956. In 1957, he engineered the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first time this had happened since 1875 and the first time he had ever backed such a measure. However, this came at a cost: Johnson emasculated the bill. Liberal critics often thought of him as too conservative given his close associations and friendships with Southern legislators, and this was for the Senate portion of his career not wholly unjustified: his MC-Index average score is the highest in this period of his career, with term one being a 33%, which although it doesn’t make him conservative it is more than high enough for liberals to have complaints. His conservative votes often were on defending regional interests, including his support for limiting union power and on oil. He also at times cast votes against liberal alternative proposals in the Senate, such as one regarding unemployment compensation in 1958. However, he was a reliable vote for proposals on agriculture, public housing, public power, food stamps, public works, and voted for Medicare in 1960. Johnson’s Senate record got more liberal in term two, with his MC-Index average being a 14%. He would further prove where his heart was as president.

In 1960, Johnson sought the nomination but he got the ultimate consolation prize: the vice presidency. This was the worst time in his career, as I covered in my post on presidents and vice presidents who didn’t get along. However, President Johnson (6%) proved considerably more liberal than Representative (18%) or Senator (24%) Johnson. His Great Society was the greatest expansion of the federal government’s functions since the New Deal. Indeed, it was the spiritual successor of the New Deal and covered some areas the New Deal (mostly) passed over, like civil rights. He went further on civil rights than could have been imagined only a decade before, not only with his backing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 but also his support for fair housing. Johnson even backed ending the “right to work” section of the Taft-Hartley Act, a reversal of his previous support in 1947. It was also one of the few parts of the Great Society that didn’t pass in the staunchly liberal 89th Congress. Much liberal appreciation that went into his work was, however, marred as we all know by the escalating American participation in the Vietnam War. Johnson’s lifetime MC-Index score was an 18% overall.


Autry, C. (2012, October 26). Top profanity in POTUS history. NBC12.

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Caro, R.A. (2002). Master of the Senate: the years of Lyndon Johnson. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Ex-Official Says He Stole 1948 Election for Johnson. (1977, July 31). The New York Times.

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Johnson, L.B. (1949). Leland Olds: The Record vs. Propaganda. United States Government Printing Office.

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Some Votes Referenced Specifically or By Issues:


Rolls 125, 145, & 154, 1938.

Rolls 39 & 84, 1939.

Rolls 73 & 74, 1941.

Rolls 4, 6, 44, 52, 53, 54, & 68, 1943.  

Roll 106 (he paired against), 1944.

Rolls 121, 122, 141, 143, 146, 154, 190, & 202, 1946.

Rolls 26, 27, & 51, 1947.


Roll 220, 1949.

Roll 19, 1953.

Roll 109, 1954.

Rolls 34, 59, 131, 132, 175, 1957.

Rolls 7, 198, 208, 1959.

The Searchlight: A Shining Light to Past Politics

Gutzon Borglum 1919.jpg
Gutzon Borglum, Mt. Rushmore sculptor and progressive.

The other night while conducting political research, I encountered a most curious article from almost 100 years ago. This article is from The Searchlight, a progressive magazine and it covers the results of the 1922 midterms and the lame-duck session in which conservative Republicans are said to try to pass as much legislation as possible. One of the featured authors is Mt. Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who writes “Harding’s Challenge to Democracy”. He characterizes the GOP as a reactionary party (eat your heart out, party switch narrative proponents!) and writes, “The West is risen again, Father Abraham, and the South will help! These two great producing districts of our country must join hands against the common national enemy and save our common country – as Lincoln feared would come, an enemy a hundred-fold worse than any we ever faced – the enslaving of all the people by a few through money – holding our food, our fuel, our transportation, our legislation” (Borglum, 8). This common enemy he speaks of are Northern capitalists and their Republican friends. Back then as now, the liberals were fretting over the private sector and the GOP as perilous to democracy. The Harding Administration’s loan to Liberia is regarded as “an imperialist, special privilege measure” (Borglum, 8). A major emphasis exists on Senator Truman H. Newberry of Michigan, who faced a Henry Ford-led campaign against him for his campaign spending. The publication goes as far as to speak of “Newberryism”, which seems to be a form of reactionary political corruption.

The Searchlight reported that the 1922 elections were bad for “Old Guard” and identified the following senators as among that class (with MC-Index scores noted for the 67th Congress, lifetime not yet available for all):

George P. McLean (R-Conn.) – 94

Frederick Hale (R-Me.) – 88

Henry Cabot Lodge Sr. (R-Mass.) – 88

David A. Reed (R-Penn.) – 89

George W. Pepper (R-Penn.) – 92

Frank Greene (R-Vt.) – 100

The article goes on to state that, “In no state where the electorate is alert and not enslaved by partisanship was there endorsement of a reactionary Senator who sought reelection. Let us examine this remarkable situation in a little more detail” (4). The following are identified as reactionary, and I accompany these people with their new MC-Index scores for the 67th Congress:

William M. Calder (R-N.Y.) – 94

T. Coleman Du Pont (R-Del.) – 100

Joseph I. France (R-Md.) – 64, whose opponent, William C. Bruce, was regarded as having “reactionary leanings”. Indeed, Bruce was one of the least liberal Democrats in the 1920s.

Frank B. Kellogg (R-Minn.) – 79

Joseph Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) – 89

Porter J. McCumber (R-N.D.) – 83

Miles Poindexter (R-Wash.) – 93

Howard Sutherland (R-W.V.) – 78

Charles Townsend (R-Mich.) – 87

Henry Myers (D-Mont.) is regarded as a “reactionary Democrat”. His MC-Index score is a 44% in the 67th Congress, which is high for a Democrat in that time. Burton K. Wheeler, his successor, is regarded as a “liberal Democrat”. Wheeler would in 1924 be Robert La Follette’s running mate on the Progressive Party ticket, which implies that the understanding of “liberal” wasn’t all that different 100 years ago than now. Indeed, it seems like that if indeed the meaning of liberal did change, it changed before the 1920s, as opposed to the advent of FDR’s New Deal. There is also coverage of the senators who they regard as progressive who won election and reelection, the MC-Index scores are noted for the 67th Congress: “Ashurst [6], Gerry [12], Jones [28], Kendrick [50], King [47], McKellar [6], Pittman [0], and Trammell [13] are all generally found on the progressive side of important issues and situations. Among the new Democratic Senators, Dill, Wheeler, Mayfield, Copeland and George [20] are reported as fighting liberals, with Ferris and Ralston not far behind” (5). The inclusion of William H. King of Utah is a bit curious given his comparative moderation and in some respects John B. Kendrick of Wyoming as well, but the latter’s MC-Index score gets higher in the 67th Congress because of his pro-tariff votes, which is possibly out of the interests of his state. Some of these people would later move in a much more conservative direction, including Copeland, George, Gerry, McKellar, and Wheeler. Given that their records, with the exception of Copeland, were progressive throughout the 1920s, I think I am on the right track with my MC-Index. My system I think is superior to the “parties switched” narratives of modern progressive journalists in accuracy as it is much closer to capturing the ideological politics of the era.

The Searchlight also had an article on Majority Leader Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.), who is characterized as “…of the Old Guard, a hopeless reactionary in both politics and economics, excepting occasionally when a campaign approaches. Then, for election purposes, he may reluctantly support a popular progressive measure, such as the maternity bill” (Haines, 12) I have covered Lodge before, and what this publication tells me about him is consistent of what I have read of him before. The Searchlight seems an interesting view into the past, including what publications they collaborate with for savings on progressive subscriptions. These include, The World Tomorrow (a Christian socialist magazine that is now defunct, not the later broadcast of that religious cult), The Dearborn Independent (Henry Ford’s magazine now known mostly for anti-Semitism, shuttered in 1927), La Follette’s Weekly (exists today as The Progressive), The Nation (has existed since 1865), The Commoner (William Jennings Bryan’s publication, shuttered in 1923), The New Republic (has existed since 1914), and The National Leader (I have found no info on this one yet). Anti-Semitism seems to not have been thought of as a great problem for the folks at The Searchlight, and so far, I have also yet to encounter any talk about race. Indeed, minority identity issues are just not a thing for the progressives of this time.


Borglum, G. (1922, November 30). Harding’s Challenge to Democracy. The Searchlight.

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Haines, L. (1922, August 31). The Official Facts About Senator Lodge. The Searchlight.

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To Old and New Searchlight Subscribers. (1923, May 1). The Searchlight.

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Your Government at Washington. (1922, November 30). The Searchlight.

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Royal Copeland: The Start of New York’s Democratic Shift

Senator Royal Copeland of New York

Royal Samuel Copeland (1868-1938) was a homeopathic doctor who underwent party and ideological shifts in his life. He was at the start of the 20th century Mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Republican. However, after moving to New York City in 1908 to serve as dean of the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital, Copeland saw where the power was with Tammany Hall and aligned himself with the organization as a Democrat. Thanks to his connections, he was appointed head of the New York City Board of Health in 1918, and there he would face a great test.

Copeland faced, as we have recently, a pandemic as the head of the New York City Board of Health. Like many do at the start of such events he downplayed early reports, but as influenza spread he made some decisions surrounding the pandemic that were interesting to say the least. Copeland kept schools and theaters open during the pandemic. He justified the former as better than the living conditions many students had at home at the time and the latter given that public transportation was still open. Despite schools being open, many parents kept their children out of school anyway. These decisions were thought of as questionable at the time, but New York City ultimately fared better than many other major cities in deaths per capita, including Boston and Philadelphia. Copeland also benefited from a public health department that had already been functioning effectively.

His handling at the end of the pandemic was viewed positively and this raised his profile. In 1922, New York was a much different state than it is now: it was represented by James W. Wadsworth Jr. and William M. Calder. Both men were conservative Republicans, and the state had a history of electing such people to the Senate. One of its senators, Chauncey Depew, was an ultra-conservative who was one of the subjects of muckraker David Graham Phillips’ expose, The Treason of the Senate, during the first Roosevelt Administration. Fortunately for Copeland, Calder was not an exceptional senator and in 1922, the midterms went as midterms usually go for the president’s party. He lost reelection to Copeland by over 11 points, whose campaign had as its honorary chair none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although his first two years were characterized by progressive voting, he soon shifted to being a moderate and this was a negative portend of how he would address the New Deal. Also, as a physician, Copeland pushed for air conditioning in the Senate and attributed the lack of it as a contributing cause of the deaths of thirty-four senators over a twelve-year period. By 1929, air conditioning was installed in the Senate.

1928 was a difficult year for New York Democrats, as although they won both the gubernatorial and senatorial elections, the margins were narrow and Hoover won the state. Copeland outperformed FDR on the ticket by defeating his challenger, Republican industrialist Alanson B. Houghton, by about a point. However, Hoover had only won the state by two points in part due to Al Smith headlining the ticket. This was also a massive improvement for Democrats over their 1924 performance, in which Coolidge trounced John W. Davis by double-digits.

Although Copeland’s colleague, Robert F. Wagner, was one of the foremost New Dealers, Copeland was supportive but not enthusiastic on the First 100 Days legislation. Despite his close ties to Tammany Hall, he sponsored legislation to criminalize the practice of kickbacks for federal contracts, a practice that occurred in an estimated 25% of all money in federal contracts (Hill). He was a staunch supporter of civil rights legislation, which put him at odds with the Southern wing of his party which until the 1930s was decisively dominant. Senator Tom Heflin of Alabama, reacting to Copeland’s hostile response to his condemnation of New York’s law permitting interracial relationships, stated that if Copeland visited Alabama on a presidential campaign the people would lynch him. In 1937, he attempted twice to add anti-lynching legislation to New Deal measures, but they were voted down since if adopted, such measures would have had a united Southern front of opposition.

After the 1934 midterms, which Copeland handily won against future Congressman E. Harold Cluett, he turned increasingly hostile to the New Deal. In his final term, his MC-Index score averaged a 76%. In 1937, he ran in the Democratic and Republican primaries for New York City mayor as a conservative and lost both. For the Democrats, he was closely tied to Tammany Hall and for the Republicans, they were still on board with progressive Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. That year, Copeland led the charge against the nomination of Senator Hugo Black to the Supreme Court for his prior membership in the KKK, although his status as a staunch New Dealer was certainly another motivator. He also participated in the drafting of the Conservative Manifesto, a conservative alternative to the New Deal, which I discussed in my post of June 5, 2018, which I will link below. On April 6, 1938, he got into a dispute with the famously hot-tempered Senator Kenneth McKellar (D-Tenn.). The debate was about appropriating funds for anti-aircraft guns on the East Coast. Copeland favored and McKellar opposed, and after the latter asserted that a certain army witness “tells the truth”, the former responded, “It may be that some others tell the truth, too” (Hill, 2015). McKellar interpreted this as him implying that he was a liar after he wouldn’t further clarify what he meant, and after a few more words between them, he challenged him to a fight and had to be restrained by Senator Bennett Champ Clark of Missouri. Only two months later, Copeland died of a heart attack in his apartment, apparently a consequence of overwork. Only a week before, he had won passage of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938. The nature of Copeland’s passing was tragically ironic given his emphasis on the health of fellow senators, including warning them against overwork after the death of Majority Leader Joseph Robinson (D-Ark.) the previous year, which had been attributed to stress and overwork. His lifetime score was a 47%.

Senator Copeland’s MC-Index scores overtime. The x-axis is sessions of Congress and the y-axis is MC-Index scores.

Copeland was succeeded by Congressman James M. Mead, who was a liberal like Wagner. To this day, he is the last non-liberal Democrat to represent New York in the Senate but was a figure who helped bringing the state more to the Democratic fold and away from conservatism. Indeed, after Copeland’s defeat of Calder and Wagner’s defeat of Wadsworth in 1926, the only people who can be said in any sense to be conservative who were elected to the Senate from New York since were James L. Buckley (who was ultra) and Al D’Amato (who was moderate).

P.S.: Shout out and thanks to user LT for the suggestion of this topic!


Again, Heflin. (1930, February 17). TIME Magazine.

Fist Fight Averted on Senate Floor; McKellar, in Sharp Exchange on Army Bill, Challenges Copeland to Combat. (1938, April 6). The New York Times.

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Gillis, A.M. (2014). The Devastation of 1918. Humanities, 35(2).

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Hill, R. (2018, February 11). Doctor In the Senate: Royal S. Copeland of New York. The Knoxville Focus.

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Markel, H. (2020, July 13). Analysis: Why some schools stayed open during the 1918 flu pandemic. PBS.

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To Table an Amendment to S. 2475, Offered by Senator Copeland Which Would Have Added the Anti-Lynching Bill as Perfected by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to the Pending Legislation. Govtrack.

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To Table an Amendment to S. 69, The Interstate Commerce Act. The Amend. Offered by Senator Copeland Which Would Have Added House Bill 1507, The Anti-Lynching Bill, to S. 69, a Bill Limiting the Size of Trains in Interstate Commerce. Govtrack.

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Waldrop, T. (2020, August 19). Here’s what happened when students went to school during the 1918 pandemic. CNN.

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My posting on the “Conservative Manifesto”:

James B. Allen: Master Parliamentarian and Forgotten Conservative Leader

By 1968, Alabama was thoroughly transformed from what it was ten years ago politically. Not only could Republicans compete in the state, the state’s Democrats became much more conservative in the wake of the civil rights movement. This was reflected by the rise of George Wallace to the governorship in the 1962 election and the rightward shift of its two senators, Lister Hill and John J. Sparkman. They had at one time been loyal to Harry S. Truman’s Fair Deal. Hill, who had come close to losing reelection to a Republican in 1962, was not up for another term and in his place came a far more conservative Democrat in James Browning Allen (1912-1978).

Allen had twice served as Alabama’s lieutenant governor: 1951-1955, and under George Wallace from 1963 to 1967. To win the election he first had to contend with Congressman Armistead I. Selden Jr., another conservative Democrat who was endorsed by Hill. Allen was able to effectively paint him as a Washington insider and won. He won the general election with 70% of the vote.

Allen was, like his ally George Wallace, a segregationist as he had urged rejection of federal education funds to avoid desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education but unlike him he was not a demagogue who indulged in white supremacist rhetoric and had a strong legalistic mind. While Wallace was outspoken, Allen was shy. Despite this, he made such a mark on the Senate in his time with his knowledge and mastery of the rules that Senator Sam Ervin said of him that if he had “to stand with one man at Armageddon and battle for the Lord” he would chose Allen (Farber). He often led in opposition to key liberal issues, such as postcard voter registration, campaign finance legislation, and busing. Only four years after first taking office, The New York Times acknowledged his skill in holding up the business that the Senate liberals wanted. Although liberal Democrats, such as Majority Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana, criticized his practices as abusing the rules and obstruction, Allen held that “To debate and discuss can’t do anything but good” (Farber). However, there was also admiration from the liberal side. None other than Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) judged him to be “perhaps the greatest parliamentarian ever to sit in the United States Senate” (Farber).

Allen continued to lead on issues throughout the 1970s, including against pay increases for legislators while the American people were chafing under inflation and against the New York City bailout. On the latter, he stated opposition to “city slickers from New York calling on their country cousins for help” (Farber). Although Allen often was a block to legislation, sometimes he added constructive amendments, such as in 1973 when he added an amendment permitting the purchase of plants and seeds with food stamps, reasoning that if people got additional means to feed themselves it would reduce dependence on the government, through sale or consumption.

Although Southern support for de jure segregation ended definitively in the 1970s with George Wallace’s dropping of the issue, Allen, as far as I’ve found, never made a clear break from his segregationist past. In 1975, he fought the extension of the Voting Rights Act and in 1977 he was one of four senators to vote against funding the Civil Rights Commission.  His final battle was against the Panama Canal Treaty, but he was unable to persist in his leadership here as he died of a heart attack on June 1, 1978. His death at 65, in retrospect, was far from surprising. A 1973 article in The New York Times on him noted “his love for Southern cooking and his aversion to health foods and exercise fads” as well as his affinity for burgers and ice cream (Delaney). The leadership against the treaty ultimately passed on to the capable Paul Laxalt of Nevada.  Although succeeded by his widow, Maryon, she lost the 1978 primary to the far more liberal Donald W. Stewart.

Allen, who had a lifetime MC-Index score of 85%, is today a forgotten figure despite his S-tier parliamentary skills, largely a product of his 1978 death. Had he lived into the Reagan years, he may be more remembered. However, it turns out Allen had a protege…Jesse Helms of North Carolina. He had taken him under his wing during his first term and he would follow in his stead as the conservative rules master, bedeviling the aims of liberal politicians and of both Republican and Democratic presidents on State Department nominees until his 2003 retirement.


Delaney, P. (1973, December 3). Filibuster’s Leader James Browning Allen. The New York Times.

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Farber, M.A. (1978, June 2). Senator James B. Allen Dies; Alabamian Led Canal Pact Fight. The New York Times.

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History. SNAP Gardens.

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Senator Tells of Bid to Kill Congress Pay Rise Moves. (1973, July 21). The New York Times.

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Watson, E.L. (2010, November 9). James B. Allen. Encyclopedia of Alabama.

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The Republican Families of Old North Carolina

See the source image
Jeter C. Pritchard (R-N.C.), 1895-1903.

From 1876 to 1964, North Carolina voted for a Republican president exactly one time: Herbert Hoover in 1928. The most prominent families in North Carolina politics from the fundamentally disadvantaged Republican Party were the Pritchards and the Jonases. After Reconstruction, Democrats were dominant but the economic depression that came out of the Panic of 1893 tried even the Democratic dominance of the South. In Alabama and North Carolina they especially had problems holding on. After the 1894 election, the Republican-Populist multiracial coalition came to dominate the state. The state legislature, now under the control of this coalition, elected in a compromise Republican Jeter C. Pritchard (MCI: 83%) and Populist Marion P. Butler. This was an odd pairing, as Pritchard was a conservative while Butler was a progressive. However, this coalition’s power didn’t last for reasons I have covered in my “How the South Became Republican, Part III” posting. Pritchard did in 1898 request President William McKinley to send federal marshals to protect black voters in the upcoming election from intimidation and violence, expressing his fear that there would be a “race war”, but no help was to come from the White House (Zucchino, 132-134). However, Pritchard and Congressman George White were at odds as the former was willing to make overtures to the “lily-white” faction and by 1900, he had come fully on board as the state’s Jim Crow constitution had been implemented and wasn’t going away any time soon. In 1902, he didn’t bother to run for reelection. On November 10, 1903, President Roosevelt nominated Pritchard to serve on the D.C. Supreme Court. On June 1, 1904, he was elevated to the Fourth Circuit. He from the bench pushed against Jim Crow laws, calling for the Senate to declare the grandfather clause unconstitutional as a violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments (Zucchino, 312). The Supreme Court did rule the grandfather clause unconstitutional in Guinn v. United States (1915), but Southern states found other legal means to exclude as many black voters as possible. Pritchard would remain in the judiciary until his death.

In 1928, Republicans saw some success in the elections of Charles A. Jonas (MCI: 93%) and Pritchard’s son, George M. Pritchard (MCI: 87%), to Congress. However, on race issues the son seems to have fallen a bit from the tree; he adamantly refused to have his office next to Oscar De Priest’s (R-Ill.), the first black American elected to Congress in the 20th century. This may have been to increase his profile for his senatorial ambitions. In 1930, he ran for the Senate but lost by over 20 points to Democrat Josiah W. Bailey, who would end up being a prominent foe of FDR’s New Deal. Pritchard was not daunted by his margin of defeat and challenged the election, alleging voter fraud. This in truth served as nothing more than a symbolic challenge to Democratic dominance of North Carolina, as even if contested counties were ruled out, Bailey would still win.

In 1948, Pritchard ran for governor and although he easily lost he gained attention for his call for using the state’s budget surplus to fund education. Jonas lost reelection in 1930 with the onset of the Great Depression and attempted twice more to run for Congress, in 1932 and in 1942 against former Governor Cameron Morrison for North Carolina’s 10th district, which he lost by over 10 points. However, his son, Charles R. Jonas (MCI: 93%), won the district ten years later. He would be the first long-term Republican Congressman in the 20th century from the state, serving from 1953 to 1973. He gained a reputation as a staunch fiscal conservative, regularly proposing 1% cuts in spending for various departments which would regularly fail in Democratic Congresses. These efforts would earn him the designation of “Watchdog of the Treasury” and his loyalty to conservative Republican positions earned him “Mr. Republican”. Jonas voted against most civil rights measures during the civil rights era, making exceptions for the 24th Amendment (poll tax ban) and the Jury Selection and Service Act in 1968. However, he moderated on civil rights issues during the Nixon Administration. Jonas was also one of twenty-four representatives to vote against the Equal Rights Amendment in 1971. In 1972, he opted not to run for reelection.


Baker, M.A. (1988). Jonas, Charles Andrew. NCPedia.

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Charles Jonas Dies. (1988, October 1). The Washington Post.

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Cherry, R.L. (1994). Pritchard, George Moore. NCPedia.

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Dunlap, A.B. (2015). Tea and Equality: The Hoover Administration and the DePriest Incident. U.S. Archives.

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Justesen, B.R. (2006). Lily-White Politics. NCPedia.

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Morgan, J.L. (1994). Pritchard, Jeter Conley. NCPedia.

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The Election Case of George M. Pritchard v. Josiah W. Bailey of North Carolina (1933). U.S. Senate.

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Zucchino, D. (2020). Wilmington’s lie: the murderous coup of 1898 and the rise of white supremacy.

Boston, MA: Atlantic Monthly Press.

The Minnesota Massacre

On November 7, 1978, President Jimmy Carter, as have most presidents, faced a midterm. Midterms tend not to go well for the president’s party. They were not bad historically speaking nationwide as although Democrats lost seats in quite a few places but they partially mitigated it by winning in other places and they held both chambers. This has, as of the time of writing, been the last time this would happen for the president’s party in a midterm. One place, however, in which the election was an unmitigated disaster for them was in Minnesota. This massacre was not any sort of shootout, rather it was a political massacre closer to the sense that Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” was one.

See the source image
Wendell Anderson, the most prominent casualty of the “Minnesota Massacre”.

1976 in a number of ways was a good election year for Minnesota Democrats. Walter Mondale was the second Minnesota Democrat to be elected vice president, and the other Minnesota Democrat to have been vice president, Hubert Humphrey, was reelected as expected. However, in the wake of this success it was little known that an era was about to end. With Mondale in the vice presidency, Governor Wendell Anderson, who was polished, young, popular, and a rising star in the Democratic Party, took his opportunity. He resigned and had his successor, Lieutenant Governor Rudy Perpich, appoint him to the Senate. The story of the other senator, on the other hand, was a sad affair. Humphrey had for years been having problems with his bladder and on August 18, 1977, his surgeon declared his cancer “terminal”; it had spread to his pelvis and was inoperable. On January 13, 1978, he died and his widow Muriel was appointed to hold the seat until the next election. The primary to succeed Humphrey was a bitter one between staunch liberal Minneapolis Congressman Don Fraser and more moderate businessman Bob Short, with the latter pulling off a narrow victory. The three Democrats holding all positions were unelected to them, making the seats particularly vulnerable. The Republicans capitalized on this as much as they could and played it smart by nominating for Senate David Durenberger and Rudy Boschwitz and for Governor Congressman Al Quie. None of these men were doctrinaire conservatives, rather ranged from moderate to moderate conservative. Anderson’s move was highly unpopular and it reflected poorly on Perpich as well, and the former serves as one of eight examples why governors getting themselves appointed to the Senate by their successors is a terrible idea. On election day 1978, Durenberger wrecked Short, prevailing by 26 points as many liberal Democrats preferred a moderate Republican to an insufficiently liberal Democrat. Boschwitz knocked out Anderson by 16 points, and Quie defeated Perpich by 7 points. Anderson and Short never ran for elected office again, a stunning turn for the former who had at one time been speculated as a vice president pick. The latter might have had further political aspirations, but he died in 1982. Quie, however, opted not to run again in 1982 after a difficult term, enabling Perpich to make a comeback and he served as governor for eight years afterwards. Boschwitz stayed in office until his 1990 defeat by Paul Wellstone and Durenberger until 1995, who had opted not to run for reelection after an ethics scandal resulted in his censure and continuing legal problems.

Minnesota has become a bit more of a competitive state on the national scale in recent years than the age of such Democratic giants as Humphrey, McCarthy, and Mondale but Republicans still have their work cut out for them before they can pull off another triumph like 1978.


Dornfield, S. (2016, July 18). Wendell Anderson: A shooting star who fell to earth. MinnPost.

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Humphrey’s Cancer is Called Terminal. (1977, August 19). The New York Times.

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Investigating Social Shifts: LGBT Issues Part II

For much of American history, homosexuality was largely considered unspeakable and unprintable, and this was evident with how some apparently closeted politicians were addressed. In 1924, Harold Knutson’s (R-Minn.) apparent tryst in a car with a male bureaucrat was reported as a “grave moral offense” and despite offering officers a bribe he survived the scandal and even became chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. It was regarded as an open secret that Senator David I. Walsh (D-Mass.) was a homosexual, but the public of the state had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude on it. As long as Walsh’s homosexuality was kept in the shadows, the Massachusetts public largely chose to look the other way. It was only after unsubstantiated accusations by Walter Winchell of him frequenting a Nazi-infiltrated brothel that he was defeated for reelection in 1946.  During the 1950s, homosexuals were thought of as security risks in government by numerous American anti-communist politicians and the American government as they were under the belief that they were vulnerable to blackmail by Soviet agents. They also thought them to be susceptible to communist recruitment and psychologically disturbed. Such beliefs were bolstered by the fact that most of the founders of the gay rights organization, the Mattachine Society, were along with its leader, Harry Hay, communists. Ironically, Hay himself was expelled from the Communist Party, at his own recommendation to protect the party which also opposed homosexuality at the time, as a “security risk” (Feinberg).

In President Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450 in 1953, “sexual perversion” is the term employed for grounds for investigation and dismissal rather than outright stating “homosexuality”. Although that term was probably employed so that other practices regarded as objectionable by society could be grounds, most of the time it meant homosexuality. This was the greatest legal product of the Lavender Scare. In addition to investigating the government for the presence of communists, anti-communist politicians also investigated homosexuality. Senators Kenneth Wherry (R-Neb.) and Lister Hill (D-Ala.) were central figures in the Senate in investigating homosexuality in the government through a short-lived committee. Wherry himself expressed an attitude that reflected that of many of his fellow legislators and Americans, “You can’t hardly separate homosexuals from subversives…But look, Lerner, we’re both Americans, aren’t we? I say let’s get these fellows out of the government” (Lerner, 313-16). This was followed up by another, larger investigation headed by Clyde Hoey (D-N.C.), which included six other senators. The talk about homosexuality was constrained, however, by the fact that the six male senators, all who were socially conservative, were deeply uncomfortable discussing sex in front of Margaret Chase Smith (R-Me.). In fact, the courtly Senator Hoey even asked Smith to skip discussions on the ground that they couldn’t ask more explicit questions with her present (Adkins). Unlike the investigations of HCUA, McCarran, or McCarthy into communists, this one didn’t involve the public naming of names, thus its comparative obscurity. Thousands of people, mostly men, were dismissed from federal government jobs on grounds of “sexual perversion”.  Some committed suicide after their dismissal. The assertion that these people were psychologically disturbed was in that time backed by the American Psychiatric Association, which in 1952 classified homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” but noted within the report that they were “ill primarily in terms of society and of conformity with the prevailing cultural milieu” (Adkins). Thus, their failure to be within society’s range of “normal” was the foremost issue. However, politicians and the public weren’t reading the fine print. Thus, at least on the surface their views had the backing of the medical community in that day and age. While many think the gay rights movement started with the police raid at Stonewall Inn in 1969, I think it can be more accurately said that it started with the military’s firing of astronomer Franklin Kameny in 1957 over an arrest the previous year for “lewd and indecent acts”. Kameny went on to found the Washington D.C. branch of the Mattachine Society in 1961 with Jack Nichols, which actively lobbied for gay rights. By this time, the Mattachine Society had become more decentralized, and the leadership was no longer communist. The movement had a long way to go, though. In 1972, a same-sex couple challenged Minnesota’s marriage law, which the Supreme Court dismissed with the following sentence, “The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question” (Morini, 2017). You might even argue that the Lavender Scare did not technically end until 1975, when the Civil Service Commission officially ruled that sexuality was not longer a criterion for dismissal. This was two years after the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a “psychiatric disorder”, instead classifying it as a “sexual orientation disturbance” (The New York Times). A lot of this was thanks to the efforts of Kameny. Since this declassification, gradually homosexuality began to grow in acceptance. However, there was pushback. Phyllis Schlafly, as part of her arguments against the Equal Rights Amendment, warned that such an amendment could force the sharing of public bathrooms with men and women (turns out ERA wasn’t necessary for this development) and the legalization of same-sex marriage (this proved correct with Hawaii’s ERA in 1993) (Gallagher & Bull). In 1977, Anita Bryant founded Save Our Children, Inc., and managed to lobby voters to overturn recently passed local laws that protected against discrimination by sexual orientation. The following year, California legislator John Briggs proposed an initiative to ban homosexuals and those who would advocate that lifestyle from teaching in California. Polling on the initiative was initially showed it at 61% support and 31% opposition, that is, until Ronald Reagan came out against it and the measure failed 41-58%. However, Reagan would not be viewed favorably by gay activists during his presidency for his administration’s response to AIDS.

The Reagan Administration’s approach to gay rights was expressed by Reagan himself in the 1980 campaign, stating, “My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I” (Scheer, 154). He was criticized for not publicly speaking about AIDS until 1985, and although annual funding for AIDS had skyrocketed from $44 million in 1983 to $1.6 billion in 1988 his administration’s response was regarded as insufficient. Many gay activists interpreted the government’s falling short as a product of homophobia, and this wasn’t helped by Reagan’s public refusal to condone homosexuality as a lifestyle and the fact that some of the Reagan Administration’s most prominent supporters were outspoken in their condemnation of homosexuality as immoral, such as Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Representative William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.). Although there was consensus reached in developing a comprehensive governmental response to AIDS and gay activism got more attention, homosexuality was still not mainstreamed. Although in 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act passed overwhelmingly, it was in the 1990s that the change in the public’s perception of homosexuality started to accelerate.

One of the major changes, according to Hart-Brinson (2016), is that older generations of Americans regarded homosexuality as a “behavior” while people who came of age after 1990 regard it as an “identity”. This change in public perception becomes critical to understanding the increasing acceptance of it. The idea is that behavior is controllable while identity is not. As Morini (2017) notes, “The crucial shift in public opinion was possible thanks to a coordinated nationwide political campaign which was able to position gay and lesbian rights as a civil rights issue, making it more difficult for others to oppose the changes. The strategy also included high profile individuals who publicly disclosed that they are gay or lesbian. Additionally, the entertainment industry helped in making particular efforts to show gay and lesbian characters as more mainstream in their productions. What it achieved was remarkable: not just a Supreme Court decision but a revolution in the way America sees homosexuals”. Additionally, the Gallup organization examined numerous moral issues and found that in their polling between 2001 and 2015 acceptance for numerous practices had moved in a more liberal direction, with same-sex marriage gaining a whopping 23 points in acceptance, the highest of all changes. This was reflected as well with Democratic politicians, particularly ones who were major figures like Hillary Clinton shifting from opposition to same-sex marriage in 2004 to embracing same-sex marriage in 2016. As Morini (2017) notes, “Hillary Clinton’s re-positioning on LGBT rights simply reflects the evolution of the political zeitgeist. In the United States of 2004, there were things that could not be said without moving out of the mainstream, of the socially acceptable. In the United States of 2016, the situation has completely reversed: if those same things are not said, people can even be barred from civil debate, at least from that of the Democratic Party”.

The true turning point on same-sex marriage was the 2012 election. Before then, conservatives had a powerful argument that this was an outsider movement that lacked support from the electorate. Indeed, in all cases before the 2012 elections, same-sex marriage lost at the ballot box. The voters of Maine, Maryland, and Washington that year, however, voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The truth is, that by the time Obergefell v. Hodges was decided in 2015 that invalidated all state laws restricting marriage to between a man and a woman, the national debate had already been won by the advocates of same-sex marriage.

Now what we have is a political controversy between the roles of LGBT rights and freedom of religion in our society. Additionally, with trans rights the matter is muddier as to what degree it is identity and what degree it is, in fact, mutable behavior. GLAAD, a major gay rights lobby, has the following on their website, “Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures” (GLAAD). Under this reasoning, there is no objective way to tell if someone is transgender other than by their word for policy purposes. Civil rights activists, by the way, think this should be enough to justify policy changes (Trotta). That’s not even to mention the contradictions that exist in transgender ideology, including the idea that biology is not destiny, but gender identity is innate and immutable (Anderson). It has become gender informing biology rather than biology informing gender. That is, if you even believe in John Money’s gender theory. But the story on him is, possibly, for another time.  


Adkins, J. (2016). “These People Are Frightened to Death” – Congressional Investigations and the Lavender Sacre. Prologue Magazine, 48(2).

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Anderson, R. (2018, February 9). Transgender Ideology is Riddled With Contradictions. Here Are the Big Ones. The Heritage Foundation.

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Feinberg, L. (2005, June 28). Harry Hay: Painful partings. Workers World.

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Gallagher, J. & Bull, C. Perfect Enemies: The Religious Right, the Gay Movement, and the Politics of the 1990s. The Washington Post.

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Hart-Brinson, P. (2016, February 8). The Social Imagination of Homosexuality and the Rise of Same-sex Marriage in the United States. American Sociological Association.

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Lerner, M. (1959). The unfinished country: a book of American symbols. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

McCarthy, J. (2021, June 8). Record-High 70% in U.S. Support Same-Sex Marriage. Gallup.


Morini, M. (2017). Same-Sex Marriage and Other Moral Taboos: Cultural Acceptances, Change in American Public Opinion and the Evidence from the Opinion Polls. European Journal of American Studies, 11(3).

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Scheer, R. (2006). Playing president: my close encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan, and Clinton – and how they did not prepare me for George W. Bush. Akashic Books.

The A.P.A. Ruling on Homosexuality. (1973, December 23). The New York Times.

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Transgender FAQ. GLAAD.

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Trotta, D. (2017, August 2). Born this way? Researchers explore the science of gender identity. Reuters.

Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lgbt-biology/born-this-way-researchers-explore-the-science-of-gender-identity-idUSKBN1AJ0F0

Investigating Social Shifts: LGBT Issues

One of the most astounding legislative and societal shifts I have seen in my lifetime has been how the American public and its legislators perceive issues surrounding people who are not strictly heterosexual. What I aim to do for this post and the next one is to organize important votes surrounding what we now call LGBT rights issues and ultimately explain what happened with this shift in opinion. For some of these votes early on I’m going to include ones surrounding AIDS, as this illness was in the 1980s largely perceived as mostly impacting homosexual men. Also included are efforts at prohibiting equal recognition through benefits of married and unmarried couples. The most striking shifts I’m seeing so far include on same-sex marriage and gays in the military. I also doubt that 20-25 years ago people were thinking that there would be a universal embrace of trans rights issues by the Democratic Party. Additionally, I’m seeing that some of the change is due to Democratic legislators who voted against LGBT measures losing reelection to Republicans or have since retired.



Mathias (R-Md.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment, Nullifying a D.C. Law Prohibiting AIDS Testing of Insurance Policy Applicants.

Rejected 41-53: R 15-34; D 26-19, 8/1/86.

Danforth (R-Mo.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) AIDS Testing Requirement for Immigrants and Marriage License Applicants.

Passed 63-32: D 39-8; R 24-24, 5/21/87.

Armstrong Amendment, Exempt Religious Institutions from Law Prohibiting Bias Against Gays and Lesbians in Washington D.C.

Passed 58-33: D 21-25; R 37-8, 7/11/88.

Weicker (R-Conn.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment

The Helms amendment blocked funding for the Department of Health and Human Services until a prohibition was issued against the promotion of alternative lifestyles.

Passed 47-46: D 35-11; R 12-35, 7/27/88.

Mitchell (D-Me.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment to the Americans With Disabilities Act, Permitted Transfer of Food-Handling Employees with Communicable Diseases to Equivalent Paying Positions.

Rejected 40-53: D 32-17; R 7-36, 6/6/90.

Kennedy (D-Mass.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment, Permitting Health Care Officials to Test Patients for AIDS Before Invasive Medical Procedures Except in Emergencies.

Rejected 44-55: D 35-19; R 8-36, 7/30/91.

Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment Excluding From Federal Employee Contribution Fund Charities That Withdraw Support for the Boy Scouts of America.

Rejected 49-49: D 17-36; R 32-12, 9/22/92.

Boxer (D-Calif.) Amendment, Overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

Rejected 33-63: D 28-24; R 4-39, 9/9/93.

Helms Amendment, Prohibit Funds for Ryan White Act Being Used to Directly or Indirectly Promote Homosexuality or Intravenous Drug Use.

Adopted 54-45: R 40-13; D 14-32, 7/27/95.

Defense of Marriage Act

Passed 85-14: R 53-0; D 32-14, 9/10/96.

Prohibit Job Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

Rejected 49-50: R 8-45; D 41-5, 9/10/96.

Kennedy Hate Crimes Amendment, Adopted 57-42: R 13-41; D 44-1, 6/20/00.

Helms Amendment, Boy Scouts

Adopted 51-49: D 8-42; R 43-6; I 0-1, 6/14/01.

End Debate, Hate Crimes Based on Sexual Orientation

Rejected 54-43: D 49-1; R 4-42; I 1-0, 6/11/02.

Note: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) voted against as a parliamentary maneuver so he could potentially reintroduce it later in the session.  

Smith (R-Ore.) Amendment, Add Hate Crimes Legislation That Includes Sexual Orientation.

Adopted 65-33: R 18-33; D 47-0, 6/15/04.

Federal Marriage Amendment Cloture

Rejected 48-50: R 45-6; D 3-43, 7/14/04.

Federal Marriage Amendment Cloture

Rejected 49-48: R 47-7; D 2-40; I 0-1, 6/7/06.

Kennedy Hate Crimes Amendment, Invoke Cloture.

Agreed 60-39: D 49-0; R 9-39; I 2-0, 9/27/07.

Invoke Cloture on Hate Crimes Bill for Sexual Orientation.

Passed 63-28: D 56-0; R 5-28; I 2-0, 7/16/09.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010

Passed 63-33: D 55-0; R 8-31; I 2-0, 12/18/10.

Toomey (R-Penn.) Amendment, Religious Freedom Protection in Non-Discrimination Requirement.

Rejected 43-55: D 2-50; R 41-3; I 0-2, 11/7/13.


Hate Crimes Statistics – Substitute “Homosexuality” or “Heterosexuality” for “Sexual Orientation” Under Reporting Categories

Passed 384-30: D 243-2; R 141-28, 5/18/88.

Dixon (D-Calif.) Motion, Weaken Senate Armstrong Amendment Regarding Religious Exemptions for Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Law of D.C..

Rejected 134-201: R 11-124; D 122-77, 9/30/88.

Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) Amendment requiring reporting AIDS to the state public health office as a condition for AIDS Federal Policy funds.

Rejected 70-327: D 4-228; R 66-97, 10/22/88.

Natcher (D-Ky.) Motion, Kill Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) Amendment, Prohibiting Funds Appropriated for Education From Being Spent to Teach About Homosexuality or Bisexuality.

Passed 279-134: D 236-6; R 43-128, 8/2/89.

Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) Amendment, Exempt Religious Organizations from Anti-Discrimination Law Based on Sexual Orientation

Passed 262-154: D 109-133; R 153-20, 10/3/89.

Chapman (D-Tex.) Amendment, Permitting Transfer of Food-Handling Employees with Communicable Diseases to Equivalent Paying Positions.

Passed 199-187: D 78-154; R 121-32, 5/17/90.

DeLay (R-Tex.) Motion to Prohibit D.C. from Granting Same Benefits for Domestic Partnerships as Marriages.

Passed 235-173: D 90-156; R 145-16: I 0-1, 9/24/92.

Istook (R-Okla.) amendment, Prohibit Funds for Enforcing D.C. Domestic Partners Ordinance, Granting Unmarried Couples Same Benefits as Married.

Passed 251-177: D 94-162; R 157-14; I 0-1, 6/30/93.

Hunter (R-Calif.) Amendment, Require Defense Department to Ask Armed Forces Applicants on Sexual Orientation.

Rejected 144-287: D 29-224; R 115-61; I 0-1, 9/28/93.

Meehan (D-Mass.) Amendment, Strike Provisions Codifying a Ban on Homosexuals in the Military.

Rejected 169-264: D 157-101; R 11-163; I 0-1, 9/28/93.

Defense of Marriage Act

Passed 342-67: R 224-1; D 118-65; I 0-1, 7/12/96.

Conyers Hate Crime Legislation, Include Sexual Orientation Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Agreed to 232-192: R 41-175; D 190-16; I 1-1, 9/13/2000.

Weldon (R-Fla.) Amendment, Prohibit the Use of Local and Federal Funds to Extend Health Benefits to Unmarried Domestic Partners.

Failed 194-226: R 175-41, D 18-184; I 1-1, 9/25/01.

Marriage Protection Amendment

Rejected 227-186: R 191-27; D 36-158; I 0-1, 9/30/04.

Conyers Hate Crimes Amendment

Adopted 223-199: R 30-194; D 192-5; I 1-0, 9/14/05.

Marriage Protection Amendment

Rejected 236-187: R 202-27; D 34-159; I 0-1, 7/18/06.

Hate Crimes Bill for Sexual Orientation

Passed 249-175: D 231-17; R 18-158, 4/29/09.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.

Passed 250-175: D 235-15; R 15-160, 12/15/10.

Huelskamp (R-Kan.) Amendment, Bar Use of Federal Funds to Train Military Chaplains to Implement “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal.

Passed 236-184: R 227-9; D 9-175, 7/8/11.

Equality Act

Passed 236-173: D 228-0; R 8-173, 5/17/19.

Equality Act

Passed 224-206: D 221-0; R 3-206, 2/25/21.

“Barry Goldwater Turned Liberal”: How Much Truth is There?

Barry Goldwater — The Most Consequential Loser Of The 20th Century | The  Heritage Foundation

There are a few reasons a liberal might like Goldwater. First, he butted heads at times with figures of the “religious right”. In 1981, for instance, he said in response to Jerry Falwell’s statement that all Christians should be concerned about the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court that “Every good Christian should kick Jerry Falwell in the ass” (Allen). As I wrote in my last post, liking Jerry Falwell isn’t a prerequisite to conservatism. For this post, I’m going to look at Goldwater’s voting record after 1980 as well as his public statements and actions after office and provide accurate context for them. This is the period in which Goldwater was said to have gone “liberal”.

Goldwater’s Final Term

By 1980 a lot of new residents had moved into Arizona, and many were not familiar with Goldwater and vice versa, leaving the door open for a strong challenge. While he had won reelection by about 17 points in 1974, he won reelection in a much stronger year for Republicans by only about a point. Goldwater thus opted not to run again, and his final term reflected a bit more independence from the conservative line than in previous terms. First, Goldwater’s liberalism must be viewed exclusively in a social context. He remained a conservative on economic issues and foreign policy.

There were a few issues he changed a bit on though, such as school prayer and abortion, but even those are not so dramatic when looked at in the proper context. The times in which Goldwater seemed to vote for socially liberal positions regarded Congress telling the courts what to do and Congress telling Washington D.C. what to do. Thus, his votes against prohibiting D.C. from funding abortions and votes against ordering courts not to order busing and prohibit school prayer. He also voted against the Hatch-Eagleton Amendment in 1983 which would have permitted states to ban abortion and against a school prayer amendment in 1984. The origin of Goldwater’s newfound seeming social liberalism came from his intense dislike of some emerging religious figures in the conservative movement like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He said about such people, “I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C’ and ‘D’. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?” (Allen)

Goldwater was not averse to amending the constitution in other ways throughout his career: he had voted for the Equal Rights Amendment in 1953, the 24th Amendment ending the poll tax, the 26th Amendment giving 18-year olds the vote, and for a balanced budget. He had also in all other instances voted against busing and repeatedly voted in support of the Hyde Amendment, which is consistent with a libertarian perspective as it prohibits Medicaid funding of abortions. Funny enough, Goldwater had also endorsed a Right to Life Amendment, which would have granted fetuses constitutional rights. There were other ways in which he was still a hardliner. For instance, he was a leading voice against popular South Africa sanctions as the nation was a Cold War ally, stating after an overwhelming 1985 vote to sanction the nation, “It is a blight on the United States for us to take this action against a friend that has been an ally in every war” (Omang). Goldwater also backed the death penalty and limiting defendant rights. Final term? Not by much. How about after his Senate career?

Post-Senate Goldwater

Goldwater did and said several things after his retirement that made some Republicans unhappy. First, he spoke early and often for gay rights, especially in the military. Second, he endorsed Democrat Karan English for a Congressional seat in 1992 as he strongly disliked evangelical Republican Doug Wead, thinking him out of touch with Arizona issues. English won a single term before being swept away in the 1994 midterms. This one caused some Republicans to push for effectively excommunicating him. Third, Goldwater backed abortion rights (albeit not unlimited). And fourth, he spoke out in favor of a ban on semiautomatic rifles. It also didn’t help that Goldwater urged Republicans hammering Clinton on Whitewater to “get off his back and let him be president” (Grove). Some attributed his shifts to his second wife, younger and more liberal than him. However, it is possible that some issues arose that were just not there when he was in the Senate. Semiautomatic weapons, for instance, were not a significant issue until the 1990s. Conservatives were not trying an approach to block courts from ruling on certain key social issues until the 1980s, and gay rights had not been a significant political question for most of his Senate career.

Goldwater also had some opinions negative on Clinton as well, including that on foreign policy he “doesn’t know a goddamned thing about it” and was opposed to his healthcare plan (Grove). I honestly think he in his old age liked being a bit contrary and just saying what he wanted to. I’m not sure what that would have translated to if Goldwater was still in the Senate, but another term would have been probably a bit rockier than his last. So, you could say there’s some truth to it, but there was quite a bit of nuance and even seeming contradiction as well, especially on the abortion issue.


Allen, I.R. (1981, September 15). Conservative patriarch Barry Goldwater declared war Tuesday on ‘political preachers’. UPI archives.

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Busch, A.E. (2005). The Goldwater Myth. Claremont Review of Books 6(1).

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GOP patriarch Goldwater backs Democrat. UPI archives.

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Grove, L. (1994, July 28). Barry Goldwater’s Left Turn. The Washington Post.

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Nunez-Eddy, C. (2016, October 28). Barry Morris Goldwater (1909-1998). The Embryo Project Encyclopedia.

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Omang, J. (1985, July 12). Senate Approves S. Africa Sanctions. The Washington Post.

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The Most Pernicious Myth of 9/11 and What I Remember From That Day

See the source image

I originally thought I wasn’t going to write a 9/11 historical piece, rather just an account of what I remembered on the day of the tragedy. However, I remembered a recent discussion I had with some friends and they held on to this belief that Osama bin Laden and the people who made up the Taliban and Al Qaeda were directly funded by the U.S. government to fight the USSR in the 1980s and in that time they were known as the Mujahideen. This myth is best expressed by the left-wing author Bevins who wrote, “In Afghanistan, Soviet troops had been trying to prop up a communist ally for nine years, Moscow’s forces retreated, the CIA-backed Islamist fundamentalists set up a fanatical theocracy, and the West stopped paying attention” (Feroz). Robert Fisk of The Independent talked about “CIA camps in which the Americans once trained Mr. bin Laden’s fellow guerillas” and Mort Rosenblum of the Associated Press wrote, “Usama bin Laden was the type of Soviet-hating freedom fighter that U.S. officials applauded when the world looked a little different” (Rubin). This myth, which I admit makes for a compelling story, has spread far and wide among the far left whose adherents make a habit of blaming America first and believe the CIA is behind many of the evils of the world, the far right whose adherents think America First means withdrawing from the world stage, and even people in the mainstream. This narrative is used to imply that 9/11 amounted to the “chickens coming home to roost” for America and richly deserves to be demolished. If I have succeeded in doing so, by the end of this post you will walk away knowing this narrative is nonsense.

This narrative at first sounds like it makes sense. The Taliban are Islamic fundamentalists, the Mujahideen were Islamic, the communists were militant atheists and brutally suppressed Islam and under the American foreign policy credo of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” they funded those fundamentalists only for the fundamentalists to bite them in the ass later. There are several problems with this narrative. First, the Taliban was founded in 1996, seven years after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989. Second, many more people than religious extremists had reason to fight against the communists in Afghanistan. Third, most members of the Taliban did not fight with the Mujahideen and were in fact opposed to the rule of the Mujahideen.

For the first problem with the narrative, many of the participants in the Taliban had been students in Islamic schools during the 1980s and not fighting with the rebels. They were by and large simply a younger group than the Mujahideen.

For the second problem, the communist regime in Afghanistan the Soviets went in to back against resistance was notorious for its brutality and imprisoning, torturing, and mass murdering of the religious. As journalist Emran Feroz (2021) notes, “A lot of those who succumbed to their ghastly fates at the hands of the Communists were targeted simply because they prayed five times a day, betrayed any sign of religiosity, were people of some standing and influence, or criticized the mass-murdering regime that was in power”. There were far more people who had good reason to fight and fought communist rule than just Islamic fundamentalists. The CIA in fact provided aid to rebels in the country before the USSR invaded and so brutal was their regime, and when the regime looked like it was going to fall apart in the face of resistance, the Soviets stepped in to stop the region from destabilizing and executed Hafizullah Amin, the zealot communist leader who refused to step down. They installed in his place a puppet for Moscow, but still a regime hostile to Islam remained and the Soviets themselves engaged in mass torture and murder of civilian populations. This began the decade long quagmire the Soviets endured in Afghanistan, and aid from the CIA to covertly aid the rebels increased in an effective payback for the Soviets helping the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. In 1986, the United States finally decided to provide Stinger missiles to the rebels ending the covert nature of the aid. Other nations that aided the Mujahideen included Saudi Arabia, Israel, China, and European nations. Also, as Michael Rubin (2002) notes that there was “an early 1990s covert campaign to purchase or otherwise recover surplus Stinger missiles still in the hands of the mujahidin factions”.

For the third problem with the narrative, Zmarak Yousefzai (2014) notes, “The group (Taliban) actually began, with support from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, as a draconian vigilante movement in the Kandahar province that initially aimed to challenge the chaos caused by the Mujahideen – The Afghan fighters the West had actually supported against the Soviets”. In other words, this was a rebellion against the former rebels. What’s more, the United States opposed the rise of the Taliban from the start. In 1997, Secretary of State Madeline Albright issued the following statement, “We are opposed to the Taliban because of their opposition to human rights and their despicable treatment of women and children and great lack of respect of human dignity” (Yousefzai). As for Osama bin Laden, he was not funded by the CIA either. Indeed, per Feroz (2021), “Osama bin Laden joined the war much later, and he never acquired weapons or training directly from the CIA”. Bin Laden thus stands as a tertiary figure in the anti-Soviet fight, bound only by a shared opposition to the anti-Islam position of the Soviets.

Unfortunately, it is often true that what gets people and policies far in this world is not their relation to efficacy or truth, rather how compelling the story told is. The best storytellers in life tend to get the jobs and get their work noticed. This myth surrounding 9/11 is a compelling story to tell, but it also happens to be wrong.

What I Remember on 9/11

When 9/11 happened, I was a 14-year old high school freshman. I was being driven to school by my dad that bright and sunny morning (not the typical story introduction, right?) and I remember hearing about the World Trade Center towers collapsing over the radio. I could hardly believe my ears. Was this what was really happening? My father answered in the affirmative. Since I was in California the attacks had happened while I was asleep. Throughout the day I was disturbed and couldn’t stop thinking about what happened. I also felt a tremendous anger as I wanted bin Laden and his fellow conspirators to pay. To this day I think that bin Laden’s demise was the best thing Obama ever did. I found some relief from the weight I felt by watching the classic Three Stooges short A Plumbing We Will Go (1940), but I knew the nation and the world had changed that day. I don’t recall focusing on the news as heavily in the days afterwards as did the adults, but this was one of four factors that had long-term consequences for my thoughts on politics.

The other three were the irrational nature of political correctness that I now see as the more moderate mother of wokeness, the realization that the schools and teachers in my area had opted to ignore the Venona documents when covering the so-called “Red Scare” of the 1950s as the narrative was more important than the truth, and a .edu website regarding the myth of the “rich got richer and the poor got poorer” and that greed prevailed during the Reagan years that I am having trouble finding at the moment. If I find it I’ll update the post with the link (Update: I found it, It’s called “Contemporary Economic Myths” by economics Professor Steven G. Horwitz, who died this year, link is in references.). I once thought that when I grew up I’d be a Democrat but I doubt I would have ever subscribed to woke ideology or anything falling under the Marxist ideological umbrella. I thought I’d be a “Clinton Democrat”, which I now realize was progressivism adapted to the political climate of the 1990s. Before 9/11, my thoughts on Republicans were that they were hyper-moralistic fuddy-duddies and I was disappointed that Gore had lost. Looking back, I knew more than the average 14-year old but it still wasn’t much. I never thought that during my senior year I’d register as a Republican, but when I was a kid I also never thought I’d sport a beard. Conservative Reverend Jerry Falwell talking about how Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies was gay didn’t warm me up to social conservatism, but one can be a conservative Republican without liking Jerry Falwell or the other evangelical preachers. Given that the Democratic Party of today more and more caters to the woke and the zealotry they exhibit would make the elderly church ladies who approved of Falwell blush, I suppose my turn would have happened at some point whether 9/11 occurred or not. Perhaps being something of an iconoclast is in my blood…I’m not interested in upholding historical myths, even when they come from my side (ex: “JFK was a conservative”, “MLK was a Republican”) and I confess especially not when they come from the far left. A lot of the other beliefs conservatives hold followed from what I came to believe after 9/11, but some I already had from the start and just didn’t know it yet. I think the same is true with a lot of people, but the social circles they stay with and the people they respect and admire just don’t encourage such thought.


Feroz, E. (2021, April 26). What the CIA Did (and Didn’t Do) in Soviet-Occupied Afghanistan. Newlines Magazine.

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Horwitz, S.G. Contemporary Economic Myths. St. Lawrence University.

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Rubin, M. (2002, March 1). Who Is Responsible for the Taliban? The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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Yousefzai, Z. (2014, January 16). Three Myths About the Taliban. Foreign Policy.

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