The Freshmen Revolt of ‘75

Sometimes smaller scale events can mean major changes. Such was the case of the revolt of the House freshmen in 1975. The class of Democrats elected to the legislative branch in 1974, known as “Watergate Babies”, were overwhelmingly liberal. These people were eager to change Washington as well as their party. At the time, many of the chairmen of crucial committees were Southern. George Mahon of Texas headed Appropriations, F. Edward Hebert of Louisiana headed Armed Services, W.R. “Bob” Poage of Texas headed Agriculture, Wright Patman of Texas headed Banking and Currency, and Olin “Tiger” Teague of Texas headed Science and Astronautics. All five of these men had backed the Vietnam War, opposed civil rights legislation during the 1950s and 1960s, all but Teague were over 70, and all but Patman were conservative. This was a distinctly poor fit among a class of overwhelmingly Northern liberal Democrats, who wanted the party to go in a McGovern direction. Among the key freshmen participants in this revolt included Thomas Downey and Edward Pattison of New York, Andrew Maguire of New Jersey, and Toby Moffett of Connecticut. The former three had defeated Republican incumbents who had served over ten years.

Although George Mahon was well into his seventies and had served in the House since 1935, he was still energetic and sharp. He had also gained a reputation for not abusing his power and playing fair as chair, which helped him keep his chairmanship. Mahon, a consistent critic of spending, often opposed liberal initiatives. However, if it was clear a majority of the House supported them he would not obstruct them. Like many Southern Democrats, he opted to retire in 1978.

Perhaps the greatest target among the chairmen was F. Edward Hebert. Serving in the House since 1941, he was an especially autocratic chairman who gave high-handed treatment to new committee members Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) and Ronald Dellums (D-Calif.), who he had been forced to take on his committee in 1973. His objections to the two stemmed partly from them being a woman and black respectively and partly due to their staunch opposition to the Vietnam War. Hebert took an uncritical approach to funding the military as well as having an unwavering support for the Vietnam War. In fairness to Hebert, his committee did investigate the My Lai Massacre and accused the military and State Department officials of covering up evidence (Weil, 1979). On January 16, 1975, he was voted out of his position. After this defeat, he opted not to run for reelection.

Bob Poage knew all sorts of things about agriculture, from the USA to laws about grazing in Australia. He became known as the “Bureau of Useless Information” for his obscure knowledge on agricultural matters, with the term even being used in his presence. Although a New Dealer when he first arrived in Washington in 1937, his enthusiasm for an active and large federal government had fallen since then, with his record on support for the Great Society being spotty at best. His conservatism grew especially after the 1968 election. Poage’s priorities differed distinctly from Northern liberals: he often opposed food stamp legislation, but found that he had to trade funding the food stamp program to protect agricultural subsidies, which he strongly supported. His greatest pride was in legislation that helped the farmers back home, such as the installation of rural telephones. Although not an offensive or unfair chairman, Poage was so out of step both ideologically and with the times that the liberals gave him the boot. Although the new chair Tom Foley (D-Wash.) was generous to him as Vice Chair after his ouster, his glory days had come and gone and he opted not to run for reelection in 1978.

Wright Patman was a standout from the group because he was an old-time progressive who had never dropped his support of the New Deal, although on some matters he had not moved with the times. Having served since 1929, he was staunchly against concentrations of economic power in the private sector and crusaded against big banks. He had also sponsored the Robinson-Patman Act, which aimed to prevent big chain stores from putting small competitors out of business by cutting their prices (Shanahan, 1976). His ouster was due possibly to some misconceptions about him, but also because he was 81 and had trouble answering basic questions before the House steering committee. The sad irony for Patman was that he had raised more money than anyone else to elect the Democratic freshmen (Crass, 2015). He died a year after his ouster.

Tiger Teague, the second highest decorated war veteran from World War II after Audie Murphy and the youngest of the chairmen at 64, was spared ouster due to his personal popularity despite his conservatism and failing health. His popularity derived from both his record as a war hero and his agreeable, friendly personality. Teague, who had served since 1947, would also choose not to run for reelection in 1978.

While this ousting of three chairmen to the layperson may seem like small fries, it was the prelude for the Democratic Party as we know it today. The message was clear: seniority would no longer be the only factor for committee chairmanships. Chairmen could not regularly buck the party platform. Subsequent chairs of major committees with conservative records like Jamie Whitten (D-Miss.) and Walter Jones (D-N.C.) would have to play ball with national Democrats and vote much more their way. Thus, their records shifted substantially left during the Reagan years, with both men opposing tax cuts and supporting more funding for social spending bills…the kind of measures they would have opposed in the 1960s. This dropping of seniority standards led to institutional pressures that played its part in the situation we have today with polarization. The docket of even moderately liberal Democrats is ever so thin if the latest American Conservative Union ratings are to be believed as an accurate picture of the contemporary political environment.

References

Burka, P. & Smith, G. (May 1976). The Best, the Worst, and the Fair-To-Middlin’. Texas Monthly.

Retrieved from https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-best-the-worst-and-the-fair-to-middlin/

Clift, E. & Brazaitis, T. (2003). Madam president: Women blazing the leadership trail. New York, NY: Routledge.

Crass, S. (2015). Statesmen and mischief makers: Officeholders and their contributions to history from Kennedy to Reagan, Vol. II. Xlibris.

Shanahan, E. (8 March 1976). Wright Patman, 82, Dean of House, Dies. The New York Times.

Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1976/03/08/archives/new-jersey-pages-wright-patman-82-dean-of-house-dies-wright-patman.html

Tolchin, M. (10 February 1975). Freshmen Representatives Find Awe and Ah! in Capital. The New York Times.

Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1975/02/10/archives/freshmen-representatives-find-a-we-and-ah-in-capital-18-new.html

Weil, M. (30 December 1979). Former Rep. F. Edward Hebert Dies. Washington Post.

Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1979/12/30/former-rep-f-edward-hebert-dies/c7557a7d-afdc-4f2c-b70d-ed76b5e5b857/?utm_term=.5b36049e5d66

 

John Tyler Morgan: Progressives Should Despise Him More Than McCarthy

While Joseph McCarthy usually has first place among progressives as America’s worst Senator in history, they might want to consider Alabama’s John Tyler Morgan (1824-1907). Morgan hits just about every berserk button for the modern progressive. He was an imperialist who advocated for the construction of a canal in Nicaragua (which ultimately resulted in the Panama Canal), an ex-slaveowner, a Brigadier General of the Confederate Army, and a highly influential and effective advocate of Jim Crow laws.

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Elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1877, Morgan represented the resurgence of Southern white power and proved a frighteningly effective senator. While McCarthy did much damage to the cause of anti-communism, Morgan aided his position of white supremacy through his eloquent speeches and arguments. He believed these speeches could make a difference on the Senate floor, and they did. Although he may not have won over a vote in the Senate with these speeches, they had a discernible effect on public opinion. He used this to great effect to filibuster the Federal Elections Bill in 1890, which was intended to counteract the denial of the right to vote for blacks in the South. After the defeat of this measure, pushes for federal civil rights legislation were for the most part quite weak until the 1950s. He also frequently advocated to deport blacks to places such as the Congo and the Philippines, but he didn’t get far on this one: other senators thought it impractical. He was wildly more successful in his advocacy of an American takeover of Hawaii, Cuba, and the Philippines, all of which were acquired or kept under America’s influence. The only thing he probably did that was positive on race relations was voting to confirm Frederick Douglass for a federal position in 1877, a stance which put him in a minority for Democrats of the day, much like his imperialism. While he advocated for certain measures that were regarded as progressive in his day, such as free coinage of silver and reining in the power of railroads, economic issues are often tertiary to modern progressives.

By the time of his death in 1907, Morgan had accomplished much of what he wanted. His legacy was not underestimated by his contemporaries upon his death. In memorializing him in 1908, segregationist Rep. Tom Heflin (D-Ala.) credited him with Sen. Edmund Pettus (D-Ala.) for the Jim Crow system, stating that “the ballot, that which represented privileges and powers for which the quick-witted Celt and the thoughtful Saxon had struggled a thousand years to achieve, was given in the twinkling of an eye to the unfit hordes of an inferior race. . . .No two men in Alabama, or in the South, did more to stay the hideous tide of negro domination than the two dearly beloved Senators whose death the House mourns to-day. In the dark and trying days of reconstruction these two men were foremost among the defenders of Anglo-Saxon civilization” (United States Congress). Although McCarthy gained notoriety for his public hearings on suspected communists and his paranoid style of politics, he served only ten years and greatly harmed his cause. Morgan had a far greater impact on American history and on the lives of individual Americans and served thirty years. Jim Crow would not be undone until almost sixty years after his death, and the US still holds some of its territorial acquisitions gained during that time (Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam).  Yet, you read about McCarthy in history books, not Morgan.

References

John Tyler Morgan and Edmund Winston Pettus- Memorial Addresses-Sixtieth Congress, First Session, Senate of the United States, April 18, 1908. House of Representatives, April 25, 1908,” ed. United States Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909). 188-189.

Upchurch, T.A. John Tyler Morgan. Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Retrieved from http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1508

The American Invasion of Grenada: More Important Than You Think

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The invasion of Grenada is often thought of as a trivial event, with some latter day leftists even condemning it as a waste of military resources. However, this ignores a factor which in the context of the Cold War cannot be dismissed because neither side dismissed its significance at the time: symbolism.

Symbolism as a human concept in management and elsewhere holds that the significance people assign to an event can carry more meaning than the event itself. This concept should not be dismissed and I have two examples as to why. First, I could point out that the Tet Offensive was a major military defeat for the Viet Cong, but that’s not how the folks back home saw it. They saw it as proof positive of a credibility gap between what the Johnson Administration was saying and the situation in Vietnam. It was a tremendous but costly propaganda victory for the VC, as it changed how Americans viewed the war and eventually led to a communist-ruled Vietnam. Second, I could also point out that over 80% of federal Republican officeholders voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but that fact is vastly overshadowed in the political mind by Barry Goldwater being the party’s nominee for president and Strom Thurmond switching party affiliation in 1964. The foremost information in the minds of black voters was Goldwater’s vote against the landmark law, not what most of the party federal officeholders did. The symbolism was clear: the “Party of Lincoln” mantle had transferred from the Republicans to the Democrats.

The invasion of Grenada was requested of the United States by the nation’s governor-general, Sir Paul Scoon as well as the nations of Barbados and Jamaica. Although a small victory in military terms, the invasion of Grenada, a nation that had experienced a communist revolt in which the former Prime Minister, his wife, and other officials were executed, constituted something unprecedented in world history. The official rationale of the Reagan Administration was to rescue 600 American medical students on the island. A congressional study group later found that there was a significant risk that these students could have been abducted and held for ransom, like U.S. diplomats in Iran. However, the greatest significance of the event was that it was the first time a nation that was communist stopped being communist. Until October 1983, the Cold War was defensive on the part of the free world as it was holding back the tide of communism, trying to limit losses. It was accepted wisdom until this time that nations that became communist stayed communist. Reagan’s action was also not widely praised in the world at the time: the UN overwhelmingly voted to condemn it as against international law in a resolution, and even British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (who backed the action in public) was privately opposed to it. Although popular overall in America, the action had some critics: the Congressional Black Caucus was staunchly opposed as well as ultra-liberal Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.), who even went as far as to call for Reagan’s impeachment over the matter (Magnuson, 1983). The invasion, however, sent a message loud and clear to the Soviets and communists: your gains can be lost. It was ultimately a prelude to their defeat in Afghanistan, the loss of Eastern Europe, and the loss of Russia. The invasion freed a nation with low casualties and put the communists on notice! Ultimately the long-term end result for Grenada was a happy one: they have been a democratic nation ever since and now celebrate the date of the US invasion, October 25th, as their Thanksgiving. The invasion of Grenada in the wider scheme of things was more of a symbolic event than anything else, but that should not lessen its significance as the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

References

Magnuson, E. (21 November 1983). Grenada. Getting Back to Normal. Time Magazine.

Retrieved from http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,926318-1,00.html

Martin, D. (9 September 2013). Paul Scoon, Who Invited Grenada Invaders, Dies at 78. The New York Times.

Retrieved from http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,926318-1,00.html

Quick Thought: Joseph G. Cannon: A Link from Old to Modern Republicanism

Congressman Joe Cannon (R-Ill.) was known for a number of things. Firstly, he was one of the most powerful Speakers of the House from 1903-1911. Secondly, he was for much of his career a conservative firebrand and often disagreed with Theodore Roosevelt. Thirdly, his longevity in politics. Cannon served with only two interruptions from 1873 to 1923, serving from Presidents Grant to Harding. When Cannon first took his seat in the House in 1873, Reconstruction was still underway and the government was moving away from a war economy. By the time he retired in 1923, historians largely condemned Reconstruction, the government was again moving away from a war economy, and the GOP’s platform was explicitly conservative, embracing tax reduction and limited government involvement in the economy. Cannon, a protege of Abraham Lincoln, was strongly supportive of these conservative trends in the party.

The above example should at least strike some curiosity in readers and lead us to ask, is it possible the GOP, at minimum from an economic standpoint, was always conservative? I more than think so, and he is not the only example I can provide. However, if were to go into further detail, this wouldn’t be a quick thought, now would it?

Sam Stratton – The Survivor

There are numerous people who have been reelected to Congress under circumstances when conventional wisdom dictates they lose reelection, and these situations can come about due to redistricting. As former Speaker of the House Joe Martin wrote in his memoirs, “Redistricting is an officeholder’s nightmare because overnight it can change the makeup of his constituency sufficiently perhaps to cost him the next election” (Martin, 32).  Yet, these people defy the political prognosticators through their own unique approach to politics and cater to more than their base. My prime example of a politician who possessed this survivability is Democrat Sam Stratton.

samuel_s-_stratton_94th_congress_1975

In 1958, the GOP sustained terrible election losses that resulted in them being unable to gain majorities in the House and Senate for a long time to come, losing 48 seats in the House and 12 in the Senate. It would not be until the 1980 election that they would win the Senate and the 1994 election that they would win the House. One of the gains was won by Schenectady Mayor Sam Stratton, who had been elected to New York’s 32nd district, vacated by retiring Republican Bernard W. Kearney. The seat Stratton won had not been won by a Democrat in 42 years, and Republicans were eager to win it back. The GOP also saw Stratton as a potential gubernatorial candidate and were eager to end his career. After the 1960 census, the Republican-controlled New York State legislature redistricted him to an area that was staunchly Republican. The district had 95,000 registered Republicans as opposed to 49,000 registered Democrats (Cermak). However, he won by 9 points in the 1962 election. This was his closest race in that configuration of the district, as he was able to cater to his district’s more conservative voters by advocating increased defense spending, being staunchly anti-communist, and supporting his district’s businesses such as General Electric. However, he appealed to his party by his support for most of the domestic programs of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. In 1964, instead of planning to run in the gubernatorial race, he sought a run for the Senate, but these plans were scotched after Bobby Kennedy announced his run.

In 1970 his district was merged with liberal Republican Daniel Button’s Albany-based district, but Stratton trounced him, winning 66% of the vote. After this election, he faced no further serious challengers for his seat. In 1985, Stratton ran for chair of the House Armed Services Committee, but lost to defense budget cutter Les Aspin (D-Wis.). He chose not to run for reelection in 1988, dying two years later.

References

Cermak, M. (22 November 2016). Stratton’s ’64 win one of the biggest ever. Times Union.

Retrieved from https://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Stratton-s-64-win-one-of-the-biggest-ever-10629172.php

Martin, J.W. and Donovan, R.J. (1960). My first fifty years in politics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Note: Stratton’s big win was in 1962, not 1964.

The Sedition Act: Opposed by Republicans!

One hundred years ago, Woodrow Wilson had, in the name of the war effort, taken temporary control of the nation’s railroads, signed a new law intended to counter espionage, and overall mobilized the economy for war through the National War Labor Board. However, there was another step to be taken: the mobilizing of the American mind. This mobilization came in the form of the Sedition Act. This law penalized speech that could interfere with the war effort, including criticism of the government. A most ominous vote indicating the bill’s broad approach on speech was when an amendment proposed by Sen. Joseph France (R-Md.) was narrowly defeated in the Senate. This amendment provided that “nothing in the bill shall be construed as limiting the liberty or impairing the right of any individual to publish or speak the truth, with good motives and justifiable ends” (Govtrack). Republicans voted for it 23-5, while Democrats went 8-28 against. Along with France, Sens. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.) and Hiram Johnson (R-Calif.) led the opposition. The staunchly conservative Lodge defended free speech while the progressive Johnson castigated the Administration for not effectively using the laws in place to achieve its ends (New York Times). Ultimately, Wilson convinced Democrats to unify behind the bill. Before we condemn Wilson too much for this, it ought to be noted that there was significant public pressure for legislation like this, with the war being incredibly popular at the time. The patriotic fervor in the nation, for instance, resulted in sauerkraut temporarily renamed “liberty cabbage” (sound familiar?). The Senate, in other words, gave way to the will of the majority of the people.

The Sedition Act itself passed the Senate 48-26 (D 38-2, R 10-24). A curious mixture of progressive and conservative Republicans voted against the bill, with people closer to the ideological center more likely to vote for it. Among notable conservative opponents included future President Warren Harding of Ohio, former Attorney General and Secretary of State Philander Knox of Pennsylvania, and future Social Security opponents Frederick Hale of Maine and James Wadsworth of New York. Among the left-wing GOP opponents were future New Deal collaborator George Norris of Nebraska and “state’s rights progressive” William Borah of Idaho. Democrats stood overwhelmingly for the bill, progressive and conservative alike, with only Georgia’s Thomas Hardwick and Missouri’s James Reed voting against, and neither man was a doctrinaire progressive.

The act resulted in the imprisonment of numerous radicals. One of the most famous people convicted of violations under the law was Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for delivering a speech critical of the war. Although ultimately a short-lived wartime law with its provisions repealed and Debs pardoned in 1921, this law nonetheless constituted one of the most stunning breaches of the First Amendment. There was also a concerning push in 1920 among some senators and the overzealous Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer to pass a permanent peacetime sedition law. This serves as an occasion in which the political opinions on this issue may vex certain modern-day readers. It may stun some progressive-minded people that Republicans…indeed conservative ones, fought for the free speech rights of radicals. Oh…I forgot to mention who pardoned Debs: Warren G. Harding, who unfortunately stands as little more than a womanizing, bumbling doofus in popular historical narratives.

References

(4 May 1918). Senators Assail the Sedition Bill. The New York Times.

“To Amend H.R. 8753”. Govtrack.

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/65-2/s236

“To Agree to H.R. 8753”. Govtrack.

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/65-2/s247

 

The Four Horsemen vs. The Three Musketeers: When the Supreme Court Had Awesome Names for Their Factions

The American people may not have known it in 1932, but when they elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt, they kicked off nothing short of a peaceful revolution. With Roosevelt’s presidency, the duties of the federal government were expanded and redefined. The federal government now was responsible for the economic security of the nation’s elderly with the Social Security Act, responsible for ensuring people get a minimum standard of living with the minimum wage, and empowered unions through the National Labor Relations Act. While Congress rubber-stamped Roosevelt’s agenda for his first six years in office, the Supreme Court did not.

The Supreme Court had been for quite some time subscribed to the doctrine of lassiez-faire economics, with its legal backing coming in the form of a concept called “liberty of contract”. Numerous regulations on businesses were overturned in the name of this concept, the most famous case being Lochner v. New York (1905), in which the court found that a maximum hours law passed by the New York State Legislature violated the 14th Amendment. For a majority of justices (but certainly not all), the due process clause protected the liberty of contract. On the Supreme Court in the 1930s the nine justices were split into factions as to how to proceed with legal challenges to FDR’s New Deal.

Faction #1: The Four Horsemen

The Four Horsemen consisted of Justices George Sutherland, James McReynolds, Pierce Butler, and Willis Van Devanter. These justices regularly voted to strike down New Deal laws, with Sutherland serving as the intellectual leader of the faction. This was a bipartisan group of Justices, with Republicans Van Devanter and former Senator Sutherland, and McReynolds and Butler as Democrats. They would usually win majorities by convincing Justice Owen Roberts to side with them. Sometimes, but with less frequency, they could get Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes to side with them as well. These men believed firmly in the “liberty of contract” doctrine and were interested in stopping the revolution FDR had begun. They succeeded in overturning the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the Bituminous Coal Act, among others. The Four Horsemen won a unanimous decision on the former. Their actions were often deeply unpopular, and some communities hanged them in effigy.

Faction #2: The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers consisted of Justices Louis Brandeis, Harlan Fiske Stone, and Benjamin Cardozo. This was also a bipartisan group with Brandeis and Cardozo Democrats, while Republican Stone had been Calvin Coolidge’s Attorney General. These men regularly voted to uphold New Deal laws, finding them legitimate exercises of power under the Commerce Clause. Brandeis was the intellectual leader of this faction. They succeeded in upholding the Gold Confiscation Act of 1934, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Social Security. In the latter two cases, this faction managed to get members of the Four Horsemen to vote with them.

Faction #3: Sorry, They Didn’t Get a Cool Name

Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and Justice Owen Roberts were the moderates of the court, with their votes often determining the outcomes of cases. Both men were Republicans, with Hughes having been the GOP’s presidential candidate in 1916. Roberts was most likely to be swayed by the Four Horsemen.

Roosevelt was deeply unhappy with the overturning of his laws, and after a landslide victory that won him every state but Maine and Vermont, he decided to spend his political capital by tackling the last obstruction to his governance: the Supreme Court. Roosevelt proposed the “court packing plan” (the story behind this one is itself a post) to sway the court more his way, but ultimately when the Supreme Court upheld a Washington state minimum wage law in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937), which signaled a change in court thinking on “liberty of contract”, public opinion was not so easily swayed on court packing. FDR suffered one of his few political defeats on the court packing plan, but, as he almost always did in politics, he ended up getting his wish. By 1941, none of the Four Horsemen remained on the Supreme Court and the Justices overwhelmingly endorsed a very liberal reading of the Commerce Clause that would go unchallenged until United States v. Lopez (1995), when the Supreme Court found that the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 was unconstitutional as it lacked substantial impact on interstate commerce.

References

Leuchtenburg, W. When Franklin Roosevelt Clashed with the Supreme Court – and Lost. Smithsonian Magazine.

Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-franklin-roosevelt-clashed-with-the-supreme-court-and-lost-78497994/

United States v. Alfonso D. Lopez, Jr., 514 U.S. 549 (1995).

West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379 (1937).

Dwight Eisenhower: How Moderate?

President Dwight Eisenhower is frequently hailed as a GOP moderate and correctly so. But what was the nature of this moderation? To be a moderate presumably means that you take liberal positions on some issues and conservative positions on others, which is indeed what he did for the issues in his time.

dwight_d-_eisenhower

Some positions he took on votes held in the House of Representatives from 1957 to 1960:

Conservative

Supported privatization in defense projects.

Supported deleting extraneous river and harbor projects and reducing federal costs for others.

Opposed freezing price support levels for agriculture at high levels.

Supported conservative alternative to Democratic unemployment compensation bill.

Opposed an omnibus farm bill in 1958.

Opposed providing $300 million for a direct loan program for veterans housing.

Supported cutting funds for airport construction.

Supported increasing control of Congress over issuance of TVA bonds.

Supported killing public housing in a housing bill.

Opposed a bill controlling the price of wheat.

Supported and signed into law the Landrum-Griffin Labor Act, an anti-corruption measure which cracked down on secondary boycotts.

Supported deleting loans for college classrooms and spreading urban renewal funds out over two years instead of one.

Vetoed two public works bills for containing numerous projects not in the Administration budget.

Supported permitting issuance of securities at rates of interest over 4.25% if in the national interest.

Vetoed a federal water pollution control bill in 1960 with the rationale that such pollution was uniquely a state, not a federal issue.

Opposed an emergency housing measure in response to the 1958 recession.

Opposed the Area Redevelopment Act, which provided federal loans and grants for economically distressed areas and would be signed into law by President Kennedy in 1961.

Supported a conservative alternative to minimum wage legislation in 1960, raising the minimum wage from $1 to $1.15 per hour for current workers and extending the $1 coverage to 500 to 700 thousand workers instead of raising the wage to  $1.25 for workers and extending coverage to 5 million workers.

Liberal

Opposed deleting federal grants for sewage treatment plants.

Supported continuation of the Soil Bank program.

Supported the creation of a federal flood insurance program.

Supported creation of the Development Loan Fund.

Opposed cutting TVA funding.

Supported increasing foreign aid on multiple occasions.

Opposed the Anti-Preemption Bill, providing that no act of Congress should be construed as nullifying state laws on the same subject unless Congress specified or if there was an irreconcilable conflict between the laws. This was the first major reaction of Congress to Warren Court decisions.

Supported a five-year price support program for various metals.

Supported increasing funds for urban renewal and slum clearance.

Supported the McCulloch-Celler amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1960, which permitted Federal courts to appoint voting referees to register black applicants after a pattern of racial discrimination had been proven by the Attorney General in court.

In conclusion, based on Ike’s positions on these issues, he could be considered moderately conservative on economic issues and domestic spending, liberal on foreign aid, staunchly conservative on agricultural issues, and liberal on civil rights/civil liberties.

 

A “Brief” History of Immigration

While America has been known as the “land of immigrants”, there has been quite a history of immigration restriction. It has varied in its reasoning, approaches, and legitimacy over time.

1850s: The American (“Know Nothing”) Party gains brief influence, their platform is anti-immigration and anti-Catholic, but it loses influence after a dismal performance in the 1856 presidential election, with Northern members bolting for the GOP while Southern members would vote for the Constitutional Union ticket in 1860.

1875: The Page Act passes, which is the first law in United States history restricting immigration from groups of people. This law prohibits immigrants from Asia coming to the United States to be forced laborers, Asian women who engage in prostitution, and all people who were convicted of crimes in their own country. The law’s effect resulted in the near complete exclusion of immigration of Chinese women. The ratio of Chinese men to women would be highly unbalanced until after World War II.

1882: With fears of the “yellow peril” at a height, Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act. This bill had previously been vetoed by President Hayes, but Chester Arthur signs it. This law bars Chinese from immigrating to the United States for ten years.

1888: The Scott Act passes, prohibiting Chinese laborers who were abroad or who planned to travel from returning to the United States. This particularly vicious law left 20,000-30,000 Chinese stranded. The law was upheld in Chae Chan Ping v. United States (1889).

1892: The Geary Act passes, requiring all Chinese residents of the U.S. to carry a resident permit. This effectively means they must always be carrying a sort of passport. Penalties for violation were deportation or one year of hard labor. It also extended the Chinese Exclusion Act for ten more years. Chinese were also disallowed from bearing witness in court and could not receive bail in habeas corpus proceedings. The Supreme Court upheld this law in Fong Yue Ting v. United States (1893).

1897: Congress passes but Grover Cleveland vetoes a bill requiring literacy tests for immigrants.

1902: The Chinese Exclusion Act is extended indefinitely.

1903: Anarchists are excluded from immigration as are individuals who believe in the violent overthrow of governments or the assassination of public officials. This measure is effectively a response to the McKinley assassination.

1906: Learning the English language becomes a requirement for naturalization.

1907: Theodore Roosevelt negotiates an informal agreement with Japan called the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907, in which the US would not impose limits on Japanese immigration and would not segregate their students but Japan would prohibit further emigration to the United States.

1913: Congress passes a literacy bill for immigration, but on Valentine’s Day, William Howard Taft vetoes it.

1915: The Senate adds a provision to a proposed immigration bill that bars blacks completely from immigrating. After a vigorous campaign to defeat the measure from Booker T. Washington and the NAACP, the measure is overwhelmingly defeated in the House.

1917: Congress is finally successful in passing a bill requiring literacy tests for immigrants, overriding President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. Immigrants who are illiterate in their own language are barred from the US. This law also created the “Asiatic Barred Zone”, which prohibited immigrants from a certain section of Asia from immigrating. Among the exempt were Japan and the Philippines.

1921: The Emergency Quota Act is passed, setting a 3% cap on immigration as of the 1910 census.

1924: The Immigration Act of 1924 is passed, with an explicit purpose of keeping America’s demographics majority Northern and Western European. This was accomplished by setting quotas of 2% of the number of people from the country already living in the United States as of the 1890 census, before extensive immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe occurred. Opponents would have rather used the year 1910 for such a quota, which would allow significantly more of these immigrants to come in. Works such as Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race (1916) and Klansman Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920) were highly influential in obtaining public support for this measure. There was also an on-going fear of foreign radicals, given a number of bombings and that one had assassinated a president. This law also added Japan to the Asiatic Barred Zone despite opposition from the Coolidge Administration to it, wanting to keep diplomatic relations on good ground. Interestingly enough, no caps were imposed on Central or Southern American immigration. Young Congressman Emanuel Celler (D-N.Y.) is a staunch opponent of the measure, and he will be instrumental in its later undoing.

1943: Madame Kai-Shek conducts a goodwill tour of the United States and speaks before the House of Representatives, praising America as an ally and its Lend-Lease program. Recognizing the inconsistency of having China as an ally and flat out banning immigration from there, Congress passes the Magnuson Act, which repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act. This was the first legislation that passed since 1875 that served to expand rather than limit immigration, but immigration quotas were still very low for them.

1952: The McCarran-Walter Act passes. Although this measure eliminates racial prohibitions on immigration and thus increases immigration from Asian countries, it is sponsored by two restrictionist politicians, Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nev.) and Rep. Francis Walter (D-Penn.), and thus the measure reinforced the national origins quota system. It thus earns the opposition of President Truman and liberals, with the measure passing over his veto.

1965: The Hart-Celler Act passes and is signed into law by President Johnson. This measure abolishes the national origins quota system, enabling high levels of immigration that ultimately result in major changes in America’s racial and ethnic demographics.

1986: President Reagan signs into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act to address illegal immigration. Major provisions of the law include amnesty for millions of immigrants and employer sanctions for employing illegal immigrants. This law is supposed to reduce illegal immigration, but the result is the opposite for numerous reasons, with illegal immigrants rising in numbers in the United States from 5.5 million in 1986 to 11.1 million in 2013 (Plumer, 2013).

2005-present: Multiple immigration reform proposals were brought forth with support from Presidents Bush and Obama, but are defeated due to insufficient political support. As of 2018, no major immigration law has passed since 1986, yet the controversy surrounding it is the highest it has been in ages and shows no signs of letting up.

2017: President Trump issues Executive Order 13769, which temporarily stopped immigration from 7 majority-Muslim nations on grounds of national security. Although the order is overturned by lower federal courts, the Supreme Court permitted the second version of the order to go into effect in December. One of his central campaign themes had been to build a border wall, and as of writing, it has not been authorized yet by Congress.

 

References

Madame Chiang Kaih-Shek of China Addressed the House of Representatives. The United States House of Representatives.

http://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1901-1950/Madame-Chiang-Kai-Shek-of-China-addressed-the-House-of-Representatives/

Plumer, B. (30 January 2013). Congress tried to fix immigration back in 1986. Why did it fail? The Washington Post.

Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/01/30/in-1986-congress-tried-to-solve-immigration-why-didnt-it-work/?utm_term=.82a70e1d5987

Summary of Immigration Laws, 1875-1918. The State University of New York.

Retrieved from http://people.sunyulster.edu/voughth/immlaws1875_1918.htm

The Immigration Act of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act). Office of the Historian of the Department of State.

Retrieved from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/immigration-act

RINOs: Today’s Republicans Have It Good Comparatively

Today I am covering the term RINO. RINO (Republican in Name Only) is meant to convey that the politician in question is insufficiently conservative to really be a Republican. Although it is an increasingly frequently used term that is often lacking in understanding of the politician’s overall voting record or based on a heavily distorted picture of said record, there was much more validity to it when applied for much of the 20th Century. At that time, the GOP had far more RINOs than today, and their records were significantly more divergent from the conservative line. A few examples:

Case #1: Hugh Scott

Sen. Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania is a very prominent example of someone who could legitimately be called a RINO, and he was the Senate Republican leader from 1969 to 1977. He had a reputation of being the “most liberal conservative”, the “most conservative liberal”, and the “most extreme moderate”. Scott often supported Great Society measures, as evidenced by his 1966 score from conservative group Americans for Constitutional Action (ACA) of only 35 out of 100. Yet, he supported Everett Dirksen’s 1966 efforts at amending the Constitution in a conservative direction and was a reliable ally for Nixon on the Vietnam War. That a supporter by and large of the Great Society could be voted in as leader is evidence of how far from uniformly conservative the GOP was then.

Case #2: John B. Anderson

For political aficionados this name might be familiar to you. It was John B. Anderson, who passed away in December, who was the third party candidate in the 1980 presidential election. He ran to the left of center and served primarily to take votes from Jimmy Carter. However, Anderson had a past…a conservative past. In 1960, he was elected to the House from Illinois. In his first two years in Congress, the ACA rated him a 95 out of 100. The liberal group Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) gave him a 0 out of 100 for his first three years in office. He even went as far as to propose an amendment to officially recognize the influence of God and Jesus Christ over the United States. This went beyond the standard “school prayer amendment” as it had America fundamentally choose a side on religion, and Anderson would come to regret the thoughtlessness of this proposal. However, starting in 1964, Anderson would gradually find himself increasingly at odds with the conservative wing of his party to the point that they became a primary foe for him, and conservatives felt similarly. A major part of this shift was the civil rights movement, particularly his change in position on fair housing legislation. Anderson wasn’t just any old Congressman either: in 1968 the Republicans thought highly enough of him to make him chair of the House Republican Conference. By the 1970s his record had morphed into one of a centrist. In 1973 and 1974 his ACA scores were 46 and 33 respectively. He continued moving leftward throughout the 1970s and by 1980 most of the people who endorsed him were liberals who were not pleased with Carter. After his 1980 bid for the presidency, Anderson endorsed mostly Democrats for president, including Walter Mondale in 1984 and Barack Obama in 2008.

Case #3: Charles Goodell

The father of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Charles Goodell led two political lives. The first began with death, as he was elected to the House in 1959 after the death of Republican Daniel Reed, who had served in the House since 1919. Goodell established a record that was conservative, but not extremely so. He was even awarded a score of 100 by the ACA in his first year. On most of the critical issues, he sided with his party. He opposed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (the Johnson anti-poverty package) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965. He voted for major civil rights legislation of the time as well. However, as the 1960s wore on, his record grew more moderate…perhaps he was anticipating greater things. After all, he was recognized as a policy wonk and was placed in charge the House Republican Planning and Research Committee so as to craft policies in response to the drubbing the Republicans suffered in 1964. Among other things, he wanted to craft a conservative substitute to the War on Poverty programs. His second political life also began with death: in 1968 Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan. Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, seeing a highly qualified man in Goodell, appointed him to the seat.

It was not long before he came out against the Vietnam War and established a record in the Senate so liberal it rivaled that of longtime liberal Republican Jacob Javits. It was as if his House career hadn’t happened. Goodell also marched with Coretta Scott King in an anti-war protest and even secured the endorsement of Noam Chomsky. These developments resulted in Vice President Spiro Agnew denouncing him as a “radical liberal” and stating that he was the “Christine Jorgensen of the Republican Party” (a famous transsexual). Goodell stood for election to the seat in 1970 under the slogan “Too Good to Lose!”, but ultimately the race became a three-way battle between him, Conservative James L. Buckley, and Democrat Richard Ottinger. Conservatives had no reason to vote for Goodell at this point, his ACA score having fallen to 5 that year. Liberals split their votes between Goodell and Ottinger, resulting in a Buckley victory with Goodell coming in third. This was the end of elective politics for him, although his old friend Gerald Ford would appoint him to head a board pardoning draft dodgers.

Compared to the three cases above, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who both hold American Conservative Union lifetime scores of 89%, don’t look so bad for conservatives now do they?

Other Notable RINOs:

John Lindsay, Congressman and notoriously destructive Mayor of New York City, switched party affiliation to Democrat in 1972.

Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York.

Jacob Javits, Congressman and Senator from New York.

Clifford Case, Congressman and Senator from New Jersey.

Charles Mathias, Congressman and Senator from Maryland.

William Scranton, Congressman and Governor of Pennsylvania.

Arlen Specter, Senator from Pennsylvania, switched party affiliation to Democrat in 2009.

Mark Hatfield, Governor of Oregon and Senator.

Lincoln Chafee, Senator from Rhode Island, failed contender for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

References

Crass, S. (2015). Statesmen and mischief makers: Officeholders who were footnotes in the developments of history from Kennedy to Reagan.

Curtis, B. Mr. Goodell Goes to Washington: The father of the commish versus Richard Nixon. Grantland.

Retrieved from http://grantland.com/features/roger-goodell-father-senator-charles-goodell/

Gizzi, J. (24 December 2017). Remembering Ex-Rep. John B. Anderson: Why Did He Move From Hard Right to Strong Left? Newsmax.

Retrieved from https://www.newsmax.com/john-gizzi/john-b-anderson-independent-republicans-democrats/2017/12/24/id/833591/