Right now I am recovering from a very nasty cold and thus my mind hasn’t been at its best for writing or researching given the toll this has exacted on my sleep. However, I’m engaging in a broad undertaking and that is the revitalization of the MC-Index. The MC “Mike’s Conservative” Index is supposed to show what a theoretical national conservative interest group may grade people like in the past. While for 1947 forward I get quite a bit of assistance in determining what key votes are from looking at what votes Americans for Democratic Action, Americans for Constitutional Action, and the American Conservative Union counted as ideologically relevant. As one goes further back the greater the challenge of interpretation is and it requires some rethinking of assumptions. I have already covered one such way in which we need to rethink our assumptions when looking at political history in my August 5th, 2020 article, “When State’s Rights Was Progressive”.
In this light, I have decided to change up how my system works Instead of only determining votes by examining how the most conservative legislators (by DW-Nominate’s scaling system) voted, but also how the most liberal did as well. I have in the past criticized how poor ADA and ACU can be at distinguishing moderates and extremists on the other side in their ratings, so I want to take more precautions to avoid this. I have also become concerned about inappropriately counting or placing too much emphasis on regional issues. The system used to determine ideology will remain as sixteen of the most extreme representatives and four of the most extreme senators on a given vote, and all twenty if it is on the same question. I use this system because its possible that some legislators are not at their “peak” ideologically extreme period in a certain Congress or there are many issues in which they are extreme in that position but are less so in others. Republican H.R. Gross of Iowa, for instance, was not voting as a doctrinaire conservative during his first term, he would solidify his brand of skinflint conservatism during the Eisenhower years and only get more extreme with time. Having a bipolar approach to this also helps in weeding out votes that got both extremes to go against, thus is not a good vote for distinguishing right and left. However, it also does not make sense to have very individualistic dissents throw off a very relevant vote for inclusion. In 1947, one of the Republicans to vote “nay” on overriding President Truman’s veto of the Taft-Hartley Act was C.W. “Runt” Bishop of Illinois and he is the only one of the top conservatives of the Congress to do so. As it turns out, Bishop could be rather liberal on labor issues, but this is counterbalanced by his extreme conservatism on foreign policy and conservatism on other issues. In that same Congress, you have among the top liberals Senator Glen H. Taylor (D-Idaho) and Representatives Leo Isacson (ALP-N.Y.), Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (D-N.Y.), and George G. Sadowski (D-Mich.) voting against the Marshall Plan as they were subscribing to the Henry Wallace view that we should be seeking better relations with Russia. However, top conservatives by my standard are, with the sole exception of John Taber (R-N.Y.), unified against it even though they have no love for Stalin. Despite these dissents, because a majority of liberals voted for the Marshall Plan and a majority of conservatives voted against, it is eligible to be counted and is. This system can be a bit difficult in the 1920s as there seems to be the start of a major split in what is constituting liberalism on certain issues. However, these are weeds I have gotten through and hopefully soon I will complete this whole undertaking.
2 thoughts on “Revitalizing the MC-Index”
Hope you feel better ASAP! And IMO, your MC-Index analyses have so far been brilliant in examining the political ideologies of individual senators/representatives.