The Vandenberg Republicans

On January 10, 1945, Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, a prominent Republican who had a history of opposition to the New Deal as well as being an outspoken non-interventionist, delivered a speech that became known as “The Speech Heard ‘Round the World”. In this speech, he announced his conversion to internationalism, holding that “Our oceans have ceased to be moats which automatically protect our ramparts. Flesh and blood now compete unequally with winged steel. War has become an all-consuming juggernaut. If World War III ever unhappily arrives, it will open new laboratories of death too horrible to contemplate. I propose to do everything within my power to keep those laboratories closed for keeps. I want maximum American cooperation, consistent with legitimate American self-interest, with constitutional process and with collateral events which warrant it, to make the basic idea of Dumbarton Oaks succeed” (Vandenberg, 603). ith this speech, a post-war internationalist foreign policy became bipartisan. Although there were some partisan divisions on details such as funding levels, the overall orientation of American postwar foreign policy was agreed to.

Following Vandenberg in this transformation in the Senate were Clyde Reed and Arthur Capper of Kansas, Charles Tobey of New Hampshire, George Aiken of Vermont, and Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin. Some of the folks in the House who followed included the whole Republican leadership in Joe Martin of Massachusetts, Charles Halleck of Indiana, and Les Arends of Illinois. Another notable convert was John M. Vorys of Ohio, who had been known as a formidable non-interventionist debater. He was highly influential and could sway many Republican votes. Future Senate party leaders Everett Dirksen of Illinois and Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania were among the Vandenberg Republicans as well. These people, who had previously opposed measures such as eliminating the arms embargo in 1939, Lend-Lease in 1941, and permitting U.S. merchant ships to enter belligerent ports, were now supporting the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. Interestingly, although Robert Taft of Ohio was not as enthusiastic as other former non-interventionists, he nonetheless voted for these two measures but with reluctance.

Below are the votes I have used for the House and the Senate, respectively, to illustrate the change.

References

Vandenberg, A.H. American Foreign Policy. (1945, January 10). U.S. Senate, 599-605.

Retrieved from

Strom Thurmond Was Better Than You Think

Author’s note: my original plan was to write about American fascism advocate Lawrence Dennis, but I found two goldmines of resources for him and I want to fully capitalize on them for the post I will be writing on him: his book on the subject, The Coming American Fascism, and a 1967 interview. I would be most dismayed to have found such resources and not used them to the full extent I can. On to today’s post.


When people think of Strom Thurmond (1902-2003), if they care to, they think of him as a segregationist who ran for president on the Dixiecrat platform in 1948, engaged in a solo filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for a record of 24 hours that stands to this day, and his switch to the Republican Party in 1964. All this is true, however, the legacy of him is substantially more nuanced and on the state level reflects a degree of racial moderation and reform that was far from universal among Southern politicians of his time.

Thurmond had his first encounter with politics at the age of six. Since his father, James William, had significant political connections, he got to meet and shake hands with Ben Tillman. Tillman was the foremost politician of the state in his time, and had led a populistic and white supremacist movement in the state which got him to the Senate. After earning a bachelor of science at Clemson, Thurmond’s first foray into public service came in 1929 with his appointment as Edgefield County’s superintendent of education. During this time, he became a lawyer by “reading law”, and in 1930 he was admitted to the state bar, serving as Edgefield’s town and county attorney for eight years. Thurmond’s rise continued with his election in 1938 to be a state circuit judge.


In 1942, Thurmond resigned his judgeship to serve in World War II, and he served with distinction, rising through the ranks to lieutenant colonel. He earned eighteen decorations, medals, and awards for his war heroism. Thurmond’s service brought up his profile to run for governor. He ran a reform campaign, promising to counter the powers that were in the state from Barnwell, led by House Speaker Solomon Blatt. Thurmond prevailed and had promoted a path of reform and modernization for the state. He increased funding for black schools, passed pro-business policies to get more to move to South Carolina, and sought to eliminate geniunely


Thurmond and the Lynching of Willie Earle


In 1947, a 24-year old black man named Willie Earle was accused of robbing and murdering Thomas Watson Brown, a white taxi driver and was arrested. On February 16th, a mob of taxi drivers took Earle from the jail, gave him a brutal beating, and then one of them shot him in the face with a shotgun. Governor Thurmond launched a full-scale investigation and got members of the mob indicted. Although the mob members were acquitted, the New York Times praised Governor Thurmond for his efforts and wrote “There has been a victory for law, even though Willie Earle’s slayers will not be punished for what they did. A precedent has been set. Members of lynching mobs may now know that they do not bask in universal approval, even in their own disgraced communities, and they may begin to fear that someday, on sufficient evidence with sufficient courage, a Southern lynching case jury will convict” (Bass & Poole, 116-117). This was the last racially motivated lynching in South Carolina, and this was reinforced in 1950 after Thurmond signed a law drafted by fellow future Senator Fritz Hollings which prescribed the death penalty for lynching.

Thurmond for President: The Dixiecrat Campaign of 1948


The presidency of Harry S. Truman got Democrats asking questions. Namely, who they were and what direction would they go. The Roosevelt coalition had elements in it that were simply not sustainable in the long term in the same party. It was both the party of Northern blacks and the party of segregationists. This was an untenable arrangement in the long term. On July 26, 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, mandating the desegregation of the U.S. Army. He also endorsed a civil rights platform that included anti-lynching legislation, a poll tax ban, and a permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee. These proposals were anathema to the Southern Democrats of the day, and some Southerners broke from the Democratic Party by endorsing the State’s Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrat). They nominated Strom Thurmond for president and Mississippi Governor Fielding Wright for vice president. No Dixiecrat labored under the delusion that the Thurmond/Wright ticket would win. They thought they could upset the presidency for Dewey or at best, throw the election to the House of Representatives, where they could negotiate a more palatable candidate. They sought to prove that the Democrats could not function without them. The most famous quote of Thurmond’s from the campaign was this:


“I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches” (PotusGeeks).


Writer and wit H.L. Mencken, interestingly enough, had primarily positive things to say about Thurmond. He regarded him as “the best of all the candidates” but lamented that “all the worst morons in the South are for him” (TIME). He would interview him during the campaign, which would be the last he would cover. The Dixiecrat hope was for naught: although Thurmond won four states and 39 electoral votes, President Truman found more danger from dissent from the left in the party than the right; Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party had broken off enough of the Democratic vote for Thomas E. Dewey to win New York, which at the time was worth 47 electoral votes. Given Thurmond’s lack of the commitment to the State’s Rights Democratic Party after the 1948 election, he may have accepted the nomination to raise his profile for a Senate race in 1950, a primary which he lost. That year, he succeeded in winning crucial reforms for how the state voted: there would finally be a secret ballot, it became a crime to intimidate voters, and dispense with asking voters if they wanted a “Democratic” or “Republican” ballot. Thurmond had also pushed for a ban of the poll tax, which the voters approved in 1950 and the legislature ratified the repeal the following year. This limited coercion in voting and opened the door to more independent voting in South Carolina, which historically had produced astronomical majorities for Democrats. The results were dramatic: in 1948, the state had voted 71.97% for Thurmond and 24.14% for Truman, but in 1952, the state voted 50.7% for Democrat Adlai Stevenson and 49.3% for Republican Dwight Eisenhower, with an estimated 20,000 blacks having cast a ballot from the state.


Joining the Senate


In 1954, Senator Burnet R. Maybank died, and the Democrats nominated Edgar A. Brown without having a primary. Strom Thurmond ran a write-in campaign for the Senate in response, and his was the first ever write-in campaign to win a Senate race and one of the few write-in campaigns to succeed in American history. However, he had promised if elected to resign in 1956 to force a primary. Thurmond won this campaign as well.


Like most other Southern senators, and like all politicians from South Carolina he signed the Southern Manifesto, which was a statement of opposition to Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and desegregation. Thurmond had co-written the first draft. His opposition to Brown would motivate his votes against Eisenhower Supreme Court picks John Marshall Harlan II and Potter Stewart, as he correctly believed they would vote for desegregation. Thurmond would likewise vote against Thurgood Marshall in 1967. In 1957, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Tex.) cut a deal with the Southern Democratic bloc not to launch a coordinated filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 in exchange for weakening the bill. Thurmond, however, launched a solo filibuster that lasted for 24 hours and 18 minutes, a record that stands to this day. He likewise proved a staunch opponent of statehood for Alaska and Hawaii. A major motivation for opposition from him and other Southern senators was that both states were expected to (and did) elect two pro-civil rights senators. Never a liberal as a senator, Thurmond grew more and more conservative. During the 87th Congress, he got two zeroes from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action and a 100% from the conservative Americans for Constitutional Action. The only Democrats who achieved the latter feat in the 87th Congress were Senator Willis Robertson (D-Va.), and Representatives Joe Waggonner (D-La.), and John Bell Williams (D-Miss.).


In 1964, not long after Senator Goldwater’s vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Thurmond, who had participated in the group filibuster against the bill, switched to Republican and campaigned for Goldwater. Although he cited multiple reasons for this switch, including the increasing liberalism of the Democratic Party and foreign policy, civil rights without question was a part of the reasoning. Thurmond proved as staunch a foe of the Great Society as he was Kennedy’s New Frontier and was a Vietnam War hawk.


The Great Symbolic Switch: 1964


In 1964, Senator Thurmond participated in the coordinated filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and proposed several amendments to weaken the bill. Not long after Senator and Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater voted against the bill, Thurmond switched to the Republican Party and campaigned for him. He had always been one of the most conservative Democrats and this switch would have likely come regardless at some point in the future, the timing of the switch carried great symbolic meaning for blacks…that the Lincoln mantle of the Republican Party had transferred to the Democratic Party. That year, South Carolina, for the first time since Reconstruction, voted for the Republican candidate for president.

A New Thurmond for a New South


In 1970, Thurmond’s protege, Congressman Albert W. Watson, a former Democrat who had been the only Republican to vote against a bill penalizing racial discrimination in federal jury selection, ran for governor and engaged in racially heated rhetoric. The Democrats nominated moderate John C. West, and he won the election given crossover vote from some suburban Republicans who were uncomfortable with Watson’s rhetoric. A notable incident was on March 3, 1970, when a mob of two hundred whites assaulted three school buses full of black children (no one was injured) nine days after a speech Watson delivered before a pro-segregation rally in Darlington County which he said, “use every means at your disposal to defend” the community against a court order desegregating schools (The New York Times, 1994). The message was quite clear for South Carolina: the days of race baiting as a winning strategy were over. Thurmond in the next year was the first Southern senator to hire a black legislative assistant in Thomas Moss, and he used his office to obtain pork projects that black voters valued. This served to lessen black opposition to him.


By the late 1970s, Thurmond’s change on civil rights was complete. He now supported extensions of the Civil Rights Commission and in 1978 he even backed giving Washington D.C. full representation in Congress. In 1982, Thurmond voted for extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for twenty-five years, the first time he had supported extending that law. The following year, he voted for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. Although he had once been an outlier on civil rights within the Republican Party for his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and especially the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he was now voting in a manner not distinguishable from many conservative Republicans and was no longer the most oppositional. The most oppositional was now North Carolina’s Jesse Helms. While Thurmond sided with Ronald Reagan in his veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 and with George H.W. Bush in his veto of the Civil Rights Act of 1990, he joined most of the Senate in support of strengthening fair housing laws in 1988 as well as in voting for the compromise Civil Rights Act of 1991.


Thurmond and Nixon

The time in which Thurmond could be argued to be at the peak of his power was during the Nixon Administration. He had helped rally Southern support for him in 1968, and the power of his influence was evidenced by the fact that South Carolina was the only Deep South state to vote for Nixon rather than Wallace. Thurmond influenced the Nixon Administration’s pick of South Carolina Judge Clement Haynsworth for the Supreme Court, but his nomination was felled by a coalition of civil rights and labor groups as well as concerns over ethics. He also urged the Nixon Administration to back making the Voting Rights Act of 1965 apply nationwide and wanted to end Section 5, the preclearance section of the law. The Nixon Administration backed such a substitute, but Congress rejected it in favor of a five-year extension that gave eighteen year olds the vote. The latter portion would be struck down as unconstitutional, necessitating a constitutional amendment. However, Nixon didn’t always go with Thurmond. He supported the Philadelphia Plan in 1969 and a busing compromise in 1970, both of which Thurmond opposed. Thurmond was a strong supporter of Nixon Administration policies when Nixon went conservative, such as on the prosecution of the Vietnam War, on general opposition to busing, and on opposition to raising the minimum wage.


Thurmond in the 1980 Election

In 1979, Senator Thurmond endorsed former Secretary of the Treasury and Texas Governor John B. Connally for president. Connally, like Thurmond, had switched from Democrat to Republican. Despite raising the most money, he was unable to overcome the enthusiasm for Ronald Reagan, and after he lost the South Carolina primary by 25 points, he dropped out. With the election of Ronald Reagan and a Republican Senate in 1980, Thurmond became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, serving from 1981 to 1987. In this position, he staunchly endorsed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Thurmond also presided over the vetting and considerations of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia. He would also vote for Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee

With the victory of the Republicans in the 1994 midterms, Thurmond became chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In this position, he backed increases in the defense budget, praising President Clinton’s proposal to raise defense funds by $25 billion (UPI Archives). Although he could have theoretically continued as chairman, by 1997 he decided he would turn over the chairmanship to his fellow Southern Republican in the next Congress, John Warner of Virginia.

Death and Revelation

Thurmond retired in 2003 at the age of 100, dying six months after leaving office. After his passing, Essie Mae Washington-Williams (1925-2013) revealed that she was his daughter, being the child produced from a tryst with the Thurmond family’s black maid. Thurmond had supported her financially, including her college education, and the two would meet and talk on the phone from time to time.

References

Albert Watson, 72, Lawmaker; Opposed Integration of Schools. The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/27/obituaries/albert-watson-72-lawmaker-opposed-integration-of-schools.html

Bass, J. & Poole, W.S. (2012). The Palmetto State: the making of modern South Carolina. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.

Martin, M. (2019, August 21). Strom Thurmond, the “Dixiecrats,” and Southern Identity. Abbeville Institute Press.

Retrieved from

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/strom-thurmond-the-dixiecrats-and-southern-identity/

Political Notes: The Pot Boils, Oct. 4, 1948. TIME.

Retrieved from

https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,799228,00.html

The Also Rans: Strom Thurmond. (2013). PotusGeeks.

Retrieved from

https://potus-geeks.livejournal.com/356599.html

Thurmond Image Seen As Changing. (1971, October 17). The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1971/10/17/archives/thurmond-image-seen-as-changing-moderate-actions-and-tone-get-mixed.html

Thurmond praises, criticizes Clinton. (1994, December 1). UPI Archives.

Retrieved from

https://www.upi.com/Archives/1994/12/01/Thurmond-praises-criticizes-Clinton/6339786258000/ph

The American Trials at Nuremberg

On October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, a joint trial conducted by Britain, France, the US, and the USSR concluded. Of the twenty-four men who were indicted, nineteen were convicted. Twelve men, including Reich Marshal Hermann Goering, were sentenced to death. Ten were ultimately hanged, with Goering committing suicide the night before execution. Reich Labor Leader Robert Ley had also committed suicide after indictment. One, Nazi Party Secretary Martin Bormann, was sentenced to death in absentia as he was believed alive at the time. His body would be exhumed in Berlin in 1973, thus the official conclusion was he committed suicide to avoid capture by the Soviets on May 2, 1945. However, compelling evidence suggests that he in fact died in Asuncion, Paraguay, on February 15, 1959, of stomach cancer and his body was moved in secret to Berlin and buried. I strongly recommend you check out historian Mark Felton’s video series on Martin Bormann for more details, the link I will provide in references. This was the only international trial in Germany, with the other nations conducting their own trials. The United States conducted numerous trials, including twelve at Nuremberg. These trials dealt primarily with high-ranking Nazis in the military, judiciary, medical, business, and governmental fields.


The trial of the major Nazis was the one international court trial of them, with cases of lesser functionaries being tried by the respective allied powers. Since Nuremberg was located in the American zone of occupation, subsequent trials of Nazis occurred in the city. There were twelve major trials held and I will deliver, largely from memory as I researched Nazi Germany a lot as well as the trials of the major figures as a younger man, general summaries of what happened in them.

The Doctors Trial (The United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al.)

The lead defendant among the twenty-three defendants was Karl Brandt, Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation and a personal physician to Hitler. These men were tried for their roles in human experimentation and the euthanasia program. Prosecutor Telford Taylor introduced the case thusly, “The defendants in this case are charged with murders, tortures, and other atrocities committed in the name of medical science. The victims of these crimes are numbered in the hundreds of thousands. A handful only are still alive; a few of the survivors will appear in this courtroom. But most of these miserable victims were slaughtered outright or died in the course of the tortures to which they were subjected. For the most part they are nameless dead. To their murderers, these wretched people were not individuals at all. They came in wholesale lots and were treated worse than animals” (USHMM). Of the twenty-three defendants, seventeen were convicted and seven of them received death sentences (including Brandt), all of which were carried out on June 2, 1948. The most controversial acquittal was that of Kurt Blome, the Deputy Reich Health Leader, who had admitted to ordering typhus experiments on concentration camp inmates and could have otherwise faced the noose. The U.S. government had intervened in this case and he became a subject of Operation Paperclip for his research into chemical warfare. Convicted Luftwaffe Doctor Hermann Becker-Freyseng would also contribute work to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip from his cell.

Milch Trial (The United States of America v. Erhard Milch)

Field Marshal Erhard Milch was Hermann Goering’s right-hand man as State Secretary in the Reich Ministry of Aviation. After refusing to be a witness for the prosecution at the international tribunal he was tried for his involvement in the procurement and use of slave labor and his involvement in fatal medical experiments on people without their consent, most notably high altitude and freezing experiments. He was acquitted of direct participation in medical experiments but was convicted of responsibility over them as well as extensive involvement in slave labor, being sentenced to life imprisonment in 1947. However, he was granted clemency in 1954.

The Judges’ Trial (The United States of America v. Josef Altstoetter et al.)

The lead defendant, Altstoetter, was not the worst of the sixteen defendants. Of them, ten were convicted and four received life sentences. Of the remaining two, one had committed suicide and the other was let off on account of illness. The film Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) is based on this case, with the more sympathetic defendant representing legal scholar Franz Schlegelberger while the ardent Nazi represented Oswald Rothaug, both who were among the four to receive life sentences. Rothaug was noted as the worst among them for perverting the law to get a Jewish man a death sentence for an offense that under German law was normally penalized by imprisonment. The former was released in 1950 on health grounds while Rothaug was released in 1956.


Pohl Trial (The United States of America v. Oswald Pohl, et al.)

The Pohl Trial surrounded the administration of concentration and death camps, with the head of the SS office for this function, the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office, being SS General Oswald Pohl. Pohl was regarded among the defendants as most responsible for the wretched conditions of the camps as head administrator and played a major role in the Holocaust. Although the trial resulted in four death sentences, only Pohl’s was carried out on June 7, 1951.

Flick Trial (The United States of America vs. Friedrich Flick et al.)

This trial was one of the first real misses, as out of the six defendants only Flick, his deputy Otto Steinbrinck, and functionary Bernhard Weiss were convicted, with Steinbrinck only being convicted for his membership in the SS. Weiss received a mere 2 1/2 year sentence for involvement in slave labor. Friedrich Flick only got a seven-year sentence over slave labor and “Aryanization” (theft) of Jewish property, being released in 1950. An estimated 80% of slave laborers under Flick firms died from the brutal working conditions. Upon his release he also had all his wealth restored to him and never paid a cent in reparations to survivors. Flick’s firm would only after his death pay reparations to survivors and their families.

IG Farben Trial (The United States of America vs. Carl Krauch, et al.)

IG Farben was involved in the German war machine as well as had partial ownership in a firm that held the trademark for Zyklon-B, the gas used to exterminate Jews and others in the Holocaust. These defendants were being tried, however, for their role in slave labor and expropriation. The British had their own trial for the officers of the firm that had manufactured Zyklon-B, two of whom were executed as it was proven that they sold it knowing exactly what it was being used for. No death sentences were handed out in this case, and the highest sentence was eight years, with Walter Duerrfield and Otto Ambros receiving these sentences. Both men were implicated in slave labor at Auschwitz, with the latter being chief of production at I.G. Farben’s facility at Auschwitz and Buna. Ambros would remain a significant figure in the German business world, be part of Operation Paperclip, and would be a consultant for the American firms Dow Chemical and W.R. Grace as well as the U.S. Army Chemical Corps.

Hostages Trial (The United States of America vs. Wilhelm List, et al.)

The German army made a practice of taking hostages and executing them in reprisal for partisan attacks. Hitler’s order was that for every one German soldier killed, ten hostages were to be executed. The defendants convicted in this case engaged in these reprisals. Interestingly enough, the worst of them, Franz Boehme, who had upped the ante to one to one hundred, committed suicide after learning he was going be extradited to Yugoslavia, where he would have probably been hanged. The lead defendant, Field Marshal List, was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in 1952 due to poor health. However, he lived far longer than one would expect, dying in 1971.

RuSHA Trial (United States of America v. Ulrich Greifelt, et al.)

This trial prosecuted fourteen officials involved in the program to resettle Germans into Polish lands and displace Poles and Jews. This included programs that “Aryanized” children by abducting them from their parents and giving them to German parents and programs to encourage or compel abortions for non-Aryan mothers. The most notable defendants were Werner Lorenz, Otto Hofmann, and Ulrich Greifelt, SS officers deeply implicated in displacements of non-Germans and the kidnapping of children. Hofmann was a participant in the Wannsee Conference in 1942. All three men were convicted. Although no death sentences were handed out in this trial, Richard Hildebrandt, who was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, was subsequently extradited to Poland for another trial and executed in 1952.

Einsatzgruppen Trial (The United States of America v. Otto Ohlendorf, et al.)

This trial was against the officers of SS battalions used to mass murder Jews, Slavs, and others the Nazis deemed undesirables in the Baltic states, Russia, and Ukraine, called Einsatzgruppen. They killed 2 million people, 1.3 million being Jews. the most notable defendants at trial were Ohlendorf, the head of Einsatzgruppe D, Einsatzgruppe C head Otto Rasch, and Paul Blobel, who commanded the unit that perpetrated one of the deadliest massacres of World War II, the Babi Yar, in which 33,771 Jews were murdered over two days. Of the 24 defendants all save Otto Rasch (who was released due to health reasons and died less than a year later) were convicted and 14 were sentenced to death. Of these, only the four worst defendants, which included Ohlendorf and Blobel, were executed after High Commissioner John J. McCloy reviewed and commuted numerous sentences. Defendant Eduard Strauch, another one of the worst of them suffered an epileptic attack and faked mental illness to try to get out of trial. Although he was sentenced to death, he was extradited to trial for Belgium where he was again sentenced to death for his crimes as SD commander, but he died in prison in 1955.

Krupp Trial (The United States of America v. Alfried Krupp, et al.)

The Krupp trial covered the use of slave labor by the Krupp firm and other firms under Krupp.
This was one of the most controversial trials as despite the use of slave labor the lead defendant, Alfried Krupp, the head of the Krupp firm, got the highest sentence of only 12 years imprisonment with him forfeiting property. All but one of the other defendants were convicted and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Krupp was not only released on January 31, 1951, he also had all his wealth, previously confiscated, restored to him, even that made with slave labor. The Krupp firm would after Krupp’s death in 1967 pay reparations to survivors and their families.


Ministries Trial (The United States of America vs. Ernst von Weizäcker, et al.)

This was a trial of functionaries just below major Nazis, lasted the longest, and concluded last. Ernst von Weizsäcker, one of Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop’s deputies, was the lead defendant. Of the 21 defendants, two were acquitted of all charges. Weizsäcker was convicted of crimes against humanity but sentenced to only 7 years’ imprisonment based on mitigating evidence that he was connected with anti-Nazi forces and on claims that he had no knowledge that his involvement in deporting French Jews would lead them to extermination at Auschwitz. His conviction was considered a “deadly error” by Winston Churchill, and after a commutation to 5 years imprisonment, he would be released in October 1950. Secretary of State in the Interior Ministry Wilhelm Stuckart received the spectacularly low 3 1/2 years imprisonment with time served, so he was released promptly despite his attendance at the Wannsee Conference in 1942. Among the worst convicted were in the cases of SS General Gottlob Berger and Plenipotentiary to Hungary Edmund Veesenmayer, both men who were sentenced to 25 and 20 years imprisonment respectively for the direct roles they played in the Holocaust.

High Command Trial (The United States of America vs. Wilhelm von Leeb, et al.)


This trial, having fourteen defendants, was the last to start and covered the actions of members of the German High Command and their involvement in war crimes, which included the transmission and execution of orders illegal by international law. Although the lead defendant was General Wilhelm von Leeb, he was only sentenced to three years for transmitting the Barbarossa Decree with time served, so he was released immediately. The defendants who stood out most were General Walter Warlimont, who was responsible for the Barbarossa Decree that allowed the murdering of civilians to counter partisan activity and General Hermann Reinecke, as he was uniquely responsible for the policy and implementation of as head of the General Office of the Armed Forces in the OKW that resulted in 3.3 million deaths of Soviet prisoners of war. This included deliberate starvation of Soviet POWs and the turning over of any ideologically or racially unacceptable POWs to the SS for execution. Both men were sentenced to life imprisonment. However, Reinecke and Warlimont were released in 1954 with the last of the convicted defendants in this trial. Luftwaffe General Hugo Sperrle, who had directed the Blitz over London, was one of two defendants acquitted as the Allies had done no different with their aerial bombing. One defendant, General Johannes Blaskowitz, committed suicide during the trial, which was a strange incident as he was widely expected to be acquitted.


The Aftermath

In 1950, the Peck Panel was assembled to review the sentences of convicted Nazis. Of 99 cases reviewed, in 77 cases sentence reduction was recommended. High Commander for West Germany John J. McCloy reviewed these recommendations and for some he was more lenient and for others less so. However, many sentences were reduced in January 1951 with some, including Alfried Krupp, being released. All of the defendants in the Ministries Trial, even those deeply implicated in the Holocaust, were released by December 1951. Of the convicted who were not executed or died in prison, the last were released in 1958.
Of the trials, those of industrialists were the least successful at the administration of justice as building up West Germany as a Cold War bulwark was prioritized, followed by the Ministries Trial in which everyone was released by the end of 1951. The cases that did the emphasis had not yet turned to building up West Germany as an anti-communist bulwark and justice seemed most proportionate here despite the case of Kurt Blome.

Whatever the United States’ shortfalls in the administration of justice in their trials, they paled in comparison to how they addressed Japanese war criminals. However, that is a post for another day.

References

Callahan, M. (2014, February 1). Behind the Secret Plan to Smuggle Nazi Scientists to America. The New York Post.

Retrieved from

https://nypost.com/2014/02/01/behind-the-secret-plan-to-smuggle-nazi-scientists-to-america/

The Doctors Trial: The Medical Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Retrieved from

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-doctors-trial-the-medical-case-of-the-subsequent-nuremberg-proceedings

Felton, M. (2022, September 5). The Hunt for Martin Bormann – Episode 1: Hitler’s Gatekeeper. Mark Felton Productions.

Retrieved from

Switching Parties as a Survival Strategy – It Can Work!

The latest Senate news, aside from Raphael Warnock winning reelection, is that Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona switched from Democrat to Independent. I see the rationales for this move as threefold: 1. Sinema doesn’t have to face a difficult Democratic primary; 2. She gains more leverage in the Senate; and 3. Sinema can shift her record moderately to the right or at minimum not shift her record left. She is betting that Arizona likes her more than the Democratic Party, and her judgment may turn out to be sound. Some past examples of switching parties to save your career, even if temporarily, include:

Harry F. Byrd Jr.


Harry F. Byrd Jr. was elected to the Senate in 1965 to succeed his father, who was terminally ill with brain cancer. However, in 1966, the Byrd Machine collapsed with the elder Byrd’s death and the defeats of some significant figures in the Democratic primaries like Senator Willis Robertson and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Howard W. Smith, the latter being defeated by Delegate George Rawlings. Although Rawlings had failed to win Smith’s seat in the general election, he set his sights on Byrd Jr. in 1970.


Byrd read the writing on the wall and also didn’t want to have to endorse whoever the Democrats chose to run in 1972 (a smart move in retrospect given that it would be George McGovern) and thus declined to run for the Democratic nomination, instead having decided to run for reelection as an Independent. It turned out that Byrd was more popular than the Democratic Party in Virginia at the time and won reelection with over 53% of the vote. Rawlings only got about 31% while poor Republican Ray Garland only got about 15%, despite having the backing of Governor A. Linwood Holton. Many Republicans decided to cast their votes for Byrd, and be ensured that a conservative would be senator. He would win reelection once more in 1976 against the Democratic nominee, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, by almost 20 points. In 1982, Byrd chose not to run again and lived for 31 more years, dying at the age of 98.


Joe Lieberman


I recently covered Joe Lieberman and his career, but he succeeded after being defeated in the Democratic primary by future Governor Ned Lamont, for reasons mainly surrounding his stance on the Iraq War. He ran for reelection anyway and won as an Independent Democrat, although he continued to caucus with Democrats for his final term.

Arlen Specter

One of the failed examples of a party switch to save a career was Senator Arlen Specter. Specter switched parties twice in his career. First, in 1965, he switched from Democrat to Republican to run for DA of Philadelphia after he had lost the Democratic nomination for the post and Senator Hugh Scott (R-Penn.) made sure he had no competition in the primary. This launches his long and successful career, with him being elected to the Senate in 1980. However, he has a reputation as a moderate-to-liberal Republican by his record. This plus his staunchly pro-choice stances (he originated the labeling of Roe v. Wade as a “super precedent”) led to conservative Republicans seeking his defeat by the second Bush Administration. In 2004, Bush endorsed him for renomination, and this plus his colleague Rick Santorum’s (R-Penn.) support narrowly averted a primary defeat by Representative Pat Toomey.

By 2009, Specter was again facing yet another strong challenge from Toomey and he no longer had Bush in the White House or Santorum in the Senate to provide powerful endorsements. Thus, he switched to the Democratic Party. However, many rank-and-file Democrats in Pennsylvania didn’t want him either and Congressman Joe Sestak ran for the nomination. Despite the endorsements of President Obama and Governor Ed Rendell, Sestak beat Specter by over seven points and narrowly lost the election to Pat Toomey.

In truth, Sinema’s switch is a bit difficult to compare with others, as in the cases of Byrd Jr. and Lieberman, they were after primary defeat, and both continued to caucus with the Democrats with Lieberman in truth remaining a Democrat. Curiously, although Sinema has been strongly noted for certain key dissents as a Democrat, she has voted far more with Democrats than she gets credit for and if ADA scores are on the nose, votes more with them as a senator than as a representative. Sinema’s Senate scores per ADA have been, without taking absences into account, 63%, 85%, and 80%. By contrast, her House scores were: 53%, 40%, 37%, 60%, 65%, and 35%.

The Errors in Voteview

In the process of my ongoing investigations and inquiries of legislative ideological behavior, I have found a stumbling block in looking at the data. There are naturally some errors. These usually involve mixing names with votes. For instance, if two members of a Congress have the last name Brown there is a chance that there will be an error in vote tabulation. This has happened more than once, by the way. While I think both voteview.org through UCLA and Govtrack are useful and accessible resources, they both have these errors contained within. I determine an error based on what was recorded in the Congressional Record, which I regard as the ultimate primary source for Congress. I of course have not found all errors, but these are ones I have stumbled on so far in trying to create ratings for the MC-Index:

74th Congress: John Robsion’s (R-Ky.) and A. Willis Robertson’s (D-Va.) votes are swapped on overriding President Roosevelt’s veto of the 1936 veterans bonus bill on January 24, 1936. Robsion voted “yea” while Robertson voted “nay”.


79th Congress: William Lemke’s (R-N.D.) and Charles Robertson’s (R-N.D.) votes are swapped.

81st Congress: William P. Bolton (D-Md.) and Frances Bolton (R-Ohio) are swapped on the votes on striking public housing from the 1949 housing bill, recommitting the housing bill, and the bill itself. Bolton (D-Md.) opposed public housing and Bolton (R-Ohio) favored. These were all held on June 29, 1949.


Representatives Edgar Jonas (R-Ill.) and Ben Jensen (R-Iowa) are mistakenly marked as “yea” for the Far Eastern Assistance Act in 1950 while Representatives J. Leroy Johnson (R-Calif.) and Walter Judd (R-Minn.) are mistakenly marked as “nay”. This vote was held on February 9, 1950.

On the votes on FEPC, Representatives J. Caleb Boggs (R-Del.) and Hale Boggs (D-La.) are swapped on both the McConnell Amendment and final passage. John Phillips (R-Calif.) and Dayton Phillips (R-Tenn.) are swapped on final passage. Fred Crawford (R-Mich.) is mistakenly marked as “nay” on the McConnell Amendment to the FEPC while William J. Green (D-Penn.) and Robert Corbett (R-Penn.) are mistakenly marked as “yea”. These votes were held on February 22, 1950.


89th Congress: Senators Milward Simpson (R-Wyo.) and Hugh Scott (R-Penn.) are swapped on the Fair Labor Standards Act Amendments of 1966 final vote on August 26, 1966. Simpson, who was arch-conservative, paired against, and Scott, a moderate, voted for.
E. Ross Adair (R-Ind.) and Watkins Abbitt (D-Va.) are swapped on the conference report of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on August 3, 1965. Adair voted for while Abbitt voted against.


90th Congress: George Brown (D-Calif.) and Clarence Brown (R-Ohio) are mixed up on the Wyman (R-N.H.) amendment denying funding for students participating in certain demonstrations on college campuses, May 9, 1968. Brown (R-Ohio) voted for the amendment, and Brown (D-Calif.) voted against.


91st Congress: Alabama Democrats George W. Andrews, Tom Bevill, and Walter Flowers did NOT favor retention of the Philadelphia Plan. The vote was on December 23, 1969.


92nd Congress:

George P. Miller (D-Calif.) and Clarence E. Miller (R-Ohio) are mixed up on the Hathaway (D-Me.) amendment to the education appropriations bill increasing funds by $728.6 million. California’s Miller supported, Ohio’s Miller opposed. The vote is on April 7, 1971.
Jack Edwards (R-Ala.) and Don Edwards (D-Calif.) switch on 1972 proposed 5% defense cut from Don Riegle (R-Mich.) on September 14, 1972.


93rd Congress: Garry Brown (R-Mich.) and Clarence Brown (R-Ohio) votes are swapped for the whole Congress and John W. Stanton’s (R-Ohio) and James V. Stanton’s (D-Ohio) are swapped for 1974; Robert Bauman’s and Alphonzo Bell’s are also mixed up in 1974.


Senators Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) and J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) switched on Rhodesia sanctions. Goldwater voted AGAINST and Fulbright voted FOR sanctions for Rhodesia on December 18, 1973.

94th Congress: Representatives Barbara Collins (D-Ill.) and Jim Collins (R-Tex.) switched on Stratton Amendment permitting women to join military academies, May 20, 1975.

95th Congress: Hamilton Fish (R-N.Y.) and Joseph Fisher (D-Va.) are swapped on the February 8, 1978 vote on the proposed Consumer Protection Act.

98th Congress: The vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1984 on June 26, 1984 in the House counts absences as votes against.

Great Conservatives from American History #4: Lawrence Y. Sherman

On November 19, 1919, the U.S. Senate for the first time in history rejected a peace treaty in the Versailles Treaty. Among the opponents of the treaty was a principled and obstinate group called the “Irreconcilables”. This group constituted around fifteen senators, mostly Republicans, who would not accept the Versailles Treaty in any form. One of these senators was Lawrence Y. Sherman (1858-1939) of Illinois.


Sherman’s Start

In 1896, Sherman, an attorney by profession, was elected to the Illinois State Assembly, being elected Assembly Speaker in 1899, serving until 1903. His ideology was already set at this point, as he believed that “the government which governs least governs best” (Holstein, 4). He was an opponent of William Lorimer of Chicago, not on ideological grounds rather on moral grounds, viewing him as an unethical political boss. Sherman and other Republicans attempted to stop his return to Congress in the 1902 election, but this failed, and Lorimer engineered his defeat as speaker in 1903. The following year, however, he would be elected Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, serving until 1909.


Lorimer would get elected to the Senate in 1909, but events would vindicate Sherman’s opposition to him, as he resigned in 1912 after testimony came out that his campaign bribed legislators to vote for him. Although Sherman initially supported Theodore Roosevelt for the Republican nomination in 1912, he stuck with Taft once he was the nominee. He and Democrat J. Hamilton Lewis would be elected to the Senate by the state legislature in a compromise in 1913.
Sherman’s conservatism was staunch. He opposed most of what President Wilson supported, and in 1913 opposed the Federal Reserve Act as he regarded it as an “unwarranted and unwise interference with the private funds of the stockholders and depositors of national banks” and denounced “creating credit by the fiat of a board whose membership depends on the rise and fall of candidates in a political campaign” (Holstein, 29-30). Sherman was also a strong defender of the free market, but he clearly didn’t believe that the traditional Republican platform of high tariffs ran afoul of this.

1914: Sherman Faces the People

In 1914, Senator Sherman faced his first popular election and was up against two significant opponents in Democrat Roger C. Sullivan and Progressive Raymond Robins. Sullivan had backed Grover Cleveland over William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and had voted for Illinois’ John M. Palmer of the National Democratic Party who supported Cleveland’s policies such as the gold standard. Robins was backed by former President Theodore Roosevelt, who regarded both Sherman and Sullivan as unfriendly to labor and called them “reactionaries”. This, in addition to William Jennings Bryan not helping his campaign contributed to Sherman’s plurality win by less than two points.

Second Term

In his conservatism, Sherman indeed proved an opponent of organized labor. On August 14, 1916, he delivered a speech on the Senate floor in which he characterized AFL’s chief Samuel Gompers as a “public nuisance” and denounced his leadership by stating, “There is no more tyrannical outrageous injustice than that of leaders who live on the sweat of other people’s brows” (Holstein, 69-70). Gompers in kind expressed his belief that Sherman opposed organized labor generally, which he did. Sherman was opposed to the eight-hour workday for railroad labor in the Adamson Act and consistently voted against measures strengthening collective bargaining.


Sherman was a strong advocate for military preparedness but he didn’t want the United States getting involved in Europe. In 1917, he was one of the senators who filibustered against a measure arming merchant ships proposed by President Woodrow Wilson, a group which he denounce, holding that they were “a little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own” who had “rendered the great Government of the United States helpless and contemptible” (Holstein, 74). Popular opinion was against the filibustering senators, and ultimately the Senate adopted rules establishing cloture, or 2/3’s vote as a means to end debate. Of the three dissenters, Sherman was one of them (Holstein, 75). Despite his filibustering, Sherman would vote for American participation in World War I and support penalizing Germany for aggression after the war. He saw wartime intervention in the economy as dangerous and socialistic. Per Jerome Holstein (1974), “Sherman viewed government price-fixing, control of the railroads, and control of the economy as integral components of a master plan to impose socialism on the United States. He stated that Wilson, and especially advisors Colonel House and George Creel, had a “masked purpose” of eventually controlling all means of production and distribution” (81). According to DW-Nominate, he was the most conservative senator of his time, scoring a 0.807. His MC-Index score is a whopping 99%. Sherman opposed both the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918.
Although certain Senate conservatives were strongly opposed to women’s suffrage like Frank Brandegee (R-Conn.), George Moses (R-N.H.), and Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.), Sherman consistently supported women’s suffrage. He held that they had earned suffrage because of their role in developing the frontier and the nation (Holstein, 49). Sherman also voted for the Prohibition and the Volstead Act, regarding drink as a societal evil.


Presidential Run – 1916

Sherman saw fit to run for the Republican nomination for president in 1916, but he was overshadowed by numerous other figures in the party and support for his candidacy was not even unified among the Republicans in his home state. Although he lost to Charles Evans Hughes, he was given the honor of presenting former Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks with the nomination for…Vice President! He loyally backed the Hughes-Fairbanks ticket, which narrowly lost.

Sherman and the Versailles Treaty

What Sherman became most known for in the Senate was his unwavering opposition to the Versailles Treaty as an unallowable sacrifice of American sovereignty. In response to President Wilson’s “peace without victory” speech on January 22, 1917, in which he outlined a beatific vision for an international system with agreements to avoid arms races and one in which the United States was the broker of peace, he remarked, “It will make Don Quixote wish he hadn’t died so soon” (Boissoneault). This response indicated his worldview, which was that a great internationalist system would not be realistic, and feared committing the United States to too many affairs abroad.

Sherman criticized numerous elements of the treaty, including counting the British empire as six votes instead of one, stating “Great Britain with her diplomatic influence in the Old World much superior to ours could easily secure a majority of the nations to outvote us any time she wished” (Chandler, 291). His strong nationalism made support for the Versailles Treaty impossible, but he did side with Wilson on one matter: the killing of the Versailles Treaty with reservations as proposed by Senate Majority Leader Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.). Sherman’s philosophy, which he followed through on, was, “I will vote for any pertinent amendment that comes along. I hope every one of them will be adopted. There could not be confusion worse confounded if every amendment offered here were voted into the treaty…So vote them in; and then after every one of all the amendments is voted into the treaty and the league, I will vote to reject it all” (Stone, 139). He also saw hypocrisy in the League of Nations and cited nations that got the short shrift. One was concessions to Japan, in which land taken from China by Germany was given to Japan rather than to China under the Shantung provision. He stated, “40,000,000 Chinese in Shantung were denied the right to self-determination and delivered to Japan under treaty” (The New York Times).

In 1920, Sherman opted to retire, as he was becoming hard of hearing and found himself increasingly less able to participate effectively in Senate debates. He practiced law and banking afterwards, retiring for good in 1933.


References


Boissoneault, J. (2017, January 23). What Did President Wilson Mean When He Said “Peace Without Victory” 100 Years Ago? Smithsonian Magazine.


Retrieved from

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-did-president-wilson-mean-when-he-called-peace-without-victory-100-years-ago-180961888/

Chandler, A. (2001). Senator Lawrence Sherman’s Role in the Defeat of the Versailles Treaty. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 94(3).


Holstein, J.B. (1974). Lawrence Yates Sherman: United States Senator from Illinois, 1913-1921. Eastern Illinois University.

Retrieved from

https://thekeep.eiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4652&context=theses

Senators bitter as debate opens on the League. (1919, May 24). The New York Times, p. 1

Stone, R.A. (1970). The irreconcilables: the fight against the League of Nations. Frankfort, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.

William Dudley Pelley: America’s Wannabe Hitler

The Nazis in Germany inspired certain organizations to form in the Americas inspired by them during Hitler’s rule. These included Adrien Arcand’s Christian National Socialist Party in Canada which wanted all Jews deported to the Hudson Bay region, former brigadier general under Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa Nicolás Rodriguez Carrasco’s Revolutionary Mexicanist Action (known as the “Gold Shirts”), which wanted to deport Jews and Chinese. The American version was the Silver Legion (known as the “Sliver Shirts”) headed up by William Dudley Pelley (1890-1965).


Pelley from an early age had a talent for writing and at the age of 19 he started his first publication, called The Philosopher, which focused on Christianity. He eventually found work with the Saturday Evening Post and covered the Russian Civil War. His experiences caused him to develop a strong sense of anti-Communism and anti-Semitism.

Off to Hollywood

After his experiences in Russia, Pelley went to work in Hollywood as a screenwriter, writing two dozen scripts, which included two Lon Chaney films, The Light in the Dark (1922) and The Shock (1923). Two of his short stories, The Face in the Window (1920) and The Continental Angle (1930), won O. Henry Awards. In 1927, Pelley left Hollywood, disillusioned with what he saw as Jews making changes to his writing and cited the casting couch as another reason for leaving, writing, “Do you think me unduly incensed about them? I’ve seen too many Gentile Women ravished and been unable to do anything about it. They have a concupiscent slogan in screendom. Don’t hire till you see the whites of their thighs!” (Zillis) The following year, Pelley wrote “Seven Minutes in Eternity”, in which he detailed a near-death out-of-body experience.


Establishing the Silver Legion


The day after Hitler was named Germany’s chancellor, January 21, 1933, Pelley established the Silver Legion of America. As he recounted on learning that Hitler had been elected chancellor in the newspapers, “I looked at the lines. I read them again. I sought to comprehend them. Something clicked in my brain!” (Elliston) Its members wore silver outfits with blue ties, blue corduroy pants, and a red “L” embroidered on the top left of their shirts, the L standing for love, loyalty, and liberation (Beekman, 82). They used the Battle Hymn of the Republic as their anthem. Pelley proposed a system, that he called the Christian Commonwealth in his book No More Hunger! (1933). As Scott Beekman (2006) writes, “Pelley claimed that the Commonwealth was “a social system that is neither Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism, or Communism.” In fact, the Commonwealth blended elements of all these ideas into a composite not unlike the ideas expressed by his adolescent hero Edward Bellamy and the iconoclastic Populist-Social Gospeler Richard T. Ely. The system meshed a theocratic, corporate state; centralized production control of government-owned industry; civil service-style employment protection with private ownership of personal property; and an all-encompassing social welfare program” (83). He was, in other words, a sort of utopian whose philosophy could probably best fit with the Populists of the 1890s, who themselves were inspired by Bellamy’s utopian novel, Looking Backward, 2000-1887. Pelley wished for a society with “no competition, no taxes, no rents, no interest, no currency, no foreclosures, no crime, no banks and no Jews” (Rasmussen). Pelley’s utopia was far from for all. He held that the property government held should be given to white citizens, the portions being based on loyalty, with Jews allowed only to live in one city in every state and blacks put back into slavery (Daley). Pelley was also rather contradictory, as although he did not claim his system was fascist, he personally embraced the labels of “fascist” and “Nazi”. For a time his publication Weekly Liberation’s masthead read, “Washington was a Fascist because he led an insurrection against tyranny, and Lincoln was a Nazi because his issue of greenbacks smashed the control of Jewish financiers” (Beekman, 95). Actual connections between him, his group, and Nazi Germany were minor, as the Nazis were not keen on having that group any closer than arm’s length.

Pelley was also a mystic who claimed to have been visited by Jesus, and of course he gave Pelley his blessing. The organization’s pledge was to “respect and sustain the sanctity of the Christian Ideal, to nurture the moral tradition in Civic, Domestic and Spiritual life and the culture of the wholesome, natural and inspirational in Art, Literature, Music and Drama; to adulate and revere an aristocracy of Intellect, Talent and Characterful Purpose in the Body Politic; to sponsor and acclaim aggressive ideals and pride of Craftsmanship rather than the golden serpent of profit, that the lowliest individual may aspire to a life of fullest flower; to exalt Patriotism and Pride of Race, and in the interest of progress and evolution, to recognize the integrity of every nation and seek to perceive his place in the Fellowship of Peoples” (Beekman, 82). The most prominent member he got into his organization for a short time was Gerald L.K. Smith, an anti-Semitic rabblerousing minister who ran Huey Long’s Share The Wealth Organization.
Although the organization was centered in Asheville, North Carolina as he got funding from a wealthy backer in the city, the bulk of its members lived on the west coast, he was an outcast in Asheville, and membership hit its peak in 1935, with the organization only being 15,000 strong (Beekman). This was a far cry from Pelley’s claim of having 100,000 followers.

He described his views on Jews as akin to the Nazis and regarded Christianity and anti-Semitism as 100% compatible. His ultimate goals were to have all Jews live in only one city in each state and force Roosevelt out of power, as he thought that he was a tool of Jews. The San Diego branch wanted to go a bit further than Pelley was planning at the time, actually planning a putsch on City Hall without Pelley’s knowledge (Hall, 3). He ran for president on a third-party ticket known as The Christian Party, but it was a flop as he only appeared on the ballot in Washington State, where got 1,598 votes. Pelley attributed this poor performance and his exclusion from all but one state ballot to Jewish influence. He and his Silver Shirts were by and large not taken seriously in the 1930s, with an Asheville Times editorial holding, “We have seen the Silver Shirt movement for what it is. In laughing at it, we laugh at others who find it a menace to the Republic” (Elliston). Pelley proved unable to get along with other extremists of his stripe due to personality conflicts as well as those people just tiring of his bizarre mysticism. The group’s membership fell to 5,000 in 1938. As James Zillis (2020) writes, “The most the Silver Shirts amounted to was the ability to secure a cache of weapons and ammunition and be mildly intimidating”.


Legal Problems

Pelley’s activities attracted a lot of negative attention, including from Congress through the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the law. In 1934, Pelley was indicted with two others for advertising the sale of stock not registered with the state of North Carolina among other legal breaches. Although he was acquitted of the main charge the following year, he was sentenced on two lesser charges to 1-2 years of hard labor suspended if good behavior was maintained for five years (Beekman, 109). The former heard testimony from witnesses that the Silver Legion of America intended to overthrow the United States government and in 1940 Pelley himself appeared before the committee, now under the chairmanship of Martin Dies (D-Tex.), after previously refusing to testify and said that he wished to be “America’s Hitler” (Schultz). As might be expected, he opposed U.S. intervention in World War II on the side of the Allies.


The End of Pelley in Public Life

In 1941, Pelley disbanded the Silver Legion, claiming that he was doing so because the Dies Committee was doing such a good job in its anti-communist efforts (Daley). The following year, he was indicted and convicted for sedition and treason for promoting insubordination among American troops through his writings and imprisoned until 1950, serving half of his original sentence. Another legal effort against him in the form of the Great Sedition Trial of 1944, fell flat as the prosecution was unable to prove coordination between Nazi Germany and the defendants after the declaration of war. After his release, Pelley became a major believer in UFOs and formed a new religious ideology he called “Soulcraft” but steered clear of politics until his death.

Influence Extended and Conclusion

Pelley’s influence extended to certain other radical groups later on, including the Posse Comitatus, a survivalist anti-Semitic militia movement that was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1969 by Henry Lamont Beach, a former Silver Shirt. Their heterodox legal theories morphed into the broader sovereign citizen movement, an annoying and hazardous bane of law enforcement across the United States. Pelley was ultimately a flashy but minor figure even among extremist elements. Father Charles Coughlin with his radio program was a much greater influence in pushing public thought in a pro-Nazi direction than Pelley, but the latter created a movement that in America most resembled the Nazi storm troopers in style and organization.

References

Beekman, S. (2006, October 31). Pelley, William Dudley. American national biography. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Daley, J. (2018, October 3). The Screenwriting Mystic Who Wanted to Be the American Führer. Smithsonian Magazine.

Retrieved from

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/meet-screenwriting-mystic-who-wanted-be-american-fuhrer-180970449/

Elliston, J. (2018, January/February). Asheville’s Fascist: William Dudley Pelley’s Obscure But Infamous Silver Shirt Movement Lives on in his Paper Trail. WNC Magazine.

Retrieved from

https://wncmagazine.com/feature/asheville%E2%80%99s_fascist

Hall, A.C. (2019). Swastikas and Silver Shirts: The Dawn of American Nazism. Miami University.

Retrieved from

https://etd.ohiolink.edu/apexprod/rws_etd/send_file/send?accession=miami1564692534498581&disposition=inline

Rasmussen, C. (1999, July 4). Self-Styled Prophet Hoped to Be Another Hitler. Los Angeles Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-jul-04-me-52892-story.html

Schultz, W. William Dudley Pelley. North Carolina History Project.

Retrieved from

https://northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/william-dudley-pelley-1885-1965/

Zillis, J. (2020, November 25). Fascism in 1930s America: The Silver Shirts. History is Now Magazine.

Retrieved from

http://www.historyisnowmagazine.com/blog/tag/William+Dudley+Pelley#.Y4BejxTMJO8

Frank J. Lausche: The Buckeye State Maverick

Ohio today is a state that leans Republican, no longer purple. This seemed the way of the state in 1944, and Thomas Dewey won the state that year. However, one figure defied the trend, and this was Democrat Frank J. Lausche (1895-1990) of Ohio. State Democrats of this era were not uniformly liberal, with officeholders in the 1930s and 1940s like Senators A. Vic Donahey and Robert Bulkley and Congressmen William Fiesinger, Arthur Lamneck, James G. Polk, and Robert Secrest sometimes to often defying the wishes of President Roosevelt. Lausche was not a change from this and gained fans among both Republicans and Democrats.


In 1941, he was elected mayor of Cleveland and in this post he was known for fiscal conservatism and promoting racial tolerance. Lausche was of Slovenian descent and managed to form an ethnic coalition that loyally supported him election after election. One of his earliest acts of independence was rebuffing Democrats who wanted him to fire Public Safety Director Eliot Ness, a Republican, for a Democrat. He served two terms and won his first statewide election in 1944, when he was the first Catholic to be elected Governor of Ohio. Although the 1946 GOP wave lost him reelection to Thomas J. Herbert by less than two points. However, Lausche triumphantly returned in the 1948 election by over seven points and won reelection in 1950, 1952, and 1954. Lausche maintained as governor his reputation for fiscal conservatism and honesty, much like Grover Cleveland. His reputation was so good by 1952 that both Dwight Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman (before he dropped out) considered him as a running mate. In 1955, Lausche stated his unequivocal endorsement of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) before the Ohio State Legislature, “We simply cannot live as a free people if we…chip away from any member of our society the guarantees given to him by the Lord…and then reaffirmed…in our Constitution” (Weil). In 1956, instead of running again for governor, he challenged Republican Senator George Bender and triumphed.

In the Senate, Lausche caused some trouble for Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, as he proved an independent vote and was one of the few Democrats outside of the South to be counted among the conservatives. His liberal critics called him “Frank the Fence” for frequently crossing party lines and arguably from a conservative perspective he was indeed preferable to his predecessor. This is backed by both his lifetime ADA score (without counting absences) of 30 as opposed to Bender’s 34 and his higher DW-Nominate score of 0.213, higher than Bender’s 0.179. In 1962, Lausche won reelection by over twenty points.
Lausche voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Medicare but against the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. He also voted against organized labor in his opposition to the bill repealing the “right to work” section of the Taft-Hartley Act. Lausche supported two Constitutional amendments in 1966, both sponsored by Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) to counter Supreme Court decisions, one of which permitted factors other than population to determine legislative representation in state legislatures, and the other which allowed school prayer. That year, he denounced rioting on Cleveland’s East Side, implying that it was “communist-inspired” and connected to the civil rights movement (UPI).

By 1968, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party was done with Lausche, a man who as a Democrat had crossed organized labor too many times. This resulted in his loss of renomination to former Congressman John J. Gilligan, a liberal who campaigned against him saying that he was “talking like a Republican and voting like a Dixiecrat” (UPI). Lausche subsequently refused to endorse Gilligan, who went on to narrowly lose to Republican State Attorney General William B. Saxbe. He also admitted to voting for Nixon in 1968 and often supported Republican candidates for office after his time in the Senate. By the time of his departure from office he was seventy-three years old and opted to retire from politics. Pope John Paul II gave him the highest civilian honor by naming him a Knight of St. John of Malta. Lausche was proud of his career, stating to a reporter in 1985, “I am thoroughly comfortable in the realization that I gave to the people of Ohio the best that was in me. My deepest contentment lies in the fact that, while I was governor and senator and mayor, government was managed, not by any separate and selfish clique, but always by the will of the people as a whole” (UPI).


In early 1990, Lausche contracted pneumonia and on April 21st, he died of heart failure. He was reportedly until the end of his days mentally sharp. Lausche’s memory is commemorated in Ohio as the State of Ohio’s office building in Cleveland is named after him and the Lausche Building at the Ohio Expo Center.

P.S.: I will be removing my 2019 posts shortly so they can be moved gradually to my other blog for updates and improvements. I am also going to be on vacation for about ten days starting Monday, so I will be posting multiple entries before then.

References

Frank J. Lausche. Ohio History Connection.

Retrieved from

https://ndnpohio.ohiohistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/FrankLausche.pdf

Frank Lausche, former governor and senator, dies. (1990, April 21). UPI.

Retrieved from

https://www.upi.com/Archives/1990/04/21/Frank-Lausche-former-governor-and-senator-dies/5030640670400/

Weil, M. (1990, April 22). Frank Lausche, Ohio Senator and Governor, Dies at 94. The Washington Post.

Retrieved from

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1990/04/22/frank-lausche-ohio-senator-5-term-governor-dies-at-94/78a18220-f6df-4e5f-a747-474792d8adc8/

George H. Bender: The “Clown Prince” of Ohio Politics

Behind great men are great helpers, and example of one of these helpers was George H. Bender (1896-1961), who was the protege and aid to Senator Robert A. Taft. Bender got his start in politics quite early, and in 1912 at the age of 15 he was an early supporter of the idea of Theodore Roosevelt running on a third-party ticket and gathered 10,000 signatures for a petition to encourage him to run, which he gave Roosevelt personally (Hill). He along with most other Bull Moose Progressives returned to the Republican Party in 1916. Bender’s first major election win was to the Ohio Senate in 1920. During this time, he was something of a reformer and initially staunchly supported Prohibition, up until his house was raided on an anonymous tip. Then, he staunchly opposed Prohibition. In 1930, Bender decided to try his hand at Congress, and lost four times before finally being elected in 1938 to one of two At-Large Ohio districts, the same year Robert A. Taft was elected to the Senate.

Bender was a non-interventionist, voting against the repeal of the arms embargo, Lend-Lease, and arming merchant ships. He opposed most of the New Deal and became a consistent supporter of Senator Taft’s runs for the presidency. However, Bender proved more willing than many Republicans to maintain certain price controls. Although he supported the Taft-Hartley Act, he was also friendlier to organized labor than many Republicans. Bender voted against overriding President Roosevelt’s veto of the Smith-Connally Act for injunctions against strikes impacting war industries and he voted against the Case Labor Bill in 1946 only to vote to override President Truman’s veto later in the year.

In 1948 and 1952, Bender was the organizer of Taft’s campaigns for president, and he was the man to arrange the fun activities for supporters of the serious Taft. He arranged for singing, entertainment, and rang cow bells at every mention of Taft’s name at his events, which led some to mockingly label him the “clown prince”, despite him being a prominent figure in his own right.

Bender in the 80th Congress

In 1946, Republicans won a majority in the House for the first time since 1928, and Bender played a central role in two debates: the Greek-Turkish Aid Act and the poll tax ban. He ripped on the former, regarding it as a bailout of the British Empire. Bender proposed amendments to strike all aid to Turkey, to eliminate all military assistance, to require that Greece and Turkey hold fair and free elections permitting all adults to vote, and to explicitly affirm that the United States does not commit to intervention or unilateral action disregarding the UN, all being defeated by voice vote (CQ Almanac, Aid to Greece and Turkey). He voted against the bill while Senator Taft voted for. Bender would join Taft in voting for the Marshall Plan in 1948. However, Bender sponsored the poll tax ban, which would if enacted would “make it unlawful for any State, municipality, or other governmental subdivision to require payment of a poll tax as a prerequisite for registering or voting in any election for President, Vice President, Senator, or Member of the House of Representatives” (CQ Almanac, Anti-Poll Tax Bill). His bill passed the House 290-112, winning the support of all but fourteen House Republicans for passage. The legislation had previously met with a little additional opposition due to its sponsor being Vito Marcantonio (ALP-N.Y.), who was openly pro-communist, giving more room for Southerners to launch attacks connecting the legislation to communism. Bender was, of course, no communist and generally backed the conservative agenda of the 80th Congress, supporting the major measures such as income tax reduction, the Mundt-Nixon Bill, budget cuts to Agriculture, Interior, and Labor appropriations, and the Reed-Bulwinkle Bill. In the 1948 election, Bender had a temporary setback in losing reelection to Democrat Stephen Young, but he quickly made a comeback, winning back his seat in 1950.

During his next four years in Congress, Bender voted to grant states the title to offshore resources, voted against establishing the Cox Committee and for the Reece Committee, voted to maintain price controls but not rent controls. In 1952, it was Bender who asked the crowd before an Eisenhower speech after Nixon’s “Checkers” speech, “Are you in favor of Nixon?” and in response the crowd “went wild, screaming, whistling, and leaping from their seats.” (Olshaker).

Bender and the Eisenhower Years

In 1953, Senate Majority Leader Taft was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died on July 31st, leaving the seat open in a special election. Governor Frank Lausche appointed Democrat Thomas A. Burke as an interim replacement, but a special election was to be held in 1954 to serve the remainder of the term. Bender ran for the nomination and faced in the primary Ohio’s Speaker of the House of Representatives William B. Saxbe, a formidable moderate who called him an “old-style ward-heeler type of politician” and “the song-singing, bell-ringing voice of doom of the last two Republican national conventions” (Hill). Bender won the nomination with 57.4% of the vote to Saxbe’s 42.6%, but Saxbe would be elected to the Senate in 1968 and later briefly serve as President Nixon’s attorney general.

Bender faced stiff competition in the general election, as Democrat Thomas A. Burke, the interim replacement for the late Taft, was running to finish the term. Burke benefited from the support of popular Governor Frank Lausche as well as the usual midterm winds against the president’s party. However, Bender campaigned hard and was able to win a switch in endorsement from Burke from the powerful Teamsters Union. On Election Day, Bender won by less than 3,000 votes.

As a senator, he was a bit of a departure from Taft in the moderate direction. He voted against foreign aid cuts, for Davis-Bacon wages for the Interstate Highway project, for increased income allowances for old age benefits, and against eliminating authority from the Federal Power Commission to regulate the price of natural gas. He also opposed popular election of the president and vice president, US participation in the International Labor Organization if any communist nations were part of it, the civilian atomic power program, and the Hells Canyon Dam. Bender was also one of six senators to dissent on the Senate’s decision to postpone consideration of civil rights legislation until after the 1956 election.

In December 1955, Democratic Governor Frank Lausche announced he would challenge Bender. Lausche was a formidable foe as he had a reputation as a conservative Democrat and was popular with many Republicans. Although Bender campaigned as hard as he could and attached himself to the popular Eisenhower as much as possible, he lost by over five points with a significant number of Republicans splitting their tickets. Bender’s ADA score, when not counting absences against him, was a 34, and his DW-Nominate score a 0.179. He would afterward campaign heavily for Alaska statehood, which helped its statehood become a reality (Hill).

An End of Ignominy: The Teamsters and the McClellan Committee

In 1957, Senator John McClellan (D-Ark.) persuaded the Senate to form a committee investigating connections between organized labor and organized crime, which him as chairman and Robert F. Kennedy as counsel. In the course of the committee’s investigations, it was alleged that Bender had been investigating the Teamsters and dropped it upon winning their endorsement. In 1958, Jimmy Hoffa hired Bender to head up a three-man committee to conduct an “independent” investigation of racketeering in the Teamsters. The manner in which he conducted the investigation was described by TIME Magazine (1959) thusly, “Breaking an understanding with the other two commission members—a Detroit judge and a Washington lawyer—Bender went ahead on his own, using an investigative method roughly comparable to trying to solve a murder case by going to an open window and yelling, “Is anybody out there guilty?” To Teamster officials around the country—Hoffa’s own men—Bender sent a form letter asking for information about racketeering, if any. Back came brief, negative replies. That was that. Without even bothering to draft a written report, Bender informed Hoffa that everything seemed to be O.K. Hoffa announced Bender’s finding to the press”. This produced zero ousters of mob-connected figures in the Teamsters Union. He was thus called up to the McClellan Committee and his testimony proved damaging…to himself. Bender testified that he had named “a prostitute as Republican precinct captain in her red light district” and went on to state, “You don’t have to become a prostitute yourself, you have to get their votes” (Hill).

Bender’s role working for Hoffa and producing a whitewash outcome ended his political career. In 1960 he was denied a post as a delegate to the Republican National Convention and in 1961, he even lost an election to be a Republican Precinct Committeeman. Bender didn’t live long afterwards; his wife found him dead from a heart attack at home on June 18, 1961.

References

Aid to Greece and Turkey. CQ Almanac.

Retrieved from

https://library.cqpress.com/cqalmanac/document.php?id=cqal47-893-29543-1397927

Bender, George Harrison. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

Retrieved from

https://case.edu/ech/articles/b/bender-george-harrison


Hill, R. George H. Bender of Ohio. The Knoxville Focus.

Retrieved from

https://www.knoxfocus.com/archives/this-weeks-focus/george-h-bender-of-ohio/

Labor: Confessions, Anyone? (1959, January 5). TIME Magazine.

Retrieved from

https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,810788,00.html

Mollenhoff, C. (1958, November). The Teamsters Defy the Government. The Atlantic.

Retrieved from

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1958/11/the-teamsters-defy-the-government/642644/

Motion to Adjourn for Five Minutes. Parliamentary Move to Bring Civil Rights Legislation to the Floor. (1956, July 24). Govtrack.

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/84-1956/s213

Olshaker, E. The Speech That Made Nixon’s Dog Famous. History News Network.

Retrieved from

https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/989

Republican Primary: May 4, 1954. Ohio Secretary of State Office.

Retrieved from

https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/election-results-and-data/1950-1959-official-election-results/republican-primary-may-4-1954/

Send Out the Clowns! Analyzing the Underperformance of the GOP and My Own Predictions

Today’s post will also show up in mikeholme.substack.com, as had my prediction post. This election was a bit surprising, to say the least. I made a fundamental assumption about the nature of polling in this election that was wrong…that Democrats would for the fifth time in a row be overrepresented in polls. The opposite was true for the first time since 2012. My worst predictions were on gubernatorial races, in which I thought the wave might carry some of the Trumpy gubernatorial candidates to office in close races. No dice there. The 2022 midterms overall did not match the hype that was behind them by numerous Republican media sources. So far, Republicans in the Senate at best have an opportunity to keep their numbers at 50. The Democrat who took an open Republican seat, John Fetterman, was disabled from a stroke of which his campaign had covered up the true impact up until the Fetterman-Oz debate. The House is a rosier picture, as the GOP won a small majority. The Republicans are ahead in the remaining four races that have yet to be called, resulting, if no leads change, in a 222-213 Republican House. Republicans also lost a net of two governor races, with open seats being lost in Arizona, Maryland, and Massachusetts while they picked up one in Nevada. Very few incumbents lost in this election, and some of those were due to unfavorable redistricting (Tom O’Halleran in AZ-2, Steve Chabot in OH-1 for instance). I am going to go over the sources of blame, what I think are the foremost sources of blame and what are secondary. Only one governor and eight representatives lost reelection this year (so far, David Valadao of California is ahead but could still possibly lose).


Before I go through my blame list, a few observations about this election:

. How governors reacted to COVID has made almost no difference as to the outcome of elections. The only race in which it seemed to have impact was in Nevada.

. Republican challengers to Democratic incumbents pushed by former President Trump crashed and burned in state races.

. This was an amazingly good year to be an incumbent. So far, none have lost in the Senate, only Steve Sisolak of Nevada lost among governors, and in the House only eight incumbents so far have lost, with at least half being a great deal attributable to unfavorable redistricting.

Sources of Blame:

Donald Trump

I know there are some Republicans who will protest that Trump wasn’t on the ballot and that this is the MSM narrative. To those objections I say for the first that he didn’t need to be, and second, this time the narrative is backed by a load of evidence. He made himself an issue of the election as he cannot stand to be out of the limelight. Majorities of Republican primary voters across the nation made his word the deciding factor on their primary vote, and he used his influence to defeat primary campaigns of anyone who wouldn’t repeat his claim that the election was stolen from him and made this a litmus test for his endorsement. This is inexcusable and political malpractice. As Doug Heye, a GOP strategist said on the matter, “Candidates want the Trump endorsement. But if they can’t get that, they just want to have Trump not set their sights on them. The best way to do that is to be beholden to Trump. And the best way to do that is to say that he never lost” (Guest). Indeed, Trump was able to put the fear of God into many given that of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach him over 1/6, only one has been reelected and another, as of 11/19, may have been reelected. Primaried were Peter Meijer of Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, and Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois opted not to run again due to both unpopularity among the base and a partisan redistricting. Beutler’s district, WA-3, had reelected her by 13 points and the hyper-MAGA Republican who defeated her in the primary, Joe Kent, lost in 2022 by 1 point. This is a 14-point swing to Democrats in a Republican leaning district.

This Trumpian approach left opportunities open for Democrats to engage in a practice that was pioneered by Nixon’s dirty tricks people, a practice artfully called “ratfucking”, in which one party through messaging and funds promotes the candidate in the other party’s primary who is least likely to win a general election. The following Republican candidates who won their primaries because of this practice all claimed that Trump was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election and then went on to defeat in the general were:

Don Bolduc, New Hampshire Senate
Karoline Leavitt, NH-1
Robert Burns, NH-2
Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania Governor
Tudor Dixon, Michigan Governor
Dan Cox, Maryland Governor
Darrell Bailey, Illinois Governor
John Gibbs, MI-3

The lesson for GOP primary voters? Don’t take the Democratic bait! Trump also promoted the candidacies of the following people in key races who repeated his stolen election claims and then went down to defeat:

Governor

Kari Lake, Arizona – No, Arizona is not conservative enough to elect another Evan Mecham. She has continued to contest the election after the race was called for Democrat Katie Hobbs. Maybe given Trump’s announcement for a 2024 run, he can pick her as his running mate. I can see it now: “Trump/Lake ’24: We can’t lose cos we never lose!”

Dan Cox, Maryland

Tudor Dixon, Michigan

Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania

Tim Michels, Wisconsin

Secretary of State

Mark Finchem, Arizona

Kristina Karamo, Michigan

Kim Crockett, Minnesota

Jim Marchant, Nevada

Audrey Trujillo, New Mexico

Senate

Blake Masters, Arizona – Someone else deserves more blame for him than Trump, who I will bring up later, but he did endorse him.

Don Bolduc, New Hampshire – Bolduc made a show of claiming that Trump was the rightful winner of the election, only to immediately drop it after winning the primary. This strategy didn’t work.

Adam Laxalt, Nevada (to be fair, other Republicans supported him in equal measure and has run for office since before Trump)

Dr. Mehmet Oz, Pennsylvania – Trump stepped in to endorse him, and this narrowly put him over Dave McCormick. Although Oz had a terrible start, perhaps he could have made up the difference had it not been for Mastriano at the head of the ticket. McCormick though was a normal Republican and up against a compromised Fetterman, he had a much better chance of victory.

It is also not lost on me that the only Republican to defeat a Democratic governor was Joe Lombardo in Nevada, who dodged when asked about Trump’s claims and was even threatened with a loss of endorsement for not calling him a “great President” in a debate (Dorman). Adam Laxalt, on the other hand, narrowly lost his Senate race and had strongly backed Trump on his claims right up to 1/6. In Arizona, Lake and Masters lost, but in all Arizona swing Congressional districts Republicans won. Another thing I’ve noticed, incidentally, is that most candidates who went along with Trump’s claims had no problems conceding their own losses, with Kari Lake being a notable exception. This tells me that this phenomenon mostly goes away when Trump does.

Another source of blame on Trump is that he went around delivering campaign speeches for others in which he mostly talked about himself. He also contributed far less money to his candidates through the MAGA super PAC to the tune of $14.8 million when he raised a total of $161 million than McConnell’s super PACs, which contributed $238 million into Senate races. J.D. Vance received $32 million from McConnell’s committees while Trump gave only $2.3 million, while Vance himself raised $7 million (Skinner).

Some wish to blame Mitch McConnell for the result (the usual suspects who wish to blame McConnell for things) and will point to spending in the Alaska Senate race as well as his pulling funds for Blake Masters in Arizona. For the Alaska race, McConnell contributed $6 million to Lisa Murkowski, a mere pittance compared to his levels of spending for Republican candidates including ones majorly pushed by Trump, but I suppose for his critics it’s a lot given that it is over 40% of what Trump’s PAC spent altogether for Republican candidates. For some candidates, there is no amount of money to be spent that can put them over the top if they have a popularity deficit. If this were true, Jeb Bush would have won the 2016 Republican primary and the elected president would have been him or Hillary Clinton.

Rick Scott

As head of the National Republican Senate Committee, Rick Scott badly mismanaged the organization’s efforts. There are several problems with Scott’s approach this to this election. The first was having the NRSC not endorse anyone in Republican primaries. This is not a customary practice and had the effect of making Trump the kingmaker in primary races across the country. It is my educated guess that the rationale for this approach was that polls among Republicans showed that Trump was more popular among them than the Republican organization and that if Trump were to endorse someone else than the NRSC, there would be a fight that the NRSC would probably be on the losing end. Looking at the results of the Senate races, in retrospect, it was worth the risk. Kevin McCarthy, by contrast, explicitly advised Trump not to involve himself in two key House races: Jen Kiggans in VA-2 and Juan Ciscomani in AZ-6 and got him to heed this advice; both candidates won their races (Weingart).

Rick Scott also trotted out an agenda for Republicans in the next Congress without first securing the agreement of other Republicans. To be fair, I really liked the idea of sunsetting all federal legislation every five years as a good way to check the power of the de facto fourth branch of government (the federal bureaucracy) and to provide more budget flexibility, but this was the wrong time to bring it up. And Scott had the gall to make a run for leadership afterwards. His approach in more than one way put the cart before the horse.

The second problem was that he blew funds on long-shot races in Colorado and Washington when he could have allocated more to closer races. He was overconfident and ran the campaign arm as a way to try and secure some senators who would support him in challenging Mitch McConnell for Senate leader (like Bolduc and Masters) and thereby pleasing Trump. Although Rick Scott’s actions as NRSC chair are certainly on him, Trump once again figures in the conversation. Rick Scott has tried to shift blame by pointing the finger at McConnell, but I’m not convinced. He should either be satisfied serving the people of Florida or go back to the private sector in 2024. You might be a McConnell critic, but this election has rendered Scott a most unconvincing replacement for him.

The Dobbs Decision and Lindsey Graham

This one pains me a bit to put on here as I agree with the Dobbs decision as I never thought Roe v. Wade (1973) was a Constitutionally sound decision, rather a decision justified by no more than good-looking politics. I don’t think that rationale is good enough to keep a precedent, no matter how popular. I must admit, however, that it contributed to the cross-wave for Democrats, especially with single women, and a lot of pro-life positions didn’t fare well in state elections. I don’t think this alone would have cost the GOP the Senate, but it contributed.

I suppose most Republicans share blame in this one and can assess for themselves how worth it Dobbs was, but Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made the situation worse by proposing a national abortion restriction bill in September, running contrary to the whole idea that abortion should have been reverted to the states. The man, like Donald Trump and Rick Scott, self-promoted to the detriment of the party.

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel should stay out of Republican primaries as he was a pusher of J.D. Vance and Blake Masters. Wait, you say! Vance won, right? Yes, and he may even turn out to be a good senator if he doesn’t keep kissing Trump’s backside in office, but he had to get a bailout from McConnell’s PACs over his campaign going broke and won with help from Governor DeWine…in what is now a red state. That money could have gone elsewhere, to Laxalt in Nevada, Walker in Georgia, or Oz in Pennsylvania. For those who blame McConnell for Blake Masters’ loss I say this: there’s no amount of money that will cure the fact that when he was put before a focus group he, per McConnell to Thiel, “scored the worst focus group results of any candidate he had ever seen” (Faria).
McConnell realized this and pulled funds from a candidate who was foisted upon the Republicans by Peter Thiel. Thiel himself was reluctant to fund the race as well.

Some will want to blame Trump for backing Masters, but he’s more Thiel’s fault. If money was the cure-all for unpopular candidates, Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton would right now be serving a second term as president. And for those continue to point the finger at McConnell: why should more funds be put for terrible candidates? Candidates like Republican candidate for Ohio’s 9th district, J.R. Majewski in Ohio, who misrepresented his military service and then has the gall to publicly complain about his campaign being abandoned? Why should more funds be put for candidates like Blake Masters, whose test focus group results were garbage? Sorry, voters are not going to go for someone who gets caught misrepresenting their military service, not in a competitive race. Why the voters of Connecticut vote for Richard Blumenthal other than him being a Democrat I must admit remains a mystery for the ages.

The GOP Base

No politician wants to blame the voters for anything, but I’m not a politician and honestly…the politicians took your lead this year. They decided to take your lead in Senate races this year due to RNSC chair Rick Scott’s decision not to endorse anyone, which translated to majorities taking Trump’s lead. They followed his endorsements of subpar and terrible candidates. They let themselves in multiple races fall for a practice the Nixon people pioneered in 1972 artfully called “ratfucking” by the Democrats because of their wish to take things to extremes and “send a message to Washington”. For the base, I say this: it would serve you to pay attention to more than just what you want to hear next time and not only heeding what Tucker Carlson, Mark Levin, and other conservative infotainment tells you. Failure to learn means you lose. If the litmus test for your vote is candidates saying the 2020 election was stolen, then take off the tin foil hat before you vote. Seriously. You are a liability to the conservative cause and helping the left.

Mail-In Voting: Republicans Must Curb It or Adapt to It

Democrats like to make changes to how elections are run that they think will benefit them. This isn’t news to anyone, but what it seems to do is only grant them a benefit for the next election rather than subsequent elections as Republicans adapt to changes. Republicans have reasons to object to mail-in balloting beyond that the numbers tend to favor Democrats, and one is that it increases opportunities for voter fraud. This isn’t a position, by the way, only expressed by conservatives. ProPublica, hardly a conservative investigative journalistic organization, in 2020 wrote that among the issues with mail-in balloting was that it increased risks for fraud (Huseman). This isn’t me saying that widespread voter fraud happened, but that more opportunities exist for voting fraud.

Republicans could restrict mail-in balloting to those who have certain distinct reasons for doing so (mobility disability for instance) and in exchange open more polling locations to avoid super long lines at the polls. If they cannot do this, then they simply need to adapt to the situation and get more of their voters to vote by mail.

In summation…send out the clowns! The American people are sick of the antics, sick of the performance art, sick of crazy from the Republican side. If the Democrats are being crazy…let them! The Squad’s politics are not popular and if the Democrats are identified with that brand they’ll pay for it outside of strongholds (which every member of that group represents). No need to reciprocate! A significant contributing factor to Democrats losing their House majority was, incidentally, because of their cashless bail policy in New York, a policy I would certainly think of as radical, and which has many voters seeing people just going in and out of custody to commit more crimes.

Self-Accountability

I have taken a lot of time holding others accountable for the election outcome. I must now take a little time to hold myself accountable for my predictions, accurate and mistaken.

It turns out my observation about RCP Senate upsets was a good one and I should have stuck to it. I failed to call the defeats of Laxalt in Nevada and Oz in Pennsylvania and I may prove to have failed to call Georgia as well. At least I did not go bullish with guessing that Bolduc or any of the other long-shot Republicans would win. I properly predicted Kelly in Arizona, Bennet in Colorado, Rubio in Florida, Hassan in New Hampshire, Budd in North Carolina, Vance in Ohio, Murray in Washington, and Johnson in Wisconsin. I blew it in predicting that Lake in Arizona, Schmidt in Kansas, Dixon in Michigan, and Michels in Wisconsin would win their gubernatorial races. I called properly DeSantis in Florida, Kemp in Georgia, Mills in Maine, Walz in Minnesota, Lombardo in Nevada, Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Hochul in New York, Stitt in Oklahoma, Kotek in Oregon, Shapiro in Pennsylvania, and Abbott in Texas.

I think that to a certain extent I failed in preventing my biases from getting in the way, but I think I did better than numerous Republican boosters who were hyping Bolduc and a few others. I could have done better in not falling for the Republican hype myself.

References

Dorman, J.L. (2022, November 13). Trump threatened to withdraw his endorsement of Nevada Republican Joe Lombardo after the then-candidate chose not to call him a ‘great’ president at an October debate: NYT. Yahoo! News.

Retrieved from

https://news.yahoo.com/trump-threatened-withdraw-endorsement-nevada-190855029.html

Guest, C. (2022, May 22). Republican candidates feel the pressure of ‘the Big Lie’ in the 2022 midterm elections. USC Annenberg
Media
.

Retrieved from

https://www.uscannenbergmedia.com/2022/05/19/republican-candidates-feel-the-pressure-of-the-big-lie-in-the-2022-midterm-elections/

Huseman, J. (2020, March 24). Voting by Mail Would Reduce Coronavirus Transmission but It Has Other Risks. ProPublica.

Retrieved from

https://www.propublica.org/article/voting-by-mail-would-reduce-coronavirus-transmission-but-it-has-other-risks

Republicans won in Arizona while Masters flopped and Lake flounders. (2022, November 14). Washington Examiner.

Retrieved from

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/republicans-won-in-arizona-while-masters-flopped-and-lake-flounders

Skinner, A. (2022, November 4). McConnell Spending More Than Trump on MAGA Candidates. Newsweek.

Retrieved from

https://www.newsweek.com/mcconnell-spending-more-trump-maga-candidates-1757128

Sullivan, A. (2022, November 9). Democrats’ risky midterm strategy to elevate election deniers appears to pay off. Reuters.

Retrieved from

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/democrats-risky-midterm-strategy-elevate-election-deniers-appears-pay-off-2022-11-09/