Ladies, ladies, ladies

Read this list of female governors.  The reason I put it up Is while reading last night, I came across the name Ma Ferguson.  She was elected Governor in 1924 of Texas. I don’t recall this being covered in my Women’s History class. But I found it Amazing. Digging Deeper, in  Nellie Ross of Wyoming was also elected in 1924 and managed to be the First woman elected. Both Ross and Ferguson were widows of previous governors which helps explain how they got elected so long ago.

Looking at the List it seems that as we get closer to modern times, female governors become more and more common. The list says 5 women currently hold seats as Governor. 5 out of 50 ain’t bad.

This list also helps to destroy some stereotypes about the Republican Party. Nikki Haley and Susan Martinez are both women of color and are both currently sitting Republican elected officials from southern states.  (unless New Mexico isn’t southern enough for you, then One is southern, one is western.)

I found this rather nifty.

Observations on American Political Parties

ImageThe two party system is a function of our election system. Single member districts and winner take all elections allow for two dominant parties and from time to time local parties that crop up. I have studied the various political parties of the United States, but not in great detail. The major ones are easy enough to Identify. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists under the Washington Administration. The Anti-Federalists morphed into the Republicans under Thomas Jefferson (Historians call them Democratic-Republicans to distinguish them from the 1854 Republicans). These two parties fought each other back and forth until the war of 1812 happened and the Federalists began to disintegrate. Under James Monroe there really was only the Republican party and it began to absorb some of the national goals of the old Federalists.  As I have discussed in previous posts the nature of politics changed around this time and the National Republicans split into 2 parties. Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren set up the Democratic party in the 1820s after the fiasco election of 1824. John Quincy Adams lost the popular and electoral college vote, but since none of the four men who ran got a majority, the congress picked the winner. Jackson started a new party to protest. The rump Republicans re-branded themselves the Whigs and lasted until the 1850s.

The first observation I point to is how Van Buren organized the new Democratic party. He created a very loyal machine like system. Party bosses, spoil systems, The machine was key. I do not yet have enough information to know how the Whigs themselves were organized but famous organizations like Tammany Hall in New York City are what I look to when I say Machines. They ran social programs to help the poor, and get out the vote. By get out the vote, they would beg, borrow, or steal voters and get them to as many polling places as possible.

Ultimately Slavery would split the country and destroy the Whigs. Between the 1830s and 1860 the conflicting forces of “Slavery is a good thing” and “Slavery is an abomination” would work to replace and erase the idea of “Slavery is a horrible thing but we have no other way of doing business”. Radical southerners who embraced slavery as a glorious thing following the likes of John C Calhoun would fight to the death to defend their Peculiar Institution. William Lloyd Garrison and Fredrick Douglas would spear head abolition activities in the north. (From what I have gathered Garrison was far more radical about his abolition than Douglas who had actually endured slavery and survived his escape attempt.) These two forces would split the country and because there was no major anti slavery or pro slave containment party, the electorate found the two choices nearly indistinguishable.

By the 1850s several groups of Free labor (that is not against slavery, just against slave labor competing with them), Free soil, and abolitionist parties formed the Republican Party. They picked up a lot of northern Whigs and Some anti slavery democrats and in 1854 nominated John C Frémont for president. Buchanan won the job (side note, first known gay president).  By 1860 the party had grown stronger and Abe Lincoln ran. Because the northern and Southern democrats each ran their own man, they split the ticket and Lincoln was able to pick up the win.  Thus came the civil war and subject for a different post.

After Lincoln, no democrat would be elected until 1884, and after cleveland who was also elected in 1892 (only non contiguous 2 term presidental office holder) no democrat would be elected until 1912 (when the republicans this time split the ticket).

What I noticed about men like Grant and TR, is that they are huge facemen, they are character people, they are leaders. People flocked to their ideas and words. I noticed that very few Democrats were like that, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton, Obama (Which suggests a strong shift in the later 20th century.)

The democrat party as of late has been about the Machine. Hillary ran in 2008 and the politicals said “it was her turn” yet Obama upset her and annexed the machine to his own ends. What I mean by Machine is this: In the republican primaries as of late (the last 20 years) a bunch of people run and tear each other apart by airing all the dirty laundry and who ever wins faces a democrat opponent (who did the same thing) but the main stream media never repeats the democrat dirty laundry list, yet will say smugly that the republican cant possibly win if they had that much problem with their own primary. Clinton and Obama fought a long and savage race in 2008, and after Obama climbed to victory, bloody, beaten, and bruised it was never spoken of again. The democrats aligned lock step behind him, even feminists and radical anti male democrats.

The republicans never recovered from their 2008 or 2012 primary seasons. All kinds of gaffes were recorded and expounded over and over again by not only their democrat party foes but by their republican party members.

This leads me to conclude that democrats care more about the success of their party and republicans care more about the success of their ideas.  The greatest example would be in 2012 when many republican voters failed to vote for Romney.  The republicans took the house in 2012 showing a geographic majority, yet Obama won the white house, showing that the geographic majority didn’t like Romney enough to vote for him.  The party lost the president because the partisans in the party couldn’t look past Romney’s liberalism. They couldn’t hold their nose and vote for him, like the democrats could for Obama.

This is the key difference between the two parties as far as their base goes.


Racism today

Racism today in America, I think, is in its death throws. Why? Isn’t it worse than ever? No! of course not! Let’s remember the Klu Klux Klan marching in the 1950s and 1930s. They had a lot more power than they had now. In 1915 President Wilson hailed “Birth of a Nation” as a great thing. The south was segregated by law, the north by defacto. There were lynchings, race riots, all kinds of horrible things. Now? now there are just a few assholes going around saying racist things and being jerks.

But there is a race bating industry going around whose whole existence requires racism. This serves a good thing, I think, in that they are squeezing out the last corners of racism and pulling them out into the light so they can be exposed and dealt with. While Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are string up a lot of trouble, blackmailing people, they do serve some positive purpose among all that toxicity.

What got me thinking about this is the now infamous George Zimmerman trial. Spending time in chatrooms I’ve seen racism about this case, about Obama, about justice Thomas, about Condalisa Rice. I have seen racism on both sides and found an interesting pattern. Leftist racism is based on the idea that minorities are inferior and unable to care for themselves, and thus need to be guided (dominated) and lead into proper behavior and correct thinking. While the racism on the right is based around stereotypes. A bunch of minority X does something stupid so the racists who lean right will assume that all of minority X are that way and thus treat them all the same. This division isn’t absolute. Ive seen stereotyping on the left and Ive seen claims of inferiority from the right but I found the observation fascinating.

The Zimmerman trial shows that race is still important. Zimmerman is Hispanic, yet the leftstream media insists on calling him white? Why? some of them refuse to admit their mistakes in initial reporting. Some (Fewer i hope) really wish to incite race wars.  Trayvon is black, even Obama pointed this out when he practically adopted him, and sent his Darth Vader (Eric Holder) to his Palpatine to incite riots in defense of Trayvon.

Why all this racism? Why does it remain? well, it’s just a long tradition. First developed in the 1500s by the Spanish and eagerly adopted by the xenophobic and ethnocentric English in the 1600s, it served as a tool for Christians to justify slavery. Once slavery was gone, in the 19th century, it served to maintain existing social orders which were being radically changed by Industrialization.

In the 1960s civil rights movement, Dr King and his fellows tried to remove it from the equation, but their progress was not enough for younger and angrier members of the movement who embraced militantism and racism to get their own things done. By embracing racism and hate, they justified the counterpush by white racists. This caused many flareups in the 1960s and 1970s. It died out in the 1980s-2008 but now we have a large economic downturn which causes people to look for people to blame. so they blame Minority group “notme”

This rant exists for me to vent this discussion on racism and hate and perhaps hope that as more time passes and as economic conditions improve, things will end up resolving. I hope…

Let’s run for president!

Reading “1920: The year of six presidents” by David Pietrusza. Why? Because I am a historian (about to transfer to 4 year college to get my pre-reqs for my masters in history) and I came across a fascinating middle point in US presidential election politics.  I also read “A magnificent catastrophe” by Edward Larson which is about the presidential Election in 1800.  Add to this a few books about Andrew Jackson and one begins to be able to trace the flow of presidential elections through the history of the US.

When George Washington was elected (or drafted) the electoral college had to debate on who would be Vice President, George was unquestioningly going to be president. He was elected in 89 and re-drafted in 92. But in 96 he quit, he set a precedent not broke until 1940 by Emperor Roosevelt. (Though Teddy Roosevelt tried to break it in 1912, must be a family thing)  This resulted in a kind of a run off between Adams, the vice president, and Jefferson, the former Secretary of State and southern favorite. The result was very very close and Adams beat Jefferson, (the rules of the day was that the runner up became vice president, this changed with the 12th amendment, as a result of this and the following election. Imagine president Bush and vice president Gore in 2001, or now vice president Romney.).

Jefferson and Adams represented the two leading factions of the day, Jefferson’s Republicans (a party that is not the same as Lincoln’s Republicans and thus is often referred to by historians as Democratic-Republicans, or Jeffersonian Republicans.), and Hamilton’s Federalists. The two parties were radically opposed in economic and social issues and in their goals for the new republic. Because Adams had started a war with France, raised an army, and outlawed some aspects of free speech, the JRs (Jeffersonian Republicans) pushed hard to get their man in office.  The Federalists pushed back to keep their man in office.

The result was the first presidential campaign. This campaign was done mostly by agents and acyolites. Jefferson and Adams stayed above the fray, mostly. They let their agents and supporting newspaper editors do the heavy lifting. Back then newspapers were unashamed of their bias, used it to gain readership. If you failed your history, Jefferson won, but it was nearly stolen by Aaron Burr.

Fast forward to 1824. A war has come and gone and the Federalist party has evaporated. For 8 years there really has been only one party, the Republican party, and they are changing. They seem to be more nationally focused, and this change is causing a bit of a split. In the election of 1824, there are four men running. Andrew Jackson, the war hero, John Q Adams, diplomat and son of the founder. Henry Clay, famous national statesman, and William Crawford. Jackson won the popular vote, but because no canidate got a majority of the Electoral vote, it was thrown to the House, where Henry Clay was speaker of the house. Clay made a deal with Adams and Adams became the 6th president of the USA.

Jackson cried foul. Basically, he and his men took his ball and went home. For the next 4 years Jackson and his supporters, including Martin Van Buren established a new party, what they called “The democracy” or in 1832 at convention officially named themselves “Democratic party”. Democracy had been almost a dirty word in the founders age, but times were changing. The voting rights were expanded away from property ownership to nearly universal white male suffrage. This changed the voters from a layer of elites with time to educate themselves to a mass of people who cared less for education and were more focused on survival. This meshed with expansionist views. Elections had to change to meet this new mass. Rallies replaced news paper essay debates. Parties with whiskey and pigs replaced parlor room discussions. One had to get out into the public and anounce what you would do for them, what you would give them in return for a vote. It mattered less what you actually believed or planned, what was more important was what you could appear to be. Image began to trump substance.

Skipping the bulk of the 19th century (Frankly out of ignorance, there is much in us history and I’ve still got missing segments) going to William McKinley running agianst William Jennings Bryant in 1896. Republican strategist Mark Hanna decided to put the Ohio Governor on a “Front Porch Camping” returning back to the old ideas of letting the agents do the work for the candidate. Selected media men were allowed to visit McKinley at his house. The plan worked. McKinley won in 96, and again in 1900.

All of this leads up to the book on 1920. The election right after World War 1. What struck me in the book was the republican candidate Frank Lowden who made reference to “despising modern campaign strategy” including billboards and newspaper ads.  This got me thinking about Dwight Eisenhower using Television ads in his campaign and JFK using them to great effect. The visual media gave Kennedy the edge in the Kennedy/Nixon debate.

This long discussion of the evolution of presidential campaigns brings us to the here and now. in the 1990s, president Clinton used the internet and in 2008 Obama used it to impressive effect for fund raising and data mining. We are standing just past the threshold of a new wave of media influence in political life. And just like all those i mentioned before, we really have no way of knowing how it will play out.

edit: I did nearly this whole post with out looking things up. Yes…. I am bragging… No, I’m not ashamed of my sponge like brain.