The Reformers…

I often talk about how Teddy Roosevelt is one of my heroes because he broke up many of the robber baron’s empires almost a century ago. But since Teddy was a Republican he had to work inside that organization to accomplish what he did. It took Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat and another one of my heroes, to take Roosevelt’s work and move it to the next level.  Wilson’s Presidential Library is very small compared to those being built today but it houses a lot of very memorable papers and artifacts of his many accomplishments. His museum as shown below is located in  Staunton, Virginia,

Cleaning up Politics - Wilson-2

How Did The South Become So Republican??

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With the walloping Republicans gave Democrats in the midterm elections, the GOP stands one Louisiana Senate runoff away from completely controlling Southern politics from the Carolinas to Texas. Only a handful of Democrats hold statewide office in the rest of the Old Confederacy.

SOURCE:  The South: Solid once again _ for Republicans – Yahoo News.

It looks like with this latest election the south has finally turned almost 100% Republican. How did that happen? That is the topic of this post. Of course I am giving you my personal knowledge on this topic. The South did turn from almost exclusively Democrat to Republican in my lifetime so I do have some, be it ever so small, personal expertise in the matter.

The Republican party should point proudly to its roots and that is Abraham Lincoln. He was our president during perhaps the most difficult time in American history, when we were killing each other by the millions over whether some people were property to be owned or citizens to be protected.

Another great Republican president forty years after Lincoln was Teddy Roosevelt. Although he was born into the American aristocracy he had a deep empathy for those less fortunate than he was. This empathy lead him to see how badly the common guy was faring during the Industrial Revolution and to do something about it. He took on the “robber barons” of his time and gave at least some power back to ordinary citizens away from the super-rich.

The Republican party has a proud heritage in at least these two great presidents. Between 1861 and 1909 there were ten Republican presidents to two Democratic presidents. They dominated American politics for almost fifty years after the Civil War. What happened to almost reverse the party of Lincoln and Roosevelt into what it is today?  To answer that turnaround we need to look at the 1960s.

Up until the 1960s the Democratic party was the party of the South. They dominated because they weren’t Republicans who took away their slaves and therefore much of their economic prosperity.  Then came along President Kennedy and the “Second Emancipation Proclamation” Here is a little about that from Wikipedia:

The Second Emancipation Proclamation is the term applied to an envisioned Executive Order that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–68) enjoined President John F. Kennedy to issue. As the Emancipation Proclamation was an Executive Order issued by President Abraham Lincoln to free all slaves being held in states at war with the Union, the envisioned “Second Emancipation Proclamation” was to use the powers of the Executive office to strike a severe blow to segregation.

Southern Democrats became outraged that a Democratic president would issue such an executive decision. And then came President Johnson with the Civil Rights agenda.  Within a decade southerners left the Democratic party in mass. During the years between 1933 and 1969 Republicans controlled the White House only eight years. When the southern white politicians moved to the Republican party it was ripe for change and change it  they did. During the years since that time the GOP sadly morphed from the party Lincoln and Roosevelt to something completely different.

Republicans & President Theodore Roosevelt

2014-10-27_07-45-26The Republican leaders really didn’t want Roosevelt as President. As a young Bull Moose Republican in politics, TR had angered top GOP honchos by refusing to appoint Republicans to bureaucratic positions. Party bosses Mark Hanna and Thomas Platt were able to “kick Roosevelt upstairs” as the vice presidential nominee in 1900 for the incumbent President, William McKinley. Roosevelt agreed because he was thinking of running for President in 1904. No one thought that Roosevelt would take over for McKinley later in 1901. SOURCE: 10 little-known facts about President Theodore Roosevelt – Yahoo News.

I must admit up front that Teddy Roosevelt is my kind of Republican. He and Abe Lincoln, both Republicans, are two of my heroes. What happened to the GOP that they have moved so far right of their original founders? If someone like Teddy came along in the GOP today I would jump at the chance to vote for him but given the crop of 2016 likely candidates that seems very far from reality right now.

I am currently reading albeit slowly for some reason ( maybe I am just relishing each words of the author)  a book about Teddy by Doris Kearns Goodwin so the quote above did not surprise me too much. I am sure that if Teddy were around today the current GOP would tar and feather him if they got a chance, kind of like they did with Colin Powell. Teddy Roosevelt was plain and simple a progressive Republican.  I know that combination of words are total foreign to us a hundred years later. Teddy, even though he was part of the New York aristocracy always felt a kinship with the guy that struggled to take care of his family.

Teddy fought the then Republican establishment throughout his political career. None of them liked him too much because he was just too unpredictable when it came to making decisions between the rich and the poor. He simply sided with the poor much too often for them. Deja Vu all over again right? Almost from the beginning he was very popular with the masses of people. They loved his bravado and showmanship. One of the reasons that Teddy was so popular was that he made it almost his life’s purpose to make good friends among the reporters and media of his day. They simply loved him and therefore wrote many favorable things about him.

Like all my heroes Teddy had his dark side. He loved killing things and to some degree that also included people. He often said his most pleasant memories were of his war time on San Juan Hill in Cuba. It seems he simply got a huge rush from extinguishing life. But as usual we have to take some bad to get the good from our heroes.

Oh Teddy, My Hero….

The people of NYC simple love everything about Teddy Roosevelt. He is truly one of their native-sons. He was the police commissioner there in the late 1800s. To me he is most famous for taking on the “robber barons” of his time. From currently reading is biography I know that Teddy never did anything half way.  Too bad President Obama couldn’t have used him as his way of doing government.