HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Politics & Government » Populist Reform of the Democratic Party (Group) » Democracy Within the Demo...

Wed May 25, 2016, 08:42 AM

Democracy Within the Democratic Party: Presidential Elections - Part 2 of a Series*



Part 1 of this series ended as follows:

Democratic politicians have deliberately disassociated themselves from New Deal/Fair Deal philosophies and also from the Great Society programs of President Lyndon B. Johnson. They have, among other things, re-named themselves New Democrats, descried big government and targeted New Deal and Great Society programs for dismantling, much as had Republicans during FDR's era. Why? Because many politicians tend to aspire to be President of the United States and becoming President of the United States is much more difficult for a Democrat than it had been before Truman ran in 1948. Or so "they" have been telling us.

The language quoted above raises two questions: (1) Why did the Democratic Party worry overly about electing a Democratic President when Democrats dominated Congress for so long; and (2) Why, after holding the Oval Office for two solid decades, did Democrats run into problems electing Presidents?

As stated above, many politicians, especially those who are powerful within the Party, tend to aspire to be POTUS, rather than Governor of just one state of fifty or just one voting member of Congress out of 535. Politicians who want to be POTUS tend also to want their Party to maximize their chances of becoming POTUS. For those who seek to control federal government, gaining control of one POTUS seems much easier than gaining control of 536 disparate politicians. IOW, plutocrats, both in and out of government, focused increasingly on the Oval Office. (This issue also goes to the accelerating move toward a Unitary Executive, an undemocratic prospect that is, to me, quite frightening.) The answer to the second question is more complex. It is tied, as is so much in U.S. politics, to America's original sin: Racism.

Without intending to subordinate or minimize slavery, I see legal slavery as one especially heinous result of racism. Our original sin of racism caused, and continues to cause, one degree of suffering or other to First Nations, the Chinese, the Japanese, Jews, Arabs-- all people of color, even to those who just were not WASP. For example, Paul Revere's father changed his surname from Revoir, in an attempt to avoid anti-French discrimination by colonials. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. though wealthy, had been stung by anti-Irish, anti-Catholic sentiment.

While the Emancipation Proclamation ended legal slavery, the nation just cannot seem to expiate its original sin--legally-enforced racism did not end until a century after Emancipation and racism has never ended: Racism is certainly playing an overt role in the 2016 Presidential primaries, as it had in the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections. In reality, racism has likely played a more covert role in many elections, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Today, the Democratic Party, while not an exemplar of racial justice, is associated far more with racial justice, including for African Americans, than is the Republican Party. The roots of the Democratic Party, however, are, like the roots of the U.S. itself, horribly entangled with racism.

The very first Democratic President was President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner and infamous for many other things, including his treatment of First Nations. Democratic President James Buchanan virtually made the Civil War inevitable. Democratic U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate, Stephen Douglas, ran against Republican Abraham Lincoln on a platform of extending slavery into the territories, the parts of what is now the U.S. that had not yet become states.

This history of the Democratic Party, combined with the South's particular history of slavery, had resulted in the South's being solidly Democratic. However, Truman, who had once joined the White Citizens' Council as another politician might have joined the Rotary, created a Civil Rights Commission in 1946 and courageously ordered integration of the military in 1948--an election year. As a result, Truman faced, in 1948, a challenge from then Governor of South Carolina, Strom Thurmond, who changed from Democrat to Dixiecrat in 1948 for that purpose. (For unrelated reasons, Truman also faced a second so-called "third"-party challenge from FDR's one-time Vice President, liberal Henry A. Wallace, running as head of the then newly-formed Progressive Party.)

Although Truman narrowly defeated Republican Thomas E. Dewey despite two so-called "third"-Party challenges, he seemed unlikely to win in 1952, if he ran. It's difficult to tell whether his civil rights commission and his desegregation of the military were the reasons, or whether Americans thought seven plus years of Truman was enough. (The nation had just adopted a Constitutional amendment limiting Presidential terms to eight years, but expressly excluding Truman, without naming him. My guess is that emotions around the potential of a "President for Life" had run high preceding ratification.)

Part 1 of this Series is at http://www.democraticunderground.com/127710632

2 replies, 1284 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply Democracy Within the Democratic Party: Presidential Elections - Part 2 of a Series* (Original post)
merrily May 2016 OP
Mbrow May 2016 #1
merrily May 2016 #2

Response to merrily (Original post)

Wed May 25, 2016, 08:50 AM

1. K&R

thanks for posting

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Mbrow (Reply #1)

Wed May 25, 2016, 08:52 AM

2. Thank you!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread