I was thinking again about the silly man in Alabama (Mike vander Boegh).
To me, some of the most interesting times in history were the periods from 1900 to 1950, and again from 1990 to the present day. Skip over the ’50’s, ’60’s, ’70’s and ’80’s.
I would say that by 1950— my grandparents generation—most of what it took to make a nice, decent, stable and prosperous world had been figured out. And it had been done in the context of seeing what not having that kind of world could lead two (Depression and two World Wars).
So by the ’50s there was a system of labor protections, civil rights, rule of law, assurance of health care in most places, laws outlawing discrimination, uhiversal eduction. I realize that a lot of this didn’t happen at the American federal level for some years after. But in places like New Jersey, where I am from, these had been well established in the 1940’s.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act that always seems to have self-styled “conservatives” up in arms was late-in-coming. Most states had this sort of protection enacted years before. Only the South was the big holdout. New Jersey had a modern civil rights law in 1945—the Law Against Discrimination—the same one as today! All fourteen of the N.J. Congressional delegation (both Republicans and Democrats) voted for the ’64 federal act.
I am reminded that no less a Progressive than Theodore Roosevelt campaigned with his Bull Moose Party on the steps of the Somerset County Courthouse in 1912. Even though he lost the election to Woodrow Wilson (more of a progressive and Governor of New Jersey to boot), the kind of TR-style progressive Republican is really what held sway in Somerset County for most of the rest of the 20th century, until this Reaganism started up. That’s a bit about the background of where I am from.
If you look at the 20th century this way, you see that there was a long-running push to achieve an ordered liberty and a sort of social democracy where everyone could make a life and enjoy the liberties of a free nation. When these ideals finally gained prominence, however, some people decided to disrupt this natural progress. In a way, that’s been the history of the last 20 years in particular. But it’s roots go back into the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
I keep thinking how this clown in Alabama collects a social security disability check, in a state that’s basically a massive subsidized project of the federal government—and has been for decades. They are basically living off the tit, you know. And instead of working to make a better society, they are down there bitching and moaning, and creating weirdo flags that are supposed to look like the real American one.
I feel sorry for the contemporary Republican Party, because it’s nothing like the original one. It’s nothing like the Teddy Roosevelt wing 100 years ago, either.
It will be a long time before people who believed in the things the Republicans used to stand for ever go voting Republican again, that’s for sure. A lot of the progressive Democrats complain that President Obama isn’t “left” enough (and I would challenge that, even). But he does a fine job getting it right with the people who would like the government to do something about our nation’s problems. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be action.