Political History

Today’s GOP Is Like the Democratic Party of the 1850s

Huffington Post: “The Democratic Party of James Buchanan, from 1855-1860, appeared ― on the surface ― to be ascendant in the American politics of the day. They controlled the presidency, majorities in the Congress and the majority of state legislatures and governorships. Their great rival party, the Whigs, had collapsed into internal factions after their 1856 electoral loss and the new Republican Party was nascent. They were so powerful that they controlled both the entire south and significant parts of the North ― and there was, of course, no ‘west coast blue wall’ in the 1850s.”

“Nonetheless, the supposed dominance of the Democratic Party in the late 1850s papered over and masked critical internal divisions that would destroy the party in 1860 and leave it nearly irrelevant at the presidential level for almost 70 years.”

“Basically, those critical internal divisions were between the Southern Democrats, who were unified behind slavery and ‘southern values’ and the Northern Democrats, who were much warier of slavery and were much more unified around economic concerns. Their uneasy alliance collapsed entirely in 1860, when the party actually split on the ballot between the Northern and Southern Democrats, handing Lincoln the election. The south seceded, Lincoln won the Civil War and the party didn’t recover until FDR. Indeed, the collapse of the party was so catastrophic that the only times the Democrats won the presidential election between 1856 and 1932 were typo non-contiguous terms for the idiosyncratic Grover Cleveland, and when Teddy Roosevelt split the Republican vote off Taft in 1912 and threw the election to Woodrow Wilson.”

“History repeats itself in inexact cycles, and the Republican Party of today bears remarkable similarities to the Democratic Party of the 1850s.”

The Most Corrupt Administration In History?

Newsweek: “According to the presidential historian Robert Dallek, no American leader has acted with more unadulterated self-interest as Trump. Dallek says that in terms of outright corruption, Trump is worse than both Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding, presidents who oversaw the most flagrant instances of graft in American political history.”

Said Dallek: “What makes this different is that the president can’t seem to speak the truth about a host of things.”

Trump isn’t just allowing corruption, in Dallek’s view, but encouraging it: “The fish rots from the head.”

How to Be Less Stupid About the Civil War

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “On Monday, the retired four-star general and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly asserted that ‘the lack of an ability to compromise lead to the Civil War.’ This was an incredibly stupid thing to say. Worse, it built on a long tradition of endorsing stupidity in hopes of making Americans stupid about their own history. Stupid enjoys an unfortunate place in the highest ranks of American government these days. And while one cannot immediately affect this fact, one can choose to not hear stupid things and quietly nod along.”

“For the past 50 years, some of this country’s most celebrated historians have taken up the task of making Americans less stupid about the Civil War. These historians have been more effective than generally realized. It’s worth remembering that General Kelly’s remarks, which were greeted with mass howls of protests, reflected the way much of this country’s stupid-ass intellectual class once understood the Civil War. I do not contend that this improved history has solved everything. But it is a ray of light cutting through the gloom of stupid. You should run to that light. Embrace it. Bathe in it. Become it.”

Kelly Praises Robert E. Lee

White House chief of staff John Kelly said that the Civil War was “caused by a lack of an ability compromise” and that Confederate general Robert E. Lee was “an honorable man,” Politico reports.

Said Kelly: “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state which in 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand.”

Trump Will Release All JFK Files

President Trump announced via Twitter that he will be releasing all of the JFK files instead of just part of them.

After strict consultation with General Kelly, the CIA and other Agencies, I will be releasing ALL #JFKFiles other than the names and…addresses of any mentioned person who is still living. I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and…in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest.

Bannon Hopes His ‘War on Party’ Fares Better Than FDR’s

New York Times: “By the summer of 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had had enough. His own party controlled both houses of Congress, yet the latest elements of his New Deal were stalled. Exasperated by fellow Democrats standing in the way, Roosevelt resolved to push some of them out of office.”

“Nearly 80 years later, President Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, has declared a “season of war” to push out problematic Republicans in midterm elections, just as Roosevelt tried to do to balky Democrats. But Roosevelt’s purge backfired. Not only did he fail to take out his targets, but he also emboldened them, all but dooming his domestic program for much of the rest of his presidency.”

Trump Authorizes Release of JFK Assassination Documents

President Trump authorized the release of documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy despite concerns from the National Security Agency, the Washington Post reports.

“Earlier this week Trump confidant Roger Stone told Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that he spoke to Trump and urged the president to release all the documents.”

Most Think Trump Will Be One of the Worst Presidents

A new Marist poll finds that 58% of Americans believe Donald Trump will be remembered as either one of the worst presidents in the nation’s history.

Said pollster Lee Miringoff: “Deep into his first year as president, Donald Trump’s less than stellar approval rating has lowered expectations about how history will judge him. For history to treat him kinder, he will have to up his game.”

How Hitler Used Lies

Charles Blow: “It is a commonly accepted rule among those who are in the business of argument, especially online, that he or she who invokes Adolf Hitler, either in oratory or essays, automatically forfeits the argument.”

“That said, there are strategies that Hitler used to secure power and rise — things that allowed his murderous reign — that can teach us about political theory and practice. And very reasonable and sage comparisons can be drawn between Hitler’s strategies and those of others.”

“Trump is no Hitler, but the way he has manipulated the American people with outrageous lies, stacked one on top of the other, has an eerie historical resonance. Demagogy has a fixed design.”

Impeachment Was Designed for Someone Like Trump

Barbara : “Their writings and debates surrounding the creation of the Constitution make clear that the framers feared a certain kind of character coming to power and usurping the republican ideal of their new nation. Having just defeated a tyrant — ‘Mad’ King George III of England — they carefully crafted rules to remove such a character: impeachment. In the process, they revealed precisely the kind of corrupt, venal, inattentive and impulsive character they were worried about.”

“The very embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

“Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.”

For more: A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment.