Donald Trump and William Jennings Bryan

Wednesday, November 30, AD 2016

 

Attempting to draw historical parallels is usually perilous, especially when the person doing so clearly does not understand the period he is seeking to draw a parallel with.  Such is the case with Arthur Levine in the New York Daily News:

On Election Day, the United States voted for the past over the future. In 1896, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, there was a comparable election. It was a time of transition in which clashing visions of America — one agrarian and waning and the other industrial and rising — battled for the soul of the nation. It was a period of dramatic demographic, economic and technological change, producing deep political and social divisions, growing concentrations of wealth and gridlock in government.

William Jennings Bryan, the defender of agrarian America, and William McKinley, the champion of industrialization, contested for the presidency. McKinley won.

In the 2016, presidential election, the reverse happened. Donald Trump, the contemporary Bryan, won.

The context is similar. Once again, America is in the midst of an economic, demographic, technological and global transformation as the country transitions from a national, analog industrial economy to a global, digital information economy.

As in 1896, the country is divided, pained and angry. The poor are poorer and the rich are richer. The number of have-nots is expanding and the number of haves is shrinking. The manufacturing and Industrial Age jobs, demanding no more than a high school diploma, that promised salaries, dreams and hopes sufficient to support a family, are vanishing.

In their stead, there are now knowledge-economy jobs, requiring the highest levels of education in history. The college education required to get those jobs leaves our children with massive student-loan debt.

At the same time, as in the previous transformation, the nation’s social institutions — government, education, media and the rest — appear to be part of the problem rather than the solution. Having been created for an Industrial Age, they are outdated and seem to be dysfunctional. They need to be redesigned for a global, digital, information economy.

As in 1896, the 2016 election gave Americans a choice of restoring what had been lost or building on the changes. It gave them a choice of attempting to repair the existing institutions or replacing them. The nation chose to restore the past and replace our leadership, electing for the first time a candidate who had never held political or military office.

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5 Responses to Donald Trump and William Jennings Bryan

  • . Trump closed the deal with Carrier to stay in Indiana reports his enemy, the nytimes. Their United Technologies segment does defense business with the USA. Lol….will we ever get a transcript of all that was said between Trump and Carrier. Trump might whet voters’ appetites for deal making presidents going forward if he keeps up this aspect of his rule…once he actually is on the clock. If he does another deal like this before the inauguration, the rust belt will take heart that someone is trying at least.

  • Don’t think a lot of businesses aren’t looking at this and thinking that striking deals with Trump to keep jobs in America buys them huge national publicity and a lot of good will from the public.

  • . Exactly….and Trump spotlighting them in the media makes it likely that they’ll pay a price in usa sales numbers if they don’t agree to stay. If you save money in Mexico but lose money in USA sales figures through notoriety, Trump has punished you if you don’t go his way.

  • I think I read the phrase– though it sounds like a quote– over at According to Hoyt’s place that “socialism is the future of the past.”

July 9, 1896: Cross of Gold

Monday, August 8, AD 2016

 

 

Continuing our look at convention acceptance speeches, the greatest of them was doubtless the Cross of Gold speech delivered on July 9, 1896.  Strictly speaking it was not an acceptance speech, but it might as well have been.  It catapulted dark horse candidate Bryan, the youngest nominee of any major party at age 36, into the Democratic nomination for president in 1896.  Perhaps the greatest American orator of his time, William Jennings Bryan was three times the nominee of the Democratic party, 1896, 1900 and 1908, losing each time.  It is a tribute to his hold on his party that he was put forward three times, as American parties are usually unforgiving to candidates who lose a Presidential race, with very few exceptions.  Bryan was an interesting mix of economic radicalism, pacifism and traditional religious fervor.  If he is remembered at all today, it is because of his role in the Scopes Monkey Trial, one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood legal battles in American history.  This does not do justice to the man.  He possessed a keen intellect, and even when he was wrong he never failed to make a convincing case for his position.

Bryan began the process by which the Democratic party, long the conservative party in this country on most issues, began a drift to the Left.  He also ensured that his party retained a strong presence in rural American, a presence that did not come to an end, at least for the time being, until Reagan.  In many ways Bryan, more than any other man, helped shape the Democratic party between the Civil War and the New Deal, and should be regarded as a precursor to FDR.  Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech gained him the Democratic nomination in 1896 and is one of the finest examples of American oratory, whatever one may think, and I do not think much of it, in regard to substance:

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60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

Monday, December 21, AD 2009

By a vote of 60-40 early this morning in the Senate, the Democrats, with not a Republican vote, voted to cede power to the Republicans in 2010.  The Democrats thought they were voting to invoke cloture on the ObamaCare bill, but the consequences of the passage of this bill, assuming that it passes the House, will likely be to transform a bad year for the Democrats next year into an epoch shaping defeat.  As Jay Cost brilliantly notes here at RealClearPolitics:

“Make no mistake. This bill is so unpopular because it has all the characteristics that most Americans find so noxious about Washington.

It stinks of politics. Why is there such a rush to pass this bill now? It’s because the President of the United States recognizes that it is hurting his numbers, and he wants it off the agenda. It might not be ready to be passed. In fact, it’s obviously not ready! Yet that doesn’t matter. The President wants this out of the way by his State of the Union Address. This is nakedly self-interested political calculation by the President – nothing more and nothing less.

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26 Responses to 60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

  • Possibly.

    The president did campaign heavily on insurance reform. I can see his impatience to get something done. Continuing the delay would do little more than look like defeat. And since the GOP never had any alternatives, keeping the status quo would, in fact, also be painted as defeat.

    So we move ahead, as it were, and as you say, corporate America is well-positioned to benefit in some way from all this. Surely they weren’t going to stand to be put out of business with government insurance.

    As for the 2010 elections, they are still a long way off. If we had a solid third or fourth party option, I’d join you to say the Dems should be tweaked. But voting for do-nothing, sit-on-their-hands Republicans? Please. They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge. The GOP is standing pat with their hand as dealt. Let’s see how that plays out before handing the election to them eleven months ahead of the fact.

  • “They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge.”

    Todd, the Stupak Amendment only passed because every Republican in the House but one voted for it. The Democrats in the House as well as in the Senate are overwhelmingly pro-abortion as the forthcoming battle over the Stupak Amendment in the House will reveal.

    As for Republican alternatives, they have had several including this one.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124277551107536875.html

    What the Democrats are about to do is massively unpopular with the American people, as has been so much of what they have enacted this year. Rarely has a political party so quickly stepped off into a political abyss as the Democrats have been in the process of doing throughout this year.

  • And since the GOP never had any alternatives,

    I guess if you repeat a false assertion it eventually becomes truth.

  • “They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge. ”

    Uh What about Cao?

    That being said no one is going to pay attention to what GOP Prolifers say. We (as a party) are pretty much poiwerless right now. That is why the action is the Democrat party and it segments

  • Todd,

    Apparently you didn’t follow the House. There was a GOP Alternative that the CBO scored as cheaper and more efficient at reducing the deficit. The GOP Alternative included an actual exchange allowing for the purchase of health care policies across state lines (thus creating greater competition), enacted tough Medical Liability Reform (TORT) that would reduce inefficiencies in the practice of medicine caused by defensive medicine, and it would increase some of the privatization of Medicare seen in the popular Medicare Advantage Program (a program that now only will exist in 3 counties in Florida).

    The fact you declare there was no GOP alternative indicates in fact that you are just taking your talking points from the DNC.

  • The president did campaign heavily on insurance reform. I can see his impatience to get something done.

    Start that truck and drive it into the ditch. You’ll be getting something done!

  • Will Todd and all – Obama-worshipping imbeciles – also blame Bush for tens of thousands of small businesses that go bust because of this requirement and the excess taxes they will impose?

    “The Democrats’ government takeover of health care will increase premiums for families and small businesses, raise taxes during a recession, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, add to our skyrocketing debt, and put bureaucrats in charge of decisions that should be made by patients and doctors. The bill also authorizes government-funded abortions, violating long-standing policies prohibiting federal funding of abortion. That’s not reform. My message to the American people is now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to fight harder. When the American people are engaged, Washington listens. Now is the time to speak out, more loudly and clearly than ever, against this monstrosity.”
    John Boehner (R-OH) 21 Dec 2009

  • In true Jacksonian fashion, the country fired the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 because they bungled the war in Iraq and allowed the economy to sink into recession. They might soon have another Jacksonian moment, and fire these equally useless Democrats for hampering the recovery, exploding the deficit, and playing politics with health care.

    The big difference is that Americans saw the death toll mounting in Iraq and the economy going down the toilet. Americans won’t see the effects of ObamaCare in 2010. In fact, a not-yet-implemented ObamaCare should be an electoral asset. “You get health care! You get health care! Everybody gets health care!” The GOP may see gains in 2010, but it won’t be because of ObamaCare.

  • With only 34% of the people saying that passing ObamaCare is better than doing nothing restrainedradical, I think this bill is an anchor which will take Democrat electoral prospects straight to the bottom next year.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/december_2009/just_34_say_passing_health_care_bill_is_better_than_passing_nothing

  • “Will Todd and all – Obama-worshipping imbeciles …”

    With insightful analysis like this, I feel confirmed that conservative Catholics have as much of a sense of a pulse on the nation as they do when they feel a coconut. When you can’t distinguish between voting while holding nose or political worship (we sure had a lot of that with Bush II) we might as well turn to tea leaves than attend carefully to your analysis. Not everybody thinks like you guys do, comprende?

    The president invested a lot–and some might rightly say too much–in health insurance reform. One might even say he backed himself into a corner on this. By your account, Mr Obama was a loser any way he tried to put a face on this. Alternate proposals aside, he had no incentive whatsoever to caucus with the GOP on this. None.

    As for congressional elections next year, get serious. The House is ensconced in the land of incumbentia. And the Senate is reliving the 2004 election. I can’t see the GOP taking back the Senate, especially if the economy recovers in any way, and the Afghan surge remains a non-disaster.

    2012 is another story, but the GOP has yet top surface a viable national candidate.

    Interesting that you picked Jackson as your theme. Wasn’t that when the Whigs ascended to major party status? They had to wait till 2016–I mean 1840, right?

  • “The House is ensconced in the land of incumbentia. And the Senate is reliving the 2004 election.”

    Wrong on both counts Todd.

    The Democrats are defending quite a few vulnerable seats in the House which McCain carried last year, and many more which Bush carried in 2000 and 2004. Traditionally Republican districts will be swinging back to the GOP next year. Incumbency after the fiasco this year I doubt can be regarded as a positive in competitive districts. The Democrats are also beginning to be plagued by retirements from Congress, a sure sign of a party in trouble in the next election cycle.

    In the Senate I see the Republicans taking Senate seats in Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada, New York (Gillabrand’s seat), North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware and either Washington or Wisconsin. I see them holding all their seats and Lieberman caucusing with the GOP in 2011. If Linda Lingle, popular Republican governor of Hawaii, gets into the Senate race she might topple 85 year old Inouye who has served in the Senate since I was 5 years old in 1962. It is hard to imagine Evan Bayh losing in Indiana, but if the political winds are gale force against the Democrats I think there is a small chance he might.

    The Whigs Todd first gained control of Congress in the election of 1834, the year after it was formed. The Whigs were formed as a reaction to the policies of Old Hickory.

  • I don’t know about the Senate, but it would be surprising to see the GOP pick up less than 20 seats in the House. That doesn’t net them a majority, but that’s a worst case scenario. It’s folly to make a firm prediction, but at the current course I think many of the Blue Dogs better start looking for alternative employment. As for the “incumbentia,” that’s funny in light of the recent spate of Democrat retirements. Perhaps they lack Mr. Flowerday’s acute political acumen, but I suspect that might have a better sense of where the country is heading.

    I don’t see a ten-seat pickup for the Senate. There are a couple of very shaky GOP-held seats at the moment, and even considering the possible voter backlash against the Dems, I wouldn’t bet the house on the Republicans holding on to them.

  • I see three Republican seats as offering the Dems possibilities for a switch: the open seats in Missouri and Ohio and Burr in North Carolina. I think 2010 is going to be a strong GOP year in Ohio. Ohio went strongly for the Dems in the last two election cycles and buyer’s remorse has set in. I’ll be shocked if the GOP doesn’t hold the seat. Burr is a weak incumbent, but I think the GOP will have a great election night next year throughout the South. Missouri will be a battle, as open seat elections in that state tend to be. I think the GOP will hold on, but I think that is their shakiest current seat.

  • Don’t know about the comment on politiucal acumen–aside from local politics, I try to stay as apolitical as possible. I wouldn’t say that eleven months with a volatile economy, and who-knows-what on the international front makes for an easy prediction of what is to come.

    The Dems still have eleven months to make a case to stay in power. If some third party in Iowa wants to make a case for my congressional seats, I’m willing to listen. I’m not inclined, like some other progressives, to stay home to make my point next Election Day. I’ll continue to hold my nose and pull the blue lever, but not because I think they’re generating the best ideas.

  • Must correct Mr. McClarey.

    The Republican Party in New York has suffered a secular decline in the calibre of the people they run for about thirty years now. It has left Upstate, conventionally a Republican preserve, represented in Congress almost entirely by Democrats. One exception is a fellow from Buffalo who is a man of genuine accomplishment in private life. (By what accounts have appeared in print, the Republican State Chairman, Stephen Minarik, was partial to him as a candidate because he could ‘self-finance’. The late Mr. Minarik always had his priorities).

    I will offer better than even odds the Republican sachems will arrange for the nomination of some seedy lush who has been making cruddy little deals in Albany for 25 years, because that is who they know and that is their idea of a normal person. Kristin Gillibrand will then eat him for breakfast.

  • I always hesitate to disagree with you Art, but I think that next year it will be anything but politics as usual. As the uprising in New York 23 indicates, there are plenty of Republican voters fed up with precisely the type of machinations you describe.

  • Evidently former Governor Pataki seems poised to make a run at Gillebrand. Yeah, good luck with that. Had Rudy run, he probably would have won that seat, but evidently the Senate was too low a prize for the guy who still seems to have some delusion that he will be president one day. Pataki might be viable, but that would be a race where I would weep few tears if the Republican lost.

    I can see the GOP holding onto the aforementioned seats if it’s a real good year, but it will be tough. They have to hold serve, then win pretty much every toss-up state currently held by the Dems. That’s a tall order, though that’s basically what the Democrats did in 2008.

  • If Pataki’s on the ballot, I’m writing-in the name of my insurance agent’s dog.

    Giuliani ought to retire from political life and attend to mending fences with his children. Putatively, he has told intimates that positions in legislative bodies look unattractive after you have sat in the mayor’s chair producing actual ‘output’. The thing is, as Mayor of New York, he has been among the most accomplished political figures of the post-war period. Most of the presidents we have had over the last sixty years are men of lesser significance. He is 65 years old now and should quit while he is ahead.

  • “If Pataki’s on the ballot, I’m writing-in the name of my insurance agent’s dog.”

    I am certain the dog would do less harm than either Pataki or the incumbent, and would probably have more charisma.

  • That is one cute canine!

  • Parker Griffith, Democrat Congressman from Alabama, is switching to the GOP. He is the first Blue Dog to do so this Congress; he will not be the last.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/12/22/breaking-blue-dog-flips-to-gop/

    Some Democrats can clearly see the electoral ice berg their party is careening towards.

    Merry Christmas Speaker Pelosi!

  • That’s fairly major news. These retirements/party switches are usually a good indicator of significant electoral upheaval – they certainly were in 1994, 2006, and 2008.

  • I don’t think Arlen Specter’s switch indicates an upheaval.

  • It indicated that Specter knew that Toomey would clobber him in the primary. Now Toomey will clobber him in the general.

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