Demagogues

30 Jun

During the 1900’s we saw the best and worst of America.  We had great leaders like FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy among others.  We also had dangerous people or people with dangerous ideas who ran for president or sought power.  People like father Coughlin, George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and Huey Long.  As a country we have repeatedly rejected the extremists that attempt to gain power.

In the 1930’s people were afraid.  The Great Depression had ruined many people financially and threatened us as a country.  We elected a strong leader to get us through the crisis.  Father Coughlin rose to prominence shortly after FDR was elected.  While he was originally a supporter of FDR he became an opponent of him during FDR’s first term.  Father Coughlin later supported fascism and anti-Antisemitism.  He eventually lost support of the radio stations and was off the air before the end of WW2.  FDR helped end his career.

Huey Long was another supporter of FDR early on and he also turned against him.  Although he was a Democrat Long was never able to gain as much traction as FDR had.  Huey Long was an economic populist who planned on taking on FDR for his re-election in 1936.  Huey Long was shot and killed in 1935.  If he had lived it was unlikely he would have beaten FDR in the primary but he still would have made a major impact on American Politics.

In the 1960’s George Wallace was the governor of Alabama.  He was well-known for his staunch pro-segregationist stance.  Wallace had considerable support among Dixiecrats but he was unable to ever get the Democratic nomination for president.  President Lyndon Johnson stood against him by signing into law the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  This caused an eventual splinter in the Democratic Party with some Democrats becoming Republicans over the issue of Civil Rights.  The Democrats largely rejected and marginalized George Wallace.

The reason I bring these examples up are because the Republican Party has failed to do what the Democratic Party has done in the past which is marginalize dangerous or extremist presidential candidates in their party.  The Republican Party might not like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump but they did very little to stop them from becoming front-runners.  The Republicans didn’t take Trump seriously until it was too late.  The only thing the Republicans can do now is that Trump gets defeated in a landslide in November.  If that were to happen then they can go to the extremists in their party and tell them that you can’t win an election with a candidate like Donald Trump.

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