FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

LaFollette, Nader and the "Most Important Election of Our Lifetime"

 

As my mother remembers it, in the 1932 US Presidential Election, my
Grandfather was a strong supporter of Gov. LaFollette of the Progressive Party, whom my 88 year old mother grudgingly admits could be likened to today’s Ralph Nader. For those of us who are indifferent or slovenly scholars of US electoral history, LaFollette was the potential spoiler in Roosevelts campaign for President in what was then widely seen as “The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime”, the Presidential election of 1932. I have to credit CounterPunch with piquing my interest in LaFollette and the subsequent discourse with a first hand observor of the matter, my mother, who was then 16 years old and often noted by my dad as quite a go-er in her day.

Remember now, at the onset of the Presidential Election campaign in 1932,
the Great Depression had yet to hit bottom and millions of people in the US were finding themselves in the ranks of the unemployed, homeless and starving. The threat of the Red Menace, of Bolshevism, Anarchy and Revolution lay upon the land as the popularity of Joe Stalin and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics grew by the day.

To counter the demands of the proletariat, the “persons of no property”, and their demands for a dictatorship of the oppressed, the liberals of their day, such as my Grandfather, cast about for an alternative. The Democratic Party, with its history of support for slavery and American Apartheid, came up with Franklin Roosevelt and a platform so timid as to be of little use in holding back the tide of revolution. Into this breach jumped the Progressive Party candidate Gov. LaFollette from Wisconsin and his nearly subversive and un-American platform calling for unemployment insurance, government old age pensions and that most accursed demand, legalization of the right of labor to form unions. Full employment, the 8 hour day and other such radical ideas were not excluded from the discussion within the ranks of the Progressive Party when it came to what alternatives there were to the chaos and anarchy of the world wide Great Depression.

My mother pointed out to me that my grandfather matriculated at the University of Wisconsin and had seen Gov. LaFollette in action, much as many of us who spent time in the environmental trenches in the 60’s and early 70’s witnessed Ralph Nader’s leadership in what was then seen by many as little more than fearmongering, tiny bands of kooks and radicals. In 1932, it was difficult for liberals to not admire LaFollette, just as today it is hard for liberals, the honest ones at least, to not admire Ralph Nader.
Apparently, the Democratic Party in 1932 was seriously worried that
LaFollette’s bid under the Progressive Party banner could draw so much support from Roosevelt that even the widely hated, incumbant Republican Party migh squeek through to victory.

Deja Vu, 1932? We even have the spectacal of that most respected of
liberals, Noam Chomsky, touting the Democratic candidate, gag reflex and
all. The historical blinders have become so pervasive that even The Boss,
Bruce Springsteen himself, is urging us to hold our noses and vote, if that
is what is takes to oust the evil Republicans. The mantra of “This is the
most important election of our lifetime” followed in cadence by the chant of
“anybodybutbush” ringings in the air, such that even my die hard, bleeding
heart liberal, Unitarian church founding, life long Nation magazine
subscribing mother has gotten tired of it all.

In 1932, LaFollette was able to force Roosevelt and the Apartheid regime
Democratic Party of his day to adopt, or should I say co-opt, much of his
platform and my grandfather apparently, to the best of my mothers
recollection, sucumbed to his fears and voted for Roosevelt. I wish I had
remembered all this when my maternal cousin was ranting and raving about how dangerous Ralph Nader was. Ralph Nader dangerous? The champion of reform over revolution, dangerous? I guess if you remain indifferent or slovenly in your knowledge of US electoral history you may not be familiar with Deja Vu, 1932. LaFollette, Nader, “The most important election of our liftetime”?

Come on now, lighten up a bit and take a deep breath. This election has come and gone and the ship of US Imperialism continues under the direction of the masses of hidden boogie men and women hidden from our view in the bowels of the National Security Council, the State Department and any number of other faceless functionaries whose jobs remain the same no matter who is the latest mouth piece in the White House. So until the next dog and pony show in four years, remember 1932, Deja Vu? And so much for “The most important election in our lifetime”.

THOMAS C. MOUNTAIN is a mamber of the Hawaii Black History Committee He can be reached at: tmountain@hawaii.rr.com

 

 

More articles by:

Thomas C. Mountain attended Punahou School for six years some half a dozen years before “Barry O’Bombers” time there. He has been living and writing from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at g_ mail_ dot _com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 15, 2019
David Altheide
The Fear Party
Roger Harris
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Bachelet’s Gift to the US: Justifying Regime Change in Venezuela
John Feffer
Pyongyang on the Potomac
Vincent Kelley
Jeffrey Epstein and the Collapse of Europe
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Hissy-Fit Over Darroch Will Blow a Chill Wind Across Britain’s Embassies in the Middle East
Binoy Kampmark
Juggling with the Authoritarians: Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Fake Book
Dean Baker
The June Jobs Report and the State of the Economy
Michael Hudson – Bonnie Faulkner
De-Dollarizing the American Financial Empire
Kathy Kelly
Remnants of War
B. Nimri Aziz
The Power of Our Human Voice: From Marconi to Woods Hole
Elliot Sperber
Christianity Demands a Corpse 
Weekend Edition
July 12, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Skull of Death: Mass Media, Inauthentic Opposition, and Eco-Existential Reality in a Pre-Fascist Age of Appeasement
T.J. Coles
“Strategic Extremism”: How Republicans and Establishment Democrats Use Identity Politics to Divide and Rule
Rob Urie
Toward an Eco-Socialist Revolution
Gregory Elich
How Real is the Trump Administration’s New Flexibility with North Korea?
Jason Hirthler
The Journalists Do The Shouting
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pâté Politics in the Time of Trump and Pelosi
Andrew Levine
The Electoral Circus as the End of Its Initial Phase Looms
David Swanson
Earth Over the Brink
Ron Jacobs
Presidential Papers
Robert Hunziker
The Flawed Food Dependency
Dave Lindorff
Defeating the Trump Administration’s Racist, Republican-Rescuing Census Corruption
Martha Rosenberg
Pathologizing Kids, Pharma Style
Kathleen Wallace
Too Horrible to Understand, Too Horrible to Ignore
Ralph Nader
An Unsurpassable Sterling Record of Stamina!
Paul Tritschler
Restricted View: the British Legacy of Eugenics
John Feffer
Trump’s Bluster Diplomacy
Thomas Knapp
Did Jeffrey Epstein “Belong to Intelligence?”
Nicholas Buccola
Colin Kaepernick, Ted Cruz, Frederick Douglass and the Meaning of Patriotism
P. Sainath
It’s Raining Sand in Rayalaseema
Charles Davis
Donald Trump’s Fake Isolationism
Michael Lukas
Delisting Wolves and the Impending Wolf Slaughter
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Shaking Off Capitalism for Ecological Civilization
Julian Vigo
North America’s Opioid Addiction Problem and the Institutional Machinery Keeping It Alive
Russell Rickford
Lights of Liberty Vigil Remarks
Stansfield Smith
Bernie Sanders’ Present Fight against Corporate Rule vs. the Bernie of 1989
Steve Early
A Plant Closing War, Viewed From Inside
Jill Richardson
The Good News About Trump’s Very Bad Environmental Speech
John Kendall Hawkins
The Language of Languishing: One Kurd’s Journey Into Mythopoesis
Monika Zgustova
Russia and the Manipulation of the Past
Binoy Kampmark
Out of Kilter: National Security and Press Freedoms in Australia
Robert P. Alvarez
Return of the Poll Tax
David Macaray
A Hideous Ending
David Barsamian
The Slide to War with Iran: An Interview with Nader Hashemi
Graham Peebles
Breaking the Spiral of Hate and Intolerance
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail