FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail