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

February 21, 2019
Nick Pemberton
Israel, Venezuela and Nationalism In The Neoliberal Era
Chris Orlet
The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Fair Taxation Scaremongering Tour
Bruce E. Levine
“Heavy Drinking” and the NYT’s Offensive Obit on Herbert Fingarette
Lisi Krall
This Historical Moment Demands Transformation of Our Institutions. The Green New Deal Won’t Do That
Stephanie Savell
Mapping the American War on Terror: Now in 80 Countries
Daniel Warner
New York, New York: a Resounding Victory for New York Over Amazon
Russell Mokhiber
With Monsanto and Glyphosate on the Run AAAS Revokes Award to Scientists Whose Studies Led to Ban on Weedkiller in Sri Lanka and Other Countries
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Fake National Emergency Moves America Closer to an Autocracy
Alex Campbell
Tracing the Threads in Venezuela: Humanitarian Aid
Jonah Raskin
Mitchel Cohen Takes on Global and Local Goliaths: Profile of a Lifelong Multi-Movement Organizer
Binoy Kampmark
Size Matters: the Demise of the Airbus A380
Elliot Sperber
For Your Children (or: Dead Ahead)
February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail