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The 1978 election did not elicit much response at the time.  Most believed that the status quo had been maintained, with Democrats the dominant party in both houses of Congress.  However, the reality was that for the first time since 1974 Republicans made gains.  There was a lot of turnover in both houses, 77 in the House and 20 in the Senate, though the net GOP gain was only three Senators and about 14 Representatives (including Newt Gingrich).  The numbers do not tell the story, though, of the ideological shift that took place that year - a move to the right.  

One Senator saw it coming:

Senator Thomas J. McIntyre of New Hampshire.  He would lose his bid for re-election in 1978 to Gordon Humphrey, a Republican who ran his campaign with the help of the Conservative Caucus.  But months before, in a column penned for the Washington Post on March 3, 1978, Sen. McIntyre had this to say about the New Right:

The New Right cannot comprehend how people of opposing viewpoints can find common ground and work together. For them, there is no common ground. And this, in my judgment, is the best indication of what they truly are -- radicals whose aim is not to compete with honor and decency, not to compromise when necessary to advance the common good, but to annihilate those they see as "enemies."

My concern is the desperate need for people of conscience and good will to stand up and face down the bully boys of the radical New Right before the politics of intimidation does to America what it has tried to do to New Hampshire.

So I say to my colleagues:

If you want to see the reputations of decent people sullied, stand aside and be silent.

If you want to see people of dignity, integrity and self-respect refuse to seek public office for fear of what might be conjured or dredged up to attack them or their families, stand aside and be silent.

If you want to see confidential files rifled, informants solicited, universities harassed, "enemy hit lists" drawn up, stand aside and be silent.

For years, Democrats were too arrogant to believe they could be challenged and remained silent.  Now, they are so scared of the Right they stand aside and get run over.  McIntyre saw it coming, and it is long past time for our elected representatives to stand up and make some noise.

Originally posted to KazHooker on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 04:29 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  History Diary (16+ / 0-)

    I post history diaries from time to time.  I hope you like this, and I will try to make them a regular feature.

    The middle is a ghost.

    by KazHooker on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 04:32:29 PM PST

  •  Just wondering... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trojanrabbit, blueoasis

    what is there left to be optimistic about?

    I can see how people are hopeful that things will turn out for the better.  They often do in the course of history.  But just as often it takes decades or longer.  In the meantime, it can get ugly.

    I feel I have a good grip on how the military industry is running the show, and I've read about Karl Rove and know how he's playing for keeps this time around.  His goal in life seems to be the complete eradication of the democratic party.  I look at the system and I see nothing to be optimistic about.  So what if we get another democrat in office?  We continue sliding right and the democratic party are yesterday's republicans.

    Depsite Bush's low poll numbers, the media feeds us apathy.  There is no outrage.  We are a bully nation now, and people even like it that way.  To be blunt, I know many Americans who are a reflection of Bush and/or Cheney.  The arrogance, self-centeredness.  They plan for the short-term and don't give a damn about later generations.  The Baby boomers meet the MTV "me" generation.

    I see us growing in debt with no way to turn the ship around.  And I see people who simply don't give a damn in Washington and people walking the street who don't even realize the debt.  But it's a damn good thing we're fighting the terrorists over there, rather than fight them here.

    I see little hope in the restoration of the American Dream... that idea of the "land of opportunity."  Where hard work and persistence can bring tremendous wealth and opportunity.  Maybe I'm disillusioned by the Enrons of the world, but it all seems so systemic.  Like a cancer growing on a life well past its prime.  I think capitalism is eating itself.

  •  Historically, (0+ / 0-)

    your point is very valid.

    Literarially though, it's something akin to suddenly finding yourself transplanted into a Stephen King novel.

  •  Excellent use of recent history (0+ / 0-)

    to make your point. I am wondering if one can say we have a Democratic Party when most Democrats are afraid of speaking up when it really counts.

    Congress and the Senate need to reflect what is best in America's citizenry. I hope they look in the mirror each morning, and think for a moment about what it takes to defend our Constitution and freedom, about what it really takes to prevent our freedom from being perverted by the powerful and the ignorant.

    In America, politics should not be a career, ever. It is a calling, at all levels.

  •  Recommend Request (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I hereby call out a recommend request on this one. How stunningly prescient. Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.

    Excellent diary - thanks!

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