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Graph of House polarization
At first glance, an interactive graphic that plots House party unity against DW-Nominate scores over the years doesn't sound too noteworthy; by definition—at least in a two party system—they're going to correlate. (DW-Nominate scores are the gold standard in aggregating congressional votes, locating each congressperson on a left-right axis in relation to all other members' votes.) However, if you click through to this terrific new data viz from Christopher Ingraham and fiddle around with the slider, you get a much better sense of how much polarization there has been in the House, most of the time. In fact, while we're goaded by certain pundits into thinking that stark polarization is some tragic new development, it's really been the default setting since the Civil War.

By looking at which periods had a lot of members below 50 percent party unity, you can see that, actually, the period between the early 60s and the early 90s (with lots of Boll Weevil/Blue Dogs and Rockefeller Republicans) was something of an anomaly, and things have reverted more to the norm as "Big Sort" dynamics kick in and ticket-splitting dies down. Party unity seemed to take a big hit with the rise of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, with regionalism taking more precedence than party, in the form of many southern Democrats voting against civil rights laws and many northeastern Republicans supporting them.

As you scroll through the years, you can see how that period of overlapping parties started to sort out in the 1970s (after Richard Nixon's "southern strategy"). But it really came to an abrupt end with the 1992 and 1994 elections: redistricting in '92, with many old-school southern Dems being replaced by African-Americans via the creation of new VRA districts, cut a swath, and then the Republican wave of '94 finished the job.

In fact, the polarization of today looks surprisingly like the polarization at previous points in distant history, including much of the late 19th century. For instance, you don't ordinarily think of the 1880s as being a particularly controversial, polarized period in U.S. history (with both parties operating in a fairly conservative framework, arguing over small-bore issues like civil service reform and tariffs) ... and yet, the overall levels and distributions of party unity look strangely like today's. What's different these days, however, is that the red and blue clouds are positioned notably further apart, on the DW/N axis; as you scroll through the years, note how the blue Democratic cloud pretty much always stays in place, but the red GOP cloud steadily drifts to the right during the 1990s and 2000s.

There are a few other neat anomalies worth spotting, like the New Deal years of the 1930s, where the Dem cloud becomes very diffuse instead of a downward slope. That's because even though there was a wide spectrum of DW/N scores within the Democratic Party (largely by virtue of how huge it had gotten at that point), for a few brief years, party unity was still high even among the most conservative members.

(If you want to see corresponding graphs from the 1960s and 1880s, they can be found over the fold.)

Graph of House polarization
Graph of House polarization

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 04:29 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Nice Tool (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, MichaelNY

    Nice information.  The change over time is interesting.  Look at the 1950s and how non-polarized it was.  The only problem is that the tool is a bit difficult to control with the mouse.  Using arrows would be much less frustrating on my hand-eye coordination!  :)  Nice work!

    Citizen from WI-07 (Marathon County)

    by CentralWIGuy on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 04:35:05 PM PST

  •  The way I teach 1880-1896 (7+ / 0-)

    Is that elections were high-turnout even though the issues weren't contentious, and presidential elections generally came down to a very few states, New York being the swingiest at the time. Hence Grover Cleveland, a governor of New York, having two non-consecutive terms.

    And yes. D-constant, R-moving rightward. You don't even need a chart to tell you that about the past 24 years.

    •  Thanks for pointing that out. (11+ / 0-)

      I went back and analyzed the degree of the swing right.

      The US is in absolute record-breaking territory right this minute  -- as far as a congressional body standing in the weeds waaaaay off to the right.

      I thought it was just about polarity. But it is nothing of the kind. This an entirely rogue political establishment in the US that has decamped entirely from the Federal government.

      If the goal was a moribund world power, paralyzed and adrift internally -- mission accomplished.

      •  I hate to say this on the front page (3+ / 0-)

        …but, IMO, this chart demonstrates that electing more Democrats will not lead to a Federal government that is functional. All that is left for USians is the tyranny of the majority -- whomever wins the binary coin flip we call elections.

        How can a two party system work in a complex and nuanced 21st century world? Paralysis is not governing. Nor is it "checks and balances." Turn the chessboard around and see what I mean.

        Of course, there is no way to get there from here. Yes, we relish the idea of the Tea Party splitting the GOP; just as they would like to see the Left split the Democrats.

        But either way and no matter what -- half of all Americans will always be enraged and feel oppressed. Is that any way to run a country?

        •  ...countries are almost totally obsolete... (7+ / 0-)

          ...the USA is a corporation...a business. You of all people know that!...

          Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

          by paradise50 on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 05:21:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I dont think it'll always be that way, though (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          James Allen, maltheopia, Pluto, MichaelNY

          A lot of people feel oppressed because they took Jesus out of schools, Mexicans are taking over the country, and teh gays are allowed to get married.  This is an oppression that will dwindle as the current crop of elderly people die off and are replaced with people who grew up in a more liberal society.

          And when it comes to economic oppression, the Democrats just simply suck at pointing out how horrible GOP policies are for the middle and lower class.  And also, a lot of people who claim to be economically oppressed by Democrats are really just being socially oppressed and are too stupid to realize how separate the two are.  Example, poor Southern whites who haven't gotten over de-segregation.  There is a reason why they were Democrats for so long and that's because our policies help them.  Because their social oppression overcomes that and now they hate social programs that overwhelmingly help them.

          •  That explains the pattern. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I looked through the exit polls of last year and the results seem pretty incredible - in Mississippi, a state with the country's highest poverty rate, 89% of the white population voted for Romney...  It's pretty astounding that the voting patterns and racial polarization are still operating on the response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964... The GOP's power base relies almost entirely on white voters, and at the presidential level the party gets the vast majority of its electoral college votes from the ex-Confederacy/slave states. As current population trends continue, the GOP will find it virtually impossible to win a national election if it cannot broaden its appeal to minorities, which it shows no ability of doing ("canteloupes" etc). What will happen to this dinosaur will be very interesting to see in the coming years. A two-party system cannot function with one of the parties being committed to an extremist ideology, finding its base of support amongst a rapidly shrinking electorate, and trying to counter trends thru gerrymandering/voter suppression/low turnout etc.

      •  The Tea Party is a new animal in American politics (5+ / 0-)

        The GOP has mutated into something unhealthy.  They have become unrecognizable right wingers.  The Democratic party may be reacting to this new animal in front of it, further increasing the polarization.

        So how do we deal with this new animal given its effectiveness at gerrymandering and voter suppression?  

        The fight will get more intense.

        Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

        by Shockwave on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 05:28:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I read today that John Bohner (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          …was declaring war on the Tea Party.

          Or something like that.

          Boehner's Christmas Wish: To Roll the Tea Party

          What paved the way for the budget deal was House Speaker John Boehner’s outbursts at such right-wing groups as Heritage Action and the Club for Growth that have consistently undermined his leadership and set the Republican agenda. “They are not fighting for conservative principles,” Boehner (R-Ohio) told Republicans last week. “They are not fighting for conservative policy. They are fighting to expand their lists, raise more money, and grow their organizations, and they are using you to do it. It’s ridiculous.” The next day he told reporters, “Frankly, I just think that they’ve lost all credibility.”

          Republican Report: Chamber of Commerce and Business Leaders Say 'No Fools on Our Ticket' in 2014

          “No fools on our ticket” says Chamber of Commerce: The U.S Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders have a new mantra for the 2014 midterm elections: “No more fools on our ticket.” They have pledged to spend at least $50 million to support business-friendly Republican Senate candidates in an effort to regain a Republican majority in the Senate. “Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” said political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Scott Reed to The Wall Street Journal. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.” While business groups agree with Tea Party Republicans on the need to cut spending and reform entitlements, they have grown frustrated with what they perceive to be damaging political tactics to reach those goals.

        •  have to do something about RW radio as opposed (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave, Odysseus, Pluto

          to ignoring it. the rush related boycotts and other efforts are a start but it has to spread with other strategies that involve all of RW radio and their more general effect on politics and media.

          see post below

          This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

          by certainot on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 06:03:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is like catnip. (4+ / 0-)


  •  Wow. Lots of togetherness in the Reagan Era. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    “Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

    by SpamNunn on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 05:08:03 PM PST

  •  Lopsided rightward drift of GOP 1975-now (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Indeed, polarization has increased in Congresses of recent decades, but it is very noticeable on the interactive graphic that since 1975 the GOP has drifted steadily to the right. I point this out because the concept of polarization feels sort of like the phrase "both sides do it" when in fact there is a fundamental asymmetry left unexpressed by those words.

    •  One party went crazy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Right now, there is one center-leftish party and a party that is batshit insane. I know, defies conventional wisdom, but look at this:

      - How to define a party which seeks to tear up the most basic environmental regulations, including those which its own presidents put in place? Batshit insane.

      - How to define a party which, in face of an unprecedented crisis and electoral losses, has no other idea than to strangle itself to narrow ideology of shredding safety nets, slashing tax cuts for the rich, at times defying bipartisan consensus (as with unemployment benefits)? Batshit insane.

      - How to define a party that is willing to shut down the government in order to deny millions of "moochers" health insurance? Batshit insane.

      - How to define a party that, in the face of implosions of Akins/Mourdocks and widespread "war on women" revulsion, has made it a top priority to attack women's health clinics, roll back equal pay legislation, and otherwise confine women to a second-class status? Batshit insane.

      Some time ago, there were sensible Republicans who were willing to push for the environment, women's rights, and a number of different issues. They're all extinct though, and what's left is a rump party that is increasingly confining itself to the ex-Confederacy, and even there it is losing ground (just look at the Virginia crackup last month). This does not bode well for the health of the two-party system when one party is literally digging itself into a bottomless hole.

  •  last 25 years is the result of RW radio dominance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the early 90's increase in polarization and continued until now corresponds with the increasing power of the invisible think tank messaging and intimidation monster that is the RW radio monopoly.

    1987 reagan killed the fairness doctrine and the rest is very predictable as the monopoly was put together and those coordinated megaphones were used to keep the GOP in line and run moderates out. it has peaked now as the tea party/talk radio base escaped the more thoughtful and stealthy management under the rove wing.

    however, i predict this clear jump in polarization as you scroll into the 90s and on will not be attributed to team limbaugh.

    the trend is clear but it will likely be attributed to cyclical or other political/historic events and talk radio's little brother, fox TV.

    and the the left will continue to analyze in a talk radio dominated political paradigm without knowing it.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 05:58:56 PM PST

  •  Major weakness of DW Nominate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have one major gripe with the DW Nominate scoring system. All of the scores it provides are lifetime averages of a congressperson's career, House and Senate combined. DW Nominate retroactively changes scores in past congresses to comply with a new score. Because of this, DW Nominate cannot account for individual evolution and ends up with intellectually dishonest rankings.

    A great example of this would be Kirsten Gillibrand. She was a pro-gun, anti-immigrant Blue Dog in the House and now one of the more liberal members of the Senate (save foreign policy and finance). DW Nominate can't see this and just standardizes a lifetime score.

  •  Who's that "A. Powell" in the 79th-83rd? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Off the charts to the left! I want to know more about this person.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 06:55:03 PM PST

    •  Ahhhh . . . (3+ / 0-)

      Adam Clayton Powell. A civil-rights leader ahead of his time.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 06:57:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Check out pictures of him (0+ / 0-)

        He looks completely white in all the pictures I've seen of him but his bio says he was the first African-American elected to Congress from NY.

        Reminds me of Congressman GK Butterfield of NC who is African-American, but you'd never know if from his pictures.

        Intelligence agencies keep things secret because they often violate the rule of law or of good behavior. -Julian Assange-

        by ChadmanFL on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 10:03:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Also interesting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY, Oh Mary Oh

        To check out the outliers on the right. There seems to have been someone around in the 60s named Gross, who was farther to the right than almost anyone before or since. I have no memory of this person.

        And that weird little red dot in the recent congresses, that's also waaaay out to the right, but sucks on party unity? Ron Paul.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:25:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That you didn't know him (3+ / 0-)

      makes me feel old. He was very prominent in his time.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:17:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Civil Service and Tariffs small bore?? (0+ / 0-)

    well, if you don't need a job or aren't a farmer or a laborer. I mean pre-income tax, tariffs were the whole world. We used to export ICE from Boston in the summer...ICE...and import Molassses, not Rum. Tariffs. These two items effected almost every voter on a daily basis. Hence the unity. Plant a crop and see how altruistic you are when your congressman "votes his conscience" and you find out that your crops are now worthless and your family starves to death..

  •  Well, period since mid-50th to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    end of 70th was really interesting: a lot of very moderate (in some cases - liberal) Republicans (Javits, Case, Brooke, Mathias and other in Senate, Reid, Whalen, Kupferman, Riegle (yes, he was a Republican first) and other - in House) and lot of conservative to very conservative southern Democrats (Eastland, McClellan, Allen, Byrd and other in Senate, Rarick, Tuck, Abernetty, Colmer, Ashmore and many other - in House). Almost every combination of candidate's views was feasible then - some liberal Republicans from North-East were, in fact, more liberal (especially - on social issues) then their Democratic opponents, and some ultraconservative Democrats from the South - more conservative then their "sane" Republican opponents too... It was very difficult to predict anything then (almost every sort of coalitions happened from time to time), but it was really interesting. Now - it's much easier to predict (with almost no really conservative Democrats even in state legislatures, where they held longer, then in Congress, and almost no really liberal Republicans too), but - less interesting)))

  •  Similar Visualization... (0+ / 0-)

    in the Senate.

    social democrat (with a small d) the point of politics is policy not power

    by octaviuz on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 04:42:07 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the morning scare! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Allen, sidnora, Odysseus, MichaelNY

    I nearly shit a brick thinking you just put out the exact same study I'm working on, and went all the way back to the 1850's, that bastard! Instead, this completely correlates with some work I've been doing so this was a fantastic read so thanks for the great info!  Now I can use this as one of my sources.

  •  Cool, xkcd has an interesting graph as well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Only through 2010, since it is older; also some other commentary on the main issues of the day were.
    Using the same DW-Nominate scores, of course.

    MN-01, long time lurker

    by Jervill on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:35:12 AM PST

  •  Fox News founded in 1996 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    Look what happens to the republican party beginning in the years 95-97.  The shift to the right started in the late 70s and accelerated in the 80s, but it wasn't until Fox News started spewing propaganda that the GOP entirely withdrew from the mainstream.  The change is sudden and dramatic.

    The foreign news organization Fox News is a threat to our national unity.  

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:34:02 AM PST

  •  The times haven't changed that much. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    I was reading this screed last night, and although it is from 1896, it seems like much of this sounds familiar today: only this man was apparently more educated than the average teabagger.  Apparently even in 1896 there were jobs that "real americans" wouldn't do. Now it is farming, then it was construction. But it's all about those terrible others don't you know.
    June 1896
    Restriction of Immigration
    by Francis A. Walker
    "...peace of 1783 opened to settlement the lands beyond the Alleghanies, the cutting away of the primeval forest was regarded by our people not only with toleration, but with the highest approval. No physical instrument could have been chosen which was so fairly entitled to be called the emblem of American civilization as the Axe of the Pioneer. As the forests of the Ohio Valley bowed themselves before the unstaying enterprise of the adventurous settlers of that region, all good citizens rejoiced. There are few chapters of human history which recount a grander story of human achievement. Yet to-day all intelligent men admit that the cutting down of our forests, the destruction of the tree-covering of our soil, has already gone too far; and both individual States and the nation have united in efforts to undo some of the mischief which has been wrought to our agriculture and to our climate from carrying too far the work of denudation..... In precisely the same way, it may be true that our fathers were right in their view of immigration; while yet the patriotic American of to-day may properly shrink in terror from the contemplation of the vast hordes of ignorant and brutalized peasantry thronging to our shores. "
    "These two opinions were, first, that immigration constituted a net reinforcement of our population; secondly, that, in addition to this, or irrespective of this, immigration was necessary, in order to supply the laborers who should do certain kinds of work, imperatively demanded for the building up of our industrial and social structure, which natives of the soil were unwilling to undertake."
    "The former of these opinions was, so far as I am aware, held with absolute unanimity by our people; yet no popular belief was ever more unfounded. Space would not serve for the full statistical demonstration of the proposition that immigration, during the period from 1830 to 1860, instead of constituting a net reinforcement to the population, simply resulted in a replacement of native by foreign elements; but I believe it would be practicable to prove this to the satisfaction of every fair-minded man. Let it suffice to state a few matters which are beyond controversy.
    The population of 1790 was almost wholly a native and wholly an acclimated population, and for forty years afterwards immigration remained at so low a rate as to be practically of no account; yet the people of the United States increased in numbers more rapidly than has ever elsewhere been known, in regard to any considerable population, over any considerable area, through any considerable period of time. Between 1790 and 1830 the nation grew from less than four millions to nearly thirteen millions,--an increase, in fact, of two hundred and twenty-seven per cent, a rate unparalleled in history. That increase was wholly out of the loins of our own people.
    Throughout this period, the standard of height, of weight, and of chest measurement was steadily rising, with the result that, of the men of all nationalities in the giant army formed to suppress the slaveholders' rebellion, the native American bore off the palm in respect to physical stature. The decline of this rate of increase among Americans began at the very time when foreign immigration first assumed considerable proportions; it showed itself first and in the highest degree in those regions, in those States, and in the very counties into which the foreigners most largely entered."

    It doesn't seem to occur to him that the deaths of hundreds of thousands men in the Civil War might have accounted for the drop in the birth rate of our population.

    "Let social and economic conditions remain as they were, and population will go on increasing from year to year, and from decade to decade, with a regularity little short of the marvelous. Let social and economic conditions change, and population instantly responds. The arrival in the United States, between 1830 and 1840, and thereafter increasingly, of large numbers of degraded peasantry created for the first time in this country distinct social classes, and produced an alteration of economic relations which could not fail powerfully to affect population.
    The appearance of vast numbers of men, foreign in birth and often in language, with a poorer standard of living, with habits repellent to our native people, of an industrial grade suited only to the lowest kind of manual labor, was exactly such a cause as by any student of population would be expected to affect profoundly the growth of the native population. Americans shrank alike from the social contact and the economic competition thus created. They became increasingly unwilling to bring forth sons and daughters who should be obliged to compete in the market for labor and in the walks of life with those whom they did not recognize as of their own grade and condition. "

    ...but the Irish immigrant women might have faired a little better after awhile especially if they were attractive. There was always the possibility of making a good marriage.

    "When was it that native Americans first refused to do the lowest kinds of manual labor? I answer, When the foreigner came. Did the foreigner come because the native American refused longer to perform any kind of manual labor? No; the American refused because the foreigner came. Through all our early history, Americans, from Governor Winthrop, through Jonathan Edwards, to Ralph Waldo Emerson, had done every sort of work which was required for the comfort of their families and for the upbuilding of the state, and had not been ashamed. They called nothing common or unclean which needed to be done for their own good or for the good of all. But when the country was flooded with ignorant and unskilled foreigners, who could do nothing but the lowest kind of labor, Americans instinctively shrank from the contact and the competition thus offered to them."

    He says many times and without irony that "native americans" performed all of the work necessary, without once considering that the real "Native Americans", the Indian tribes had been decimated .

    Finally we get to the heart of the matter and eventually to the part about how Ms. Kelly's comments about a white santa and a white Jesus have relevance.

    "Within a few years Harper's Weekly had an article in which the editor, after admitting that the Italians who have recently come in such vast numbers to our shores do not constitute a desirable element of the population, either socially or politically, yet claimed that it was a highly providential arrangement, since the Irish, who formerly did all the work of the country in the way of ditching and trenching, were now standing aside. We have only to meet the argument thus in its second generation, so to speak, to see the complete fallacy of such reasoning. Does the Italian come because the Irishman refuses to work in ditches and trenches, in gangs; or has the Irishman taken this position because the Italian has come? The latter is undoubtedly the truth; and if the administrators of Baron Hirsch's estate send to us two millions of Russian Jews, we shall soon find the Italians standing on their dignity, and deeming themselves too good to work on streets and sewers and railroads. But meanwhile, what of the republic? what of the American standard of living? what of the American rate of wages?
    Let us now inquire what are the changes in our general conditions which seem to demand a revision of the opinion and policy heretofore held regarding immigration.
    Fifty years ago, thirty years ago, vast tracts of arable laud were open to every person arriving on our shores, under the Preemption Act, or later, the Homestead Act. A good farm of one hundred and sixty acres could be had at the minimum price of $1.25 an acre, or for merely the fees of registration. Under these circumstances it was a very simple matter to dispose of a large immigration. To-day there is not a good farm within the limits of the United States which is to be had under either of these acts. "

    My how times have changed since farming was admirable and acceptable, but he does go on a bit about modern machines and  the importation of foreign produce.
    "There has been a great reduction in the cost of producing crops in some favored regions where steam-ploughs and steam-reaping, steam-threshing, and steam-sacking machines can be employed; but there has been no reduction in the cost of producing crops upon the ordinary American farm at all corresponding to the reduction in the price of the produce. It is a necessary consequence of this that the ability to employ a large number of uneducated and unskilled hands in agriculture has greatly diminished.
    We in the United States have been wont to pride ourselves greatly upon our so easily maintaining peace and keeping the social order unimpaired. We have, partly from a reasonable patriotic pride, partly also from something like Phariseeism, been much given to pointing at our European cousins, and boasting superiority over them in this respect. Our self-gratulation has been largely due to overlooking social differences between us and them. That boasted superiority has been owing mainly, not to our institutions, but to our more favorable conditions. There is no country of Europe which has not for a long time had a labor problem; that is, which has not so largely exploited its own natural resources, and which has not a labor supply so nearly meeting the demands of the market at their fullest, that hard times and periods of industrial depression have brought a serious strain through extensive non-employment of labor. From this evil condition we have, until recently, happily been free. During the last few years, however, we have ourselves come under the shadow of this evil, in spite of our magnificent natural resources. We know what it is to have even intelligent and skilled labor unemployed through considerable periods of time. This change of conditions is likely to bring some abatement to our national pride. No longer is it a matter of course that every industrious and temperate man can find work in the United States. And it is to be remembered that, of all nations, we are the one which is least qualified to deal with a labor problem.
    and he is anti-organized labor of course.
    We have not the machinery, we have not the army, we have not the police, we have not the traditions and instincts, for dealing with such a matter, as the great railroad and other strikes of the last few years have shown. "

    and our railroads are marvelous, but European ones have caused the problem by making it too easy for those out of work slackers to get to the ports and then to come here to be out of work slackers.

    "Fifty, even thirty years ago, there was a rightful presumption regarding the average immigrant that he was among the most enterprising, thrifty, alert, adventurous, and courageous of the community from which he came. It required no small energy, prudence, forethought, and pains to conduct the inquiries relating to his migration, to accumulate the necessary means, and to find his way across the Atlantic. To-day the presumption is completely reversed. So thoroughly has the continent of Europe been crossed by railways, so effectively has the business of emigration there been exploited, so much have the rates of railroad fares and ocean passage been reduced, that it is now among the least thrifty and prosperous members of any European community that the emigration agent finds his best recruiting-ground. The care and pains required have been reduced to a minimum; while the agent of the Red Star Line or the White Star Line is everywhere at hand, to suggest migration to those who are not getting on well at home. "

    Looks like the "makers and takers" meme was fresh back then too. I suppose those immigrant moochers rode the better horses too, compliments of their generous betters' charity no doubt.

    "The intending emigrants are looked after from the moment they are locked into the cars in their native villages until they stretch themselves upon the floors of the buildings on Ellis Island, in New York. Illustrations of the ease and facility with which this Pipe Line Immigration is now carried on might be given in profusion. So broad and smooth is the channel, there is no reason why every foul and stagnant pool of population in Europe, which no breath of intellectual or industrial life has stirred for ages, should not be decanted upon our soil.
    The immigrant of the former time came almost exclusively from western and northern Europe. We have now tapped great reservoirs of population then almost unknown to the passenger lists of our arriving vessels. Only a short time ago, the immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia together made up hardly more than one per cent of our immigration. To-day the proportion has risen to something like forty per cent, and threatens soon to become fifty or sixty per cent, or even more. The entrance into our political, social, and industrial life of such vast masses of peasantry, degraded below our utmost conceptions, is a matter which no intelligent patriot can look upon without the gravest apprehension and alarm. These people have no history behind them which is of a nature to give encouragement. They have none of the inherited instincts and tendencies which made it comparatively easy to deal with the immigration of the olden time. They are beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence. Centuries are against them, as centuries were on the side of those who formerly came to us."

    Recent history, not ancient history in which they were ascendant of course.

    "The influence upon the American rate of wages of a competition like this cannot fail to be injurious and even disastrous. Already it has been seriously felt in the tobacco manufacture, in the clothing trade, and in many forms of mining industry; and unless this access of vast numbers of unskilled workmen of the lowest type, in a market already fully supplied with labor, shall be checked, it cannot fail to go on from bad to worse, in breaking down the standard which has been maintained with so much care and at so much cost. The competition of paupers is far more telling and more killing than the competition of pauper-made goods. Degraded labor in the slums of foreign cities may be prejudicial to intelligent, ambitious, self-respecting labor here; but it does not threaten half so much evil as does degraded labor in the garrets of our native cities."

    My how times have changed. Now we love those "pauper made goods". Those paupers who don't even speak English when they finally get here.

    " the tens of thousands, in which only foreign tongues are spoken, and into which can steal no influence from our free institutions and from popular discussion. But I confess to being far less optimistic. I have conversed with one of the highest officers of the United States army and with one of the highest officers of the civil government regarding the state of affairs which existed during the summer of 1894; and the revelations they made of facts not generally known, going to show how the ship of state grazed along its whole side upon the rocks, were enough to appall the most sanguine American, the most hearty believer in free government.
    Our highest duty to charity and to humanity is to make this great experiment, here, of free laws and educated labor, the most triumphant success that can possibly be attained. In this way we shall do far more for Europe than by allowing its city slums and its vast stagnant reservoirs of degraded peasantry to be drained off upon our soil."

    Now of course we don't want an educated labor force.

    "For one, I believe it is time that we should take a rest, and give our social, political, and industrial system some chance to recuperate. The problems which so sternly confront us to-day are serious enough without being complicated and aggravated by the addition of some millions of Hungarians, Bohemians, Poles, south Italians, and Russian Jews.
    In closing he leaves out the Catholics and the Irish so the Kellys and Donahues of the world can rest easy.
    "Restriction of Immigration" by Francis A. Walker, The Atlantic Monthly,June, 1896; Volume 77, No. 464; pages 822-829.

  •  This is all really interesting to me (0+ / 0-)

    But what's weird is that the Republicans are never shown as being to the left of the Democrats. I guess attitudes toward slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow aren't taken into account by DW-nominate.

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 12:21:23 AM PST

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