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As the retrospective of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act continues in Texas, and is celebrated by Republican and Democratic ex-Presidents alike, I'd like to take a good hard look at the Republican party and pose a serious question:

I know we hear that it's the Tea Party Republicans that are unreasonable and don't believe in mainstream ideas (like equal rights for all).  We used to hear that was the libertarian wing, or the Christian Coalition, or the NRA Republicans, or the Moral Majority, or the Goldwater Wing... well, pick a decade.

But looking at history - Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President of the United States.  He issued the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the slaves - probably the single most important domestic initiative of any US President in history, and certainly the most important of the 19th century.

But... since then there have been a string of Republican presidents.  And the number of major initiatives to significantly alter or improve domestic policy?  I can't find a single one after Lincoln.

You cannot count foreign policy initiatives because they don't happen alone.  So, yes, Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, but he did it with Gorbachev.  Democrats start ad end wars, too.  And negotiate treaties.  Cutting taxes?  Every president cuts some of them, so that's not a major initiative.

So I'm serious:  Can anybody name a single, meaningful domestic initiative in the area of civil rights, human rights, workers' rights, health care, anti-poverty initiatives, women's rights, etc. that was put forward by a Republican President - at least in the 20th century?  Any one?  Anybody?  Because I cannot think of one.  Not one single initiative.  Zilch.  Zippo.  The big zero.  In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that a majority of Republicans have voted against a majority of these initiatives across history.

So, bottom line is - maybe the Tea Party, the religious conservatives, the libertarians, the "insert-extreme-Republican-group-wing-here," are not the problem.  Maybe it's the Republican party overall.

It seems Abraham Lincoln was an aberration. Besides, he was so 150 years ago.  Since then, there's a lot of Republican flag-waving and freedom talk - and even a lot of Republican judgment on what passes for "American" and what doesn't.  But there's no meat there when it comes to making life better for all Americans.  In fact there's nothing.

So, again, I repeat the question:  After Abe Lincoln, Then What?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hey they had a good guy almost 150 years ago... (0+ / 0-)

    Now they have Darryl Issa and Newt...

    Who would YOU brag about.

    Les Paul, NOT Rand Paul!

    by old mark on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:13:08 PM PDT

  •  I've been saying for years (0+ / 0-)

    the Republican motto should be, "Wrong since 1865".

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:16:25 PM PDT

  •  Teddy Roosevelt. /nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MI Sooner, Anne Elk

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:16:57 PM PDT

    •  Yes - progressive (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MI Sooner, profundo

      But what was his initiative(s) in this area?

    •  Who left the party - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MI Sooner

      because they were a-holes. (I'm pretty sure that's an actual quote)  :)

      Listen to the chair leg of truth! It does not lie! What does it say?

      by mhanch on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:31:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Taft and his buddies wanted him gone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        So they did everything in their power to drive him out. IIRC those two barely could be in the same room with each other. When Taft won, the GOP went back to their tradition of sucking since 1865.  

        Born in Oklahoma Raised in Ohio Escaped to Meechigan!!!

        by MI Sooner on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:44:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In terms of civil rights, (0+ / 0-)

          Grant was pretty good.

            Naive about who he associated with, though.

          "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion

          by HugoDog on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:47:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes - but any legislation from Whiskey Bottle? (0+ / 0-)
            •  these aren't to bad for the 1870s (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              the Enforcement Act in 1870, which temporarily curtailed the political influence of the Ku Klux Klan in the post-Civil War South, and the 1875 Civil Rights Act, which attempted to desegregate public places such as restrooms, "inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement."
              It did go to hell after the election in 1876, which the winner did not have the most votes, and it all hinged on Florida.

              According to this, Grant was sober while in office. His binge drinking during the war is well known, and if he were alive today no doubt he would be diagnosed as an alcoholic.

              "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion

              by HugoDog on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 03:01:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Garfield would have been Lincoln's equal (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            if he had not been assassinated. He had plans to help the South enormously in overcoming the legacy of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction. Had he not been murdered, I think he would today be regarded as a transformative President. Alas.

            Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

            by Anne Elk on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 01:06:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Taking aim at Republicans (0+ / 0-)

    Haven't more Republican presidents been shot at than Democrat presidents?



    Granted, the shoe thrown at Bush isn't the same as flying a Piper Cub at the White House during the Carter years.  But in all, I think more Rs than Ds have been targeted.

    Just wondering

    Faith Manages. -- J.M. Straczynski

    by Master Alchemi on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:35:28 PM PDT

  •  Nixon and the EPA? (0+ / 0-)

    "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

    by Xavior Breff on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:57:00 PM PDT

  •  Theodore Roosevelt was a great reformer. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, milkbone, Gooserock

    Not without flaws, of course, but he brought great national parks into existence, often called America's best idea. He wrote 17 books, many of which are still in print. He was responsible for the founding of FDA, helped break up the great monopolies like Standard Oil, built the Panama Canal (which incidentally resulted in our modern understanding of how mosquitos spread diseases like Yellow Fever and malaria). I think you have to give it to Teddy as the second great Republican president besides Lincoln.

    Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

    by Anne Elk on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 01:03:30 PM PDT

  •  Eisenhower (0+ / 0-)

    Started the interstate highway system (for better and for worse), sent troops in to crush an anti-integration rebellion in Little Rock.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 01:12:40 PM PDT

  •  Chester A Arthur (0+ / 0-)

    Who was expected to be a corrupt spoils system president, and instead saw the creation of Civil Service through Congress.

    Also, note that Teddy had Booker T Washington as guest of honor at a White House dinner. But the remnants of Restoration civil rights disappeared, not with a Republican president, but with Woodrow Wilson.

  •  Strongly disagree with the post. (0+ / 0-)

    Neither party did much for civil rights after Reconstruction ended. Harry Truman was the first President of either party to move forward on the issue. (FDR won African-American votes by addressing economic needs, but didn't lift a finger vs Jim Crow.) Grant, Hayes, Garfield were all much better than their Democratic counterparts on at least opposing the Klan. William Jennings Bryan blocked an attempt to insert a denunciation of the Klan in the Dem platform ("three little words"). Woodrow Wilson was awful on race, re-segregating the civil service.
      Democratic candidates in the late 19th c. may have been more personally honest than their Republican counterparts, but they were hardly progressives. Dems don't become unequivocally the better party until the New Deal (although I would have unenthusiastically voted for several of them, including Bryan & Wilson). Look at the Electoral Map of elections from that era. That tells you a lot.

    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Blue Boomer on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 05:11:09 PM PDT

    •  You are correct that the New Deal (0+ / 0-)

      Sort of marked the watershed for Democrats doing more.

      So - what if we said since the 20th century.. or since the Depression.

      Bottom line - the Republicans have managed to attempt to dismantle lots of landmark domestic legislation, but really the track record here is unimpressive at best.  Democrats figured it out late - but at least they've figured it out.

  •  Well, historically, from Lincoln til Hoover (0+ / 0-)

    From 1860-1932 (a whopping 72 years), there were only two Democrats elected to the Presidency -- Cleveland and Wilson. The Democrats controlled the Southern states (because racist white Southerners hated the party of Lincoln). The Democrats of that era were mostly very conservative or reactionary.

    Up until the 1930s and maybe into the 1940s, progressives/liberals were a significant part of the Republican party.

    Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican (who later started the first Progressive Party, aka the Bull Moose Party). Senator "Fighting" Bob La Follette started as a Republican and then started the second incarnation of the Progressive Party when he ran for President. Even into the 1960s, Nelson Rockefeller was an example of a liberal Republican.

    You can also look at the Farmer-Labor party in Minnesota and the Non-Partisan League in North Dakota, which were originally spin-offs of the Republican party.

    In the old days, progressives felt more at home in the Republican party than in the Democratic party. Then there was the Great Depression, which led to FDR. And suddenly Democrats had 40 years in the White House (except for Eisenhower, who was a moderate to liberal Republican in many ways and got elected because he was a war hero). Then the Democrats (under LBJ) passed Civil Rights legislation and the once solidly Democratic South switched to the Republican Party. In other words, the racists switched from being Democrats to being Republicans. And African-Americans switched from the Republicans to the Democrats.

    So it's complicated. If I were a liberal/progressive at the beginning of the 20th century, I would have felt more at home in the Republican party. But that's because the Republicans of 1900 or 1910 were very very different from the Republicans of 2000 or 2010.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 05:21:35 PM PDT

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