Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Will Next Tuesday Be More Like The 1934 Midterms Or The November, 1933 German Elections?


When the Great Depression started taking its toll on our country in the late '20s and early '30s, it was also devastating the rest of the world. Over the previous decade, the elites had made their move towards a kind of feudalism in which they owned everything and everyone else would get by on their table scraps. The U.S. combated that by turning the political party that supported those elites-- the Republicans-- out of office. In 1928, with ineffectual, business-oriented Herbert Hoover as president, the Republicans held 56 seats in the Senate and the Democrats only 39. In the House, there were 270 Republicans and 164 Democrats. Then came the Crash of 1929. In the 1930 midterms, a week after the Crash, Republicans lost 8 seats in the Senate, giving the Democrats a 1 vote majority. In the House the Republicans lost 52 seats, retaining a razor-thin majority, which was wiped away between November and January when several Republicans died and Democrats won in special elections. In 1932, FDR defeated Hoover and the GOP lost a dozen more Senate seats and a startling 101 House seats. When Congress convened in January there were 313 Democrats and 117 Republicans. The Republicans yelled and screamed about "socialism" and tried obstructing everything. The voters responded in the 1934 midterms by defeating 14 more Republicans in the House and ten more in the Senate. By the time Roosevelt was reelected to his second term in 1936, the GOP had sunk to 16 Senate seats and 88 House seats (to the Democrats' 334). That's how Americans responded to obstructionism in the face of FDR's roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-to-work approach to saving the country.
From the outset, the Republican legislative strategy has been to reject any hint of compromise in favor of making unprecedentedly ruthless use of Senate filibusters and threats of filibusters in order to thwart or weaken everything the Democrats seek to do, the better to attack them for lack of accomplishment. In this way, four hundred and twenty bills passed by the House (which is fifty-nine-per-cent Democratic) have died in the Senate (also fifty-nine-per-cent Democratic). Even among the small minority of voters who have some familiarity with Senate rules and their baneful consequences, few know that the Democrats had their filibuster-proof majority-- sixty votes, not all of them reliable-- for just seven of the Obama Administration’s twenty-one months. Under the circumstances, the record is impressive: a health-care program that will cover twenty million of the uninsured while restraining costs; partial reform of the financial industry; the rescue of the American auto industry, saving a million jobs; and a fiscal stimulus-- $814 billion of tax cuts, infrastructure projects, and help for states and cities-- without which, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, today’s unemployment rate would be pushing twelve per cent.

But, as Krugman implied in a column last week, Obama is tepid and inexperienced and has been a disappointing, pale shadow of FDR. And today we're quite a different electorate and, apparently, about to head into a situation more akin to what happened in Germany than what happened here at home in those dark days.

Hitler was never elected president of Germany, though he ran in 1932, polling 36.8% against Paul von Hindenberg's 53%. The Nazi's had already polled 18.3% in the parliamentary elections in 1930, increased that to 37.4% in July of 1932 and then saw that decrease to 33.1% 4 months later, in both cases with the inclination-- and the ability-- to obstruct everything the government tried to do to combat the effects of the then raging Great Depression. In 1933, feeling bullied, frustrated and hopeless, the power elites in Germany decided to give Hitler a chance to govern and appointed him Chancellor (head of the government). After Hitler was appointed there was one more election, in March of 1933, before Hitler just abolished them as an anachronism. The Nazis didn't even win that one, coming in with 43.9% of the vote, even with the extraordinary incident of the Reichstag having been burnt down the previous month. (That was used by Hitler as an excuse to suspend human rights, end the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch, allow preventive detention, and eliminate the Communists, and soon after the Socialists as legal political parties.) The Germans saw their constitutional guarantees just slip away.

You may know about Godwin's "law" which says if you talk about Nazis online, you automatically lose the argument. Yesterday the crooked and detestable right-wing Democrat running for governor of Rhode Island, Frank Caprio, told Obama-- in regard to a non-endorsement-- to shove it. Michael Godwin can do the same. The Republicans are Nazis. In fact... even worse than Godwin's rule about not calling rightists Nazis, is a similar ban by The Village on calling dangerous, violent, right-wing religious fanatics the American Taliban. But that is very much what we face going into next week's elections.

Or do you not see the relation between Sharron Angle's "Second Amendment remedies," Joe Miller's private thugs roughing up journalists, Daniel Webster's religious cult calling for the stoning of disobedient women and gays (stoning to death, I might add), right-wing attacks on Raul Grijalva's office (the latest with toxic chemical agents meant to kill staffers), Republicans' incessant demands that the Constitution be altered in ways they prefer, Boehner's "Hell, No" obstructionism to economic salvation for the country, Rich Iott's glorification and emulation of SS death squads, physically violence towards women from top tier GOP candidates like David Rivera and Tom Ganley, and Monday evening's ugly "altercation," as Rand Paul put it in defending his fascist supporters, "between supporters of both sides?" If America votes in the Republicans next week, it's one giant step-- perhaps an irreversible one-- towards what the German's allowed to happen to them in 1933.

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At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Godwin doesn't deserve your vitriol. His "law" merely says that as a discussion continues the likelihood of a Nazi reference is 100%.

Btw, when I load this blog I keep getting forwarded to something that wants to download a little Shockwave file. In fact I had to stop the page from completely loading just to be able to read it. Given the context I suspect it's a virus. You might want to look into it, if only to protect your readers.

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessment about this Nov election. It's a tripwire into a paranoid future that almost seems destined though isn't. That's what makes it so potentially tragic: It's not inevitable but the organized right-wing scheme for a putsch may succeed anyway. The heavily funded and manipulated wave of manufactured political hysteria, with its demented lies and tactical provocations, especially as it all has been amplified, aided, and abetted by a passive lackluster toothless (oh I'll just say it, corrupt) news media, may bring about a permanent slide into a devolved and crueler United States than ever perceived possible my most people, and who won't recognize it as such until their own freedoms and lives are altered to the point where they no longer recognize where they live. The hysterical ones already no longer recognize their long-gone white-supremacy nation and government, and it is their resentment, bigotry, jealousy, narcissistic infantilism, and other small-mindededness that is fueling this dangerous turn toward the callous, funded of course by our own American Thyssens and other seditionist industrialists and bankers. The rest of us are just having to live through their nightmare being forced on the nation. The only questions are how long will it take to wake up, how much damage and death will waking up require, and will the future restored democracy be able to assert itself in a way that punishes the transgressors severely enough to allow another 150 years of relative peace (as post-Civil War), while rebuilding the country in a way that positively integrates itself internally as well as internationally.


At 2:06 PM, Blogger classicliberal2 said...

Some thoughts on this post:

At 7:33 PM, Blogger lawguy said...

You may be entirely right (I more or less think you are) about the republicans as nazis. So vote democratic and get what exactely? After all that is what we've had for two years.

I figure we've got another year of good times Weimar style so might as well enjoy it.


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