Expressions from our Youngest

Expressions from our Youngest
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Monday, January 2, 2012

Peaceful Reform Movements

I took the opportunity to read Newt's book "Real Change" now that he is a GOP candidate.  There is no doubt that this man is a great historian.  I thought I would share with you how he lays out previous peaceful reform movements in our country that may also give us hope for a brighter future.  This is also pertinent to the history class I am teaching for my daughter.  Therefore, you may teach you kids this too.  They are as follows (except for Revolutionary War and Civil War):

1)  The founding fathers led an eight year revolution (1775-1783) changing the structure of government from the British Imperial model to a loose Confederation of Independant States.

2)  The Federalists decided that the Articles of Confederation were not working and launched a campaign for a stronger government by:

     o  Calling a Constitutional Convention

     o  Wrote the Constitution over a four month period

     o  Developed a nationwide campaign to adopt it (the Federalist Papers)

     o  Ran the new federal government for its first twelve years

3)  Thomas Jefferson and his allies decided that their vision of America was very different from the Federalists.  They favored:

     o  Smaller government

     o  Less spending

     o  Popular authority to limit the power of judges

     o  Limited the authority of the bureaucracy

     o  Created the Democratic-Republican Party-now simply the Democratic Party (my how things change!)

     o  Won control in 1800 and gradually became so popular that the Federalist Party disappeared

*  The Jeffersonians won a peaceful revolution that transformed the power structure of America.

4)  In 1824 Andrew Jackson and his supporters started a Populist rebellion of the frontier against the Eastern establishment.  They:

     o  Established the "spoils system" of giving government jobs to political supporters

     o  Remained a dominant force in American politics and government for a generation

     o  Spirit of domestic populism and foreign policy assertiveness has shaped America to this day

5)  Emergance of Republican Party as the new alternative party (slavery crisis led to collapse of Whig Party).  Lincoln Republicans:

     o  Fought a Civil War

     o  Radically strengthened the national government

     o  Shifted focus of American polical philosophy from Constitution back to Declaration of Independence

     o  Encouraged the growth of modern America by a combination of: 
               a)  the Homestead Act
               b)  the Land Grant Colleges
               c)  the transcontinental railroad

*  Power of Lincoln Republican majority is seen with the fact that they held the White House for 44 of the next 52 years (only Grover Cleveland won presidency as Democrat between 1860 and 1912).

6)  The Progressive Movement was a 20 year period from 1896 to 1916 (reform ended by WWI) of bipartisan efforts of change to stop corruption of big-city political machines combined with the cynical lobbying power of large corporations.  There was a general consensus that the emerging technical revolution (electric lights, telephones, electric trolleys, automobiles, motion pictures) called for a parallel modernization of government.  Examples of reform efforts include:

     o  The Referendum

     o  the Initiative

*  President Theodore Roosevelt (Republican) and Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) came to personify the reform mood of the era.

7)  The Great Depression led to a consolidation of federal power under the leadership of FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and the New Deal Democrats.  Their formula was:

     o  Tax
     o  Spend
     o  Elect

*  Formula was so powerful that the Dems controlled the US House of Representatives for 60 years (except for 4 years, after elections of 1946 and 1952).

8)  1980 President Ronald Reagan brought the last great transformation representing a fundamental break with:

     o  the liberal model of high taxes

     o  bureaucratic government

     o  a welfare state that didn't work

     o  a foreign policy of appeasement that resulted in humiliation

*  Government had deteriorated from FDR's New Deal to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society to the manifest failures of President Jimmy Carter.  Reagan stood for:

     o  deep tax cuts to encourage investment in jobs and new companies

     o  deregulation to liberate America's entrepreneurs

     o  sound endorsement of American civic culture

     o  a firm policy of defeating the Soviet Union and ending the Cold War with a victory for freedom

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