Here we are on the other side of our nation’s hurricane Harvey and Irma and hopefully the last ones in our near and far future. As we all continue to pray and offer support for those affected, are we going to be there for others through the long-haul? I hope so. And are we not going to let the media “jerk our chain” once again after they will undoubtedly return to their standard media mantra of pitching one against the other.
Yes, we all need to be a voice for good and what is true. Yet, we certainly do not have to resort to what my “dear doctor” voiced in his recent newsletter, right? If you haven’t been able to read previous articles, I recommend you start with part 1 and read forward to gain history’s perspective and lessons for the good of all humanity. History screams at us to learn and continue the journey to reconcile. We may be reviewing history through this series. Yet, we are also making history right now by the path we each take toward each other. So, let’s continue cruising.
20th Century History Lessons
As we jump into the 20th century, there is a political realignment theory first introduced by political scientist V. O. Key, Jr. in his 1955 article, A Theory of Critical Elections, that proposed American elections, parties, and policymaking routinely shift in swift, dramatic sweeps every 36 years. Others alongside V.O. Key Jr. helped refine this theory.
According to Wikipedia, Realigning Election, “Though they differed on some of the details, scholars have generally concluded that systematic patterns are identifiable in American national elections. . . This period of roughly 30 years fits with the notion that these cycles are closely linked to generational change.” This generational connection is covered by several scholarly publications and futurist commentaries, such as Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, authored by Neil Howe and William Strauss (1992).
Our focus here will be on two major shifts that took place in the 20th century. One of the most significant shifts since the Civil War was the 1929 Crash followed by the 1930s Great Depression. A major political shift took place fueled by the despair and tortuous dust bowl that swept through our nation’s land and economy. In the 1920s and early 1930s, many blacks were still loyal to the Republican party who opened doors for party participation at many local, regional, and national levels.
Yet, both political parties were engaging a growing black population wanting to be part of the American dream. Blacks were still struggling with job creation and desire for more equality and engagement. Despite Southern Democrats still fighting against equality, Democrats saw an opportunity in response to the 1929 crash and the Great Depression. Most agree Franklin D. Roosevelt winning the presidency and forging the first and second New Deal defined the Democratic Party from that point on. The New Deals stepped up relief, recovery, public works spending, government jobs, and the Social Security Act for many destitute Americans, including black Americans.
Although the New Deal forever changed the role and relationships of government, many blacks tried to stay loyal to the Republican party. According to more History, Art, & Archives, Party Realignment And The New Deal, “Blacks mistrusted Franklin D. Roosevelt because of his party label, his evasiveness about racial issues in the campaign . . . As late as the mid-1930s, John R. Lynch, a former Republican Representative who represented Mississippi during Reconstruction and in the years immediately afterward, summed up the sentiments of older black voters and upper-middle-class professionals: ‘The colored voters cannot help but feel that in voting the Democratic ticket in national elections they will be voting to give their indorsement [sic] and their approval to every wrong of which they are victims, every right of which they are deprived, and every injustice of which they suffer.’”
Regardless, the political shift began, with the prodding of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt urging her husband to become more responsive and connect with black leaders. Roosevelt began to adopt a more vocal civil rights posture. Even with the Republican proactive history, “The Democrats went from controlling 37.7% of House seats in 1928. . . and 71.9% in 1932. . . In the Senate, the Democrats went from controlling 40.6% of seats in 1928. . . and 61.5% in 1932. . . .” This so-called “New Deal Coalition” was dominant from 1932 to 1938.
Preamble to the 1960s
The next major shift took place in the 1960s, again 30+ years later. Setting the 1960s stage, let us not forget its preamble, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, proposed by Republican President Eisenhower, 82 years after the 1875 Civil Rights Act. All history merge together, built one on the other through time. The 1957 bill was to rectify what was stripped from the 1875 bill (History.House.gov), including racial discrimination in juries, schools, transportation, and public accommodations.
Then not-so-fast-forward to the 1957 act that “. . . established the Civil Rights Section of the Justice Department and empowered federal prosecutors to obtain court injunctions against interference with the right to vote. . . established a federal Civil Rights Commission with authority to investigate discriminatory conditions and recommend corrective measures.” However, according to History.House.gov, the final 1957 bill was weakened by removing stringent voting protection clauses due to lack of support from future President Johnson and other congressional Democrats.
Except for Eisenhower becoming President (1953 to 1960), 83rd Republican Congress, and a few other exceptions, a “New Deal” coalition of interest groups and voting blocs continued within Congress, with Eisenhower continuing the programs. Congress and the Presidency was Democratic held through most of the 1960s. In part 5 next week, let’s glimpse at our nation’s 1960s historic timeline and see what happened next.