One of the effects of the American Civil War was the industrial concentration of large groups of people needed to manufacture the goods required by the military confrontation. This slowly began the movement which would become, through the rest of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, known as the Rise of the Cities. This Industrial Revolution would increase after the War, people would leave the rural areas and numerous immigrants would come to the ever-growing cities and the United States would become mainly an urban nation.
From 1877 on, when the Southern occupation or Reconstruction by a Northern army of occupation ended as a result of a deal made during the disputed Presidential Election of 1876 in which the Republicans got the presidency and Reconstruction ended, with the South becoming freely again a part of the Union. The Senate barely remained Republican and the House had a Democratic majority.
A Republican, James A. Garfield was elected in 1881. He was assassinated four months into his term and was replaced by his Vice President, Chester A. Arthur, who served out the four years. The Senate had an equal number of Republicans and Democrats and the House had a Republican majority.
There were an equal number of Republican and Democratic presidents after until you get to the reform presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, who are both Republicans. They are followed by the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, and World War I. He will be succeeded by three Republican Presidents: Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. At that point we have the Great Depression of 1929 which lasts until World War II. The Congress will generally follow the lead of the reigning president.
The next President in 1933, by a landslide, was the Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Both the House and Senate maintained a Democratic majority during his terms in office. He is reputed to have brought unemployment down from 25% to 2%.
After his death, during his fourth term, his Vice President, Harry S. Truman, served the rest of his fourth term and an additional one of his own through 1953. During his last two years in office the Congress had a Republican majority.
Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, during his eight years in office, intermittently had both Democratic and Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress. Democratic Presidents, Kennedy and Johnson had Democratic majorities in Congress. The same is true of Republicans, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford. From January 1977 to 1981 President Jimmy Carter had Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress. Ronald Reagan had Democratic majorities in the House and mostly the same in the Senate. George H.W. Bush had to work with Democratic majorities during his four years in office while Bill Clinton had them only during his first two years in office. George W. Bush had both during different times and Barack Obama had a Democratic majority only during his first two years, then a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, and a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress during his last two years in office.
In the post-Civil War period, as earlier, recessions and depressions came, at the best, every few years or at the worst, almost successively, with occasional major downturns like the Bankers’ Panic of 1907 at the New York Stock Exchange.
On December 23, 1913 Congress passed and President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act bringing financial regulation into existence in the United States. Prior to this time Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” which he defined as the motivating force behind the Market System, determined which way the Stock Market would run. The “invisible hand,” self-interest, individual greed, had historically caused continual large fluctuations in the Stock and other Markets.
The mission of the Federal Reserve was through Monetary (money) Policy to maximize employment, keep prices stable, and moderate long term interest rates. This purpose was extended with bank regulation during FDR’s New Deal. In the 1980s the Reagan administration canceled the bank regulation. This, in turn, led to the Real Estate Bubble two decades later. And because of the banking-caused Real Estate Debacle of 2008 the Federal Reserve’s purpose was again expanded to supervising and regulating banks, maintaining stability of the financial structure, and providing financial services to depository institutions, the United States Government, and foreign official institutions.
Of course the banks objected to the 2009 reforms and in the 2014 Federal Government’s Finance Bill, Citibank was able to slip in a section into this 1,600 page law limiting this power. This was done the night before the bill had to be voted upon. Naturally the banks object to any regulation that limits them. I would also suppose that their executives would equally object if any of them were sent to jail for illegal activities instead of having the bank just paying fines as they have been doing since 2009.
In the 2012 Presidential Election the Republican Candidate, Mitt Romney, publically stated, more than once, that after he was elected he would do away with the Dodd-Frank Banking Reform Bill that was passed in 2009. His statements called for a return to the good-old-days before the 2008 Real Estate Crash when the banks and bankers were making inordinate amounts of money and getting phenomenal compensation packages.
If we look at the economic patterns that occurred during the last hundred and some years what emerges is the fact that the major economic downturns were preceded by Republican Presidents. The three presidents during the last three major downturns were: Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and George W. Bush.
While they were not individually responsible for the depressions it was both the Republican policies and the general ignorance of how the economy works that brought the economic collapses into being. In 1907, there was no central bank, money, in the shape of gold coins, moved freely according to the needs of the nation. The Panic of 2007, also known as the Banker’s Panic, more or less, began in October of that year when the New York Stock Market dropped about 50%. There had been an assault upon the Stock Market that blew up the economy and there was no Central Bank at that time to infuse currency into the National Cash Flow. A few years later in 1913 this depression brought about the establishment of the Federal Reserve.
For 1929s depression, and all the minor recessions up to that time, there was a bland reliance upon the forces of the Marketplace to continually determine what had supposedly been long term prosperity. In essence the Market forces, the “invisible hand,” self-interest, was the determinate. After years of pushing stock prices upward the Stock Market was severely overpriced. This could not go on forever and it collapsed in 1929 dropping to a fraction of what it had been earlier, and in the process bringing the entire economy down.
In 1933 the new Democratic President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, doubled the money supply by collecting all the gold coins, melting them down into gold blocks, burying them in depositories like Fort Knox, legally doubling their value, and issuing paper money presumably backed by gold. It was a fiction that lasted until 1969 when, then President Richard M. Nixon took away the last bit of gold supposedly behind the dollar.
This action by Roosevelt, doubling the money supply easily paid for the New Deal but it wasn’t enough to offset the 1929 Depression. It would have taken four to eight times the money then in circulation to end the economic situation. Unfortunately the problem wasn’t understood properly at that time and it took a major war from 1939 to 1945 to offset and end the Great Depression.
The explosion of the 2008 Real Estate Bubble toward the end of that year also occurred during a Republican presidency. Here the next President, Barack Obama, applied all the money needed; and what could have been a Greater Depression than that of 1929 became a major recession that should have been resolved in a year or two with applications of both Monetary and Fiscal Policy. But the Republicans, following their historic philosophy which had caused most of the economic downturns, exacerbated the situation by refusing to pass any Fiscal Policy laws. Virtually every economic move they made tended to worsen economic conditions. It took the efforts of the President and the Federal Reserve to keep a depression from happening.
If the Republicans had been solely in charge, not only the United States but the entire world would currently be in a Great Depression that would make 1929 look like a weekend holiday.
Much has been learned and understood as to how National Economies work from the latter half of the 20th Century on. Economic changes like recessions and depressions can be lightened or even avoided. The National Economies are not like wild animals that inevitably rear their heads and bring about indiscriminately varied levels of misery to their populations. In 2009 a multi-gigantic depression was avoided by actions of the Central Government. Economic catastrophe or lack of prosperity can be avoided and controlled. It was in 2009 by President Obama and his administration.
Yet none of these practices are or have been accepted by the members of the Republican Party. They still follow Adam Smith’s late 18th Century work, An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, which in itself was, in part, a reaction against the 16th Century economic practice known as Mercantilism. Smith defined the Free Market controlling entity as the “invisible hand,” self-interest. What Smith did not foresee was that the Free Market led to Monopoly and Oligopoly, which led to societal economic decision-making by the few who were still motivated by self-interest.
This is the Free Market in which Ronald Reagan and the Republicans believe. This is what the Reagan and his administration utilized for their newly discovered Supply Side Economics. Lower taxes, particularly for the upper echelon of society (the rich), and they will automatically invest that new income in new industry, creating new jobs, and new productivity which will supply new goods and jobs for everyone. And everyone will live happily ever after. A nice fairy tale! It never happened.
What did happen was that a very large percentage of the people who benefited from the tax cut gave these new savings to financial experts who invested them in old productivity, stocks and bonds. New startup companies, when they came into existence and had proved their durability, tended to be financed by the large banking houses.
The theory was nonsense. It never worked. But the 2016 Republican candidates for the presidency are all still adhering to it. They want to cut taxes for the very rich which currently stops being graduated after their income reaches $400,000, with the percentage the Federal Government receives staying fixed no matter how many millions or billions it goes into.
Why is it important for the Republicans to be Supply Siders? Because these people are their main financial contributors. They are the ones who pay for their political campaigns. And the Republicans are very good at combining need (endless contributions) with political philosophy.
This is also true with most pharmaceutical companies. Their products can be purchased at lower prices outside of the United States. Congress has passed laws fixing their prices in this country and not allowing any government agency to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry. They are large contributors to political campaigns, particularly Republican political campaigns and Republican Congressmen are utilizing the principle of self-interest.
Of the two major political parties in the United States the Republicans are the minority party; there are far less of them than there are Democrats. But they are far more vociferous than the Democrats, never ceasing their loud complaining about the other party. While the Democrats seem to keep a more or less polite silence. The Democrats are blamed for everything wrong with the country, particularly those items caused by Republican actions. The Republicans never take responsibility for any adverse action; they are either ignored or blamed on the Democrats. Their theories of economics are self-serving and absurd. And ultimately in percentage of the population they are actually shrinking in number as time moves forward and they become slowly an ever-decreasing minority.
They, the Republicans, have been successful politically in the last six years mainly through voter apathy and disgust. They have done far better in Midterm Elections than in Presidential ones when a good percentage of the citizenry in disgust or disappointment for what has not happened during the last two years don’t bother to vote. This has been added to by various forms of voter suppression in states the Republicans control. In essence they have greater political victories when more people stay home on election days.
In addition to this in order to gain the support of the evangelicals the Republicans have incorporated the concept of the holiness of life from conception onward into their philosophy. Statements have been made about passing an amendment to the Constitution giving the fetus full Constitutional rights from conception on. This will never happen but it gives them a certain credence with the far right evangelicals.
In the 1973, the Supreme Court found, by a 7 to 2 decision, in the Roe v. Wade case that abortions were legal; that women had a right to make their own decisions about their own bodies. The evangelicals (religious right) have resisted this decision from the beginning. At some point the Republicans latched onto this cause and made it their own, gaining the support of this group.
To many Republicans today, women are not capable of dealing with their own bodies. They state and believe there should be no abortions allowed, not even in cases of rape, incest, or where the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life. It would seem that they have and are trying to endanger women’s lives, both psychologically and physiologically. In their view women are not capable of making certain decisions concerning their own lives. It must be done by elderly white men who make up the bulk of the Republican Party. This is, without question, War on Women,
In addition to this the Republicans are an extension of the National Rifle Association. They tend to be against any laws regulating weapons, ammunition, and magazine size in any way. No atrocity will deter them from this belief. A goodly percentage of their blue collar membership, more or less, holds this belief. To many members of the NRA the fact that this hasn’t happened is proof that it will happen if they allow any changes to occur to the gun laws.
It seems, if we consider the group in Oregon which has recently taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, that having weapons, like thousand dollar plus assault rifles, will keep the Government respectful. Of course the fact that the Federal Government doesn’t want another blood bath is beside the point. They have been there since January 2, 2016 and the few that have not been arrested and are still remaining there have stated that they will stay until the Federal Government gives the land to the original owners, the local ranchers. It must be nice to just sit around indefinitely and wait for the Federal Government to give the land to the local ranchers. Of course following their argument the land really belongs to the local Indians who have inhabited the area for at least the last two thousand years and claim it as their own.
It would seem that the Republican battle cry for a large number of its members is God and Guns, or is it Guns and God? It’s often hard to tell which should come first. I suppose it depends upon which Republican you ask.
The American society has needs which have to be handled by necessary legislation. These societal needs have been avoided by the Republican dominated legislature and in many cases by Republican dominated state law making bodies. Congress has attempted to deal with these problems by ignoring them, especially since 2011 when the Republicans, by gerrymandering the states where they had a majority in the legislatures, gained control of the House of Representatives.
If anything what the House of Representatives has done is to shorten its meeting days until 2016 when they were reduced to 110 days for the year, to a three day week with holidays. This allows the new Speaker, Paul Ryan, to spend four days a week home with his family: wife and two children, in Wisconsin and three days in Washington, D.C., as Speaker of the House. A good job, if you can get it!
The Republican dominated Senate will meet a bit more often for the year. Both Houses of Congress are ignoring the needs of the people within the nation and expect to maintain their majorities in both Houses of Congress after the 2016 Presidential Election and get a Republican elected to the presidency. And they believe they can do this by antagonizing most of the other minorities and the one remaining majority, the women of the United States.
Speaker Paul Ryan has stated that after having passed a law doing away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) which the President vetoed, they will continue to pass laws embarrassing the President by forcing him to veto them. They do not have enough votes to override his vetoes. And in that way they, the Republicans, will show the public what they will get in the way of new laws in 2017 if they elect Republicans in both Congress and the Presidency. I would imagine that if Donald J. Trump were to become the next President of the United States then all bets are off!
So much for Republicans! They are, after all, the minority party which tends to win elections when only a minority vote in Midterm Elections. 2016 is a Presidential Election. The majority of the population will be voting in that election. The probability is that the Republicans, at best, will retain the House of Representatives; and that is because in 2011 they gerrymandered the Districts within the states they controlled. In this way they choose their own voters instead of having the voters choose them. Remember in the 2014 Midterm Election well over a million more votes were cast throughout the United States for Democrats in the House, but the Republicans still retained control of that body.
It should also be noted that large, and, in some cases almost unlimited, contributions give immediate access to legislators and Congress by those making them. These contributors to elections can and have influenced legislation or the direction the government is going. The Republicans have integrated into their psyches the desires or needs of most of these individuals or corporations. For example, the Koch brothers of Wichita, Kansas, who are involved with oil, have had their state pass legislation against green energy. Citibank has written financial regulation which has been inserted into Congressional Bills and become laws.
The Republicans are after all the party of business and of the individual. They believe in everyone having as much freedom as possible. Their solution to adding jobs is to increase pollution and other unsafe conditions. No one forces anyone to take a job. Everyone has choices, even the choice to starve or live in the street.
Finally it should be noted that even with voter suppression the Democrats are the majority party. States like Texas have been able to limit rural voters by two or three hundred thousand by making it very difficult and expensive for these people living in rural areas, mostly, if not all, Democrats, to get proper identification and/or register to vote. This was proven in the last Midterm Election of 2014. But even so, the probability is that the Democrats will gain back the Senate and keep the presidency. The probability is that the House is the one body the Republicans may still be able to control. If my prediction is correct we will have total gridlock in the Congress for an additional four years. It’s a depressing thought!