Saturday, September 10, 2016

Who Supported What? Republican and Democrat Support of Key Issues

In my last article, "What's the Truth Behind Republican Claims of Supporting Black Civil Rights?", we examined the Republican claims that the GOP was responsible for "freeing the slaves", securing individual and voting rights of former slaves and those held in various forms of bondage, which was accomplished during and just after the Civil War while Democrats did everything in their power to thwart Republican efforts and turn back the hands of progress. We also looked at who was largely responsible for the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or as it's more commonly known, "Obamacare". As it turned out, the Republican claims were mostly true, but with a very important caveat. The Republicans who supported these measures were moderate and liberal Republicans, including Abraham Lincoln (a moderate) and Ulysses S. Grant (liberal), and those that opposed the "Civil Rights Act of 1866" as the various amendments were called, were conservative Republicans (Andrew Johnson) and reactionary Democrats.

My article also pointed out, as I have in numerous other articles, moderate and liberal Republicans (spitefully called "RINOs" or Republicans In Name Only) have been mostly booted out of the Grand Ole Party. Those who either went to or were already members of the Democratic Party (where they were tagged with label "DINOs" as in Democrats In Name Only), found themselves equally unwelcome, and so became Independents, which is now America's largest voting bloc and growing rapidly; Indies already exceed the total number of Democrats, who lag behind in second place and the much more distant Republicans, and are expected to exceed their combined numbers in only five years. As for Obamacare, the conservative and ultra conservative (aka the Far or Religious Right) Republicans, some Democrats and unions along with corporate lobbyists and professional associations opposed Obama's version, which was transformed from a unconstitutionally compulsory bill to a tax, which the Constitution permits Congress to levy. Nevertheless, many did support a much more efficient and cheaper form of national healthcare called "Single Payer" (which was also not a tax). Under "Single Payer", everyone would have the same core insurance with an option to purchase supplemental plans from insurance providers, but Congress, the President, and others in government would not be exempt as they are under Obamacare. Thus, money more so than party won the day and the vote.

Nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to apply the same inquiry to more recent pieces of legislation such as women's right to vote, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Which political party was the central supporter to these key important issues? Let's start with Women's Suffrage and the right to vote. Few people know that women in America have had, at different times and places, the right to vote. In 1776, New Jersey allowed both genders to vote, provided they were property owners. However, by 1807, the law was changed to prevent women from voting anywhere in the state while in Uxbridge Massachusetts, women were allowed to vote as early as 1756. In 1848, the Liberty Party became the first political party to include women's suffrage as part of its party platform. It shouldn't come as a surprise to know that the Liberal Party, primarily a abolitionist or anti-slavery party, had as it's first presidential nominee was a Kentuckian named James Birney in 1840 and was closely tied to another political party called the "Free Soil Party" which included former Whigs and "Barnburner Democrats". Later, the Liberal Party would merge with the Free Soil Party which would shortly afterwards merge into the Republican Party along with Whigs and other, smaller, "third" parties). Thus, the women's suffrage movement begin as part of the anti-slavery movement which sought in provide equal rights across the board regardless of race, bondage circumstances, or gender.

In the same year, 1848, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton began their colorful careers to gain equal voting rights for women as well. In 1850, Lucy Stone organized the National Women's Right Convention in Worchester, Massachusetts, thus bring together the three key figures of the movement which would span over 70 years. Together, they campaigned on the issue of equal rights which resulted in the passage of the 14th Amendment giving blacks equal rights as well as the right to vote. Their efforts bore fruit first in Wyoming in 1869 and then in Utah in 1870 (however, women were stripped of their right to vote in 1887 with the passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act by Congress (this was mainly anti-Mormon Bill whose focus was on the issue of polygamy . Its sponsors was Republican George Edmunds of Vermont and Democrat John Tucker of Virginia). By 1900, Idaho and Colorado had given women full rights, including the right to vote, and so it continued until June 4, 1919 when the Senate approved the amendment by a vote of 56 to 25. The bill was filibustered by Democrats to prevent a roll call vote until their Senators could be present. Nevertheless, 82% of Republicans (36) and 54% of Democrats (20) voted in favor while 18% of Republican (8) and 46% of Democrats (17) voted against, and thus the 19th Amendment passed allowed to proceed and was state ratified in 1920 (Tennessee was the final state to ratify the Amendment on August 18, 1920) with encouragement from Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Republican Speaker of the House, Fredrick Gillett, sign the constitutional amendment bill into law. All in all, pretty bipartisan wouldn't you agree?

So, how about the Civil Rights Act of 1964? The Civil Rights Movement, which led to the signing of the 15th Amendment by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D-TX), was one of this nation's most traumatic experiences, along with the antiwar movement just a few years later which brought forth such diverse individuals as Rev. Martin Luther King, Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Malcolm X. The Civil Rights Act was more than a anti-discrimination issue. It was a voting issue and a labor issue as well. The bill came to be a central domestic policy piece of President John Kennedy (D-MA) following in the footsteps of the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875 and was aimed at ending discrimination of all kinds, from education to hiring, voting to opening up hotels, theaters, restaurants, stores, parks, and all other public facilities, burst onto the national scene in the first half 1963 in the form of riots, protests, fire hoses, and police dogs (in truth, there had been other, more sporadic incidents dating back to the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. It had been President Eisenhower (R-KS) who had begun to take steps to address these issues just before his term as President ended and had encouraged Kennedy to carry the matter forward).

Following Kennedy's assassination in November of 1963, Johnson picked up the torch and pressed forward using the power of the Presidency and his considerable skills (the so-called "Johnson Treatment"). Debate on the bill was intense on all sides and several attempts to stifle its passage or usher through more watered down versions were made on multiple occasions. Finally, a compromised bill made its way through the Congress and was signed by President Johnson on July 2, 1964. The June 26, 1964 edition of the Congressional Quarterly stated that 69% of Senate Democrats voted yes on the bill (46 to 21) while 82% of Senate Republicans vote yes (27 to 6). As an aside, all of the Southern Senate Democrats voted no. On the House side, 61% of House Democrats vote yes (152 to 96) along with 80% of House Republicans (138 to 34). 92 of the 103 Southern House Democrats voted no. It was further noted in the Congressional Quarterly that despite having a Democrat President, the Congressional Democrats had a much lower than expected support for the bill. It should be noted that the majority of Northern and some West Coast Democrats (i.e. California) were liberal leaning while overwhelming majority of Southern Democrats along with some Midwestern were very conservative. On the overhand, the majority of Republicans were moderates (later to be called "Rockefeller Republicans) with a minority leaning to conservative. Johnson himself was generally a moderate leaning Democrat (JFK, for the record, regarded himself as a conservative, especially on foreign policy).

As for the Clean Air Act, it became law in 1955 under moderate Republican, Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower as the "Air Pollution Control Act". This was the first federal law designed specifically to reducing industrial pollution and for providing funds to find methods for reducing pollution. In 1963, the Clean Air Act, which aimed to actually control pollution came into being. In 1967, the Air Quality Control Act was passed and signed into law by President Johnson . It's objective was to enforce interstate monitoring of pollution as well as establishing specific monitoring stations and study methodologies. Further amendments to the law were made in 1970 (often called the "Clean Air Extension Act" or the "Muskie Act" after the support of Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine (D) which was sign into law by President Nixon) , 1977 (signed into law by President Jimmy Carter (D-GA), and again in 1990 (signed into law by President George H.W. Bush (R-TX), considered by many to be the last of the Rockefeller Republicans.

The Clean Water Act became law in 1972 under the Presidency of Richard Nixon. The purpose of the bill was to ensure the availability and access of all Americans to clean water plus water treatment, discharges from various industries such as coal, oil and gas, and manufacturing as well as the strengthening and expanding existing laws pertaining to protection of wetlands (up to this point, many industries simply dumped waste water directly into rivers and streams unfiltered). The law also established monitoring and water quality standards and enforcement guidelines. Under the recommendation of President Nixon, the Environmental Protection Agency was also created with the purpose of protecting human and environmental health as well as providing the means of enforcement.

As you hopefully have noticed, most of the amendments and laws were the result of bipartisan cooperation, mostly between moderate or liberals on both sides of the aisle. However, by the time of President Reagan's "Southern Strategy", the GOP had begun to purge itself of all centrists and with the Speakership of Newt Gingrich (R-GA), there was an all out transformation of the Republican Party. On the Democratic side, Bill Clinton was often cited as the last center Left President, and ever since, the Democrats have sought with equal zeal to purge themselves of all center and conservative leaning party members. What is left on both sides are ideological extremes with no interest in cooperating. Both parties have equally sold themselves to the highest corporate bidders to the point where there is really difference between the two. Both parties now find themselves bought and paid for by the Oligarchs who now rule this nation formerly of ours.
The revolving door between six or seven figure corporate jobs and the government has been removed, leaving simply an connecting hallway. As for all those disowned moderates or centrists, they became Independents; the single largest voting bloc in America and growing rapidly. Within the next five years, there will be more Indies than Democrats or Republicans combined, which is just another tangible measure of just how far both corporate party are with the American People (though the corporate media still tries to divert our attention and either ignore or downplay the obvious). Finally, you know the facts should your hear or read some piece of party or media propaganda about who did what and cares more about the American People.

19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote's+Right+to+Vote

Clean Air Act of 1963, Clean Air Act of 1970, & Clean Air Act of 1990 (Summary of Major Points)

Summary of the Clean Water Act

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