The Right-Winger: The Anachronism of the Age, 5-23-16

The Right-winger: the Anachronism of the Age

Richard J. Garfunkel

May 23, 2016

 Who are these people today? They wander within midst all of us. Are they the natural reaction to change as the two-party system divides itself between liberals and conservatives? Over the decades from the emergence of the modern, American, industrialized state in the post-civil war period, see saw the emergence of the Republican Party. Many elements of it were actually progressive. There were former abolitionists, there were women in the suffrage movement, and there were all sorts of reformers who fought against the post-Civil War Jim Crow South, the degradation of the cities, run by the political machines and the good government folks who believed in hard work and the Protestant Ethic.  There were many who actually fought against the huge monopolies, trusts, inter-locking directorates, the pools and problems of pollution, de-forestation and deterioration of the health of the average American.  The Party of Lincoln had progressive heirs like James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt Midwesterners like William Allen White, Robert La Follette, Harold Ickes, and both Henry Wallaces, Senior and Junior. They were actually Republicans. There were many, many more.

The Democrats were not particularly liberal. Grover Cleveland, an honest politician, was the only Democrat elected to the presidency from 1860 to 1912. He could be considered a conservative. The Democrats were a disparate group of regional parties, dominated by the Solid South.  There were western libertarians, Baptist evangelicals, isolationists, and anti-war, anti-Wall Street, and small government religious zealots like William Jennings Bryan, who was nominated by the Democrats three times for the presidency. There were big-city machines, most characterized by Tammany Hall in NYC, which represented immigrants; first the Irish, than the Italians, Jews and others. Eventually this Eastern branch of the Democratic Party found leadership with the new Democrats that emerged from the Progressive Era and its split from the old line Protestant reformers. People like Al Smith, Robert Wagner Sr, Frances Perkins, and yes, the young Franklin D. Roosevelt, joined the progressive bandwagon led by the academic reformer from New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson.

What had really changed? Why was there a progressive revolt led by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912? All one has to do is look at the Progressive Platform of 1912. Has anything really changed more than 100 years later?

·         Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions

·         Registration of lobbyists

·         Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings

In the social sphere the platform called for

·         A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies.

·         Social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled

·         Limited the ability of judges to order injunctions to limit labor strikes.

·         minimum wage law for women

·         An eight-hour workday

·         A federal securities commission

·         Farm relief

·         Workers’ compensation for work-related injuries

·         An inheritance tax

The political reforms proposed included

·         Women’s suffrage

·         Direct election of Senators

·         Primary elections for state and federal nominations

The platform also urged states to adopt measures for “direct democracy“, including:

·         The recall election (citizens may remove an elected official before the end of his term)

·         The referendum (citizens may decide on a law by popular vote)

·         The initiative (citizens may propose a law by petition and enact it by popular vote)

·         Judicial recall (when a court declares a law unconstitutional, the citizens may override that ruling by popular vote

 What happened to Republican Progressives like Harold Ickes, Henry Wallace, Jane Addams, Hiram Johnson, Elihu Root and others in the wake of the split in the Republican Party and the Democratic landslide? In a sense, they never came back to the Republican Party. After the end of World War I, with the illness of Woodrow Wilson, the defeat of the League of Nations and the World Court, the core of the Republican Party, which espoused the political philosophy of William McKinley and William Howard Taft, re-emerged in the body of Warren Harding, The Harding-Coolidge-Hoover Era last twelve years through the halcyon days of the Roaring 20’s, which featured Prohibition, isolationism, wild speculation, the decline of the railroads, low taxation on the top brackets, and a revision to States’ Rights.

The Market collapse and crash of 1929, led to the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover, formally a progressive Republican, morphed into a conservative one, failed to solve the economic quagmire that kept on reaching new lows until finally the banking system collapsed, unemployment got incredibly worse and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal emerged. How bad was the Great Depression? Well it so shattered the “Old Order” that billions and billions of dollars had to be spent, record-setting, reform legislation (The First Hundred Days) had to be past, and that national planning had to resurrect a shattered economy and company. As per example, before the Crash, 250,000 people were employed by US Steel. On the day of FDR’s inauguration, only one person was on that company’s payroll. Of course, right-wing revisionists claim that the New Deal didn’t end the Depression, but really extended it. But, how come, after four years of Herbert Hoover and the natural forces of the market system, the Depression got uniformly worse? Statistically speaking, the GNP in the first five years of the New Deal showed record yearly increases, never seen before, or after, in our economy’s history. So the Depression was not completely ended until the buildup of to our emergence into WW II, but considering the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008-9, one can easily see how difficult it really was to bring the economy back to the false levels of 1928 or 2007! 

Now here we are more than 100 years after the Bull Moose (Progressive Convention). The years that followed brought Wilson, a progressive, a new type of president and a new roll for the American government. But, with the vote the triumph of Suffrage and the women’s vote, America faced, in the post WWI Era, the rise of religious fervor, with evangelical fakirs like Aimee Semple McPherson and Billy Sunday, the era of Prohibition, the false prosperity of the Roaring 20’s, and the  “Age of Wonderful Nothingness.”  It was the first era of communications and many of the “talking heads” of those times were folks like Walter Winchell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Graham McNamee, HL Mencken and the humorous Will Rogers. The movies and sports were in the ascendency and people like John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, and the Latin Lover, Rudolf Valentino of the Silver Screen were the rage of America. Sports was bigger than ever with boxing, horse racing, baseball and college football creating huge industries with luminaries like Dempsey, Tunney, Man o War, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and the Galloping Ghost, Red Grange of Illinois. In other sports, Johnny Weissmuller and Sonja Henie became household names that would last decades. Even the Olympic Games emerged after the disaster of WWI and attracted world-wide attention.

What came out of this era, led in America by the arch conservative and small government acolyte, Calvin Coolidge? The result was an attitude that we could do nothing wrong, but there was emergence of the “great social divide” between classes and regions over attitude and ideology. Certainly, two of the most important regions in the country that were left out of this social revolution were the Old South and New England, the two strongest bastions of conservatism in both the Democratic and Republican Parties. The South and the vestige of its “Peculiar Institution” (slavery) was dominated by Jim Crow, where a significant proportion of its population was virtually enslaved by the indentured servitude of share cropping, abject poverty, the lack of electricity, running water, proper sanitation and virtually the most base level of education. The South was dominated by its own version of machine politics with baronial families controlling government in various states: the Byrds of Virginia, the Longs of Louisiana, and the Talmadges of Georgia. The others, like Jimmy Byrnes, Richard Russell, James Eastland, Theodore Bilbo, and Cotton Ed Smith were not much better. The Solid South of the Democratic Party ruled their fiefdoms through the ballot, the police and the suppression of the Black vote through poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses, and were able to dominate post New Deal majorities in Congress through the Seniority System. As a result of this one-party rule, the South and its conservative hegemony became the most backward and primitive region of the country. Ironically, when the Great Depression ensued, the rural South was hit the hardest and the Southern Democratic Party had to cooperate fully with the progressivism of the New Deal. But, this cooperation had its limits and when it came to Civil Rights or inclusion of the Blacks, and the resistance was fierce. As the New Deal matured and the recovery was working, the issue of Jim Crow, anti-lynching laws, and rights for Black Americans, came to the forefront. With this reality emerging, the Southern Democratic Party coalesced with Northern Republican opposition to the New Deal, and after 1938, its reform efforts and legislative initiatives were virtually ended. That was the South, and after the bolt by Strom Thurmond from the Democratic National Convention in 1948, the transition to the Republican Party started its march.

By 1968, in the wake of the all the Civil Rights legislation of the Johnson Era, the emergence of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy signaled the new South under the conservative Republicans. The Jim Crow Democrats were dying out, some like Thurmond changed their party allegiance and stayed in office and new faces emerged. As Blacks were able to vote in the South, their emergence as a key factor in the Democratic Party started to evolve. Blacks voted overwhelmingly for FDR from 1936 through 1944, but it wasn’t until the 1960s when African-Americans, ever loyal to the Party of Lincoln, completely broke from the GOP.

In New England, the transition from being a rock-ribbed conservative Republican region came with as the demographics of both Rhode Island and Massachusetts changed with new waves of immigrants. Even in 1936, only Maine and Vermont were Republican holdouts from an FDR sweep of all 48 states. By the time former Bostonian, John F. Kennedy ran for the presidency, New England started to morph its progressive Republicans, its tradition of education and new class of Democratic into  the center of American liberalism. The integration of the Boston Public schools, in the early 1960s, was fought against by old-line ethnic supporters of de-facto segregation, Katherine Craven and Louis Day Hicks. These two women were seen as vestiges of the past and they were eventually, after a noisy and protracted struggle, committed to the dustbin of history as Boston moved on from the corrupt days of Mayor James Curley to the progressive vision of Kevin White. Other states fell in line and Democrats have dominated New England, with few exceptions since the 1960s.

So what is left in America? The Midwest, the Industrial Great Lakes States, the Farm Belt and the West Coast. What we have seen in the last quarter of a century since Reagan is the division of America into two philosophical regions. The coastal areas, the areas abutting the Great Lakes, the cities, and the university towns are the centers and the strengths of the Democratic Party and the progressives. What do they have in common? All these areas have a mixture of people of different races, religions and of ethnic traditions. They are centers of commerce, education, culture and social tolerance. They lead the country in every category from education, to health care, to housing, to property values and to wages. In other words, the highest standard of living for most Americans is in the so-called Blue States. On the other hand, the so-called Red States, which have been dominated by the new Republicans and their Tea Party minority, lead the country in every negative statistic, regarding education, mental health, drug use, women’s healthcare options, housing, illegitimacy and even the need for abortions.

So the question remains, what do the conservatives really stand for? Is it family values? What evidence reflects that? The list of Republican sexual offenders and abusers who have served in public office is long and can be easily view at this sites:×1709387 . How about job creation? Well since the end of WWII their record leaves much to be desired. In fact, Democrats have created more than 2.5 times the amount of private sector jobs and, ironically, the GOP has created more non-private sector jobs! . But what of the stock market and the Dow Jones Industrial Average? In fact, since 1961, according to Bloomberg: under the Democrats $2,000 invested would return $10,920 and that same amount under the GOP would return $2,087. Therefore, are you more economically secure under GOP/Tea Party governance? Are you better off supporting people who want to move back to States’ Rights, get rid of the Federal Reserve, privatize Social Security,  get rid of the Internal Revenue Service and institute a flat-tax which allows billionaires to pay the same amount as the lowest compensated worker? Are you willing to reverse all the gains made by women and minorities? Are you willing to reverse all the provisions regarding job safety? Are you willing to reverse all the protections that workers have gained since the New Deal, which include “wages and hours,” the minimum wage, arbitration, sexual harassment laws, the minimum wage, and anti-discrimination statutes?

Again, the question remains, what do the conservatives support and are they the anachronism of our time? If you want to buy into the idea that both parties are equally to blame, and that the answer is conservative, anti-government libertarianism, go to it. The GOP Conservatives and their Dixiecrat allies have been opposed to every advance in our long history. Many called it the progressive evolution of our society, but the small government acolytes seem to think that word progressive is a euphemism for left-wing socialism. As a long-time student of history, political person, and writer and lecturer on mid -20th Century history, it is not a stretch to see what side both parties fall onto. The right-wing has opposed: the following;

 The Bill of Rights, Anti-trust laws- Sherman and Clayton Acts, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, Labor unions and their right to collectively bargain- the Wagner Act, Wages and Hours Laws, Child Labor laws and regulation- Triangle Shirtwaist and other disasters, the Minimum wage, Civil Rights- Integration- anti-lynching laws, The Security Laws of 1933, 4, and 1940, affirmative action, Pure Food and Drug laws, almost all environmental regulation on clear water and air, Women’s Rights, sexual choice, the right of choice, Birth control access and information, Equal pay for equal rights, The Establishment Clause- separation of church and state, Gun control, Graduated Income Tax- taxes in general, Inheritance Taxes, Federal housing- urban renewal, Public education, and even aid to Great Britain before WWII

What have they supported?

Restrictive Immigration: Chinese Exclusion Act 1882, National Origins Immigration Act of 1924, Property rights over individual rights, Censorship, Monopoly, trusts, Inter-locking directorships, Unrestricted gun ownership, Flat-taxes, sale’s taxes, State’s Rights, Public funding for private schools, Red-lining, Segregation, White Citizen’s Councils, the KKK, Privatization of services, Union-busting, Off shore banking shelters The market place cures all ills, The Oil Depletion allowance

In other words, what has the right-wing ever supported that was in the public’s interest? The choice is clear, go back in time with the right-wing, or reject their so-called values and move forward.  






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A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

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