Summary: A look at the past can remind us of how we used to choose leaders. We desperately need to recover that common sense. We put ourselves on the fast track to chaos by choosing leaders like Sarah Palin, Hillary, Trump, and the current slate of Democratic Party clowns. It’s all about choice. We can do better.
An amnesic and rootless people
We have forgotten what a competent liberal candidate for President looks like. This makes us easy to manipulate – making us enthusiastic about candidates that previous generations would consider jokes.
We could have leaders with decades of experience in the government, people who have produced solid incremental reforms. Some projects failed (inevitably), but the net effect was fantastic progress. Today America has an ample supply of such people, as is given to every generation. But we do not want them. We prefer people who talk big but have little experience. We give bonus points if they are guided only by ideology. We also like it if they are entertaining and exciting.
But we can overcome this weirdness. Let us begin by looking at a candidate in our past. Would we elect someone like this today.
Hubert Humphrey, the last liberal
Humphrey was elected Mayor of Minneapolis in 1947 at age 34. In 1947 he was re-elected with the largest majority in the city’s history. In 1948 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and re-elected in 1954 and 1960. He served as Democratic Majority Whip during the Kennedy-Johnson administration from 1961 through 1964. In 1964 he was elected as Vice President.
He risked his political career at the 1948 Democratic Convention by spearheading a successful fight for a plank promising strong civil rights measures. The culmination of his 16 years as the chief spokesman for human rights in the Senate came as Floor Manager for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – the most important rights legislation of this century.
In his first bill as Senator in 1949, Humphrey proposed a program of health insurance for the elderly to be financed through Social Security. Sixteen years later the substance of his pioneering ideas emerged as Medicare. He has also fought for senior citizens by other proposals which are now law: expanded Social Security coverage, a ban on age discrimination in hiring, and other measures.
In 1957 Humphrey first proposed job training for unemployed youths. Today, this idea embodied in the Job Corps is a key part of the War on poverty.
Federal aid to education has had the support of Humphrey since he entered the Senate. In his freshman year, he introduced a bill authorizing federal help for the building on elementary and secondary schools. In 1952 the co-sponsored a bill to set up a federal scholarship program for college students. In 1957 he proposed programs for federal scholarships, loans to students and direct grants to colleges. These proposals later became part of the National Defense Education Act.
As Majority Whip, Humphrey led the drive for the fight against poverty. One of his last acts as a Senator was to clear the way for passage of Head Start, the program to help pre-school children. As VP, he has been a prime overseer of the course of the War on Poverty.
As a Senator he helped shape and pass every major housing bill from 1949 to 1964. He was the first to propose a Cabinet-level agency to deal with Urban problems, eventually becoming the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In the Senate in 1963, Humphrey sponsored the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the first major breakthrough in international nuclear disarmament. He led a drive for Senate ratification of the Treaty, which has halted atmospheric testing of nuclear devices. Over 100 nations have now signed it.
The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, created in 1961, was first proposed by Humphrey in 1960. He played a leading role in steering its passage through the Senate.
Hubert Humphrey first proposed the Peace Corps in 1960. He became chairman of the Peace Corps Advisory Council.
The Food for Peace program, adopted in 1959, was another original proposal of Hubert Humphrey. As result of this creative idea, America’s surplus food was been put to work in the cause of peace-by fighting hunger and deprivation around the world for nearly a decade.
From a brochure for his 1968 campaign.
This nation can finally break across the threshold of what no previous society has ever dared dream or achieve, the building of social order of both freedom and compassion, of both enterprise and peace. We can finally create a nation where human equality and human opportunity not only exist side by side, but nourish and reinforce each other-a nation where every citizen may participate on equal terms in every aspect of being and doing that which relates to self-respect.
We can make law and order not only compatible with justice and human progress, but as their unflinching Guardians.
We can build cities and neighborhoods where all our citizens may walk together in safety and in pride and in a spirit of true community.
We can, and I know we must, maintain the strength needed to protect our own national security and to meet our international commitments….
Free men, through the exercise of their own will, can narrow the dangerous gap between the rich nations and the poor, can end the scourge of hunger, and slow down and halt the dangerous spiraling arms race. Through our leadership, we can strengthen the United Nations and other international institutions and make them real everyday forces for peace.
That this strong rich and idealistic nation can help to create a broader world society in which human values may one day rule supreme. A world society of independent and free nation-states, where the individual – and not the institution or the party – comes first. A world society where every child’s future lies open ahead and where he can be a free man and answer ultimately to no one but to god and his conscience.
A dream, yes. A hope, yes, because America is both a dream and a hope for ourselves and for others. All of this is what I believe our America can achieve if we will only remember who and what we are, and why this country came into being, and what it is we really set out to do.
Compare this bio and platform with those of the 23 candidates for the Democratic Party presidential ticket. How would this white man of the establishment do in the 2020 primaries, if his platform was updated to our current needs? Why would we reject him?
Humphrey and LBJ were defeated by the penultimate phase of the Cold War, much as 9/11 destabilized America’s leaders – and people. We have to recover our common sense, and soon. The clock is running.
For More Information
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Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see all posts about the Democratic Party, about the left wing of US politics, about ways to reform America’s politics, and especially these …
- Part 1: An anthropologist announces the death of liberalism.
- Part 2: An anthropologist explains the causes of liberalism’s death.
- Visions of America if the Left wins.
- The Left can win in 2020 and dominate US politics.
- The middle in American politics has died. Now extremists rule.
- Election 2020 will be about open borders & America’s future – Fascinating quotes from the first debate.
- Campaign 2020 shows who will mold America’s future.
- Two levers to bring the Democrats victory in 2020.
- The Left becomes revolutionary. Few realize it yet.
Useful books explaining what happened to the Left
I have not found a good book explaining what happened to the Left, causing its hatred of America. These are the best I have found, looking at our politics.
Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank.