I chose today’s blog title purposely. I excluded the label Republican. I am not an establishment republican, I am a believer and follower of republicanism. There is a difference. In that same vein, I used the term democrat instead of liberalism. In this case I’m referring to the classical democrat philosophy of the mid-20th Century instead of the current democrat philosophy of liberalism. Again there is a difference. You’ll also notice I use the term “democrat” instead of “democratic.” There’s nothing democratic in the democrat party.
My parents were democrats in the classical sense and members of the democrat party. My mother was an elementary school teacher in the days before the infiltration of unionism into the NEA. My father was a coal miner. He and his father were members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). One of the more powerful unions during the first half of the 20th Century.
My parents…I’m trying to find the correct verb…adored…no that’s too strong…respected…no that’s too weak. Let us say both understood and believed in classical democratic philosophy best defined by Yves R. Simon. I remember my mother talking about “Dr. Simon.” She once traveled to Springfield, IL, to hear him speak at an Illinois education conference. I went with her.
I think, in those days, I attended more teacher’s meetings, conferences, conventions that most active teachers. Dad worked, my older sister was in college and at that time my grandmother did not yet live with us.
At that young age, I was steeped in democrat philosophy. It would be natural for me to be a democrat party supporter when I was older.
It didn’t work. Nor, surprisingly, did it work with my older sister. She graduated from college with a teaching degree and eventually became President of her local American Federation of Teachers union—as a Republican. In the 1950s and early 1960s, education and teachers unions were conservative.
Why did we change? What happened? A short answer was the events of the latter half of the 1960s. The real answer is more involved.
Through the first half of the 20th Century, schools taught history, real history about the Founding Fathers, about Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. Because we lived in Illinois, Lincoln was included.
Lincoln, at that time, outside of Illinois, was not viewed all that favorably. That view could be understandable in the southern states but it was also true in many of the northern and western states as well.
The common view was that Lincoln violated the Constitution. He waived Habeas Corpus, imprisoned political enemies without trial nor charges levied, and he violated the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and the 10th Amendments in the Bill of Rights. The excuse that Lincoln had to violate the Constitution in order to save it was not universally accepted.
The national culture at the end of World War II, those called the “greatest generation,” was conservative. A conservative today would have felt at home in any democrat household. The democrat party leadership, however, was already tainted by the Progressive philosophy of the early socialists of the Wilson era and those brought into government by both Roosevelts.
Everyone was a “bitter clinger of their Bibles and guns” as Obama labeled us. If those voters were brought forward sixty years, there wouldn’t be a single democrat politician in office.
By the time my wife and I graduated from college in 1969, the liberal infiltration of universities and education was a fact. The transition of education with a conservative philosophy to a socialist philosophy took less than a decade. Many believe the transition was the culmination of long-term subversion by the USSR. There are many documents released after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s to support that view.
Returning to the question why I, my wife, whose parents were also democrats, and my sister turned out to be republicans instead of democrats is an easy answer. We didn’t change. The democrat party, infiltrated by socialists, communists if you will, and progressivism, changed.
Modern researchers claim that if John F. Kennedy was alive today, he’d be a republican. Maybe. I’m not so sure of that but I do agree with his statements and actions at the time of his presidency were more conservative than democrats like to admit.
The core difference between the two parties in the 1950s was a single concept. The democrats, following a philosophy similar to that of Simon’s believed in a top-down government—the primacy of the federal system. Republicans on the other hand, believed in a bottom-up government—the primacy of the individual and of the states. That was, and still is to a large extent, the single division between today’s republicans and the views of the establishment Republican party and the democrats.
The final answer, as I said above, is that we did not change. The political parties did. We stayed faithful to the views taught to us by our parents and by our educational system.
We can correct the drift towards more federalism, more statism, more socialism, but to do so we must first reclaim our educational system, remove the taint of political correctness and teach the truth about our history, not the liberal pablum taught today—in the few remaining areas where history and government is still taught.