Saturday, March 25, 2006
CONSERVATISM, IT IS HERE TO STAY (part 1)
American voters, in my opinion, are a conservative crowd. Conservatives have ruled the House of Representatives for almost the entirety of the 20th century. They also managed to win 7 out of the 10 presidential races since Lyndon Baines Johnson. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War and President Johnson’s support of civil rights laws, the Democratic Party began to lose its grip over the South and its politics. Old democratic families with over a century of recorded support for the Democratic Party began to jump ship by giving their allegiance to the new and aggressive Republicans. Winning the South, after the civil war, was only a dream to the party of Lincoln. In 1932 the Democrats managed to gain 97 seats in the House. There were 313 Democrats to 117 Republicans. The next 2 election cycles only helped to strengthen their position in the House by providing them with a Democratic majority of 333 to only 89 Republicans. For the next 52 years the Democratic Party called the shots on Capitol Hill. But this majority was anything but united. Many southern Democrats, outnumbered by liberal democrats, joined their conservative allies in the Republican Party by forming the “Conservative Coalition”. A powerful voting block that angered liberal democrats from the Northeast, the Midwest and the Southwest. The Southern Democrats and their Republican allies outnumbered the liberals in the House, controlled committee chairs and virtually killed any piece of legislation they disliked. The CC assigned a score to every single member of Congress, determining their level of conservatism. This score became the determining factor for selecting committee Chairmen in the House, a very powerful position prior to the House reforms taken by the Republican leadership in 1994.
In 1959, eight House committee chairs, from a total of 15 committees, scored over 80 by the CC, all Democratic Party members from the South. The Seniority system in the House did not leave any room for challengers to unseat powerful, conservative committee chairmen who stood firmly against mainstream Democratic values. The liberals frustrated by their lack of power in the House, seeked recognition and more influence. In 1974, seventy five freshman democrats entered the House to form what was called the “Class of the 94th”. This giant freshman class constituted themselves in a unified manner, rather than only accepting the dictatorial style of the seniority system, they decided to challenge it.