Monday, January 05, 2004

Author sees powerful hope for Dean in unlikely historical precedent 

I think The American Conservative is becoming my favorite magazine.
Here is the political fairytale. There was a gallant prince, a repeatedly re-elected governor of a Northeastern state to be exact. He did not exactly look like a prince or a president. He was a mouthy smart aleck who acted like he had stepped straight off the sidewalks of New York City, which indeed he had. But he developed a fervent support among a vast political constituency that had not voted Democratic in more than 30 years. They recognized that he understood their life and death concerns and advocated policies that would save their lives and ensure the security of their families. He was especially popular among classes of voters who had suffered discrimination and had been the butt of prejudice. All this, and he was a fiscal conservative dedicated to a prosperous, industrially strong America.

But powerful interest groups in his own party opposed this prince. The complacent establishment, which accepted the Republican orthodoxies of the day, was determined he should never get his party’s presidential nomination, much less win the presidency. And they were allied with the powerful Southern wing of the party, patriotic and devout but also filled with traditional cultural suspicion of the Northeast. These forces denied the prince the presidential nomination on his first bid but could not prevent him getting it four years later. Even then, they fled the party and subjected him to a vitriolic calumny unprecedented in more than 70 years, and he lost. Such was the fate of Al Smith, Democratic Party nominee for the presidency of the United States in 1928.
Full story.


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