America is experiencing the most dangerous economic turmoil since the Great Depression. While that economic fact is stated often these days, little comment addresses the political parallel between then and now. And that historic political parallel is - Republicans in power.
So, for those of you who ditched American government in high school, the economic ills that plague us today come at the end of the first sustained period of Republican political control since the 1920s.
From 1919 to 1933, the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress (Democrats won a two-vote majority in the House in the 1930 election), and they added control of the White House in 1921. During that period of more than a decade, the Republicans relentlessly applied deregulation and conservative principles to the American economy. The result: the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The American electorate finally turned to the Democrats in 1932, electing a Democratic president and large Democratic majorities to Congress. It still took a decade and a war economy to undo the damage the Republicans had done.
The Republicans did not regain extended control of both houses of Congress until 1994 when they began a run of 12 years of congressional control. In 2001 they were able to add control of the White House, the first lengthy run of totally Republican political control in well over half a century.
The Republicans again relentlessly applied deregulation and conservative economic principles to the economy. The result: the worst economic suffering for working Americans since the Republicans' Great Depression.
The reason our economy has not tipped into another depression (yet) and working Americans are not suffering more is the blessing of more than half a century of moderate and liberal economic guidance - the liberal social safety net, and control and regulation of financial and economic institutions, which the Republicans have been only partially successful in undoing.
The most important national election in 76 years is before Americans. Will working Americans exercise the same wisdom they did in 1932 by turning away from the Republicans and the breathtaking damage they have done? Or will today's voters figuratively return Herbert Hoover to the White House by re-electing John McBush?
Donald R. Douglas
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