Friday, November 25, 2005

Getting a Democrat Elected President

Since Bush has been sinking in the polls these last few months, people have begun to talk about the possibility that the Democrat can win the 2008 presidential election, but the question is which Democrat. Also, Republicans have the presidency, House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, so how can Democrats revive their party?

I've been doing research about Upton Sinclair's run for governor of California in 1934; that time period showed a remarkable revival of the Democratic Party in California, so looking at that period might be helpful in understanding our current situation.

From 1900-1932 Republicans totally dominated California politics, but in 1932 presidential election Hoover had lost both his home state California but also his home county Santa California. In that election the Democratic candidate for Senator William G. McAdoo was elected as millions voted for Roosevelt and other Democrats. So by 1934 it looked like Democrats could for the first time in the 20th century elect a Democrat governor.

The problem was in the 1920s Democrats had been nomiating for governor obscure men who lost, so they had no candidates in 1934. In Northern California Democrats encouraged George Creel, the regional director of Roosevelt's National Recovery Act (NRA), to announced his candidacy for governor. In Southern California Democrats were building up Culbert L. Olson, a pro-New Deal Los Angeles attorney, but he ran for state senate. Upton Sinclair, the famous Socialist author of The Jungle, changed his party from Socialist to Democratic, ran for governor, and won in the primary.

Then Republicans ran a smear campaign, utilizing phony anti-Sinclair newsreels, so the Republican candidate, conservative Governor Merriam, was relected. But the pro-FDR tide was so strong that even Merriam while running said he was pro-New Deal. Merriam won, but that Los Angeles liberal Culbert L. Olsen also won a seat as state senator in the state legislature. Olsen immediately became a leader in the conservative senate, leading them to approve new laws that began a moderate state income tax, increased assistance to improverished seniors, and repealed sales tax on food (many in California were starving). In 1938 Culbert Olsen ran against Governor Merriam and he won. Finally, a state which had a large Democratic majority since 1932 elected a pro-New Deal Democrat as Governor.

So people should quit discussing 2008 presidential elections, which are a long way off. Instead people should concentrate on 2006 elections next year, ensuring that good candidates are elected to both House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Hopefully Democrats can take back either the House or the Senate as well as elect more governors. Among the crop of Demoratic victors in 2006, there should be a good candidate for president.

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