The Anti-FDR

The Anti-FDR


Overshadowed by Republican victories in Congress, Republican control of state legislatures is the real story out of last Tuesday’s elections:


The Republican wave that hit the U.S. Congress in Tuesday’s midterm election also boosted the party in state races, where it gained control of 10 chambers and could be on track to holding the largest number of legislative seats since before the Great Depression.

Democrats lost their majorities in the West Virginia House, Nevada Assembly and Senate, New Hampshire House, Minnesota House, New York Senate, Maine Senate, Colorado Senate, Washington Senate, and New Mexico House to Republicans, who also won enough seats to tie control of the West Virginia Senate, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reported on Wednesday.

“Everyone knew it was a Republican year, but they really blew away expectations at the state legislative level,” said Tim Storey, the bipartisan group’s election analyst.

With Tuesday’s vote, Republicans took over the U.S. Senate, beefed up their majority in the U.S. House and won the governor’s office in several key states. The vote also increased the number of state legislative chambers with Republican majorities to 67 from 57. Party control of the Colorado House and Washington House was still up in the air.

The number of states with Republicans in control of both legislative chambers came to 27 ahead of the election and has now edged closer to the high mark of 30 in 1920, according to Storey. By contrast, Democrats will control the lowest number of state legislatures since 1860, he said.

When Obama was elected in 2008 he was often compared to FDR by a breathless mainstream media.  For Democrats he has become the anti-FDR, restoring the Republican party to the dominance in state legislatures that they enjoyed prior to the New Deal.  Majorities in Congress come and go, as do Presidents, but it is in the state legislatures and their control that parties lay the foundation for policies, and politicians, that can be tested on the state level and taken nationally if successful.  For decades the Democrats enjoyed this crucial advantage over the Republicans, and Obama has taken that away from them.  I suspect that most Americans will look back at the Obama presidency with regret and bitterness, and few groups will have more reason to do so than the Democrats.

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  1. The FDR comparison made sense to Democratic pols (Jerrold Nadler) and their auxiliaries in the press corps who seem get their American history from the likes of Ken Burns. The two resembled each other in one particular: neither put many years into law practice. Roosevelt had 11 years under his belt as a line administrator and had put in some years with commercial companies; Obama had no time as a line administrator and his time with commercial companies was limited to a two-year stint as a copy editor. Roosevelt made some severe mistakes in policy (from which the federal courts saved him by disallowing them) and had some confused notions of how to proceed, but he also hit on some tonic measures as well that made a huge difference during the period running from 1933 to 1936. With regard to our current situation Obama’s vapidity is unrivaled. Everything was subcontracted to the Democratic congressional caucus (or Turbo Tax Timmy), who produced predictable masses of spaghetti logic with side-payments to their clientele and an institutionalized role for Democratic appointees as benefit brokers.

  2. Well, at least they’ve got the electoral college going for them. Not that that will stop them from trying to do away with it.

    Also, I suspect Amity Shlaes would disagree with Art Deco. But since that hasn’t moved off of the reading list and on to the pile of books being read, I really have no way of knowing.

  3. Obama’s economic posing (can we really call it a policy?) strongly resembles FDR’s bungle-fest of the 1930s. FDR’s interventions in the US economy worsened and prolonged the Great Depression, much as we see Obammunism doing today.

    The generation that went ga-ga for FDR had a strong belief that the Federal government could be trusted and was competent. Obama’s preaching of hopeychangitude milked what remains of that trust to get himself elected. (Some people never learn.)

  4. Both the old New Deal and the new New Deal were born in the belief that coveting thy neighbors goods is not a sin but a good deed–as long as the State does the grabbing on behalf of the envious and covetous. It’s all lies, of course.

    By the way, when will our bishops call this covetousness and theft what it is?

  5. FDR’s interventions in the US economy worsened and prolonged the Great Depression, much as we see Obammunism doing today.

    Um, no. The economic contraction began around Sept. 1929 and lasted until about May 1933. FDR was not in office. There was a secondary contraction, much smaller, running from the beginning of 1937 to the middle of 1938. On average, real gdp grew by 9.7% per year over the period running from 1933 to 1941 and domestic product per capita in the latter year was higher than it had been in 1929. There were a number of ill-advised policies pursued during those years (the cartels set up by the National Recovery Administration and their analogues run by the USDA) and the labor market was badly injured. If you wish to complain that policy was not optimal, that’s valid. The thing is, policy never is.

  6. Actually, Obama is FDR in diapers.

    Pacem Art and Nate:

    Additionally, the depression of 1920 -1921 (which was caused by the Fed) “healed” itself without Federal government, fiscal intervention. James Grant (interesting commentator) recently wrote a book on the subject.

    If the New Deal et al were successful, why didn’t the economy “heal”, i.e., restore jobs and pay to full employment pre-1929 levels, until 1946? Becauise it was about replacing one elite with another.

    New York Herald Tribune, May 16, 1939, Walter Lippman regarding the thrust of the New Deal, “ . . . one group is interested primarily in social reform and the other is interested in the control of the economic system.”

    From Robert L. Bartley (RIP), WSJ, 10/20/2003, “The New Deal: Time for a New Look”: “The New Deal was not about economic recovery, but about displacing business as the nation’s predominant elite. FDR harked back to the founder of his party. In his 1832 veto of renewing the Bank’s (Second Bank of the United States) charter, Jackson complained that its profits went to foreigners and a ‘few hundred of our own citizens, chiefly of the richest class.’ Daniel Webster replied that the message was a ‘wanton attack on whole classes of people, for the purposes of turning against them the prejudices and resentments of other classes.’” The tradition runs even stronger today in the party of Obama.

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