THE PARTISANSHIP OF A GENTLER ERA PROVIDES A LESSON FOR TODAY
” A military leader is accustomed to giving orders and getting them carried out. He has no political, legislative or business experience. He’s an American hero elected in a democratic election and treading on new fields. He’ll need help. Remember that we are Americans first and Democrats second.
Remember, any jackass can kick over a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one”
– Sam Rayburn ( D-Tx) 1953, speaking to House Democrats about the
newly inaugurated President, Dwight Eisenhower.
Can you imagine a party leader in Congress today saying such a thing about a president who was from the other political party ? I think Nancy Pelosi might prefer to see her tongue turn to sand.
Incidentally, the voters rewarded Rayburn’s constructive engagement strategy in 1956 by returning the Democratic Party to a majority in the House of Representatives and Rayburn to the Speakership, which ” Mr. Sam” held until his death in 1961.
Compare that to the electoral records of the House Republicans and Democrats when they employed ” scorched earth” political tactics against Clinton and Bush. You take care of your wingnut base by by throwing it red meat at the times when doing so causes the party no harm; you don’t let the base start dictating the feeding schedule.
The Republican base is standing on chairs and clanging tin cups on the table. The Democratic base has commandeered the kitchen and is now ransacking the refrigerator.