Segment descriptions
Topics in American History Series:
Political Parties, Part 2                     

               Description: Political Parties 1

Political Parties, Part 2
                sampler  6’-21”   (43’ lecture)

Why can’t the new Republican Party of 1854 be called the anti-slavery party?

play sampler


The 20th Century.  (continued)




World War Two ends the Great Depression.  American gunboat diplomacy and control of business interests in Latin America.  The Spanish Civil War as a prelude to World War Two.  The rise of Nazism in Europe and growing danger of fascist Japan in the Pacific.  FDR breaks the 2 term tabu and wins a third term in 1940, is elected a 4th time in 1944 and dies on April 1945 just before the end of the war. 


President Harry Truman and the onset of the Cold War.  Revival of the war economy. Revival of the Republican Party which takes Congress in 1946, and passes the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act.  Truman, against odds, is reelected in 1948, desegregates the armed forces. 


The Red Scare.  Truman starts the Red Scare which is made the most of by the Republicans.  Red hysteria builds during the Korean War of 1950, the Russian atomic bomb, and the loss of China to the Communists.  The rise and fall of Sen. Joseph McCarthy.  The Dixiecrat Party emerges in the South.  Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party tries to stem the Red Scare.


The 1950s.  Birth of the Modern Civil Rights Movement.  Brown versus Topeka, Kansas Bd. Of Ed., 1954.  Pres. Eisenhower uses troops to enforce desegregation law.  Pro-business decade.  Republican Party holds.


1960s decade of great fervor, change and chaos.  The Modern Women's Rights Movement.  LBJ pushes civil rights movement, resisted by the Republicans, but Vietnam War diverts this effort.  Assassination of Democratic candidate Robert Kennedy.  Richard Nixon is elected President in 1968 on promise to end Vietnam War. 
The 1970s.
  Nixon is reelected in 1972 but quits in disgrace amid the Watergate scandal, is pardoned by Gerald Ford who replaces him.  Democrat Jimmy Carter from the South wins in 1976. 


The Reagan 1980s.  The Southern Strategy taps into Southern whites' resistance to the civil right movement, makes the Republicans the dominant party of the South.   Ronald Reagan is elected in 1980 and reelected in 1984.  Conservatives now connect religion to politics.  Aggressive foreign policy. 


Contraction in government under Reagan.  Reagan wants deregulation and limited government role in general but also wants strong government to intervene in moral issues.  He espouses fiscal responsibility but hypes military budget into huge deficits.  Republican George Bush is elected President in1988.


Right turn in Democratic Party is part of rightward turn to Republican extremism.  Southerner Bill Clinton is elected President in 1992.  He passes moderate welfare reform, pursues other moderate social policies, yet his presidency is violently attacked from day one.  He is reelected in 1996. 


Current issues.  The rightward turn has shifted all political labels to the right in both parties.  The second Iraq War and issues of truth and lies, the costs versus the goals.  The future of the two parties and the role of older points of view is not clear.