America’s Revolutionary Party

It’s always been the Republicans

 

The midterm elections have brought us a sweep of both houses of Congress by the Democrats. Just what this means in terms of the war in Iraq or specific legislation is still unknowable, but it now seems undeniable that we are living in an age of radicalism.

Republican radicalism, that is.

Kindred spirits? Reagan speaks at Moscow State University, 1988.
 
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The New Creationists

The foremost student of a belief held by nearly half of all Americans traces its history from Darwin’s bombshell through the storms of the Scopes trial to today’s “scientific creationists”—who find William Jennings Bryan too liberal

The year 1963 brought the death of George McCready Price, whom the science writer Martin Gardner described as “the last and greatest of the anti-evolutionists.” The greatest perhaps, but certainly not the last. That year also witnessed the birth of the Creation Research Society and—more generally—the age of scientific creationism. By the end of the decade battles were being waged over including creationism in public school curricula; the fight culminated in the 1981 court challenge to the Arkansas creationist law. If the proceedings lacked the carnival atmosphere of the 1925 Scopes trial, they compensated by attracting an impressive list of expert witnesses from the ranks of scientists, philosophers, and theologians. Unfavorable court decisions have settled for the moment the issue of equal-time state laws, but creation science as a movement has hardly slowed. Several creation research institutes continue seeking evidence to confute evolution, and the theory’s proponents have evolved new tactics for including special creation in public school curricula. The phenomenon of scientific creationism has evoked a cottage industry of analysts: journalists, sociologists, philosophers of science, theologians, and particularly scientists, who believe they have the most to lose from a theory that denies Darwin. The call to arms that went out among various scientific groups characterized creationists almost uniformly as dangerous quacks who were gulling the public with a specious science.

The Lives Of The Parties

The two-party system, undreamt of by the founders of the Republic, has been one of its basic shaping forces ever since their time

Recently I got a letter from a friend of mine, Max Lale, the current president of the Texas State Historical Society, that gave me a quick glimpse of a vanished world. Lale recalled that on election day of 1928, when he was twelve, he accompanied his father on a mile-and-a-quarter walk to their local polling place in Oklahoma. There he waited while his Southern-born father, faced with a choice between Al Smith and Herbert Hoover, agonized over which would be worse: to support a Catholic or a Republican. In the end he cast no vote for President.Read more »

The Party Of The People

A clipping selected at random from a generous stack tells me that the would-be Democratic candidate Tom Harkin is pitching a “populist, sharply partisan message.” I get the impression that the two adjectives are interchangeable. Another clip predictably calls David Duke a “populist.” That’s no surprise either. I have heard the word applied to Jesse Jackson and Ronald Reagan in previous campaigns—in fact, to practically every candidate who did not outright propose restricting government to the rich, the wise, and the well born.Read more »

How Capitalism Survived The Twentieth Century

One hundred years ago many thoughtful people predicted the decline and disappearance of capitalism. What happened to make their prophecy wrong?

People nowadays interchange gifts and favors out of friendship,” says a character speaking from the vantage point of the year 2000 in Edward Bellamy’s 1888 novel, Looking Backward, “but buying and selling is considered absolutely inconsistent with the mutual benevolence and disinterestedness which should prevail between citizens and the sense of community interest which supports our social system.” Writing a century ago, Bellamy foresaw that by 2000 there would be no money and no wages.Read more »

THE BANKING STORY

Banking as we’ve known it for centuries is dead, and we don’t really know the consequences of what is taking its place. A historical overview.

For the last several years congressional committees and presidential task forces have been nattering back and forth about what should be done to change the legal order that establishes and specifically empowers and regulates the nation’s banks. They have dealt with their subject as a collection of technical problems they could solve: a bit of oil here, a tightened bolt there, a replacement for a blown gasket—and the old machine will be as good as new. But, in fact, our banking problems are systemic: we need a new machine.Read more »

The First Hurrah

Presidential candidates stayed above the battle until William Jennings Bryan stumped the nation in 1896; they’ve been in the thick of it ever since

The most confident prediction that can be made about the 1980 presidential campaign is that the nominees will invest enormous energy, time, and money in stumping the country.Read more »

Three Weeks In Dayton

The “Monkey Trial” brought two ideologies into a great conflict, and it was very, very hot

On a sunny morning in June, 1925, William Jennings Bryan put his famous appetite on display before a young reporter and two lawyers in the dining room of the old Piedmont Hotel on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. They watched with wide eyes as he showed why knives and forks had been invented.

 
 
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The Four Ages Of Joseph Choate

He was promising at 25, prominent at 45, esteemed at 65, venerated at 85

I had quite a compliment on the street. As I was crossing the Avenue near the Capitol a very good looking man who was spinning by on a bicycle suddenly stopped and jumped off, and said ‘Isn’t this Mr. Choate?’ I said ‘Yes.’ ‘Well,’ he went on, Tm a lawyer and I only stopped to pay my respects, recognizing you by your photographs, and I wanted to say that I esteem you just as much as all the rest of the lawyers in the country do,’ and upon that he remounted and was off again before I could even find out who he was.” Read more »

The Late, Late Frontier

What started as fun and games at spring roundups is now a multi-million-dollar sport called rodeo

The crowd roars. The bell clangs. The chute gate swings wide and a beleaguered animal dashes into the arena to put on an exciting exhibition of pain and panic.

The rodeo is presented as a colorful epic of the cattle industry in the days of the Chisholm Trail, evoking the sturdy moral values of frontier life or, as the Pendleton (Oregon) Round-Up recently rephrased the idea, “Four Big Days of Fun in the Ol’ West.” But what is rodeo, really? Read more »