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Democratic Party

LBJ passes comprehensive federal insurance for seniors with shrewd politics and a strong dose of compromise

In 1965, after winning in a landslide against Barry Goldwater and helping to carry Democratic supermajorities into both houses of Congress, President Lyndon Johnson set out to enact a battery of Great Society reforms, including Medicare, government insurance for seniors. Despite his political mandate, 60 years of conservative opposition to such a measure meant proceeding with caution. Later, California Governor Ronald Reagan, for example, would characterize the Medicare bill as the advance wave of a socialism that would “invade every area of freedom in this country.” Reagan predicted that this reform would compel Americans to spend their “sunset years telling our children and our grandchildren what it was like in America when men were free.” Read more >>

When Donkey and Elephant First Clashed

The Republican party ensured a landslide defeat when it nominated Barry Goldwater in 1964, but the Democrats did far more lasting damage to themselves at their convention that year. In fact, they still haven’t recovered.

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. Read more >>

Thus did Franklin Roosevelt characterize the man who was to be his running mate in 1944 and—as everyone at the astonishing Democratic Convention knew—almost certainly the next President of the United States. Here is FDR at his most devious, Harry Truman at the pivot of his career, and the old party-boss system at its zenith.

It’s not surprising that Democrats seek to wrap themselves in the Roosevelt cloak; what’s harder to understand is why so many Republicans do too. A distinguished historian explains.

One of FDR's closest aides remembers "the Boss" and a lifetime in politics.

In 1860, Southern delegates bolted the Democratic convention at Charleston. An eyewitness describes the first giant step toward secession