Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Conservative Conjures Obama Assassination On Big Government / Modern Relevance Of James Garfield's Domestic Policies

You would think that the right-wing has learned to tone down their rhetoric since the Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt by Jared Loughner but it appears the conservative base is still at it.

In the comments on a Big Government post, one reader in particular stated amazement that Obama's "commie @zz has lasted longer than James Garfield."

James Garfield was assassinated in 1881, dying as a result of being shot by Chales J. Guiteau.  His presidency was only 200 days long.

It is interesting to note that Garfield was a Republican and perhaps his biggest domestic policy concern regarded civil rights promoting equal treatment of African-Americans and a "universal" education system.

The plight of African American civil rights weighed heavily on Garfield's presidency. During Reconstruction, freedmen had gained citizenship and suffrage that enabled them to participate in state and federal offices. Garfield believed that their rights were being eroded by southern white resistance and illiteracy, and was vitally concerned that blacks would become America's permanent "peasantry". The President's answer was to have a "universal" education system funded by the federal government. Garfield's concern over education was not exaggerated; there was a 70% illiteracy rate among southern blacks. Congress and the northern white public, however, had lost interest in African American rights. Federal funding for universal education did not pass Congress during the 1880s.

President Garfield appointed several African Americans to prominent positions: Frederick Douglas, recorder of deeds in Washington; Robert Elliot, special agent to the U.S. Treasury; John M. Langston, Haitian minister; and Blanche K. Bruce, register to the U.S. Treasury. Garfield began to reverse the southern Democratic conciliation policy implemented by his predecessor, Rutherford B. Hayes. In an effort to bolster southern Republican unity Garfield appointed William H. Hunt, a carpetbag Republican from Louisiana during Reconstruction, as Secretary of the Navy. Garfield believed that Southern support for the Republican party could be gained by "commercial and industrial" interests rather than race issues. He cautiously gave senatorial patronage privilege to Virginia Senator William Mahone of the independent Readjuster Party. Garfield was the first Republican president to initiate an election policy to obtain support from southern independents.
While conservatives like to tout the Republican party's early involvement in civil rights as proof that they are a party by the people and for the people, they have shifted far from those days over a century ago.  The policies of Garfield are interesting and the situation surrounding them sound surprisingly like modern times.

Instead of southern white resistance, civil rights are now under assault from tea party groups - although they claim to be strict constitutionalists, there are a surprising number of proposed constitutional amendments or constitutional interpretations coming from the conservative base that are designed to restrict civil rights, such as beliefs regarding the treatment of homosexuals, immigrants, or particular religions.

Also, the push for a "universal" education system funded by the federal government is very similar to the push for a universal health care system, as well as a defense of the Department of Education.  Conservatives have argued that both are an over-reach of the federal government but the reality is that rising costs in both health care and education have taken a toll on Americans, whether it be income or quality of life, essentially establishing a permanent "peasantry" out of the once-increasing middle class.


  1. Thank you Kevin. Unfortunately, this type of a post on a "Bigs" site is very typical and is rarely sanctioned.

  2. It is amazing how often I see comments like this not just on Big sites but on pretty much any conservative site.

    I am still surprised to see the Kenyan-born meme surviving on these conservative boards and they find any little detail they can to support their hatred, even if that detail was something they once supported (like tax cuts!).


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