What was the most important factor behind Republican domination during the 1920s?

Jul 2019
10
Devon, United Kingdom
Yes, Republicans were popular amongst large swathes of the country, but it could definitely be argued that their policies meant many workers and farmers were left behind. So was it the Republicans' popularity that did it, or was it the inability of the Democrats to organise themselves and produce a candidate which could appeal to all their base, that was the reason for Republican success?
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,660
Republika Srpska
The Democrats also lost the Irish American and German American votes due to the fact that Wilson, a Democrat, was the President that led America into World War I.
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,016
Iowa USA
The Democrats also lost the Irish American and German American votes due to the fact that Wilson, a Democrat, was the President that led America into World War I.
Some effect regarding German-American voters perhaps. Urban politics were a different matter, and if there's evidence of Irish-Americans in Northern Cities changing their voting behavior around this time that would be fascinating to look at.

Someone such as @Futurist probably is rather familiar with the data. The only city which I have some confidence addressing the question on party loyalties in that era is Chicago. I don't agree with Maki's comment as regards Chicago.
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,660
Republika Srpska
I don't agree with Maki's comment as regards Chicago.
Oh, I can certainly be wrong. I am not all that familiar with American politics of the 1920s but I remember reading somewhere that Wilson lost the confidence of the Irish and Germans.

Speeches like:
"I have perceived more and more that men have been busy creating an absolutely false impression of what the treaty of peace and the Covenant of the League of Nations contain and mean. I find, moreover, that there is an organized propaganda against the League of Nations and against the treaty proceeding from exactly the same sources that the organized propaganda proceeded from which threatened this country here and there with disloyalty, and I want to say -- I cannot say too often -- any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready."
certainly didn't help Wilson's reputation among the "hyphenated ones".

It is possible that the Republican (specifically Harding's) call of "return to normalcy" also brought them votes.
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,016
Iowa USA
That is a good quote to bring to the discussion thank you.

It is true that Wilson represented the "elder" American crust of families that had been here in the 1810s or earlier.

The economic opportunities of the decades of the 1900s and 1910s did tend to favor the theme of rapid cultural assimilation among both immigrants and first-generation Americans. The Irish had the peak of immigration in the 1840s and 1850s. Their experience included discrimination during harsh depressions of the 1870s and 1890s. For the Irish the recent outstanding performance of the economy for small businessmen did not erase the memories of long patterns of discrimination in hard times.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,621
Dispargum
Republicans may have benefited slightly from Prohibition which was politically popular up until the Crash of '29. Both parties had pro- and anti- Prohibition factions, but the Republicans may have come out ahead of the Democrats on that issue. Women were a new constituency that decade, and they usually voted Republican in the 1920s.

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A commentary on the 19th Amendment: In addition to everything else that men and women can disagree on, now they disagree about politics, too.
 
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Jul 2019
115
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
What got the Republicans elected in 1920 was the revulsion over WWI - not just the futility of it from an American perspective but the incredible lengths the Wilson administration went to in whipping up support for the war.

The sociologist Robert Nisbet held that modern totalitarianism began, not with Lenin or Mussolini, but with the Progressive American President Woodrow Wilson. Nisbet wrote in The Twilight of Authority that: "I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the West's first real experience with totalitarianism — political absolutism extended into every possible area of culture and society, education, religion, industry, the arts, local community and family included, with a kind of terror always waiting in the wings — came with the American war state under Woodrow Wilson." Thirteen years later in “The Present Age,” Nisbet returned to the theme where he devoted eight full pages to Wilson's war state.

Once the American government decided on entering World War I in 1917, freedom of speech was immediately curtailed by the Espionage Act – the same law that was trotted out a century later to suppress, among others, Edward Snowden for his betrayal of the security state and is now being used against Julian Assange.

Book burnings, extralegal patriot associations, mob activity, lynchings, and a wide-spread assault on things of Germanic origin followed. It became dangerous to be German. There were millions of German Americans - immigrants, children of immigrants, grandchildren of immigrants. And going to war aroused hostility against them. The use of the German language was discouraged, and German names were changed. The names of German food were purged from restaurant menus; sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage,” hamburger became “liberty steak.” Even German measles was renamed “liberty measles” by a Massachusetts physician. Flying squads invaded farmhouses to force farmers to buy a quota of bonds. An issue of The Nation was banned from the mails because it contained a blistering attack on Wilson in an article (written by Albert Jay Nock) that criticized labor leader Samuel Gompers for cooperating in the labor policies of the administration. When the New Republic ran an ad asking for a fair trial for some resisters, the magazine was advised by an agent of the Department of Justice not to reprint it, under threat of getting into difficulty with the law.

Super patriots felt the need to protect the American public from contamination via disloyal music by pushing to eliminate classic German composers such as Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart from the programs of community orchestras. Some states banned the teaching of the German language in private and public schools alike. In July 1918, South Dakota prohibited the use of German over the telephone, and in public assemblies of three or more persons. Flag wavers like Theodore Roosevelt and Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University, wanted Robert La Follette ousted from the Senate for his opposition to the war. Within six months, Columbia fired two respected professors for opposing the war.

Deportations became state policy. Several thousand German-Americans were interned in concentration camps when their minor infractions were exaggerated into major offenses. Prison sentences were handed out like balloons at a child’s birthday party to war opponents who dared point out the profitability of it all for the bankers at the House of J. P. Morgan which received a financial commission on every one of the billions of dollars loaned to the European allies while his associates on the just-established Federal Reserve made sure that credit was plentiful. At war’s peak, Morgan presided each month over purchases which were equal to the gross national product of the entire world just one generation before. The Morgan-dominated newly created Federal Reserve lower interest rates to facility the loaning. The massive debts thus created were a serious source of economic instability after the war.

A German immigrant named Robert Prager was lynched for criticizing President Wilson. Film producer Robert Goldstein was convicted under the Espionage Act for making a movie BEFORE the act was passed that showed British atrocities in the Revolutionary War. Goldstein received a ten year sentence in the penitentiary. Five-time Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs received a ten-year prison sentence just for giving a speech. In 1920 he ran for President from that same prison cell where the Wilson Administration had placed him and received 3.4% of the vote (almost 1 million votes). It took the numbskull Warren G. Harding to let him out of jail years after the war ended.

As war fever exploded and anticipating the Ministries of Propaganda seen today, a well-organized a public indoctrination program, unprecedented in any nation’s history to that point, designed by George Creel as head of the Committee on Public Information (CPI), used hundreds of novelists, poets, music composers, dramatists, performers, clergymen, and college professors in a pre-Stalinist “Artists in Uniforms” to overcome rational thought with emotion to justify the second foreign war in the same generation. This manufactured burlesque and the resulting propaganda went to preposterous lengths to whip up nationalist emotion, war fever, and even hate toward Germans. Some 75,000 civilian volunteers spoke to 314 million people over the span of 18 months on topics assigned by the CPI, like the draft, rationing, bond drives, and victory gardens.

Congress attached a rider to the Trading With the Enemy Act which dramatically increased the authority of the government to control the expression of opinion. It required German-language newspapers to supply anything printed about the government. Any newspaper that was operating on a tight budget was effectively killed off. Those that continued to print were continually harassed. Trainmen threw off bundles of German-language newspapers at the wrong stations; Boy Scouts burned stolen bundles; and school teachers discouraged students from delivering “disloyal” newspapers. Journalist H. L. Mencken was silenced; mail was intercepted and suppressed; newspapers were censored; and state-sanctioned terror ruled the country.

All in all, these authoritarian methods and their successful implementation set an organizational standard of social intimidation in the United States that anticipated the European Fascism that came only later. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis failed to exceed the standard established by the Wilson Administration for number of years while the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini never even approached it.

Even more significant is the fact that it was all effectively carried out within a society untouched by war, or even actual danger, in over two generations – and even that earlier threat has been an internal American struggle over slavery and less obviously a debate over corporate subsidy and national tax policy. No external threat had existed for the past hundred years; Mexico had always been too weak to impact American security and Canada far too dispersed and civilized to bother. Yet in the span of a single four-year Presidential term the collectivist ideological trends of the previous generation culminated in an irrational frenzy of brutal political manipulation that prostrated the Constitution, inflamed a social pathology, cartelized the economy, and cynically institutionalized war profiteering.

Any electorate that failed to react against that would be little more than a zombie.
 
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