759,935 American Voters Pulled a Lever for Members of “The Squad” in 2018

Squad

In 2018:

110,318 voters in New York’s 14th Congressional District voted for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  This district is 18.41% white.

267,703 voters in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District voted for Ilhan Omar.  The district is 67.39% white.

165,355 voters in Michigan’s 13th District voted for Rashisa Talib. The district is 33.4% white.

216,559 voters in Massachusetts’s 7th District voted for Ayanna Pressley.  The district is 33.69% white.

The President of the United States says that these four women of color should leave the country because they don’t love America.  Would he say the same thing about 759,935 people who voted for this members of the House of Representatives?  These women were duly elected by their constituencies.  Unless, of course, the elections were rigged.  🙂

Conservative Evangelicals Defend Steve King and Want Kevin McCarthy to Apologize

King and trump

Perhaps some of you missed it.  Iowa congressman Steve King, in an interview with the New York Times, said this: “White nationalists, white supremacist, Western Civilization–how did that language become offensive?”

King later tried to back away from the statement, but it was too little, too late.  House minority leader Kevin McCarthy removed King from the House Judiciary and Agriculture Committees earlier this week and he was almost censured.  King’s remarks were the latest in a long career defined by racist and nativist comments.

Not everyone is happy with what McCarthy, the House Republicans, and Congress have done to King.  Right Wing Watch has brought to my attention news of a group of Christian Right leaders who are supporting King.  The group is led by Janet Porter, a Christian Right activist who served as the spokesperson for Roy Moore’s 2017 Alabama  Senate race.  Porter is asking Christian Right leaders to sign a letter to Kevin McCarthy.  Here is the text of that letter:
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Dear Leader McCarthy,

We are appalled that Republican leadership would choose to believe a liberal news organization famous for their bias over an outstanding member of Congress who has served the people of Iowa and the United States honorably and faithfully for 16 years.

If Congressman Steve King believed and stood by the outrageous misquote of the New York Times, then the actions taken against him would have been warranted, but the opposite is true.

Unlike North Korea, we in the United States are “innocent until proven guilty” and hold to the principles of Western Civilization, as Rep. King so admirably does. The foundational principle begins with the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These are the principles to which Rep. King was referring and which he has championed for more than two decades of public service.

Don’t make the fatal mistake of turning the reins of the U.S. Congress over to the liberal media, allowing them to target, misquote, and falsely brand any member of Congress they wish to remove. 

We call on you to do the right thing as Minority Leader: issue a public apology and reinstate Rep. King to his committee assignments.  If we don’t stand with this good man against the media-manufactured assault today, none of us will be safe from it tomorrow.

The Christian Right leaders who signed this letter include:

  • The scandal-ridden former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
  • Court evangelical and family values radio host James Dobson
  • Court evangelical and charismatic media mogul Steven Strang
  • Paul Blair, president of an organization called Reclaiming America for Christ
  • Rick Scarborough, a conservative Southern Baptist political activist
  • Lance Wallnau, a court evangelical who claims to have prophesied Donald Trump’s election.
  • Rena Lindevaldsen, a law professor at Liberty University
  • Jim Garlow, a pastor and prominent court evangelical who recently co-authored a book with David Barton.
  • Cythnia Dunbar, a member of the Republican National Committee who is probably best known for trying to bring Christian nationalist ideas into American history books in Texas.  (She also claimed that Barack Obama, if elected POTUS, would work with terrorists to attack the United States within his first 6 months in office).
  • William Federer, a Christian nationalist known for collecting quotes about the founding fathers

I discuss Dobson, Strang, and Wallnau in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

This letter may be more revealing for the people who DID NOT sign it, including Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer, Franklin Graham, Paula White, Johnnie Moore,  Eric Metaxas, and other court evangelicals.

Penn Live Endorses George Scott in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District

George-Scott-1600x900

George Scott

A lot of his here in south central Pennsylvania are following the congressional race in the 10th District.  Trump loyalist and incumbent Scott Perry (R) is running against Lutheran clergyman (ELCA) George Scott (D).  Because of the newly redrawn congressional maps in Pennsylvania, the district that includes my hometown of Mechanicsburg is now up for grabs for the first time in decades.

Last week Penn Live (the online version of the Harrisburg Patriot News), endorsed Scott:

Here is a taste of the endorsement:

Scott, who aspires to be a “servant-leader,” is a political moderate at a time when American politics is badly in need of some moderation. 

He impressed the board with his views on healthcare, women’s reproductive rights and his commitment to increasing the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid coverage, among other issues. 

Unlike Perry, who has marched in lockstep with the House’s most conservative faction, Scott has said he will not support current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for House speaker should Democrats retake the majority on Election Day. 

His aspiration to bipartisanship in an institution where that tradition is a dying art was also refreshing. He told the board that “it all starts with personal relationships … not just with people in my party, but with folks on the other side of the aisle … who want to solve tough issues.”

He shares Perry’s commitment to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

But unlike his Republican opponent, Scott also believes that right must be balanced with better regulation, including background checks for all gun sales and bans on products like bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.

Scott has also called for a strong federal policy to address climate change, and says one that has caught his eye is a carbon fee-and-dividend proposal advanced by the Citizens Climate Initiative that would tax fossil fuels at production or point of importation, according to the carbon dioxide (one of the top greenhouse gases)  produced.

The idea is to get business, industry and government to more quickly convert to conversion to renewables and other cleaner fuels.

After three terms in Congress, Perry has emerged as a sharp-elbowed partisan and loyal conservative foot soldier of the hyperpartisan Freedom Caucus, a coalition of GOP lawmakers whose main priority often seems to be less about effective governance and more about ensuring a permanent state of legislative paralysis on Capitol Hill. 

Perry has voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without approving legislation that would have replaced former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

In 2017, he voted in favor of the GOP-authored alternative, the American Healthcare Act. Despite recent attempts at Republican white-washing, the bill would have made it harder and much more expensive for people with pre-existing conditions to obtain insurance coverage.

Perry voted against a carbon tax proposal and has said his preference is to let market forces continue to attack the problem. He pointed to large emission reductions that have occurred organically in recent years as American power plants have moved from coal to natural gas as a fuel source.

Perry’s assertion to a constituent that he didn’t want to pay for maternity care for other women because “I have two children, and we’re not having any more,” is dangerously short-sighted and a profound violation of the social contract between Americans.

Perry joined with the Freedom Caucus to call for the impeachment of the Rod Rosenstein, the senior U.S. Department of Justice official, who oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

And he made the bizarre assertion, without providing any evidence, that ISIS was behind the mass shooting in Las Vegas that wounded hundreds and resulted in the death of 59 people. Asked by the board to substantiate that claim, which he still stands by, Perry declined, saying he’d been given access to confidential information he could not share.

The Nov. 6 midterm offers central Pennsylvania voters a chance to forge a new direction, in a new district, with someone who truly represents their values. George Scott is that candidate.

Read the entire endorsement here.

Blame Gingrich

554d3-gingrich-arms-wide

According to McKay Coppins, Newt Gingrich “turned partisan politics into bloodsport, wrecked Congress, and paved the way for Trump’s rise.”  Here is a taste of his piece at The Atlantic, “The Man Who Broke Politics”:

There’s something about Newt Gingrich that seems to capture the spirit of America circa 2018. With his immense head and white mop of hair; his cold, boyish grin; and his high, raspy voice, he has the air of a late-empire Roman senator—a walking bundle of appetites and excesses and hubris and wit. In conversation, he toggles unnervingly between grandiose pronouncements about “Western civilization” and partisan cheap shots that seem tailored for cable news. It’s a combination of self-righteousness and smallness, of pomposity and pettiness, that personifies the decadence of this era.

In the clamorous story of Donald Trump’s Washington, it would be easy to mistake Gingrich for a minor character. A loyal Trump ally in 2016, Gingrich forwent a high-powered post in the administration and has instead spent the years since the election cashing in on his access—churning out books (three Trump hagiographies, one spy thriller), working the speaking circuit (where he commands as much as $75,000 per talk for his insights on the president), and popping up on Fox News as a paid contributor. He spends much of his time in Rome, where his wife, Callista, serves as Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican and where, he likes to boast, “We have yet to find a bad restaurant.”

But few figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise. During his two decades in Congress, he pioneered a style of partisan combat—replete with name-calling, conspiracy theories, and strategic obstructionism—that poisoned America’s political culture and plunged Washington into permanent dysfunction. Gingrich’s career can perhaps be best understood as a grand exercise in devolution—an effort to strip American politics of the civilizing traits it had developed over time and return it to its most primal essence.

Read the entire piece here.

Coppins is probably right about Gingrich, but let’s be careful making too many grandiose claims about Newt as the originator of political bloodsport. As I read Coppins’s piece I was reminded of Yale historian Joanne Freeman’s new book The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to the Civil War.

The Faith of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pulled off a major upset in yesterday’s Democratic primary race in New York’s 14th District.  She defeated Joe Crowley, the 10-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives who many believed would be the heir-apparent to Nancy Pelosi as the House Minority Leader.  Ocasio-Cortez is a 28-year-old Democratic Socialist who ran on universal health care and the abolition of ICE.  She is also a Catholic.

On the day after her victory Ocasio-Cortez started writing, but not for The New York Times or The Progressive or The Nation or Jacobin or In These Times.  Nope. She turned to the web pages of the Jesuit magazine America.

Here is a taste of her piece, published today:

Discussions of reforming our criminal justice system demand us to ask philosophical and moral questions. What should be the ultimate goal of sentencing and incarceration? Is it punishment? Rehabilitation? Forgiveness? For Catholics, these questions tie directly to the heart of our faith.

Solutions are already beginning to take shape, which include unraveling the War on Drugs, reconsidering mandatory minimum sentencing and embracing a growing private prison abolition movement that urges us to reconsider the levels at which the United States pursues mass incarceration. No matter where these proposals take us, we should pursue such conversations with an openness to change and an aim to rehabilitate our brothers and sisters wherever possible and wherever necessary. By nature, a society that forgives and rehabilitates its people is a society that forgives and transforms itself. That takes a radical kind of love, a secret of which is given in the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And let us not forget the guiding principle of “the least among us” found in Matthew: that we are compelled to care for the hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick and, yes—the imprisoned.

Read the entire piece here.  She apparently disagrees with her church, however, on abortion and marriage.

Allen Guelzo on Why History Shows Impeachment May be a Bad Idea

Andrew_Johnson_impeachment_trial

Abraham Lincoln and Civil War scholar Allen Guelzo reminds us what happened when Andrew Johnson was impeached.  The subtitle of his recent Wall Street Journal piece is “Many members of Congress in 1868 hoped to remove a president they merely disliked.  It didn’t go well.”  Here is a taste:

If the Democrats win the House in November, they’ll come under pressure to impeach President Trump. Even if Robert Mueller fails to turn up some astounding surprise, many Democrats want to impeach Mr. Trump because they simply don’t like him. Since the Constitution specifies that a president can be impeached for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” such a move would mean Democrats consider being disliked by the House majority to be a disqualifying crime.

That is precisely what many members of Congress thought 150 years ago this week, at the conclusion of the first impeachment of a sitting president, Andrew Johnson. The 17th president’s impeachment offers the important lesson that although the mechanism for impeachment is easy, the subsequent process of trial, conviction and removal from office is not. A failure at that stage of the process covers everybody with embarrassment—impeachers and impeached alike.

 

Read the rest here.

Guelzo seems to be preparing for the Democrats to take the House.  It is definitely a possibility.

Pro-Life and Pro-Gun: Part Two

Shooting At High School In Parkland, Florida Injures Multiple People

The members of the House of Representatives who get the most money from the NRA are listed below.  Their current anti-abortion voting score from National Right to Life is in parentheses next to their names.  Find the list of Senators here.

French Hill of Arkansas (100%)

Ken Buck of Colorado (100%)

David Young of Iowa (100%)

Mike Simpson of Idaho (100%)

Greg Gianforte of Montana (100%)

Don Young of Arkansas (100%)

Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania (100%)

Bruce Poliquin of Maine (87%)

Pete Sessions of Texas (100%)

Barbara Comstock of Virginia (87%)

What the GOP in the House Did Yesterday

Just so we are clear, the American Health Care Act:

  • Takes health insurance away from at least 24 million Americans; that was the number the CBO estimated for a previous version of the bill, and the number for this one is probably higher.
  • Revokes the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, which provided no-cost health coverage to millions of low-income Americans.
  • Turns Medicaid into a block grant, enabling states to kick otherwise-eligible people off their coverage and cut benefits if they so choose.
  • Slashes Medicaid overall by $880 billion over 10 years.
  • Removes the subsidies that the ACA provided to help middle-income people afford health insurance, replacing them with far more meager tax credits pegged not to people’s income but to their age. Poorer people would get less than they do now, while richer people would get more; even Bill Gates would get a tax credit.
  • Allows insurers to charge dramatically higher premiums to older patients. If you want a reliable company that can give you car insurance and many others visit One Sure Insurance for more info.
  • Allows insurers to impose yearly and lifetime caps on coverage, which were outlawed by the ACA. This also, it was revealed today, may threaten the coverage of the majority of non-elderly Americans who get insurance through their employers.
  • Allows states to seek waivers from the ACA’s requirement that insurance plans include essential benefits for things such as emergency services, hospitalization, mental health care, preventive care, maternity care, and substance abuse treatment.
  • Provides hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for families making over $250,000 a year.
  • Produces higher deductibles for patients.
  • Allows states to try to waive the ACA’s requirement that insurers must charge people the same rates regardless of their medical history. This effectively eviscerates the ban on denials for preexisting conditions, since insurers could charge you exorbitant premiums if you have a preexisting condition, effectively denying you coverage.
  • Shunts those with preexisting conditions into high-risk pools, which are absolutely the worst way to cover those patients; experience with them on the state level proves that they wind up underfunded, charge enormous premiums, provide inadequate benefits and can’t cover the population they’re meant for. Multiple analyses have shown that the money the bill provides for high-risk pools is laughably inadequate, which will inevitably leave huge numbers of the most vulnerable Americans without the ability to get insurance.
  • Brings back medical underwriting, meaning that just like in the bad old days, when you apply for insurance you’ll have to document every condition or ailment you’ve ever had.

This is from Paul Waldman’s piece in The Washington Post.  He wants to hold the GOP accountable.

After the bill passed, you can hear congressmen on the floor singing this:

Slacktivist is also ready for a fight.

Why a Clinton Victory in November Won’t Be a Moral Victory

Hillary_Obama

Over at Religion Dispatches, Peter Laarman argues that the Hillary Clinton campaign lacks the kind of moral vision that Democrats need to win back the House of Representatives.

He writes:

Put simply, the only force that could break the GOP’s lock on the House is the force of a morally awakened electorate. Were Obama running again, I believe that the Republican House just might crumble and fall. The president remains America’s Idealist In Chief, and he would run on his evident moral passion to bind up the nation’s wounds. He would take the high ground and smite the sworn enemies of American ideals–of liberty and justice for all–on both hip and thigh. He would chastise the Republicans as a group for their decades-long stirring of the toxic slime from which Trumpism emerged.

Secretary Clinton, on the other hand, often sounds moralistic when speaking of the nation’s problems, but she never comes across as a deeply ethical reformer in the mold of Barack Obama, Franklin Roosevelt, or even 1964’s Lyndon Johnson. Her pandering to groups representing underdogs—women’s rights groups, civil rights groups, trade unions—feels in both intonation and gesture exactly like that: highly calculated pandering. Tom Kaine’s down-to-earth Joe Biden impersonation can’t compensate for this defect at the top of the ticket. No number of morally-impassioned surrogates can compensate.

We should not forget that a widely-shared yearning for a moral revolution formed the heart of the Sanders movement. We shouldn’t forget that this surge of moral energy surprised the Vermont senator himself, or that it was really a remarkable thing to behold, especially considering the many liabilities of the senator as a credible candidate. We shouldn’t forget that what many read as “class warfare” and raw resentment of the overclass always arises from a deeply moral center. It’s not just that the 1% sucks up more than 90% of all new the new wealth generated in this country; it’s that their arrogance and presumption regarding their entitlement to power and wealth is widely seen to be undemocratic and simply wrong.

But it appears that Clinton and her team may have forgotten all of this.

Read the entire piece here.  Morality, of course, is a loaded term.  The anti-Hillary faction would agree that Clinton lacks a moral vision, but they would define such a vision in a very different way.  Yet, for a left-leaning publication such as Religion Dispatches, Laarman’s piece makes perfect sense.

Urge the House of Representatives to Fund History

House

Here is another chance to help support the teaching of history and civics in K-12 schools.

From the blog of the American Historical Association:

In December, President Obama signed into law a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The “Every Student Succeeds Act” restored funding for K–12 history and civics education that was eliminated five years ago. Unfortunately, when the president’s budget request was released on February 9 it did not include appropriations for the major new program source of funding for history and civics.

Left unfunded was a competitive grant program for nonprofit organizations to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to provide high-quality instruction in American history and civics for underserved students.

Representatives Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Gwen Graham (D-FL) have circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to all members of the House of Representatives, inviting them to sign a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking for funds for these competitive grants.

The National Coalition for History (NCH) urgently needs you to contact your representative and ask him or her to sign the Ross/Graham “Dear Colleague” letter supporting funding for history and civics education.

How to Contact Your Representative

Please call or e-mail your House member’s office and urge them to support federal funding for history and civics education. To contact your representative, you can use one of these two options. No matter which means of communication you choose, please personalize your message as to your background or interest in history. If you are employed in the education field, especially as a K–12 teacher, mention the institution where you work in your congressional district.

Make a phone call. All members of Congress can be reached through the US Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121. If you feel comfortable doing so, a personal phone call is preferable to an e-mail. If you are not sure who your representative is you can follow this link to the House’s website. Then enter your zip code, which will provide a link to your member’s website. Ask the receptionist for the name of the staffer who handles education funding. Then ask to leave a voice mail, or ask for the e-mail address of that staffer.

  • Message: Representatives Ross (R-FL) and Graham (D-FL) have circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to be sent to the House Appropriations Committee requesting funds for K–12 history and civics grants at the US Department of Education. These new grants were authorized under the “Every Student Succeeds Act” enacted in December. The future health of our democracy depends on the quality of instruction today’s students receive in these subjects. I urge you to support this bipartisan effort by signing on to the Ross/Graham “Dear Colleague” letter to promote the teaching of Traditional American History and civics by funding these programs.

Send an e-mail. NCH, working with our colleagues at the National Humanities Alliance, has prepared a one-step link to your House member. You simply enter your address and the system identifies your representative. We’ve provided an e-mail template that can be edited to personalize your message. The message not only goes to your member’s e-mail, but their Twitter account and Facebook page as well.

The Freedom Caucus’s Obstructionist Tactics Are Not New

The men of the Freedom Caucus

If you follow American politics you know about the Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative members of the House of Representatives that champion limited government, don’t like outgoing Speaker John Boehner because he is too moderate, and have been making a mess of the process of selecting his replacement.  

As have noted before here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, the Freedom Caucus likes to describe its members (and I assume it constituency) as “Valley Forge Americans.”

The obstructionist tactics of the Freedom Caucus have a long history in American politics.  Michael Todd Landis reminds us of this fact in a recent article at History News Network.  The article is drawn from Landis’s recent book Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis

Here is a taste of his article:

Despite what media pundits and talking-heads may say, and despite Americans’ clear displeasure with Congressional inactivity (a recent Gallup poll puts public approval of the legislative branch at an embarrassing 14 percent), federal obstructionism is nothing new. Extreme conservatives have long aimed to gum-up governmental works, decentralize authority, and return power to the states and local elites. The fight dates back to the US Constitution itself, a document vehemently opposed by “Anti-Federalists” suspicious of centralized power and a new, united nation (rather than thirteen separate states).
In the antebellum era, the most energetic obstructionists were Southern enslavers fearful that an empowered government might one day strike at slavery. They opposed all manner of federal action, including seemingly mundane and benign projects such as road and canal building, harbor improvements, river dredging, and western land sales. North Carolina’s Nathaniel Macon declared in 1818, “If Congress can make canals, they can with more propriety emancipate [slaves].” And in 1824, John Randolph of Virginia announced in the House, “If Congress possess the power to do what is proposed in this [internal improvements] bill, they may emancipate every slave in the United States.” For these men, any government action whatsoever was unacceptable, as it would surely lead to the destruction of their “peculiar institution.”

Read the entire essay here.


And You Thought This Battle for the Speaker of the House Was Bad

Nathaniel Banks: Speaker of the House

This morning I pointed out that only one Speaker of the House ever became President of the United States.


Over at Politico Magazine Josh Zeitz offer some more historical context to the selection of the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.  In 1855 it took two months for the House to select a new Speaker.  

Here is a taste of Zeitz’s piece:

We’re a far cry from 1855, when an incoming congressional majority—the nascent Republican Party—came to Washington determined to stop the spread of chattel slavery. At the time, this anti-slavery coalition was still provisional and ad hoc; the chief impediment to electing a speaker was reconciling its many factions. And yet today, 160 years later, the now-seasoned Republican Party seems similarly fractured—hostage to a strident minority whom even Eric Cantor, the former GOP majority leader, scores for their unbending refusal to embrace the hard work of “incremental progress, winning hearts and minds before winning the vote—the kind of governance Ronald Reagan perfected.” Which begs the question: Is the Grand Old Party unified enough to lead, or is it reverting to the schismatic and disunited state of its earliest days?…

The Kansas-Nebraska Act snapped the cords that bound many Northern voters to the two political parties and threw the American political system into months of extreme confusion and turmoil. At hundreds of political meetings around the country, anti-slavery activists abandoned their political bases for new “fusion” tickets. These activists cut a wide swath across the American political spectrum. Some were members of the moribund Free Soil party, which formed in 1848 to oppose the extension of slavery into the western territories. Others were “Conscience Whigs” who were committed to the Whig party’s economic platform but shared the Free Soilers’ distaste for slavery. Still others were “anti-Nebraska” Democrats, who opposed the Whigs on most policy questions but thought slavery was a dangerous social and political system. Finally, to confuse matters even more, there was considerable overlap between the various anti-Nebraska factions and the nativist American Party, commonly remembered as the “Know Nothing Party.” In some states, these fusion tickets were called Anti-Nebraska, Democrat-Republican or Free Soil. In Ripon, Wisconsin, on February 28, 1854, several dozen residents of the surrounding county converged on the town’s simple, one-room, wood-frame schoolhouse to forge a new political party. They called themselves Republicans, and the name eventually stuck.

That fall, anti-Nebraska candidates unseated dozens of Northern Democrats, leaving many political professionals to wonder who would control the next Congress. Douglas and his associates did a preliminary nose count and estimated that even if Democrats coalesced with what remained of the Whig Party’s representation—now mostly concentrated in the Southern and border states—the anti-Nebraska forces would enjoy a majority of at least 10 votes in the House. Seasoned observers understood, however, that the anti-Nebraska forces were a shaky coalition at best. Erstwhile Whigs and Democrats remained bitterly at odds over economic issues like banking, the tariff and funding for internal improvements—questions that had defined the nation’s political fault lines since the early 1820s and which couldn’t easily be papered over. Adding to the confusion, the new, anti-immigrant American Party—popularly called the Know-Nothings—also won scores of state legislative and congressional seats in the fall elections. Most Know-Nothings opposed the extension of slavery and therefore fell under the banner of the anti-Nebraska fusion coalition, but many ex-Whigs and ex-Democrats were loath to consort with nativists and were steadfastly opposed to placing one in the Speaker’s chair.
Read the rest here.

How Many Speakers of the House Became President of the United States?

James K. Polk: Speaker of the House AND President of United States

I am going to take a wild guess here and say that Paul Ryan would like to one day be President of the United States.  If he does aspire to the highest office in the land he may want to think twice about running for Speaker of the House.

Only one former Speaker of the House was ever elected President of the United States.  That was James K. Polk.  He was Speaker from 1835-1839 and President from 1845-1849.

Henry Clay came close.  He was Speaker from 1811-1821 and again from 1823-1825. He was a serious contender for the presidency in 1824, 1832, and 1844.

The presidential election of 1844 pitted two former Speakers: Polk and Clay.

Something for Paul Ryan to think about.

Show Your Support for the Funding of History in Schools

I strongly encourage you to write your member of the House of Representatives.  STEM may produce good workers in a capitalist economy, but history and the humanities are essential for the preservation of our democracy.

From the Organization of American Historians via History News Network:

Negotiations to finalize a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will resume when Congress returns after Labor Day. Members of the House and Senate will be meeting to iron out the differences between the versions of the bill passed by each body. Quite simply, the Senate bill restores federal funding for K-12 history and civics education while the House bill does not. 

The Senate version includes four provisions that create funding for high quality American history, civics, geography, and economics education.  Some House Majority Conferees, however, have already declared their top priority in conference to be eliminating as many new programs and grants as possible.  This poses a direct threat to the Senate provisions that could inject much needed funding into history, civics, and the social studies.

The Organization of American Historians and the National Coalition for History (NCH) urgently need you to contact your member of the House of Representatives. Congressmen Ross (R-FL) and Cicilline (D-RI) have drafted and distributed a sign-on letter urging their colleagues to adopt the history and civics provisions in the Senate’s version of the bill.  We need your help collecting as many signatures on this “Dear Colleague” letter as possible before September 11th so that this letter can have an important impact on the negotiations. 

Please urge your representative to sign the “Dear Colleague” letter supporting key provisions that benefit history and civics education.   

Send an email directly to House members! 

Follow this link to NCH’s website for more information.  

We cannot overstress the importance of this effort. Congress has not reauthorized the ESEA in 15 years so this is likely our only opportunity to get funding restored for K-12 history and civics education.  Time is of the essence, please act today!

Jon Butler
OAH President 2015-2016 Howard R. Lamar Professor Emeritus of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies,  Yale University
Adjunct Research Professor of History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Katherine Finley
Executive Director 
Organization of American Historians