In the 1850s, there was a political movement called the Know Nothings. They were fundamentally populist, but they also were intensely xenophobic, racist (although they opposed slavery), and anti-Catholic and Irish. Their name derived not from professed ignorance, but because they were instructed to say, “I know nothing,” when asked about their organization. The Know Nothings evolved into The American Party, which had a short life as a major political party.
It would be understandable if you think I’m comparing them to today’s Republican Party. I’m not, because as questionable as their philosophy was, they believed in using government to do something. Today’s Republican Party, by contrast, is the Do Nothing Party, in Washington, in Frankfort, and throughout the country.
When I worked as a Senate staffer in the 1970s, Republicans actually wanted to do things. They wanted to protect the air and water. They wanted to protect consumers. A lot of them aggressively worked to get us out of the Vietnam War. They believed in a limited, but strong federal government that could help make life better and safer for their constituents.Read More ›