Sunday, August 18, 2013
Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans
by Lewis L. Gould
This is as the title would suggest a history of the Republican Party from its roots as an abolitionist group of Northerners who constructed it off of the wreckage of the Wig Party. That supported a tariff and internal improvements to the modern anti-government low taxes, Southern strategy using party we know today. Gould constructs his narrative around the presidential of ministrations he views to be the most important in describing the party. They are Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan. Perhaps the most surprising of those is Eisenhower. The case is made rather convincingly that he caused a break between the leadership of the party who wanted a more "East Coast" Republican as opposed to Southern/Midwestern where the parties base was. The bass taking their revenge by nominating Goldwater and Nixon. Unfortunately the other sections of the book often turn into fights with other historians as well as lists of individuals that he'd concedes have been forgotten today. Unfortunately he rarely explains why we should remember them. Only that they were important at one time or another.
What I found most interesting was the discussions of the various campaigns. How in the 1860s presidential candidates were actually looked down on if they gave public speeches. Which just wouldn't work today. Also that mudslinging isn't a recent development by any means.