The Decline and Fall of Progressive Republicans

The Republican Party has now become a right to ultra right entity. This has happened in stages.  Let me concentrate on the Senate but begin with the 1969 election for Mayor of New York City.  What happens first in the Big Apple eventually spreads to the entire country.

1969-John Lindsay, running for a second term, lost the Republican Primary to State Senator John Marchi.  Nothing against Staten Island; but a Mayor from that borough is like having NATO headquartered in Spain.   Lindsay retained the support of the Liberal Party.  He won a second term with 42% of the vote against Marchi and the Democrat, Mario Procaccino.  Politicians get very greedy and self centered and forget the cause is more important they are.  Both major parties should have worked out a deal with one withdrawal.  I am glad they did not.  John Lindsay was one of my favorite public figures.  The Right Wing shot itself in the foot.

1970-After the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Governor Rockefeller appointed  Congressman Charles Goodell to fill the remainder of the term, or 1970.  Rockefeller was a clever politician. Goodell should have run in November of 1968 to fill out the unexpired part of the term.  Somehow Republicans worked around this issue.   Almost immediately,  Charles Goodell followed a liberal line on domestic issues and a strong dovish position on the Vietnam War.  As might be expected, this angered both President Nixon and Governor Rockefeller.  Goodell was his own man and did not defer to his party in place of his own beliefs.  The Democrats nominated Richard Ottinger from upstate and he also was generally a Liberal.  The Conservatives were understandably dissatisfied with both men.  James Buckley got their nod to run as a Third Party Conservative.  At that time, the Republican Party was simply too Far Left to suit them.

President Nixon and his men began an all out campaign on Charles Goodell attacking him as a Radical Liberal.  Both Rockefeller and Nixon supported Buckley.   Buckley indicated during the campaign that he expected to follow the Nixon Administration most of time.  The Democrats, with Ottinger in the lead, should have withdrawn from the race and supported Goodell.  James Buckley won in November with 39% of the  vote.  Greed runs rampantly in each party.

1972-Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, in her bid for a fifth term, lost to William Hathaway.   Smith, the First Lady of the Senate, came up short more from her age rather than any ill feelings.  She had a unique ability to see both sides of an issue.   John Sherman Cooper,  the Global Kentuckian, retired.

1978-Clifford Case, from New Jersey, lost the Republican Primary, to Right Winger Jeffery Bell.   Case was running for his fifth term.  Bill Bradley defeated Bell in November.  In Massachusetts,  Edward Brooke lost to Paul Tsongas. Brooke was trying for his third term.

1980-Jacob Javits lost the Republican Primary  to Alfonse D’Amato.   The Liberal Party did endorse Javits in his bid for a fifth term.  Javits pulled enough votes from Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman to hand the victory to D’Amato.  Javits  tarnished his legacy.  It looks like the Liberals in New York State did not learn much from the experience in 1970.

1984-Two Republicans, both seeking their fourth term, left the Senate.  In  Illinois, Paul Simon defeated Charles Percy.  Percy was the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which sometimes is a hindrance. Howard Baker from Tennessee retired and became the Chief of Staff for Reagen.

1988-This one in Connecticut really hurt.  Joe Lieberman defeated Lowell Weicker. Weicker was up for his fourth term.  Weicker became the Governor of Connecticut running as an independent  in 1990.

1992-After two terms,  Warren Rudman of New Hampshire retired, tired of the brazen partisanship.  Rudman became of nationally known name in his second term.  He was involved in the investigation of both the Iran Contra Affair and the Keating Five; the nomination of his friend David Souder to the Supreme Court; and the sponsorship of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction effort.

1996-Tough year for Moderate Republicans.  Leaving the Senate were Mark Hatfield of Oregon, William Cohen from Maine; Nancy Kassebaum from Kansas; and Alan Simpson from Wyoming.  In a quick turn around,  Bill Clinton nominated and the Senate confirmed  Cohen as Secretary of Defense.

2001-Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont won his bid for a third term in 2000.  Within a few weeks,  Jeffords left the Republican Party and became an Independent.  Jeffords stated he would caucus with the Democrats.  Prior to this move the Senate was even with each party at 50; now the Democrats had a slim majority.

2006-Lincoln Chaffee from Rhode Island paid a price just for being a Republican.   Sheldon Whitehouse defeated him in a reaction to the Bush Administration.  This was very unfair.  Chafee had done more to oppose George Bush than most Democrats.

2012-Rather than seek a fourth term, Olympia Snowe from Maine retired.  She was of the one most respected and influential women in the country.


Jackie Smith-HOF Tight End; Steeler Nemesis

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Dallas Cowboys  in Super 13 at Miami-Pittsburgh  caught a big break  in the third quarter when Jackie Smith dropped a  sure touchdown pass from the Steeler eight yard line.  Roger Staubach jumped in frustration.   The Cowboys were trailing 21 to 14 and rather than tying they kicked a field goal and the score was 21 to 17.  Pittsburgh finally won the game 35 to 31.  Jackie Smith was the most downcast man guy in America.  He played 15 years, 1963 to 1977,  with the St. Louis Cardinals .  He signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1978 and no doubt wishes he had retired.  The irony was that Smith always played well against the Steelers.

Jackie Smith was not only was one of the great tight ends in the  history of the NFL but he also was very versatile.  In his career,  JS caught 480 passes for 7,918 yards and 40 touchdowns.  From the End Around, he carried 38 times for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Smith was the Cardinals’ punter from 1964 to 1966 kicking 127 times for a 39.1  average.   Jackie Smith was a five time Pro Bower and entered Canton in 1994.

Here was the damage he did to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 60s.

1963 at St Louis.  Caught nine passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns.  The Steelers blew a 20 to 3 halftime lead.  This turned out to be the game that kept the Steelers from winning the Eastern Conference Title.   This, to me, was the toughest loss the Pittsburgh ever had.  Cardinals 24 Steelers 23.

1964 at St. Louis. Caught four passes for 56 yards.  Pittsburgh trailed 34 to 16 early in the fourth quarter.  Coach Buddy Parker pulled Ed Brown at quarterback and inserted second year man Bill Nelson.  Nelson capped two drives with touchdown passes to Dick Hoak and Gary Ballman.  Defensive halfback Jimmy Hill ended the third drive with an interception at the Cardinal five. Pittsburgh lost 34 to 30.

1964 at Pittsburgh.  Caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown.  Pittsburgh lead 20 to 7 midway in the fourth period but Cardinals came from behind to win.  This was Steelers’  toughest loss of the season.  The final score was 21 to 20.

1965 at Pittsburgh. Caught five passes for 74 yards. The Cardinals won 20 to 7.

1966 at Pittsburgh.  The Steelers got a measure of revenge against Jackie Smith.  Andy Russell blocked one of his punts and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.  But Jackie Smith did get five receptions for 106 yards.  The Steelers won 30 to 9.

1968 at St Louis.  Caught five passes for 105 yards.  Pittsburgh blew a 21 to 0 halftime lead and the game was a tie at 28.

1968 at Pittsburgh.  Scored a touchdown on a 34 yard end around play.  Caught seven passes for 99 yards. Great day.  The Cardinals won 20 to 10.

As you can see, Jackie Smith played well against Pittsburgh.  nevertheless, the dropped pass in the End Zone is the one play we remember.

States Where Reagen Won in 1980-Less than 50% of the Popular Vote

This will back up the analysis just done.  There were 235 electoral that Reagen with less than 50% in each.

Border South



North Carolina…13



Deep South



South Carolina…8


Far West






New York…41








New England






Game 2 1964-San Francisco at Franklin Field

The Philadelphia Eagles, as previously mentioned,  scored a rousing victory 38 to 7 over the New York Giants at home in the first weekend of the season.  Though a great win, it became less impressive with time.  The New York Giant dynasty ended in 1964 and they fell from first to last with a record of 2-10-2.  The second week at home with the San Francisco Forty Niners brought the Eagles down to earth.  Losing to team that was 2-12 in 1963 really looked bad.

Norm Snead completed 21 of 46 passes for 282 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.   Pete Retzlaff caught eight passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.  For SF,  halfback Mike Lind ran for three touchdowns.  The Eagles’  last ditch drive started from their own 25.  The  game ended with Snead throwing two incomplete passes in the End Zone from the 49er eight yard line.  The first to Retzlaff and the second to Ray Poage.   Final 49ers 28  Eagles 24

Analysis of 1980 Presidential Election II

To repeat here was the popular and electoral vote. Two cases presented.

Reagen-50.8% of the popular vote; 44 states; 489 electoral votes or 90.9% of the total.

Carter-41.0% of the popular vote; six states and Washington, DC; 49 electoral votes or 9.1% of the total

Anderson-6.1 % of the popular vote

Other-2.1% of the popular vote

Ronald Reagen won 19 states with 235 electoral votes by less than 50% of the total votes in each.  Since John Anderson, an independent Republican,  had a liberal plank.  His candidacy reflected a dissatisfaction with the rightward drift of both parties.  Each approach shown below is after the last minute shift due to the hostage situation.

Method #1.  Give all 19 states to President Carter.  I assume discontented liberals stay with the Democrats.  Carter wins!  This may be unlikely but it is not unreasonable.

Carter -25 states & DC  with 284 electoral votes.

Reagen-25 states with 254 votes.

Method #2.  Jimmy Carter had a big Southern base in 1976.  Minus Virginia, Carter took every state in both the Border and Deep South.  Even so, let’s assume RR takes all of these states and Carter took all the rest.

Deep South



South Carolina…8

Total Deep South…24

Border South



North Carolina…13


Total Border South…38

Total South…62

Reagen with more than 50%…25 states with 254 Electoral Votes.

Add Southern states to Reagen with less than 50% of the popular vote…7 States with 62 Electoral votes.

Total for Reagen…32 states with 316 Electoral Votes-Reagen Wins

Carter won Six states and DC…49 Electoral Votes 

Carter won states out of the South where Reagen had less than 50% of the popular Vote…12 states with   173 Electoral Votes   

Total for 18 states with 222 Electoral Votes-Carter loses.

Moderate to Progressive Republicans-The Ripon Society

In 1962, many Republicans of the subject ilk had horrid memories of what one member of their party, Senator Joe McCarthy, did to the country from 1950 to 1954.   McCarthy vanished from headlines after his censure in 1954 and died in 1957.  Nevertheless, many Republicans saw McCarthyism continue as the John Birch Society grew in numbers and influence. They feared that the society would gradually overtake the GOP and say all Liberals were Communist inspired .

The Kennedy Administration offered no real alternatives.  The President, through  his brother the Attorney General,  began an assault on civil liberties in the name of fighting communism.   The Justice  Department sought to revive the Sedition and Espionage Acts to what they were in World War I.  The Administration wanted an Obstruction of Justice bill that had vague and general provisions that police could carry to extremes.  There were attempts to get corporations with government contracts to fire employees as subversives who merely expressed the “wrong” opinions or advocated new ideas.  Luckily Congress did pass most but not all of these measures.  The Kennedy Administration approved interfering and opening mail especially coming from other countries and wiretapping any dissidents.  The mail snooping and wire tapping were without court orders and real dirty business.

Just as serious were two planks that Kennedy raised repeatedly during the Presidential Campaign in 1960.  He  talked about the missile gap and suggested that Russians could threaten the United States because our defensive position was inadequate.  There was of course no missile gap and mutually assured destruction was in place, if not fully recognized.  The increase in defense spending was beyond both  to our needs and to the capacity of the Department of Defense to spend in a timely manner.  John F. Kennedy also said he would introduce Civil Rights legislation so that all Americans should enjoy equal opportunity.  After January 20, 1961,  he did not even mention this pledge until October of 1963, one month before Dallas.

Against this backdrop, several politicians, educators, lawyers, and other professionals  met a Cambridge, Ma in October of 1962 and found the Ripon Society.  The name was the city were  professionals  in their day founded the Republican Party in 1854.  Among other things, this party stood for a protective tariff to help fledgling American industries,  universal public education, the ultimate abolition of slavery, internal improvements, the rights of organized labor, a central banking system, and westward expansion.  To restate what the Ripon Society stood for 1962 was a liberal alternative to the Democratic Party and an overall resistance to extremism be it from the left or right.

What was the difference between a Liberal Republican and a Liberal Democrat?   There was more than generally thought.  Liberal GOPs  were visionaries in the tradition of Presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and Herbert Hoover and Senators such as Robert LaFollette and George Norris.   Republicans tied their legislative proposals to  long and short goals.  This type of Republican wanted a society where all groups-various levels of  government, corporations, small business, organized labor,  and individuals worked together or provided constructive tension toward overall goals.  All of us know this is an almost Utopian idea  incapable of total fulfillment; progress is the real key.

By contrast, Democratic liberals simply ran to the federal government in a crisis mode to seek a solution to any program.  They virtually ignored individual responsibility or the long term cost of a any action.  They tended to over promise and not think matters through.  Then there was the civil right legislation which Southern Democrats always opposed; but now Liberal Republicans are almost extinct.  The senators now members of the Ripon Society are at odds with what Progressives  have always stood for.  A list of the flight of moderates from the GOP will follow.

Analysis of 1980 Presidential Election I

Let’s take a look at the 1980 Presidential Election.  The outmoded Electoral College often does not reflect the viewpoint of the people.   Despite his overwhelming victory in electoral  votes,  Ronald Reagan in 1980 did not have the popularity that many Right Wingers claim.  This is not old news but very relevant today.   People like Newt Gingrich  and Richard Viguerie want some statue, street, or building named after RR in every county in America.  They hope, of course,  to invoke Reagan’s legacy to further both their fiscal and social agenda.  Democrats did this with both Woodrow Wilson and John Kennedy and they were just as wrong.

Here are the popular and electoral results of the 1980 Presidential Election.

Popular Vote-Reagan (R)  50.8%, Carter  (D) 41.0%, Anderson (I) 6.1%, and Other 2.1%  Total 100.0%

Electoral and State Vote-Reagan won 44 states and 489 electoral votes or 90.9% of the total electoral vote.  Carter  won six  states and Washington DC for 49 electoral votes or 9.1% of the total.  By the way, there are 538 electoral votes.

The six states that President Carter took were Rhode Island, West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Minnesota, Hawaii.

There were two Wild Cards.

(1) For several months prior to the election,  officials of the Reagan campaign discussed with the Iranians  an arms-for- hostage deal.  No one in this country seemed to know where Vice Presidential Nominee George Bush was for about two weeks in August.  Some diplomats says he was in France no doubt discussing anything that might help the campaign.  About 10 days before the election,  Ed Meese, Jim Baker, and Bill Casey finalized a deal at the L’Enfant Plaza hotel in DC with Iranian Diplomat Abar Hashemi Rafsanjani.  This luxury place is on Independence Avenue about half way between the Jefferson Memorial and Capitol Hill.   It is eerie and isolated at night.  Very few people would recognize them.

The result-the Iranians were to hold the hostages until after the Presidential Election.  If Reagan won, the United States would sell arms to Iran in exchange for the their release.  Everything worked out as Ronald Reagan wanted.  We all remember the freeing of  the hostages during the Inauguration and we began selling arms to Iran within a few days.  This, of course,  violated  the Arms Export and Control Act.

(2) The presence of an Independent, John Anderson on the ticket.  Anderson  took votes away from the incumbent President Jimmy Carter.  More on this later.