The Similarities of the political scene of the 1920’sand the Present When you go back and take a look atthe 1920’s from today’s point of view, you can see a clear indication of similaritiesbetween then and now. Also known as the Roaring Twenties because of theexuberant, freewheeling popular culture of the decade, it perhaps should beknown as the Tribal Twenties because of its proud nationalism and the rise ofnativism, which is the hostility towards foreigners. Today, the United States arealmost mirroring this image, where we have more liberties and freedom as wehave ever had, the nation is currently in the middle of a conservativeresurgence where nativism is once again growing. Similarly, both the 1920’s andtoday’s new era can both be seen to have begun after two terms of theDemocratic Party, both being Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama. It is interestingthat after a progressive decade the country shifts into a more conservativeattitude. The illusion in the 1920’s was of infinite prosperity andopportunity, and the sense that America was entering a new, wonderfully modernera yet wished for a feeling of normalcy. The illusion of the present is theyearning for the glories of an imagined past, and invoking ideals the nationhas never yet attained.
The political scene of the 1920’s parallels to today asmany of the issues of then can be felt again in the present. A conservativegovernment in charge with the opposition fighting for power, an anti-immigrantand nationalist sentiment among the populous, and a feeling of uncertainty areonce again shaking the nation. The election of 1920 saw the Republican nominee,Warren Harding win the presidency with huge majority of 60%. He ran on theplatform of “returning to normalcy” because Americans, tired from the GreatWar, were tired of the progressiveness and yearned for the time before.
Hardinggave them exactly what they asked for and this social progression slowed downand the United State’s economy returned to a more protectionist stance.Harding’s Secretary of Treasury was noted to say, “The Government is just abusiness, and can and should be run on business principles.” Consistent withhis principles of running government with business-like efficiency, Hardingproposed and signed into law tax rate cuts. Not only was the White Housecontrolled by the Republicans but so was Congress. The Republicans weredominant in both the house and the Senate until the 1930’s and the rise ofFranklin Delano Roosevelt. Much like the election of 1920, the election of 2016saw Republican nominee, Donald Trump win the presidency and with it theRepublicans now had control of the house and both branches of Congress. BothHarding and Trump offer a promise of bringing the country to a “time before”specifically Harding’s promise of a “Return to Normalcy” and Trump’s promise to”Make America Great Again.” Likewise, Trump’s background as a millionairebusinessman mirrors that of Warren Harding; Trump also plans to run the UnitedStates as a business and focus on the economic prosperity of the country aboveall else.
Donald Trump plans on cutting parts of the Affordable Care Act and iscurrently cutting taxes for the wealthy and business, something that Hardinghimself would do. Overall the 1920’s saw a resurgence in conservative andbusiness like thinking when running the government and it seems that what iswhat we are going to be seeing with President Trump in the present. While it is true that theconservative Republicans basically had control over the control over the entirenation it did not mean it went unchallenged.
We saw a weakening of theDemocratic party after the 1920 election and the same happened in the 2016election and while they are weak they still try to vigorously fight back asthey did in the 1920’s. In the 1920’s one of the major points of weakness was thesplit within the Democratic Party. The progressive Democrats, known as theWilsonians, believed it to be important to improve society through governmentaction.
, and the establish political machines of very important states were concernedwith responding in practical fashion to the needs of immigrants and otherminority groups. Prohibition had passed, and the banning of alcohol was the lawof the land; the goal of this was to focus on making Americans moral righteous.Democrats were split on whether to support or actively oppose prohibition. Thisdivision was clear throughout most of the 1920’s until the Democrats eventuallyunited in opposing the amendment and later overturned in a decade later.
Youcan take the Democrat’s division and see it during the 2016 election with thetwo democratic candidates running for the ticket, Hillary Clinton and BernieSanders. Bernie Sanders reflects the Wilsonians and their desire for societalimprovement through government action and his calls for revolution. Hillary Clintonon the other hand, was a more lenient and less radical member of the party,while she called for social changed she did it at a level view favorably by theestablishment. Even after Bernie Sander’s concession and his call for unitywithin the party it was clear that not all of the party was with her. Thissplit was the likely culprit that concluded with the Democrats losing theelection to Donald trump and the Republicans. Overall if history is anyindicator the Democrats should eventually pull themselves together and unite asa formidable force against the Republicans.
The United States has always had anissue with race, and tend to have a problem when people come from out ofcountry and don’t assimilate. The height of this was surprisingly in the 1920’swhere people would assume that the country was it’s most open and progressive. BradleyPhipps explains the perception of the 1920’s as a very progressive and excitingtime to live through is incorrect, in reality the 1920’s was a conservative andreactionary time period. Liberalism and prosperity was true to a certain degreefor some people but for the new immigrants and African-Americans it was simplynot true. There was a resurgence in nationalist and racist sentiment andconcerns about immigration which benefited the newly reformed Klu Klux Klanwhich whose membership rose to around 6 million.
Local groups of the KKK sprangup all over the country, and by the mid1920s, it had become a nationalorganization, with a formidable presence not just in the South, but also NewEngland, the Midwest, and all across the northern United States. KKK groups in major urban areas expanded as many whiteAmericans became bitter and resentful about immigration from Asia and EasternEurope. Klansmen complained that these immigrants were taking jobs away fromwhites and diluting the imagined racial purity of American society.
Protestantministers, Catholic priests, and Jewish rabbis stepped forward to condemn theorganization in no uncertain terms. The National Association for theAdvancement of Colored People, was at the leader in the efforts to educate thepublic about the threat posed by the KKK. The NAACP was highly effective, andthe organization’s membership declined dramatically in the late 1920s to only afew thousand. This attitude of America today and wanting the United States to”be for Americans” is has once again grew in present since the election ofDonald Trump, as well as a rise in far-right groups. Once again groups such asAntifa follow in the footsteps of the NAACP in fighting this extremenationalism.