Wednesday, September 03, 2008

History eye - on wrecking a political party 

And also just to show how far things have moved in 84 years… the worse Political Convention in US history was probably the 1924 Democratic Party convention which took 104 ballots to nominate a compromise candidate for President and also failed to carry a motion denouncing the Ku Klux Clan in a vote of 543 and 3/20th of a vote in favour and 544 and 7/20th of a vote against.

Now that was a piece of vote-counting excitement. Not surprisingly the Democrats were thrashed in the polls that year.

The presidential candidate selected by the way was John W. Davies who thirty-odd years later was the lawyer arguing in the segregationist side in the landmark ‘Brown vs Board of Education’ Supreme Court decision that forced desegregation of U.S. schools.

The 2008 US Republicans are unlikely to make quite that bad a spectacle of themselves though.

(The story that Republican US President Warren Harding joined the Klan in a White House ceremony appears not to be true).

The reason for the prolonged ballot was that the strongest candidate (Al Smith) was a Catholic. Smith did get the nomination in 1928 and the result was an outpouring of religious bigotry during the campaign that set the cause of Catholic integraton in US politics back a generation. Lets hope for a better result from the Obama candidacy this time round.

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