Written By: Anton Sawyer
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I really loathe the fact that history is written by winners. It makes sense, given we as a species like to relish our victories. But in doing so, it has allowed the voice of dissension—those who were on the "wrong side of history"—to be glossed over. To be forgotten. When you look at some of these historical gems, you begin to notice an alarming pattern entrenching itself into the fabric of our philosophical differences.
It was during the scrutiny of the final numbers for the 2016 election that one statistic stood out: Trump's popularity with white suburban women. Though initially given higher, incorrect numbers, Trump beat Clinton with white women in 2016 by a final tally of 47%-45%. When this was made aware to the public, it caused vast confusion, given the number of scandals involving Trump with women over the final months of the campaign.
You know the headlines. Whether it was the reveal of the "grab them by the pussy" tape, the payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep their affair quiet, to all of the personal allegations against Trump himself from former female employees and associates, it didn't seem to move the needle at all.
Headlines filled with questions as to how a demographic who is repeatedly marginalized by an individual, can get majority support from that offended group.
I think the most accurate assessment of how this happened was from Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway when she said the election hinged “between what offends you and what affects you.” When looking back at other monumental shifts in our culture as Americans over the last century, particularly focusing on those who opposed those shifts, these sort of counterintuitive viewpoints flourish.
At the turn of the 20th Century, women's rights began to bubble up. Starting with small, local chapters, until eventually becoming a nation-wide movement, a group of women knows as suffragettes came to be.
They petitioned municipalities, put themselves into the media limelight, and held a plethora of protests to allow women the right to vote. This right was eventually given in 1918—and further expanded in 1928. Though allowing women to vote would seem like a "no-brainer" towards equal rights, it was met with a large percentage of women refusing to support it.
An anti-suffragist movement caught hold. Those in opposition to women voting were concerned with societal disruptions. Corrine McConnaughy, who teaches political science at George Washington University said, "What women anti-suffragists produced to appeal to 'ordinary' women more broadly, was a logic of suffrage as a threat to femininity ... to the protection of the value of domestic life—most notably to the vocation of motherhood, and to a loss of the privileges of womanhood." When looking at their reasoning, it seems to echo what Kellyanne Conway said. Between what offends you (women's roles being upended and the potential to upset the family unit), and what affects you (having the legal right to vote).
Around this same time, John D. Rockefeller was being investigated by both various states, along with the US Feds for a number of legal infringements. At the top of their list was his oil company, Standard Oil, and it being a monopoly. Since the company began being broken up, it has diverged into a swath of brands that have become entrenched in the fabric of the United States. Names like Mobil Oil Corp, Amoco Corporation, Chevron Corporation, etc. Bear in mind these were all under a SINGLE company.
Rockefeller came out with claims that breaking up his company would destroy the economy. That it would cripple our way of life. One of his favorite terms to throw around was "socialism." The US Congress eventually put a stop to Rockefeller’s monopoly. They passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890.
Two years later, the Ohio Supreme Court considered Standard Oil Company as a monopoly, which violated the state’s law. In 1899, Rockefeller responded by dissolving the company and allowing others to run it. Twelve years later, the US Supreme Court still found his company in violation of the Sherman Antitrust law, forcing it to dissolve once more. In the end, he was given stock options in all of the companies and ended up with an estimated fortune of about $500 million. Had he kept the monopoly, he never would have come close to making that amount in his lifetime.
But, did someone say "socialism"?
There's a trend you're going to notice if you look through 20th Century American history; the use of the word socialism as a weapon.
The country was in complete decimation during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt had come up through the ranks of corruption and was tired of watching the country he loved being turned over to the vipers and devils that were holding mass in back-room deals while crushing their fellow American. There were two quotes that I feel exemplified Roosevelt's feelings on the matter.
"I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
"It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country."
Off-topic, but based on those statements from the former President, Wal-Mart is the most un-American company in the states.
At that time (and of course, this has been the only time in American history this has taken place), the wealthy wanted to continue the way of life they had been enjoying thus far. They had to get out in front of the masses taking to the New Deal Roosevelt was trying to pass.
The most powerful statement was made on January 25th, 1936, during a political event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. New York Gov. Al Smith started by castigating FDR for pitting “class against class.” Then he told his audience, “Make a test for yourself. Just get the platform of the Democratic Party and get the platform of the Socialist Party and lay them down on your dining-room table, side by side…. After you have done that, make your mind up to pick up the platform that more nearly squares with the record, and you will have your hand on the Socialist platform.”
After many amendments and supplemental pieces of legislation, The New Deal was finally completed in 1937. Though it did many things, what helped all income and social classes the most was raising taxes on the highest earners to 70%, and setting a federal minimum wage that was updated/increased every few years to keep up with inflation. During the 1950s, 60s, and part of the 70s, America had the greatest economic boom for all classes in its history.
The American people definitely picked what impacted them (financial security), over what offended them (socialism) in both cases of FDR and Rockefeller.
Something I have tried to stress since the first article I wrote was that you are going to see patterns and an inter-webs of history repeating itself time and time again.
It's this reason why I think there should be something said for those who were on the completely wrong side of our cultural lineage. We have completely glossed over any and every opposing point in the arrogant self-congratulatory way that mankind—not just America—has always done.
At this point, the expression "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it," is nothing more than that.
That nugget of time-proven advice which has been heeded like the lucky numbers on the back of a fortune-cookie paper.
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