Category: The Historical Muse

Thoughts on history and the historical profession. Clio is the muse of history–this category title is a play on that concept.

American Self-Government: Example #1

They were called Separatists in their native England. They got this name because they couldn’t abide being part of a state church where the government controlled the worship and doctrine. So they set up their own churches based on their understanding of how God wanted His church to work, following what they perceived to be the model in the New Testament. When they set up these churches, they had to start from scratch with church government. Consequently, they relied on… Read more »

Democrats & the Economy: History Lesson #4

George H. W. Bush inherited a robust economy from Reagan. He even pledged, “Read my lips: no new taxes.” If only he had stayed faithful to that pledge. He did reject new taxes from a Democratic Congress a number of times, but as part of a budget deal in 1990, he allowed some taxes to be raised. That angered his conservative base, a base he would need in the next election. In early 1991, after the success of the Gulf War, Bush’s approval rating was… Read more »

Democrats & the Economy: History Lesson #3

The 1970s were dark years in many ways, and one cannot blame all the economic woes on one individual. OPEC kept increasing oil prices, which was a major headache for everyone. Yet presidential leadership can make a difference. That leadership was not forthcoming, however. At the beginning of the decade, we had Watergate and the Nixon resignation, followed by Ford, who failed to inspire. Both were Republicans; the economy was not strong. When Jimmy Carter took office in 1977, it… Read more »

Democrats & the Economy: History Lesson #2

FDR changed the way Americans thought about the role of government by using government as the supplier of needs in a time of crisis. Lyndon Johnson, in the 1960s, took that concept a step further; one might refer to his “Great Society” program as the New Deal on steroids. The philosophy of the Great Society was a shift from helping in a time of need to helping all the time. Whereas the New Deal was conceived as a temporary measure… Read more »

Democrats & the Economy: History Lesson #1

In the midst of the current economic jitters, I have heard more than one commentator assert that when economic times are rough, voters tend to gravitate toward the Democrats. Why on earth would that be? I want to provide a little history lesson on how Democrats have handled the economy over the past 70-plus years. Let’s start with Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Great Depression hit America in 1929. Voters turned out the Republicans and looked to FDR to reverse the… Read more »

Celebrate the Constitution

This past week marked the 221st anniversary of the writing of the Constitution. From May to September 1787, delegates from all states except Rhode Island labored over the intricacies of what makes government work. They did this in a room with the windows closed even on the hottest days to ensure that their deliberations did not leak to the public. They took a vow of silence, so to speak, in order that they might be able to discuss freely without… Read more »

Lest We Forget . . .