The The political scene of the 1920’s parallels

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The Similarities of the political scene of the 1920’s
and the Present

            When you go back and take a look at
the 1920’s from today’s point of view, you can see a clear indication of similarities
between then and now. Also known as the Roaring Twenties because of the
exuberant, freewheeling popular culture of the decade, it perhaps should be
known as the Tribal Twenties because of its proud nationalism and the rise of
nativism, which is the hostility towards foreigners. Today, the United States are
almost mirroring this image, where we have more liberties and freedom as we
have ever had, the nation is currently in the middle of a conservative
resurgence where nativism is once again growing. Similarly, both the 1920’s and
today’s new era can both be seen to have begun after two terms of the
Democratic Party, both being Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama. It is interesting
that after a progressive decade the country shifts into a more conservative
attitude. The illusion in the 1920’s was of infinite prosperity and
opportunity, and the sense that America was entering a new, wonderfully modern
era yet wished for a feeling of normalcy. The illusion of the present is the
yearning for the glories of an imagined past, and invoking ideals the nation
has never yet attained. The political scene of the 1920’s parallels to today as
many of the issues of then can be felt again in the present. A conservative
government in charge with the opposition fighting for power, an anti-immigrant
and nationalist sentiment among the populous, and a feeling of uncertainty are
once 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 the
platform of “returning to normalcy” because Americans, tired from the Great
War, were tired of the progressiveness and yearned for the time before. Harding
gave them exactly what they asked for and this social progression slowed down
and the United State’s economy returned to a more protectionist stance.
Harding’s Secretary of Treasury was noted to say, “The Government is just a
business, and can and should be run on business principles.” Consistent with
his principles of running government with business-like efficiency, Harding
proposed and signed into law tax rate cuts. Not only was the White House
controlled by the Republicans but so was Congress. The Republicans were
dominant in both the house and the Senate until the 1930’s and the rise of
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Much like the election of 1920, the election of 2016
saw Republican nominee, Donald Trump win the presidency and with it the
Republicans now had control of the house and both branches of Congress. Both
Harding 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 millionaire
businessman mirrors that of Warren Harding; Trump also plans to run the United
States as a business and focus on the economic prosperity of the country above
all else. Donald Trump plans on cutting parts of the Affordable Care Act and is
currently cutting taxes for the wealthy and business, something that Harding
himself would do. Overall the 1920’s saw a resurgence in conservative and
business like thinking when running the government and it seems that what is
what we are going to be seeing with President Trump in the present.

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            While it is true that the
conservative Republicans basically had control over the control over the entire
nation it did not mean it went unchallenged. We saw a weakening of the
Democratic party after the 1920 election and the same happened in the 2016
election and while they are weak they still try to vigorously fight back as
they did in the 1920’s. In the 1920’s one of the major points of weakness was the
split within the Democratic Party. The progressive Democrats, known as the
Wilsonians, believed it to be important to improve society through government
action., and the establish political machines of very important states were concerned
with responding in practical fashion to the needs of immigrants and other
minority groups. Prohibition had passed, and the banning of alcohol was the law
of 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. This
division was clear throughout most of the 1920’s until the Democrats eventually
united in opposing the amendment and later overturned in a decade later. You
can take the Democrat’s division and see it during the 2016 election with the
two democratic candidates running for the ticket, Hillary Clinton and Bernie
Sanders. Bernie Sanders reflects the Wilsonians and their desire for societal
improvement through government action and his calls for revolution. Hillary Clinton
on 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 the
establishment. Even after Bernie Sander’s concession and his call for unity
within the party it was clear that not all of the party was with her. This
split was the likely culprit that concluded with the Democrats losing the
election to Donald trump and the Republicans. Overall if history is any
indicator the Democrats should eventually pull themselves together and unite as
a formidable force against the Republicans.


            The United States has always had an
issue with race, and tend to have a problem when people come from out of
country and don’t assimilate. The height of this was surprisingly in the 1920’s
where people would assume that the country was it’s most open and progressive. Bradley
Phipps explains the perception of the 1920’s as a very progressive and exciting
time to live through is incorrect, in reality the 1920’s was a conservative and
reactionary time period. Liberalism and prosperity was true to a certain degree
for some people but for the new immigrants and African-Americans it was simply
not true. There was a resurgence in nationalist and racist sentiment and
concerns about immigration which benefited the newly reformed Klu Klux Klan
which whose membership rose to around 6 million. Local groups of the KKK sprang
up all over the country, and by the mid1920s, it had become a national
organization, with a formidable presence not just in the South, but also New
England, the Midwest, and all across the northern United States. KKK groups in major urban areas expanded as many white
Americans became bitter and resentful about immigration from Asia and Eastern
Europe. Klansmen complained that these immigrants were taking jobs away from
whites and diluting the imagined racial purity of American society. Protestant
ministers, Catholic priests, and Jewish rabbis stepped forward to condemn the
organization in no uncertain terms. The National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, was at the leader in the efforts to educate the
public about the threat posed by the KKK. The NAACP was highly effective, and
the organization’s membership declined dramatically in the late 1920s to only a
few 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 of
Donald Trump, as well as a rise in far-right groups. Once again groups such as
Antifa follow in the footsteps of the NAACP in fighting this extreme

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