The current conflict involving Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican attempts to prevent collective union bargaining is a resumption of a practice that has been long associated with the Republican right.
The Democratic president associated with nurturing America's labor movement was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. By developing a partnership between labor and the New Deal the crafty president developed, an association was in place between the union movement and the Democratic Party.
It not only enabled Roosevelt to secure four presidential victories, but sowed the seeds for successes beyond Roosevelt's lifetime for liberal Democratic chief executives extending from Harry Truman's Fair Deal, to John Kennedy's New Frontier, and culminating with Lyndon Johnson's Great Society to the end of the sixties.
Roosevelt, who was elected in 1932 on a platform of balancing the budget, one conservative enough that Barry Goldwater later remarked that he would have been comfortable running on it, began experimenting with Keynesian economics and therein forged a Democratic Party surge.
The Democrats dominated the national scene from Roosevelt's first election to the end of Johnson's tenure in the same manner that Republicans had been dominant nationally from Abraham Lincoln's first election in 1860 until FDR's dramatic thirties' upheaval. The Civil War ushered in the Republican era commenced by Lincoln while the Roosevelt generated progressive Democratic movement occurred during another pivotal period of U.S. history, that of the Great Depression.
With the Great Depression plaguing America and the call for action in the wake of a traditional Harding-Coolidge-Hoover trickle down economics approach, many sought radical approaches such as that advanced by the American Communist Party. Scores of progressives that later abandoned such an approach after learning about gulags and repression in Stalinist Soviet Russia flirted with Communism as a remedy to America's ills in the face of economic tragedy.
Accordingly, after Roosevelt extended his Depression fighting tactics to new areas opposed by big business, the American Liberty League tenaciously fought FDR's New Deal. The League launched a propaganda assault depicting the patrician from the Hudson Valley, New York aristocratic family as a traitor to his class. The American Liberty League sought to create a correlation between Roosevelt's Keynesian economic approach to policies being advanced in the Soviet Union.
After Roosevelt's death his successor Truman, confronted with a majority Republican Eightieth Congress, vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act. It surmounted Truman's veto and became law. The bill, enacted in June 1947, amended the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act, and prohibited certain types of labor strikes while also taking aim on the closed union shop element of the legislation. It was championed by the man then known as "Mr. Republican", Ohio Senator Robert Taft.
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