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Favorable or Unfavorable #506: Robert La Follette


Favorable or Unfavorable #506: Robert La Follette  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #506: Robert La Follette

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Robert La Follette (WI-R) is probably the most famous progressive in US history. He might be the central figure in normalizing progressivism because of how successful and popular his governorship was in Wisconsin. 

In 1957, he was voted by a Senate committee, chaired by JFK, as part of a 5-Senator Hall of Fame. La Follette was inducted with Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C Calhoun, and Robert Taft. In 1982, historians were polled to survey the greatest US Senators and La Follette tied in 1st place with Henry Clay. 

My own family history ties in with La Follette. I've mentioned elsewhere in the forum that my great-grandfather was the secretary of the Ohio Progressive Republicans in 1911-1912. During his time leading this organization he tried to swerve Ohio progressives to back La Follette at the GOP convention because he was a huge La Follette fan. My great-grandfather's 1st cousin (father's sister's son) was George W. Norris, progressive Senator of NE, who was also more closely linked to La Follette. Unfortunately, it seems most of OH progs were wanting Teddy Roosevelt, one of whom was James R Garfield, son of president Garfield, who was also a high-ranking member of this organization. Ultimately, it seems like my great-grandfather was trying to force La Follette support, and there were calls to remove him as Secretary, but it seems like he held his office. Ohio Progressives made no endorsement until Feb 1912, and voted to support TR. After La Follette's death my great-grandfather was still writing letters to the La Follette family. Some of these letters are in the National Archive, although I haven't read them. 

His actions:

La Follette, Robert 1896 Despite Progressive nature, backs McKinley over Bryan in 1896 because he thought the latter too radical
La Follette, Robert 1906 Progressive Gov of WI appoints himself to the US Sen
La Follette, Robert 1906 opposes TR's half-a-loaf stand on RR regulation
La Follette, Robert 1906 leading GOP insurgent
La Follette, Robert 1907 stand on corporate and labor bills
La Follette, Robert 1908 Fillibusters Aldrich-Vreeland Act
La Follette, Robert 1908 loses on GOP convention planks
La Follette, Robert 1908 Rep Cand for Pres
La Follette, Robert 1909 leads battle against high tariff, contrary to his party's tariff stance
La Follette, Robert 1910 pushes RR reg plan that loses
La Follette, Robert 1912 Ill-advised angry 2-hour long political speech undermines his pres candidacy
La Follette, Robert 1912 presses seamen's reform bill
La Follette, Robert 1912 Rep Pres cand
La Follette, Robert 1912 Loses the fight over the soul of the Progressive Republicans to TR for 1912 election
La Follette, Robert 1912 Hurts fellow progressives by refusing to back TR in general election and campaign for him out of spite
La Follette, Robert 1913 mounts investig of tariff lobbying
La Follette, Robert 1913 asks sens disclose tariff-relevant property
La Follette, Robert 1913 denounces Federal Reserve Act
La Follette, Robert 1913 fights to stiffen the income tax
La Follette, Robert 1913 Only GOPer to vote for Revenue Act
La Follette, Robert 1913 attacks Wilson's race-segregation policy
La Follette, Robert 1913 succeeds with Seamen's Act
La Follette, Robert 1914 strongly opposes U.S. role in European war
La Follette, Robert 1915 charges profiteers spurred preparedness
La Follette, Robert 1916 Votes for Brandeis confirmation
La Follette, Robert 1916 Rep Pres Cand
La Follette, Robert 1916 presses prog taxation for military costs
La Follette, Robert 1917 Supoorts Russian Revolution
La Follette, Robert 1917 opposes declaration of war
La Follette, Robert 1917 filibuster against arming merchant ships
La Follette, Robert 1917 pushes for stiff progressive taxation
La Follette, Robert 1918 gets in trouble for speech not pro-war
La Follette, Robert 1919 Condemns Palmer Raids during Red Scare
La Follette, Robert 1919 an "irreconcilable" on League
La Follette, Robert 1920 Rep Pres Cand; considers 3rd party run
La Follette, Robert 1921 opposes Mellon tax cut
La Follette, Robert 1922 opposes Butler SC nom
La Follette, Robert 1922 calls national conference of Progressives
La Follette, Robert 1922 resolution to investigate Fall's oil leases
La Follette, Robert 1923 Role in investigation of Harding admin officials
La Follette, Robert 1923 the leading reformer in Congress
La Follette, Robert 1923? Calls for bill to allow Congress to repass any bill struck down by the SC, after the SC strikes down child labor law
La Follette, Robert 1924 Progressive candidate for pres, after initally running under the GOP banner
La Follette, Robert 1924 Spars with the KKK, condemning them as containing "seeds of death"
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I wish he had better impulse control on campaign, but he might be the best ever. Despite him being possibly my favorite Senator in US history, I do think he blundered mightlily and acted selfishly in not endorsing TR in the 1912 general. Roosevelt might have possibly won that election--or at least won WI--had he made the endorsement. 

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In truth though, La Follette's progressivism and Roosevelt's were very different. La Follette's was more like Democratic Socialism (market socialism), while Roosevelt's seemed more nationalistic and militant, which gives me some scary fascist vibes, although I don't think TR had any Fascist designs.

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