The National Progressive Party

Tom McMahon has some interesting/disturbing photos from Phil La Follette’s ill fated Progressive Party. Make of them what you will.

But here’s a little tidbit. Phil La Follette kept collection of photos of great men at the governor’s mansion. In his sitting room you could find a photo of Mussolini right by one of Justice Brandeis. As John Patrick Diggins writes, “Whatever it suggests about La Follette’s political illustions, the juxtaposition of Brandeis and Mussolini indicates that the liberal mind in America was not immune to Fascism’s curious appeals.”

Update: From a reader:

Citing one person’s idiosyncrasies, no matter how important the person, does not really support your thesis.

Me: Yeah, sure, maybe (tell that to Larry Craig). But that’s hardly what I’m doing. Indeed, I don’t even mention the above in my book, I consider it so tangential to my thesis. That said, I think one can certainly legitimately mention such things along with lots of other evidence and arguments if it conforms with your larger thesis. Update II: From another reader:

Jonah:   Tell your correspondent who criticized your limited use of what he characterized as LaFollette’s “idiosyncracies” that there is another term for LaFollette’s actions: empirical evidence.  In other words, observable facts that can be used to support a hypothesis.  When combined with other empircal evidence, such “idiosyncracies” can be used to prove a theory (political or otherwise), which I think is part of your larger point. 

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