The Corner

‘Relief Rolls As Modern Reservations’

Kevin Williamson’s cover story on the Left’s civil-rights revisionism is a must read, although you already knew that. The most illuminating — and maddening — topic covered is the varied evidence of liberal hero Lydon Johnson’s almost cartoonishly evil cynicism on civil rights and the rest of the Great Society as a tool for delivering enduring electoral majorities for the Democrats. Johnson, who used the N-word like a punctuation mark, understood that

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days, and that’s a problem for us, since they’ve got something now they never had before: the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this — we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”

But of course while Johnson might have perfected the dependency state, he didn’t invent it. That honor probably goes to FDR, whose 1936 campaign used billions in federal relief dollars to expand Gilded Age patronage to every man who might deliver a Democratic vote, turning every swing state into a crony state. My favorite example, among the many Burton Folsom cites in his indispensable New Deal or Raw Deal?, is that of Pennsylvania, which Hoover had carried in 1932. So between 1935 and 1936, Roosevelt’s re-election team increased relief expenditures by 3,663 percent in the Keystone State. Guess who carried it in 1936?

A lot of Republicans of Roosevelt’s era were slow on the uptake in recognizing the power of turning tax dollars into votes. Insouciant Republicans like Senator Daniel Hastings of Delaware, for example, were confidant that Americans “weren’t willing to be sold” and  “that this indirect bribery of voters [would] be overcome.”

But Alf Landon, the Republican presidential nominee in 1936, understood exactly what FDR was up to, particularly when it came to black Americans, who were targeted by many (though, in order to shore up southern support, not all) New Deal programs, and whose economic straits made them vulnerable to decoupling from the Republican Party for the first time in seventy years. Landon warned that the New Deal was using “relief rolls as modern reservations on which the great colored race is to be confined forever as a ward of the Federal Government.”

Daniel FosterDaniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Why Wasn’t Andrew McCabe Charged?

The Justice Department announced Friday that it is closing its investigation of Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s former deputy director, over his false statements to investigators probing an unauthorized leak that McCabe had orchestrated. McCabe was fired in March 2018, shortly after a blistering Justice Department ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Why Wasn’t Andrew McCabe Charged?

The Justice Department announced Friday that it is closing its investigation of Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s former deputy director, over his false statements to investigators probing an unauthorized leak that McCabe had orchestrated. McCabe was fired in March 2018, shortly after a blistering Justice Department ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Roger Stone Double Standard

Whether Roger Stone, the loopy, self-aggrandizing political operative, deserves nine years in Supermax for obstructing an investigation into Russia–Donald Trump “collusion” is debatable. Whether the powerful men who helped create the investigation that ensnared Stone have been allowed to lie with impunity ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Roger Stone Double Standard

Whether Roger Stone, the loopy, self-aggrandizing political operative, deserves nine years in Supermax for obstructing an investigation into Russia–Donald Trump “collusion” is debatable. Whether the powerful men who helped create the investigation that ensnared Stone have been allowed to lie with impunity ... Read More
Elections

There’s Zero Chance Bloomberg Would Pick Hillary

There’s no better evidence that Mike Bloomberg’s chances of getting the Democratic nomination are on the rise than the fact that the opportunistic Hillary Clinton is already trying to grab a piece of the action. The Drudge Report startled the political world on Saturday by noting that “sources close to ... Read More
Elections

There’s Zero Chance Bloomberg Would Pick Hillary

There’s no better evidence that Mike Bloomberg’s chances of getting the Democratic nomination are on the rise than the fact that the opportunistic Hillary Clinton is already trying to grab a piece of the action. The Drudge Report startled the political world on Saturday by noting that “sources close to ... Read More
Religion

Getting Real About Christianity

Charlotte, N.C. -- There were women weeping in a chapel here. One woman named Veronica was nearly inconsolable. She was talking about the crucifixion of Christ as if it was happening right then and there. She was feeling it. She was seeing it as the consequences of her sins. She was overwhelmed by the love of a ... Read More
Religion

Getting Real About Christianity

Charlotte, N.C. -- There were women weeping in a chapel here. One woman named Veronica was nearly inconsolable. She was talking about the crucifixion of Christ as if it was happening right then and there. She was feeling it. She was seeing it as the consequences of her sins. She was overwhelmed by the love of a ... Read More