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History Lesson: Bob’n And Weave’n

I was about to chime in with a quip on the congratulatory thread commending cheeseheads for mounting a respectable protest to the Obama town hall meeting appearance in Green Bay. In response to a reference that Wisconsinites have a reputation as too socialist, I was going to offer the old canard:

‘It has been said that any state that could elect both Fight’in Bob La Follete and Senator Joseph McCarthy ..........
... is a state with an identity crisis.’

Sounds like a state of confusion, right. Well ... the left – right paradigm is a cliché meant to keep us conflicted, disabled , bifurcated, and yes, tied up in confusion.

So I decided to share this lesson of history because it’s a great story, well told, but more .................. I think it can help us in dealing with our own identity by coming to grips with ourselves, our allies, and our true enemies ... ultimately inspiring perhaps some reconciliation of understanding to help better Fight through this current crisis without one hand tied behind our back.

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About Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette

-- By John Nichols

“ON March 25, 1921, at the age of sixty-five, Robert M. La Follette Sr. took the greatest risk of his long political career. Four years after he chose to lead the Congressional opposition to World War I, La Follette was still condemned in Washington and in his native state of Wisconsin as a traitor or--at best--an old man whose political instincts had finally failed him. But La Follette was not ready to surrender the U.S. Senate seat he had held since leaving Wisconsin's governorship in 1906. He wanted to return to Washington to do battle once more against what he perceived to be the twin evils of the still young century: corporate monopoly at home and imperialism abroad.

The reelection campaign that loomed just a year off would be difficult, he was told, perhaps even impossible. Old alliances had been strained by La Follette's lonely refusal to join in the war cries of 1917 and 1918. To rebuild them, the Senator's aides warned, he would have to abandon his continued calls for investigations of war profiteers and his passionate defense of socialist Eugene Victor Debs and others who had been jailed in the postwar Red Scare.
The place to backpedal, La Follette was told, would be in a speech before the crowded Wisconsin Assembly chamber in Madison. Moments before the white-haired Senator climbed to the podium on that cold March day, he was warned one last time by his aides to deliver a moderate address, to apply balm to the still-open wounds of the previous years, and, above all, to avoid mention of the war and his opposition to it.

La Follette began his speech with the formalities of the day, acknowledging old supporters and recognizing that this was a pivotal moment for him politically. Then, suddenly, La Follette pounded the lectern. "I am going to be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate," he declared, as the room shook with the thunder of a mighty orator reaching full force. Stretching a clenched fist into the air, La Follette bellowed: "I do not want the vote of a single citizen under any misapprehension of where I stand: I would not change my record on the war for that of any man, living or dead."

The crowd sat in stunned silence for a moment before erupting into thunderous applause. Even his critics could not resist the courage of the man; indeed, one of his bitterest foes stood at the back of the hall, with tears running down his cheeks, and told a reporter: "I hate the son of a bitch. But, my God, what guts he's got." ...”

Read the story here:

http://www.fightingbob.com/aboutbob.cfm

[ BTW, I'm glad content on this forum doesn't need to first clear a committee on political correctness. ;-) ]

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Excellent article. Thanks for posting.

Very good historical research. Thanks again.

I Think ...

... Ron Paul would've gotten along well with 'Fighting Bob' and would've had a good influence on him.

;-)

I'm sure Bob would not water Ron down one bit.

Thanks this

history was interesting. So when people say they are Progressives this is what they are talking about? I like his line about Democracy being all talk and no action, something like that.

Prepare & Share the Message of Freedom through Positive-Peaceful-Activism.

If We Understand Progressives ...

... they will have an easier time understanding us.

Too bad ol' fighting bob

Too bad ol' fighting bob sounds just like Obama with the exception to being opposed to war. However, I do have an obama acquaintance that thinks WW1 and 2 were mandatory for us to go into. Perhaps I can share this article with him to show that there actually was opposition.

The Tragedy Of The Common ...

... Ground ... unnoticed.

I’m glad you took a look at some of the foundation of modern day progressives. I think you have the right idea to dialogue with progressive friends about the ideals we share. It helps to understand their heroes have been co-opted to prop up pretenders, just like the icons on the right. But I don’t see Obama resembling ‘Fighting Bob’, except in the modern politician’s mimic of rhetorical buzz words. I cut the radical reformer of the last century some slack because of the context of his era. We have the benefit of hindsight from those failed experiments. La Follette’s allies and supporters were steeped in emerging ideologies that were yet largely untested and untried. I never got the impression La Follete was a thinker with a developed philosophy. He was a fighter, hence the name. He saw corruption and called it. He didn’t mince words or finagle among those who promoted paths of least resistance.

For this reason I find his story inspiring and believe his model helps draw many fakes on the left into sharper relief, by contrast. Moreover, I believe it’s healthy for our movement to understand we have more in common with the likes of Bob La Follete and even Eugene Debs than George Bush, Newt Gingrich, or Rush Limbaugh. By looking at the roots of the progressive movement, I would hope liberals of good faith would come to understand they have more in common with Ron Paul than FDR, or other post modern politicos who stole the thunder of the real deals to subvert the energy for their self serving gain. There are other lessons here for us, as well. ( witness the bogus Contract On America and Tea Party co-option ).

For me, people like Nancy Kaptur, and yes, Dennis Kucinich are attempting to follow the Bob La Follete legacy. While lesser men and women will invoke the image, it helps us to understand this lexicon, so we may help point out the fraud. None of these politicians who display more statesman-like qualities than their lesser colleagues is any where near the calibre, nor philosophical consistency of Ron Paul. That’s not my point. Yet, I believe we should find friends and allies among the RFK,Jr, Norm Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, and yes, Naomi Wolf camp. If we understand them ....... and understand they are different than the Obama and Hillarys, for example, we can perhaps find better ways to communicate with them to help themselves understand they are different from the plastic charlatans who don the reformer mask to deceive.

Good story:

I enjoyed the read... Thanks.

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I love my country
I am appalled by my government

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I love my country
I am appalled by my government

Glad You Found It Worthwhile

Here is the frolicing thread that coaxed the detour:

http://www.dailypaul.com/node/96224#comment-1057610

Bump- Great thread, LibBerte

Learned something new, thank you!------
Libera me, let the truth break, what my fears make--Leslie Phillips

What's next after End the Fed? Repeal the XVI and XVII Amendments!

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

Thanks For Stopping By ...

... and taking the road with a view.