May 18, 2008

Time again for mugwumps?

At the rate the Republican Party is self-destructing, an old political term based on Indians could become useful in the 2008 election.

MugwumpThe Mugwumps were Republican political activists who supported Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland in the United States presidential election of 1884. They switched parties because they rejected the financial corruption associated with Republican candidate, James Blaine. In a close election the Mugwumps supposedly made the difference in New York state and swung the election to Cleveland.

Noteworthy Mugwumps

  • Henry Adams, author

  • Thomas Nast, political cartoonist

  • Mark Twain, author, self-identified as a Mugwump in his essay, Christian Science

  • Origin of the term

    Dictionaries report "mugguomp" was an Algonquin word meaning "person of importance" or "war leader." Charles Anderson Dana, the colorful newspaperman and editor of the New York Sun, is said to have given the Mugwumps their political moniker.


    dmarks said...

    I have an antique postcard depicting a fence-sitting buzzard, and it defines mugwump as "a bird with his 'Mug' on one side of the fence and his 'Wump' on the other". Maybe I can scan this for you if you need it?

    There is also an Oz character called "General Mugwump".

    I didn't know it had Native origin. Now I know.

    writerfella said...

    Writerfella here --
    Then Oklahoma must be the brood nest for Mugwumps, as Democrats here (registered voters - D 82%, R 18%) have not voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson's campaign. Oklahoma did not vote for Bill Clinton, either. And so it safely can be said that Oklahoma will vote for John McCain. If Oklahoma went for Nixon because Kennedy was Catholic, what will Oklahoma do anent an Obama vs. McCain faceoff? One only has to see a roster of Oklahoma's Congressional delegation to realize the truth of the above. There is one wild card in that deck, however, and it is this: if Democrats are displeased with a Republican representative or senator, all they need do is convince them to run for governor, and the public will vote them into private law firm obscurity in a landslide. Think not? Just ask now-former Rep. Steve Largent in 2002 and now-former Sen. Ernest Istook in 2006. Ah, the heartland...
    All Best
    Russ Bates

    Rob said...

    I doubt one party has ever claimed 80% or more of a state's voters. Maybe one of the Southern states during Reconstruction, but not modern-day Oklahoma.

    As usual, Russ, your postings are inventive but inaccurate. Here are the facts on Oklahoma's Democratic Party and its voter registration:

    Until very recently the state party could not be characterized as having any meaningful organization. As in many one-party-dominant states, the state party organization was weak, as factions vied for power in the primaries. The state party has therefore been a large tent that encompassed the ambitions of candidates of various ideological bents, from populists to urban liberals to traditional "boll-weevil" conservatives. The state party was and is a collection of campaigns and candidacies, independent operations guided by the common goal of winning under the rooster.

    Since 1980 no Democrat has attained more than 41 percent of the vote for president, and the only Democrats to win Oklahoma since World War II are Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. The two parties have split the last ten gubernatorial elections (five and five), and Democrats won only two elections since 1980. The net number of registered Democrats has declined by over four hundred thousand since the early 1980s. As of 2000 about 55 percent of Oklahoma voters registered as Democrats.