April 20 PS102 - Our Two-Party System
We were talking about the two-party system. We mentioned Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and then went into the differences between the two parties. Right? With some jokes which weren't funny but attempted to identify some of the things that make the parties different. Then we talked a little bit about third parties. I may have defined third parties.
So let's talk a little about third parties starting out wherever I was last time. We'll come back to it. If you recall, I defined third parties as parties that seldom if ever win an election and mentioned the Green Party winning in Oakland. For the first time ever. The Green Party isn't an ideological party. Based on the state of most European parties or most nations, political nations have a real solid ideology. There are parties that are a little strange shall we say. Most of them are very small. They may have two or three members. Some get large, and when I say strange it's because they've got strange philosophies. One of those I may have discussed previously is the Natural Law Party. It's on the ballot as of 1996 in California. The Natural Law is on the ballot in 22 states so it's not an obscure party. They have recently offered to send 7,000, according to Time magazine, of their members to Kosovo and to Albania to reduce the stress of the refugees by doing what they do best. Transcendental meditation. Their whole philosophy is built through transcendental meditation, which is basically philosophy that developed around the 1970s. Where it was believed that you could solve all the world's problems by teaching people to be mellow through meditation. I have tried meditation. It makes me mellow, puts me right to sleep within a few seconds. I suppose much of the world's problems would be resolved if everyone slept.
Actually meditation does slow down pulse rates, does reduce blood pressure. I'm not really putting you down, I'm just making it -- I am putting you down personally, unfairly, as a philosophy for treating all of world's problems from inflation to drugs, which of course is the basis of their resolution. They really do believe that you can reduce crime by teaching criminals meditation, that you can get people off drugs through meditation. It may be you could get some -- don't get me wrong, I do think it would work for some, but I don't know how successful it would be as an overall philosophy. But it is a strange philosophy to have such an active organization. They have in the last few years avoided mentioning transcendental meditation in their literature. But when you read on their web site or elsewhere you pick up on their meditation very easily.
We've had lots of parties like that, there were two of my favorites in the 1850s. I guess the 1850s was a perfect time when there was a search for political parties because a lot of third parties developed. One of them was a party that received the name the Know Nothings. Because any time they were asked, they would respond., "I Know Nothing." They actually ran for a while. A former president, who actually became president because Zachary Taylor died of a heart attack in office when he was up for re-election, his party did not nominate him again because he was so bland and such a Know Nothing that they decided it wasn't worth it. His name is probably the least known except maybe in San Francisco. Millard Fillmore. Perhaps he's known because of the Fillmore district. It's funny, I have a list of various sports that president's participated in and when you see Millard Fillmore, the sport listed is nothing. Which sort of identifies him in everything that he did.
The other political party that was sort of interesting at that period of time was the Masons. I'm sorry, the Anti-Masons. The Masons are still here. Free masonry was, in many places, seen as sort of a left wing movement before communism. It was seen as a revolutionary movement dangerous to the establishment. Most of the founders of our country were Masons. Making them definitely dangerous. It was sort of a communist conspiracy theory of its day. Masonry in the 1850s was here in Fremont. We had five different districts and in Centerville they have a Masonic lodge which has two lodges because in the 1850s it split into two lodges and they still exist. It's above the Indian theater, on Mission, and on Fremont and -- right there near that corner. It's right over above it. It's interesting. Of course most of us here are familiar with the Masonic home. It's a beautiful brick structure. If you haven't seen it, it's worth taking a trip down Mission Boulevard. Drive down Mission Boulevard, as you enter Union City, on your right it's got this brick structure. It's really beautiful in a lot of ways because you don't see much brick in California because of earth quakes. I'm amazed that this building survives. It was built right after the 1906 earthquake. I guess nothing so far knocked it down. I understand there are many other buildings behind it. It looks like an insane asylum. But it's a retirement home for retired Masons.
The Masons are a service organization basically today. It's a secret fraternal organization that is sort of ecumenical, all encompassing. Because it's in a general sense for all people. In fact in the 1870s, the Pope actually condemned free Masonry because it was ecumenical and condemned Catholics for joining it at the expense of excommunication. But different religions do belong. In fact, it's interesting to me only -- well I guess I just didn't anticipate it.
My parents are buried in books sort of -- on a bookshelf. It's really interesting because they're cremated in an urn in the shape of books. It's like a book and they're up on the shelf and this is in a cemetery which is basically a Jewish cemetery over in Colma. And I think there's something to be said for being buried in a book. Makes a lot more sense to me than a lot of burials, I think. But I was looking through them and some of the books that are there, they're bronze or whatever -- what do they make them out of? Bronze. Have the Masons signs on them. So obviously Jews can be Masons as well.
One of the more interesting speeches I heard and many of you Farakan, the head of the black Muslims. Wasn't he the one behind the whole Million Man March? Apparently he's got a severe case of prostate cancer. But many of his speeches are very hate filled. But one of the speeches he made was that blacks can reach 360 degrees. They can go a full circle. Where whites can only reach 32 degrees and what he was referring to was the level of masonry which goes 32 degrees only. So it was very interesting in the way of the black with the Masons and the white race in it. In that talk.
I gave a speech to the Masons many years ago at that Masonic lodge down at the Indian theater there. That went through a lot of different theaters until it finally was taken over and it has done pretty well. But India makes more movies in the United States. It's a big industry. They're behind the titles. I don't think so. No? They're like our soap operas. The special effects. I've watched a few. I mean most of them are done in Indian and I don't understand them without subtitles. But I don't know, to me they were just soap operas, the ones that I saw. Although some of the Indian directors have done some really outstanding work and received the academy awards.
In any case, the room that I had to give the talk in was about four times as big as this and people sat around the edges and it was like an auditorium type of thing and I had to talk to four corners and the back were the -- and it was square, not circular. They brought in the people from the retirement home and I was paid $32 for the talk. $1 for each free of masonry. I thought it was sort of interesting. But it was also interesting because after the talk, this little old lady came over to me and she said, "That's the greatest talk I've ever heard." And I said, "Well, thank you." "What did you say?" she said, "Oh, please speak up louder. I'm hard of hearing." All right. You know. That's why she liked my talk so much. I've always decided that it's not so much what you say, it's how you present it. And it's too bad they've got an interpreter. If they didn't have to look at the words and looked at me and looked at what I was saying.
In any case the anti Masons believed that Masons were going around killing young children and drinking their blood, Christian children, as part of their ritual and they wanted to get all Masons out of the country and put them in prison and it was a fairly large political party. It was sort of like many what we would call our right-wing political parties that want to return to the old ways and return to -- it was very much a Biblical party in it's own production.
Times changing created another sort of religious moral party in the 1850s that is interesting. It was formed in 1854. I think I mentioned this in class. It was the republican party. Did I mention the republican party last time was formed in 1854? I mentioned who the first republican candidate for president was in 1856? That one you wouldn't forget I don't think. The first candidate the republicans ran for president in 1856 -- and if I didn't live in this area I probably wouldn't mention it -- was John C. Fremont. However, he lost. The first candidate for the republicans that won election was Abe Lincoln. Lincoln won the election in 1860. He set off a republican dynasty. GOP, the grand old party, since it was the youngest of the two parties, came into existence as the major party in the United States for many years actually. Although the democrats won some re-elections from time to time the republicans dominated the landscape in politics from 1860 until 1932.
In 1932 we had what is often referred to as a realignment election. Realignment elections are where people who traditionally vote for one party switched permanently to the other party. Or people who vote for one party switched permanently to the other party. And with the depression and Franklin Roosevelt the democrats dominated until the 1980 election. In 1980 we had somewhat of a realignment election again and many groups who had voted democrat now voted republican. However, it was until -- and who of course ran for president in 1980? Reagan, but it wasn't until 1994 that the republican party really became the dominant party in Congress by winning both the House and the Senate. 1994.
In 1994, under Newt Gingrich's leadership the republicans took over the House. They had control of the Senate and that was the first time since 1956 when Dwight Eisenhower was president. The republicans still are not the dominant party number wise in the country. There are still more people registering democrat than republican. However it is close. It stands about 38% to about 36% democrat registering versus republican registering. Obviously that doesn't add up to 100%, why? Because there's people who claim other parties. People who claim other parties or don't claim anything at all. They're independent. Now interestingly that is a dramatic change in 1968 despite Nixon's victory to the presidency, the registration for democrats versus republicans were claimed go to be 44% claim to be democrats in 1968. Where only 20% claim to be republicans.
Many people felt the republican party was passe, that we were entering a single-party system and they began to write about it. By 1998, '99, we have a true two-party system with lots of people registering for both parties. However, once again, there have been some dramatic changes that make it a little different in analyzing the political parties. The urban landscape cities are still predominantly democratic, but not as dramatic. Rural areas are still predominantly republican. The big change perhaps has been Suburbia, while registering democrat still votes republican. Even more so than before. Why do they register democrat at times, it's because of their primary group. Their families.
I defined primary, secondary and -- primarily groups tend to influence them. Many relatives, family, their parents came out of the industries and they were registered democrats. Working class men had traditionally since 1932 registered democrat. More and more of the working class union people are voting republican. Translation; where about 60-70% of the working class men used to vote democrat, today it is probably sitting at about 45% of those men voting democrat. What a change. Obviously the -- well these men, businessmen, voted republican consistently. However, working class women are voting democrat in more numbers than ever before. We talked a little about that did we not? Yeah. Hispanics who used to be overwhelmingly democrat 90-95%, are now voting almost 50% for republican. Now that is a dramatic change. Part of it is that the republican party has been able in some areas which are heavily Hispanic to vote to pull in Hispanic.
One of those areas is Texas. George Bush III with his appeal to the Hispanic vote, and speaking Spanish has had a tremendous impact on it. In Florida, his brother Jeb Bush, who is married to a Hispanic woman, has definitely appealed in Florida to the big Hispanic population. Very heavy Hispanic population. The reason they tend to vote republican is that they have identified the democratic party as being too friendly to Castro. So they seem to think for some reason that the republican has been more favorable to their anti-Castro propaganda, if you will, or policies. So that's an interesting kind of change. Obviously many of the Mexican-Americans who come into this country are working class and they do tend to stay with the democratic party. I'm talking of course the legal immigrants. Yet many of the individuals out of the area have escaped what they felt was Marxists and in that kind of a case they stayed also to the republican party. The more wealthy Latinos are usually wealthier because they're in the technological -- and because of that they are identifying more with the party at wealth quote un quote the republican party.
In fact, that's got a lot to say with a lot of immigration that has come here recently. Immigrants would generally be about 75% - 80% democrats once they became citizens. That's not the case anymore because a large percentage of our immigrant population have come here from societies that are technologically more advanced -- I'm sorry. They come here to take jobs in technology. The Indian population, the Pakistan population, Russian population, the Irish population. But on the east coast there is a very new heavily Irish and these are people that are highly trained. You don't hear about it here. We have the high Indian population. We do have the very high you know Chinese. Which is different that came to build the railroads because this is high tech and Mandarin rather than Cantonese and that makes a difference. In fact there's some conflicts with language and -- I'm sorry. Cantonese rather than Mandarin. I correct myself before she got me. More Mandarin than Cantonese. So I was right the first time. She just said the Mandarin. Yeah it's at Mandarin population. Where Hong Kong is Cantonese. And again people are coming from Hong Kong, the numbers are nowhere near the people who were coming out of Taiwan and some of the southern parts of China today who were technologically skilled. Those groups are supporting the republican party. Okay? In registration when they become citizens and in voting which is different than the earlier immigration groups.
Again, remember I've made a generalization. It is not anywhere near 100% okay? Don't forget that I don't imply everybody in there. And more recently perhaps in California because of the democratic parties emphasis on education, the last two years there actually has been a change in the attitudes of some of the immigration groups. It's made a big difference. It really has compared to 4 years ago. In the registration and in the voting. How do you judge where people's registrations are? And you know it's an unfair survey, but the teachers usually ask in presidential elections who the kids are going to vote for first, second, and third grade, but they tell you and you can see by this you know by the results where they're voting based on what their parents are voting and the numbers were extremely overwhelmingly against Clinton in 1992 in the Fremont schools. That was not the case in '96. Which was interesting.
There was a change in California in the elementary schools, although again in Fremont, again remember it is basically suburban. So it's not San Francisco where you have a different kind of Russian population and Chinese population because many of the Chinese that are coming into San Francisco are actually "the working class" Chinese, still. The Russians coming into San Francisco are not coming in with skills because when they come in with those skills they're in Silicon valley. Let me tell you right away. We had a young lady fresh out of Russia. She's a 7th grader come into the chess tournament. Parents were pulling out $100 to pay. Fresh immigration. They're living in Walnut Creek. They're working in Silicon Valley. They come here and of course making six figure jobs immediately. I'm jealous because, okay I'll accept it. So those kinds of differences are the kind of things that's changed the representation.
Who stays with the democrats? African-Americans. Dramatically. 90% at least. The republican party, despite attempts, have made little advancement into the African-American population. They keep trying. We have to remember that's been a change since 1932. Previous to that, African Americans voted republican; why? Because the republican party was the party of Lincoln and ended slavery.
But in 1932 the emphasis on the democratic party social programs and later on integration - it was Franklin Roosevelt who got in touch with the Mayor of New York and insisted that the union -- busted and that they force the construction of the George Washington bridge that they allow Africa- Americans to work in the Union. Those kinds of issues made a difference and of course it was Harry Truman who in 1938 integrated the military. So those kinds of things have kept the African-American population in the democratic party. Granted, the best known African-American politician outside of Jessie Jackson is not a politician, I suppose, is Colin Powell, and he is a republican. But we do understand one thing about him. His family was not born in the United States. He was Jamaican. His family's in Jamaica and they are the new immigration class and that's what I was referring to.
Jews, despite the fact that many people see Jews as wealthy, and there are wealthy Jews, don't get me wrong, the fact is that they have remained with the democratic party although where it was once 90% it's probably now at 65 or 70%. Why? Because in the Jewish prayer and liturgy is a constant social message to take care of other people. It is part of the literature of almost every Jewish prayer ceremony, and that sense of taking care of others and social element predominates over their business interests. So I think that explains part of that tradition staying with them.
The democratic party, by the way, has not been recently as strong in support -- and that's going to hurt Gore. Clinton and Hillary have made some very negative comments with Israel and yet of course that is considered a negative in New York -- state, considering the heavy Jewish population. If she is to decide to run for senator, so far it's been quiet -- in fact nothing's been said about her. There was a big push for a while, again we haven't heard anything. So I don't know.
As I should indicate, one of the things that has changed dramatically is the fact that despite groups that we've mentioned -- oh, senior citizen stay with the democrats in many cases because they have supported social security and because of course traditional working class. Most people today vote in a much more independent pattern. So despite groups stay with a political party we cross party lines. More readily. Years back when I lived in New York, and I left New York about 1968, you had voting booths which you don't have very often out here and you go in and you have the levers for the various candidates. Republican, democrat ,whatever the other parties would be. There is a conservative in New York, the liberal party and there was a lever that allowed you to pull down all the levers for that party. If you want to vote all the candidates of that democrats, you pull that lever.
I didn't tell you that last time or mention it? And years ago when you go into the booth people go in and they'd be out indicating that they pulled the lever for everybody in the party. That's not the case anymore. Even if people are to vote for every member of that political party running for office, we refuse actually to just pull the one lever. We feel guilty about it. We pull them individually and that's perhaps a much healthier approach, but not necessarily in some people's views parts the ability of the political parties today to function, to get things accomplished. In fact some people - is that because the parties aren't as strong as they used to be and don't feel that sense of loyalty to the political parties that we have had the kind of grid lock where things aren't getting done because people aren't talking any positions almost.
In the 19th century, political parties -- in New York all bars are closed on election day. As well is the liquor stores because in the 19th century people would get drunk and come out shooting people from the other party. It was that heavy an issue. I mean, you know we just can't visualize. It would be very difficult for us to understand today somebody at election day going to a booth and getting in a fight with somebody from a different party. It just doesn't happen. Anywhere, I think, just about in this country, as it did years ago. Because the parties dominated the landscape right through to some extent to the 1960s. I had an article that I lost -- I'm still pissed that I lost it. I don't know where it went to -- that was written in the 1960s. I lived in Long Island and went to college out there. One of the colleges I went to was -- and I had a friend of mine there who had just moved while I was in college, from Brooklyn, New York to out on Long Island, and his father had opened a business there. He had a small business in Brooklyn and I moved it out. Suffolk county is predominantly republican. The city of New York - and controlled by the democrats and in those days by the democratic machine. Suffolk county was republican.
When he moved out there- this is not the article, I'll get to the article -- when he moved out there he registered democrat. Part of his immigrant background and fact that he was Jewish and he couldn't get his license, they weren't picking up the garbage. When he finally got the license and he finally was told by somebody "look, the only way you're going to get things done fast is change your registration to republican." once he did, once he changed his registration republican, everything sped up. Instantaneous. They knew and they controlled the area. There's no way to describe what is often referred to as Ward politics. The political bosses dominated the landscapes of these communities and of these cities. The article I was referring to that I don't have was in Suffolk county. A number of African-Americans were talking to the republican leader -- by the way the political republican or democratic leaders were never elected officials, they were the party bosses. They got paid. They never held office. They were behind the scenes sort of like the Godfather, they were the ones that you came to and you begged to get things done and you gave them presents.
I think I may have told you about my experience in Mexico when I met the political bosses in a room that was twice this size and everybody had to give him gifts. This was the kind of political bosses they had in all parts of the country. More on the east coast than the west coast, granted, and middle America. The African-Americans were complaining about the fact that they couldn't get anything and the boss said in the paper, quote it directly, he said, "Look, when you blacks stop voting for democrats and start registering and voting for republicans we'll give something to you, but until you do, you're not worth it to us." He was as direct as you can be. Hard to believe and that was quote in the paper. I mean an honest statement because that's the way it was. And by the way, the political bosses had no tendency in saying things like that because that's how they controlled it.
In the 19th century everything was done by the political parties. Well there was no government to take care of your health and welfare. That didn't come in until the '30s. So if you lost a job, it was the political party who got the charity to bring you food, clothing and if possible get you another job. And if you worked hard for the party, not just voted for the party, you registered with, if you worked hard for the party they could guarantee you a government job because, as Andrew Jackson said, "to the victor goes the spoils" and what that meant was once the party got elected they could give out the jobs. In government, which were usually fairly good paying jobs. The party not only took care of charity they took care of the senior citizens. They made sure they got to the polls. They gave them food because there was no retirement, no social security. When you were done with work until you put money away, that's it folks, you didn't have any. And that's what -- you know, why a lot of people died right upon quitting work. There was nothing to take care of them except for the political party. The political party ran the social, the party hall, the party meeting places where people got together. Had parties. You know, the backyard and the fields that they partied, controlled, they ran the 4th of July picnics. The party was the center of social activity.
Community activity. There were no unions to speak of. The first break in political party power and strength came in the 1880s. In 1880 when the president of the -- was assassinated. His name was -- nobody remembers? Hint? Named after a cat. Garfield. The person who assassinated him is often described in the history books as a disgruntled office seeker. He had worked for Garfield and expected to get a government post. When he didn't, he killed him. In 1883, concerned about this spoil system, congress passed the Pendelton Civil Service Act. In 1883 congress passed the Pendelton Civil Service Act. What was it? Well in simple terms it created the civil service. What is the civil service? It's your government employee's, you had to now take a test. It doesn't matter what party you were a member of. What mattered is how you placed on the test for your political appointment. It was no longer political in the full sense of the word. Not only did the federal government pass it, states did pass similar exams as well. So up until a number of years back when the government began to expand positioning, almost every post, state and federal, required to take an exam. There are many posts again today which are patronage posts that are appointed by the party leaders.
The president has about 10,000 posts that he can appoint himself. The governor of California can appoint over 2,000 people by himself without approval. I know this in part because my brother was for a while a political lacky. Translation; appointee. In 1980 he got an appointment as a manager in a federal cooperative bank appointed through Jimmy Carter. However, the democrats lost the election in 1980, and the republicans took over in 1981 and he had to resign. Because the republicans want to put their own people there so he came back to California and received an appointment. A political appointment by governor Jerry Brown in 1981 to Cal Trans. Damn good salary for the time. Government jobs often pay quite well.
However, the democrats lost in 1982 and when Dukemejian took office in 1983 he demanded that all those political appointments hand in many of resignation. Over 2,000 people resigned so that he could appoint republicans to those posts. My brother was one of those. At that point my brother decided to go into private business as a consultant. He had had it working in government and government appointments.
The 1930s also weakened dramatically the roll of the parties. In the 1930s the New Deal introduced health and welfare programs. The government now took care of social security, unemployment insurance, the parties didn't have, therefore, as much support because they weren't providing as much. Also in 1936, the government recognized the right of people to organize into unions. Giving people the right to organize into unions meant that unions now began to dominate the landscape along with political party. The unions now negotiate for those health benefits and also they themselves took care of benefits through their funds.
There was a whole sting awhile banning about the teamsters and what the hell was the fun that they were -- money from? One of retirement funds but also the unions began to run the parties, the 4th of July big ones, because they now had people gather at the union hall like the hall in Fremont, here on Fremont boulevard. They became centers of activity.
However it was in the early '60s and early '70s that basically the political parties became almost meaningless in the American landscape. Not fully. In 1968, we were heavily into a war which wasn't really war, but it was a war, called Vietnam war. A lot of young people and a lot of other Americans, including many political candidates, began to believe that the United States was wrong and should not be there and should get the hell out. A man name Eugene McCarthy won. He didn't win, but he came in second in New Hampshire and Johnson decided not to run again. He dropped out of the race. Johnson had wanted for president. At that point because Eugene -- Robert Kennedy entered the race as an anti-war candidate and it looked like Kennedy was going to get the nomination until he was assassinated -- until June of 1968. He had won a number of primaries, however, his people were not seated at the democratic convention that was held in Chicago. The people who were anti-war were not allowed to speak.
Mayor Daly who was the boss of Chicago was running the convention and we had in the streets of Chicago a riot. Violence broke out by the presses as well as by the people. It was called the police riot by many books. The democratic party realized when it lost the election overwhelmingly, to somebody who should have never won it, Nixon, that they needed to bring people back to the party. So they created reforms and they filed suit in some of the reforms in attempting to bring in diversity, young people, women, blacks, Hispanics into places of party leadership. They actually created quotas demanding that many party positions be held by a percentage of the people based on the percentage in the population. These were called the McGovern, named after George McGovern, who in 1972 took advantage of them to become the democratic nominee against Nixon. The reforms become fired. The groups that came in had their own narrow agenda. Translation; the political party had been all encompassing to all people. It tried to balance out all issues and compromise and work them out as we do in democracy. These groups came in and were only concerned about certain issues and really wouldn't compromise. They had their own narrow agendas, but that's not what -- the fact that by killing -- getting rid of the party bosses they got rid of the people who knew how to raise funds and recollection. The new people didn't have the experiences or vested interest. They didn't know how to get people out to vote. There's no way to describe the way a party boss and a party man knew how to -- I would not even be able to understand it fully if I had not been a poll watcher in 1965 in a Taminay hall district of New York, lower east side. Taminay hall was the party bosses of New York, still in '65 it was a primary. And I was to be a poll watcher down in a district that was dominated to make sure that dead people and others didn't vote who were not supposed to. And I go down there and I, know you standing around with a list of names and this guys who's a counter party -- looks at me and says how much you getting paid and I said I'm not. I'm volunteering and he said what are you some kind of schmuck?
You're not getting any money for this? Everybody there was getting paid by the party. He was getting about $100 a day which is not bad money in those days. They paid him well to be there to help. But that wasn't the issue. The real kicker was watching what the party, you know, you always cross off names of people who vote and near the end of the day when they saw who had voted and who hadn't, they began to send out the taxicab drivers. The taxicab drivers went and picked up the people that hadn't voted. They went to their houses. They knocked on their doors. They tracked them down. They began to bring in people. Cab drivers themselves. And in some cases they brought them in in their night gowns -- which was interesting -- their pajamas and they carried one woman in on a stretcher brought her in, here into the booth, and all of these people had a little card which told them which lever to pull. That was the kind of organization of the parties. It was amazing.
Before the polls closed I said if we get any votes here it will be a miracle. We did get two votes out of 300. Perhaps. Maybe three. The only reason I figure we got three in this democratic primary, because people were too tired and pulled the wrong lever or were pissed off because everybody knew everybody. I was the only stranger in the group. Very interesting process.
Of course that hall process, as I say, by 1968 was broken down with these McGovern reforms. But they came between 1972 and '75 with campaign funding reform. A number of campaign funding reforms you were introduced one of them was the matching fund for presidential election. It was considered that if we could get the U.S. Government to pay for the campaigns there will be less vested interest. Less businesses supporting candidates. And so people were asked to donate on their income tax, $1 of their taxes that they wouldn't see anyway, and so many people did. I felt better about giving my dollar, than for putting it into a bond that would kill Vietnamese people. So we made certain choices. But that limited the amount of money people could spend first of all. It also meant that when the president got the monies contributions, he had to report where it came from, and who gave it and in what amounts.
Previously money was donated secretly and there were all kind of limitations placed on funding. The Nixon people concerned about this rule going in because they got a lot of funds from businesses, actually went out and before April 1972 and told companies how much they had to contribute if they wanted anything done. Usually bribes were given by the company. The Nixon people were demanding bribes. That was one of the scandals that came about. Sometimes generally refer to as the Watergate scandals. Not all of them revolved around Watergate. Money was just floating around when it came into the Nixon campaign. Tens of thousands of dollars being handed around in paper bags. All of it being collected before the funding came in. How did this hurt the parties? Because the businesses, the interest groups, be they the National Education Society, found a way around reporting the funds. They created political action committees. PACS. They are the political arm of interest groups who give the money to the candidates with little restriction or spending the money on whatever they want for the candidates with no restrictions. And they didn't have to actually report it on that level.
Political action committees. PACS. Candidates, politicians who owed their allegiance previously to the party because the party gave them funds. People would give money to the party. The businesses would give money to the party, and you know the party then distributed it so that if a candidate wanted to run for office, he had to come to the party and listen to the party and vote the way the party wanted him to. Now, the party money was restricted. It wasn't coming in in same amounts and they could get even more money from going to the political action committees and as the campaign became expensive and the need to advertise in the media, the candidates came to forget the political party funds and appeal to the numerous political action committees. But since there were so many in such narrow interest the candidate had to speak in generality and try not to offend anyone. So candidates became even more planned. Where when they got it from the party they could stand on the parties platform. They could take an issue based on the party issues and people know where the party stood.
Now candidates seem to stand nowhere on very little issues and double talked, the Clinton approach to politics in most cases. Because they were fearful of offending the political action committees and what money might come from that. So as I indicated, the political parties lost not only the support of the public, but the support of the politicians as a sense of, you know, complete loyalty. There have been in recent years, attempts to break down the PACS, they've gone nowhere. There have been concerned about the -- they dominated the political landscape.
The only reform, if it's a reform, to break the part of political action committees is term limits. The concept of term limits is that if an encumbant elect official, a person in office, if they were limited in the amendment, of terms they can serve, that's what term limits are; limiting the number of terms an elected official can serve, then the PACS don't control them as easily or because a new candidate will not get nearly as much support or control or much to the political action committees. In fact they will probably give as much money to both candidates opening it to more democracy. Why if there are two candidates running will a political action committee give it to both, but if there's an encumbant, why give it to the encumbant? Why would you favor funding an encumbant. Much more likely. In fact, in recent years, in the last 30 years in the house of reps, the re-election rate for encumbant is 95%. The lowest rate for re-election of an encumbant came in 1980 in the Ronald Reagan landslide when only 90% were reelected. Now we're talking about those running for election, that doesn't mean that all 435 ran for re election. Obviously large numbers don't, or get knocked out of the primaries, but the encumbant is more likely to win. 95%. Not because he gets more money. Why is the encumbant likely to win? Simple. Name recognition. They know the name. He's been around or she's been around. On top of that being an encumbant you have seniority and you can get more things for your district. Because you've been around, people owe you, power of obligation, and when you bring things home to your district, you get more out of Washington, then your district has put in, people are happy.
What am I talking about? I'm talking about pork. Pork refers to -- referring to getting benefits out of Washington. Money for roads or post offices, defense contracts, those kinds of things are what the encumbant's getting and if they're powerful and they've been there a long time, you get more out of it. That is why it is quite possible that the people of South Carolina will elect Strom Thurman when he runs next year at the age of 96. He is 96 years old and he's dead walking around. But it's irrelevant. Because he has been there so long that people just keep giving him things and he keeps bringing home wealth to South Carolina as the Senator from South Carolina. And he says he probably will run again. 96. Yeah. Oh, well. we'll see you on Thursday.