The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A source of Farmer-Labor goodness

Way back on October 8, I referred to a piece suggesting that Kerry might lose Minnesota, and outlining the fairly unhappy state of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

Of course, in the event, Kerry kept the state blue; but, as it happens, I come across a thesis entitled Toward the Cooperative Commonwealth: An Introductory History of the Farmer-Labor Movement in Minnesota (1917-1948) by Thomas Gerald O'Connell. I've yet to read it, but it looks promising (the writer is a lefty, apparently, and the style is anecdotal - nothing wrong with that), and seems to be the only treatment of the subject online!

I've picked up Arthur Herman's much crapped-on bio of Joseph McCarthy - the guy has an annoying habit of serving up gobbets of editorial, but I'm working pro tem on the assumption that he's not actually making stuff up - which has a chapter (p60ff) on the relationship between liberals and communists.

Communists, as I understand it, were deeply involved in the Farmer-Labor movement. F-L Governor Floyd B Olson (not Olsen), a Minnesota icon in a line whose latest member is the (incessantly namechecked on Air America) Paul Wellstone, was, it seems, happy to cooperate with Commies. The 1934 teamsters' strike in Minneapolis was organised by a local led by Trotskyists - by O'Connell's account, Olson acted in support of the workers (by declaring martial law) [1]. Under Olson's F-L successor Elmer Benson, the Popular Front concept was widely applied.

Benson served only one term before losing in 1938 to GOP whiz kid Harold Stassen [2], who more or less stole F-L's clothes, policy-wise. (Stassen perhaps the last of the Republican insurgents of the stamp of Hiram Johnson and Robert LaFollette, Sr.)

Even a anti-Golden Agist like your humble blogger is tempted to suggest that politics were just so much more interesting back then...

  1. Some of redder hue take a different view. (Also here and here.)

  2. Whose fascinating career was previously mentioned here on March 31 and September 27.

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