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tv   Speaker of the House Elections  CSPAN  August 18, 2021 10:31pm-11:29pm EDT

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next week. take care, have a good week. stay safe. >> now, charles stewart, coauthor of fighting for the speakership, the house and the rise of party government talks about the history of electing a speaker of the u.s. house in a new congress. mr. stewart examines how the process has changed since 1789,
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and how the influence of partisanship is growing. the national archives center for legislative archives hosted this event and provided the video. >> well, it seems that the rain did not dampen any determination for you to attend today's research top. so, thank you for braving the elements. richard mcculley, the historian at the center for legislative archives will sponsor of the series, today's program is the third researcher top this year, next month we pick up the pace a bit on may 19th, with -- at the university of virginia law school. and a former chief of staff with the joint committee on taxation, we'll speak about his research and the committees record in the history of the joint committee. and on may 26th, we host a --
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professor of political science at litigating university who will discuss her research for her book manuscript about the politics of national identification documents and the united states in the 20th century. an important mission of the center is -- house of representatives, and advancing the city of the history of congress. this researcher talks serious engagement in how that mission is being met. we do so by regularly hosting scholars who conducted research in the house and senate records who are who had significant books on the history of congress. in today's much anticipated talk, we hear about one of those very significant books on the history of congress as our guest is charles stewart, he gave a martin vilest research talking about that he coauthored with wendy schiller,
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electing the senate 17th amendment -- -- the battle over who would succeed the speaker at the time was finally dying down, and charles graciously agreed to return this year to discuss the history of electing that the speaker of the house he is given today's top, enticing title, speakers battle, then and now. a top informed by a book coauthored with jeffrey jenkins, fighting for the senate, the house and the rise of party government which i highly recommend. now charles a longtime friend of the center is the distinguished professor of political science at mit. where he has taught since 1985. he is also a fellow of the american academy of arts and sciences, and addition to the two books that have already mentioned, charles is also the author of a wonderful textbook
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analyzing congress. and editor with gareth nelson of the indispensable to volume committees and the united states congress. thank you very much for being with us today charles, and letting us host you. we should have a few minutes for q and a at the end of the presentation. but before you ask a question, please raise your hand, past the microphone and you can be heard. thank you, charles. >> so, thanks richard, it is great to be here. again as richard was saying, if you months ago i was going to be giving a talk about -- a more recent book about senate elections before the 17th amendment, or it is the john
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boehner was swept off of the stage and i suggested to richard that you know maybe i should talk about speaker elections and he said no one a talk about the senate. but, you can come back next, year that is what i'm doing next year. and when i was here last time, i also just had to say that it's a real thrill to be speaking here. richard did not mention that my first book which was about budget reform the history of budget reform basically was written in this built-in when i was graduate as a dissertation and then later on. so this was in the early 19 eighties back one when you died off -- you got off of the archives you just highlight tilted as fast as you could across the street because it was a very different neighborhood 40 years ago that it is today because you couldn't sit in front of the bakeries and eat croissants and do all those things.
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i think it were the canadians who helped the quality of the neighborhood down the street. in any case, it's really great to be here it's also really interesting in these talks to be reminded that although in my life as a congressional historian, i do my work because i just love the stories, and find it really interesting and have helped to build a sub field of congressional history within the field of political science which as you will discover is quite different than what it would look like if it were in the field of history. we study these things because we love them. there's great stories, they have largely not been told in history these days is like telling stories of political institutions, that we can complain about in history, some of us, and the field these days if we like. but the neat thing is that i have discovered that these books actually become relevant. so i was talking about the --
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elections happened before they happen before the senate in the moment before i got into that project and realize that they would create a movement to repeal that amendment. in fact, ted cruz favors repealing the 17th amendment. so that's become a current topic. and then likewise, when i first started thinking about writing about the speakership that was due to him, and some other interest that all talk about, i may actually in fact have some currency to it. so, when i will be talking about is speakership battles or how and why did the party stop airing dirty laundry on the floor and what does that suggest about today? i mostly will be talking about the book that richard so nicely advertised for us. and then i realized that when i was putting together the top that although i would've much preferred to kind of do the play by play in announcements for more recent speakership
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battles, it turns out that since no one knows the old battles, it might be useful to just give the historical context and then come back at the end and say a little bit about why the degree to which current battles over the speakership share features with the past two degree to which there are -- one can easily bay make bag comparisons to the -- my interest -- by the way, i should just note for those of you who are really interested in this, jeff jenkins and i have to monkey cage -- in the last year where we do try to bring together the fight for boehner to retain his seat, and the older stories that we kept telling you about. if you just google monkey cage, stewart jenkins, speaker, you can find these on the washington post site. so my interest in speakership
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battles as well as actually interest in senate elections came as a graduate student when i started reading a little bit into the history of congress. that wasn't a whole lot about the history of congress back in a starting graduate school but i discovered that there had been battles before the civil war, during the speakership. and this is a picture -- this was a celebration in the election of daniel banks speaker 1985. and i discovered that it was quite common there were battles on the house floor that will go on for days, weeks, months, and this seemed really cool. and this is something you want to have to get tenure, not before. now, i got tenured, and then i got to do these fun things. so, started to piece together the history --
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first speaker was -- and then it did not turn out as sexy an election as an annual banks, nonetheless, the first speaker did have to endure a multi ballot contest to be elected speaker. and so, it turns out that it used to be very common, -- multiple ballots for election, and actually have really good honest fights, will come back to that. then when i started coincidence, danny haster was speaker the house when i started this project. and fast forward to the president, although maybe this might not be it, as this might be more pleasant here. for those of you this would be more pleasant a picture. but when i started the project, if you were to fast forward to the president you see quite a different story. you would see a kabuki field --
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theater set of performances upon the convening of every house of representatives over the years. or somebody leading majority parties would nominate somebody for speaker, somebody for minority peter would nominate someone for speaker, then there would be a vote, and surprise surprise, all of the disease would vote for the deeds, and all the ours would vote for the arts. whoever had a majority in the chamber would win and everybody would go off and have drinks and celebrate and be happy. or, rather, than what would happen would be, a series of resolutions that would ensure order, elect the clerk, along with the printer, elected officers of the house, and then very soon after that elect the committees. very simple. -- it will be very well who these nominees would be. and, if there are disagreements, and they have six weeks, over
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leadership of the parties, they are all contained with in the party, within the caucus, this was the world of denis hasher, and as the world basically for everybody in this room and in that lifetime, is basically the story. nancy pelosi getting closer to our book being gone a decade later as pelosi the can to run into trouble. welcome back to this if i have time. i will have time, will make time for it. but many of you will recall that after the show lacking the give -- democrats took in 2010, and actually in the run up to that election there was at the top of the top especially blue dog democrats then exceed pelosi -- on there was a bit of a rebellion on the democratic party side -- if the democrats had held the
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house in 2010, the story could've been very very different. by the time we wrote a book, john boehner had been elected speaker. and storm clouds were on their horizon. as this has been mentioned several times, while, here you go. here is his second elected as speaker, and we see that john boehner, got a bunch of votes. pelosi there. then a bunch of other people got a bunch of votes. all of these stars are next to republicans. so, this old world has begun to fray. this was even before last year when a key partner group within the key party started circulating a petition to declare the chair of the house, and basically to depose boehner. this did happen of course. paul ryan seemed to be speaker, but nonetheless, you know, that would've been really quite
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different if ryan, you all will recall -- a lot of work happened behind the scenes, there was a big chance that if ryan hadn't taken position, it could've been chaos. we haven't seen that in a long time. it's a new world and what i want to come back to at the end of this talk is the degree to which the old world can help to inform the new world. very quickly, let me give you an overview of what happens in this book. which by the way, probably the last 450-page book ever tibi published and political silent science. we start in the earliest years with these bigger ship being decided in contest that are quasi-partisan. by which i mean political parties grew up in the early period of the republic, but in
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the earliest days, earliest few decades, i will give specifics in a bit. there weren't caucuses in the way we understand them now. so, there is oftentimes uncertainty even with one of the parties that had a majority, who the speaker would being and once the speaker was decided it wasn't necessarily determine who would be on the committees, who would have other positions, etc. eventually and early in the antebellum period, speakership contest became structured around partisanship. and around ideology. this is kind of in the late antebellum period where the really fun fights happen. the circumstances, there are still in formal caucuses so they're not the types of caucuses we have right now. it wasn't always clear the implications of the speaker being chosen where. and it certainly wasn't an expectation that the caucus nominee would be supported by everybody in the party. nonetheless, it became partisan
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in the antebellum period. the really important thing, this is the world's most of us have lived through, all of us have lived through this because after the civil war, an interesting timing, couple times during the civil war after the civil war, the organization in the house became very regular. it became regular in such a way that jeff and i referred to this as a cartel by which not only did the majority party control not only control all of the offices, but that expectations fell from that. the majority party actually would control legislation in the house. and that depended on there being certainty the majority caucus would come to the defense of the nominee for speaker. once that happened, the world
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was different. that's the world that may or may not be unraveling. it's a world built up in the period from the civil war up into the speakership of one of the most famous speakers for those who aren't professional congress kicks. speaker read. that's a three decade period. it goes up, becomes really mature in the early 20th century. one last thing, we discover in the process of writing the book that the speaker was the tip of the iceberg. in terms of the story. one of the things we didn't expect, we thought we'd be telling a bunch of knocked down drag out rock them soft and robot fights about the speakership. what we discovered in the antebellum period that there were other offices and oftentimes those offices were as important if not more important to the members of the house and the speakership. many ways be more important for the development of parties then the speakership at various
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times. those include the printer, those include the clerk, those include the sergeant at arms, and in fact once there is even a fight over who the chaplain was going to be. at least once i found a chaplain. imposed in the partisan. there's interesting stuff in the anti felon and it's where we talk about the development of party government this conglomeration of offices in the antebellum period are in the eye of martin van buren who is americas great party thinker he has a theory about how you can put all of these things together and you can control national politics, here is the vision test. i used to be able
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to read this. there is the table of contents in the book. there's a bunch of appendices, so for those of you who look at the, book not only do we have chapters really focusing on the precip, war possible war period tells you something about the fights. but we have a bunch of appendices. so if you are interested in all of the balloting for all of the officers that i told you about. we have the numbers. we have sources. likewise we have gone through and collected sources on numbers about the caucus battles. where the speakers came from and so on. relying on sources, standard historical. ones various recordings. the journals in the debate as well, and the parties and newspaper says. well it's primarily eighth hakeem entry study. so let me just very quickly, this
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is kind of the rest of the top. i will skip over the political science part. why this is important. i will do a slightly more detailed overview, the speaker of elections gently talking over the voting, and get to the nine critical elections which i think helped to inform how we think about the problem that john maynard had and ron. so why study this? one of the things that i just want to note is that there is a number of questions intellectually while studying speakership fights. some of them are purely historical. a lot of interesting, empirical questions. there are larger
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issues as well but it already talked on. for instance, there are still questions remaining about the evolution of the parties, not in the constitution as we know. they have to be built. nick knitting that together. i have one of my movements being a fan of the presidency is that there is something a presidential politics as the -- and i want to build the congressional american system of politics and i think that there is meat here for the building of the congressional series of. this is a really hard question. embedded in how we elect speakers is a type of election that we are about to see in cleveland. that election form is entry requirements, how do we get -- [inaudible] speakership is the same thing. if you get elected speaker you need a majority of the chamber. anyone can be nominated. you can vote for anybody. there is
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a deadlock. how do you resolve that? it's a hard problem theoretically and practically. i will skip over that. you probably want to hear more about this. let me give you a little bit more of the chronology of the period. you break down the period into, one two, three, four, five periods. the first period is the pre-institutional period, there is usually one or two ballots, this is the number of ballots. we actually don't know. it's not even in the journal how many ballots. newspapers have some accounts. we have the number of ballots. who the speakers were. informal nomination. sometimes the majority party gets the speakership. sometimes not. i wouldn't say it lacks a days occult but it is not as high powered and as focused as it
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comes later on. especially after the 12th congress and the rise of henry clay. he is one of the great monumental figures. not just in american history at large, but in the institutional development of the house of representatives. clay comes, in he become speaker and he makes a number of institutional changes to turn the house into a pro toe version of what we see right now. committees that are standing committees. those sorts of things. during this period, clay allowed people to see the value of a strong presiding officer. speakership becomes more valuable for individual politicians and pardons. however, clay is able to get elected speaker because of the force of personality. i don't know. there's a lot of reasons. i'm puzzled why clay gets elected speaker so easily. he comes and goes. he has
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gambling debts. he goes and negotiates treaties. whenever he leaves, clay shows up time to time. he leaves in the middle of the 16th congress and taylor gets elected speaker at takes 20 ballots to elect. clay comes back. clay comes back, he's right back in. clay back in. two ballots. so there is no guarantee that things are going to be resolved very quickly if you are not henry clay. interesting thing happens in 1839. before 1839, balloting for speaker was by secret ballot. if i do not have time in the queue an eight to talk about this in 1839 the house starts to vote the way that they do now. that changes a lot. this obvious thing is we
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now know how individual members of congress or the house or voting. if you're constituent you can observe, this if your party leader you can observe this and you can imagine how it will change the dynamics. this period from 39 to 65 is the one that has the many, many deadlocks. so you can see when cobwebs elected to the 31st congress. 133 balance. cub 60, three bennington 54. and on and on. twice in 31st century and 34th congress, there are motions to adjourn the house await for the next elections. probably the only time in american history, you called for the regional constitution. the house couldn't do that, right? because they can't adjourn unless the senate says it's okay. and it's probably
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the only time in american history where that provision actually mattered. so the senate would've said no, we've got to work this one out. but imagine this, on the eve of what became the civil war, congress almost said, let's just go home. we can solve this. after the civil war, things really changed. you don't see any numbers by the speakers. so no more multi pilot affairs. parties began to nominate speakers and former caucuses. it becomes a binding caucus. there then becomes a question of whether the new environment environment of the stick, and it does. and we're off to the races. after 1991, just the talk about the transition for a second, 1891, speaker read, you get an important moment in the history of congress, when speaker read
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basically codifies by force of personality, by theory of party government and its buy some changes in the rules. really codifies the control of the floor by the majority party leadership. so, you now have kind of this bundle of nominating caucus where the majority party works out its problems, privately. they come to an agreement about who's going to lead the vanquished, get really good committee assignments or other promises. and you don't get it for unify. and that's basically the form that's kind of the system that we think is going to happen right now in 1891. so after 1891, it's pretty much one ballot, except for 1923, when it was at the bust of stalworth split. nine ballots to elect frederik gillette in 1923.
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that's the episode that's been seen as being the most parallel, possibly to boehner. has its experience and then rind may experience in the next congress. but other than 1923, caucuses have made nominations and they've gone through with the majority party. what is this? this is not a seismograph from oklahoma these days. this is just a visual that's in the book and let me explain it to you. you don't need to know the details to get the importance of the visual. this line right here. so this line right here is reflects how many seats the majority party has house of representatives from the first
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congress, up until the 112 congress. the solid line, that dark line is the fraction of votes received by the top photo from the majority party, the first round of voting for the speaker. and you'll notice, up until here, it's pretty neurotic, oftentimes less than one. which it's pretty neurotic, oftentimes less than one. which indicates that oftentimes, the majority party couldn't get everybody to vote. you'll notice that things start paying calm around 1870. it's been pretty calm ever since and the fact that the this autumn line doesn't get up totally-to-one is not because of defections, but is usually just because of absences. this is a slightly different graph but this is the pain or problem underlying problem, which kind of puts it into context. it is the biggest divergence from the expectations since the civil war, with the one exception of
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1923. so this is a big deal. this is really a big deal. i'm going to skip over and you can just believe me that they are really important and interesting. i would love -- or you can buy the book. i forgot about that. this is a a visualization just to kind of show just visually where the conflicts are so each column is a congress from the first down to the 115th and this row shows us what happened. when speaker elections kind of blew up, when printer elections blew up and you can see that this comes up to the 18 fifties and then lots of blowing up all up and down the line, starting in the 37th congress. and that's 1923. so things are really different. i will also skip over -- except to say this. if you want to read the slide, you may well i talk. the importance of a viva
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vote, i think it's one of the great examples of unintended consequences and reforms in congress. the intention of viva vote was to overcome reneging on promises in the election of the subsidiary officers and the printer which really became an issue. so, van buren and other party leaders decided that the solution to reneging on promises was to open up voting in public. so we can observe if somebody reneged. and in the short term, it worked wonders. we got really a high spike in party loyalty in these elections. a problem, so that newspapers also started noticing. and citizens started noticing. right at the moment
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that the nation's beginning to get divided along slavery and other issues. and so, back in the olden days, you might -- if you are from the south, you might be able to vote for someone in the north and then just claim to your constituents, must of been somebody else who voted for that guy, wasn't me. you can't do that anymore. and in a heightened ideological environment, it becomes much harder to put together coalitions within the party. and that becomes the really important thing. plus we get a bunch of data. let me talk about -- so there's a bunch of, over 115 elections for speaker in american politics. there are nine that i think are particularly worth noting. i'm not going to go through all of the details here, but just note that just really quickly, there's a couple of general
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patterns here. the first one that i would know it is the election of 1839, which took 11 ballots over two days and robert hunter ended up being elected speaker. the story here was that going into the election, nobody quite knew which party hard majority to begin with. but layered on top of this, there was an infamous dispute it election in new jersey, which elected their members at large. and it would be the outcome of that disputed election that would determine whether the democrats are the liberals have the majority. it took two weeks just to decide what to do with that disputed election. the democrats eventually won that fight and then took another two weeks to decide who is going to be speaker. hunter, who gets elected gets elected because the democrats, although they ended up having majority are not very good at counting votes. so hunter was a wig,
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although the democrats had a majority, so the outcome here was just simple vote counting problem. for 1849 and 1855, these are the real danny brooks. 61 pilots over three weeks where cowboys eventually elected. the 34th congress, hundred and 30 13 ballots over two months. iran which netanyahu banks was elected. the gist of these elections were that hold these two were three quarter fares. and if other congress is had been basically closely allied, or the numbers had been closed, they also would've been three quarter affairs. by which i mean, there were wigs who were some opposition to the democrats. so we have the democrats, and then you would have the free soil party. so anti slavery, and then the democrats and whoever was opposing the democrats had northern and southern wings. and so, he would basically have this division between party and then there was slavery. and you know, that is inherently and unstable mix in a majority voting. and then both of these cases, the house eventually
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decided to select their speaker through quality vote. that's the only way they can get out of the conundrum. in 36, now coming into the civil war, pennington from new jersey gets elected. here is actually kind of interesting. it's very different and much more easy to understand. by 36, slavery was basically the issue. and everyone was a raid along some continue, and about how strongly feel about slavery. with the democrats basically being for the slavery party by then, the republicans and the opposition party, kind of a dogs to have other parties who
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were not democrats a raid against slavery. and here, the issue ended up being that a group of, let's call them republicans just to make it easy, who were not quite as anti slavery as others. started playing chicken. they would vote for the number crafts and a series of battles. in order to try to remove the republican party, kind of more to the left, away from the anti slavery movements. the democrats noticed this. and on mid notes to the republicans, on one day, there are these six guys playing chicken, voting for democrats, trying to kind of play a mind game on republican leadership, the democrats, with a few of the american party, which was pivotal here, they
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all gangs up and voted for the same democrat. it was home most grabbing the speakership away from the jargon. ended up not happening, pennington ends up getting, i'm getting the speakership. here's a more moderate republican then the person that republicans had been trying to get to speak. the congress is really important because this breaks the pattern of airing d. o. d. laundry on the floor. what happens in the 37th congress, so this is right out of the civil war a starting. republicans come into town, they decide not to have caucus. but with a leadership agreed to do is that there would be a battle, whichever republican on the house floor -- which every republican gets the most votes, on the second ballot, the republicans will all vote for him. so, he comes in, gets the most votes, it's not a majority, however, on the very next move. the fellow who came in second, and that fly -- frank blair.
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actually, the son of one of the printers who we saw a few decades ago. enough people who had voted for blair change the votes. so he gets the majority in and no multi ballot affair. and that kind of knocks the legs out under multi bullet affairs. so from that time forward. the question becomes after the civil war whether the caucuses will hold on the floor. the first real task become -- by the way, i should mention. since 1865, won the first time, both the democratic and republican caucus both come to the floor make a nomination. so you can maybe times the moderator of 1861. 1876 is the first congressman, the democrats regain control of the house after the civil war, so the question about whether the democrats will do with the republicans did, which is to resolve things within the caucus, give a goody east of the people who were vanquished
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and then go to the floor united. they did 47 to 52, ended up being caucus fights between the republican party and the democratic party in which the parties were divided into three, four, five seven way contests. where there was a question. people were just so ticked off at the end of both these contests that there was a question about whether the losers would come and vote for the winner on the floor. and they did in both cases. so this was the biggest test. the stress test, up until 1891 when -- so that's the stress test. so really, the last time the whole system fell apart was in 1923 and just to give you a really quick overview, because we have probably about five more minutes of me talking and then questions. 1923. you will recognize as being in a period in which the republican party was divided between stalwarts, some kind of conservatives. but basically, conservatives, which was the largest group of the
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party and the progressives. and, the republicans had taking initialing in the 1922, and so the progressives ended up being, they're about 24 of them, there was only a 14 vote majority for the republicans, they wanted the leadership of the republican party to be more open and they demanded this of the republican leadership. it was a lot of work. took a lot of effort to say go away. progressive said ok fine. i'll see on the floor. basically, it was a game of just staring. a staring contest. of course the threat kind of behind the door that progressives could organize the chamber with the democrats. culturally they never would have. that was their. ideologically possible. progressives eventually won. they made changes to the house rules. progressive snow longer pivotal. long worth as now speaker. he took everything back. he punished the progressives. if you had a good committee assignment to were taken off of the committee. in
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the 24 election, if you support the progressive candidate you are out of the party. if you don't vote for me you are out of the party. so by 26, all of the progressives had, they were back in the party. i would say that that was the period, that's the period when this practice of who you vote for a speaker, determines will party ren. -- very quickly, there are two different types of stalemates. there's the three quarter stalemate, a big party, little party that are organized along some major dimension. the third party over there. there's another party that we saw with progressives. we have two parties. we have what you call the pivotal insurgents of the progressives. those are the two. so pelosi's problem, here are a few graphs, let me tell you with these graphs are intended to say. nancy pelosi had problems, as i mentioned earlier in the 2010s election, with the so called boone dog
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democrats who bragging stir. the democrats have their own shellacking in 2010. so it wasn't like she was nominated for speaker but at the end of the day there is a revolt against her continued leadership in the caucus. she lost something like 43 votes in the caucus. 43 people voted against turned the caucus, and -- voted against her in the caucus. this just shows ideologically using a common measure of ideology, the red dots are where the people who voted against pelosi, were the most conservative democrats.
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interesting here is that this is the ideological location everyone who cast a vote in the 2010 election on the democratic side. this is intended to remind us that one of the things that the 2010 election is remove the democrats from the democratic caucus. so democrats had organized in 20. ten pelosi would have been in deep trouble. or pelosi would have been in deep trouble. john as we all know had deep problems. this is similar picture to this one that shows the ideological location of everyone who voted against--.
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the ideological mapping. ryan's problems. so this is paul ryan's problem. this is thanks to keith pool. he did a interesting plot where he plays every member of the house of representatives. by this measure that he produces a ideology. these are the liberals. these are the conservatives. the why access conservatives. the why access is how many votes members got in the last election. and poole does the following exercise. he says what if this is just as bad an election for republicans as people can imagine. not
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saying it will be, but what if. he says what if there is a seven point swing away from the republican party in 2016 for the elections. if, so then these republicans lose. now this would be in extreme swing. republicans have been a majority, but they could be elected in the seats. look at who stay. the further the right you are the more likely you are to stay. so ryan's best hope is still not going to be happy times. but what keith does not say is that if things don't get even better for the democrats and there is some miracle that democrats leave the house, the
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democrats that leave are likely to be conservative democrats. so nancy pelosi or whoever the democratic nominee is going to be is going to be also not in good shape either. so just to wrap up, considering the past, thinking about the future and the next few years. we think about the current cough reflects, there's no evidence so far that members must organize when i call a organizational cartel. there's no evidence that members want to really give up the system where parties organize things internally. the question is whether they can keep the system going. i think there is an argument if you just look at the types of very abstract, and the types of contract that happen especially before the civil war and map them on to
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the democrats in the republicans, it is actually the democrats that have the bigger problem. because the democrats, the democrats that would effect from a nominee or conservative democrats. they could plausibly walk over to the republican party, and organized with the republicans. not that it would happen, but they could make that credible threat. whereas tea party republicans, keith pool calls suicide caucus, they have nowhere ideologically to go. they cannot credibly say if you don't -- go with the democrats to organize. so it is more likely that the republican caucus could be like with the democrats used to be. you remember the old saying, nets true of the republican party and that could end up being the case. democrats have more to lose on the floor. some other things to think about though, is that some of the ways in which the president really
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differs from the antebellum period is these ways. first of all there's no third force in american politics. it is three corner contest that is the most vexing. so if there were a third force, like donald trump starts his own party, then things could get really, really nasty. but there isn't. election laws in the states make it harder to get, along the party, rules this is -- party rules are different. now back in the olden days nominations were made back when nominations could, beat no both democrats and republicans meat right after the election to nominate someone for speaker. so they have two months to figure this out. republicans furthermore have a rule, which says to nominate, start, balloting take a, vote person on the bottom gets dropped off. but, again person on the bottom destruct. off to have a, roll it becomes a two person contest,
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and then pick someone. so there are rules that are very, very different from the, past and finally i have to mention, we may have a trial run, on the old style nomination speaker politics in cleveland in the summer. as i mentioned before, it broker convention in many ways is the same thing as a speakers, so thank you, happy to take questions. >> -- hand if you have a question. >> fascinating. i am again wondering about some of the comparative situations here. i'm thinking of the british system where you also have greater steaks, the person you
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vote on is not just the speaker, but also the prime minister. but it's not just that you organize the house of commons with the election, you also determine policy. you have the government and american congress were you organize the house but you don't have assurance that you can get your policy through. i'm thinking of my particular area, tax policy. there are lots of cases were both the chairman and the house speaker want something, but the members simply don't vote for it. so how much power do the parties actually have? >> not as much as the party of -- the three systems. i should, mention the first paper that i wrote about 20 years ago had the title inefficiency. -- wrote the history of the english constitution which was just described, the efficiency. this is the interesting thing about intellectual history. he is developing ideas about -- at
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the same time that angle violence are coming up with solutions. it's very clear that he wanted the caucus to be a binding caucus on policy. and van buren tries it and he fails. their end up being times in the 1890s, 1920s, we have seen more recently attempts to make biden caucuses and sometimes it's like a flash in the pan. like with the democrats. but then they go away. the biden caucus on policy which was eight gleam in van buren's eyes was the part that never got enacted. everything else did. we can talk at length about that.
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certainly, van buren wanted it to go there. >> if i could have a follow-up, speaker been or resign the speakership. had either of them survived given their political opportunities? >> could they have survived with that resigning? >> yes. and could they have been effective? >> tom reed was a little bit before my time. i think reads problem was with the administration. it was about policy. -- it was similar and that the party was divided on policy but it seemed to be eight small type of thing. i was not on the hill at the time so i don't know if he could have survived. that was probably good enough. i
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actually do not have a good answer that question. >> was he elected speaker as freshman? >> the question about cleat being elected as speaker as a freshman. yes, keep in mind he had been speaker of the kentucky legislature, and u.s. senate a couple of times. likewise, panicked and was elected speaker in his first term as well. although he had been governor of new jersey. in fact, i did not get into the details although he was a neophyte in the house of representatives he was the key player in this disputed election case involving new jersey. he was well aware of the organization of things in the house. clay was a different
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guy. [inaudible] >> it seems like what we're talking about today was the centralize power. the power centralized in the office. you have a kind of top-down structure. that wasn't necessarily the case. committees have been incredibly powerful throughout the course of the history of the house as a series of delegated powers of the chairman. in the 19th century in particular, how powerful in your opinion was the power of the speaker? especially in this kind of, when clay become speaker, and especially after clay become speaker. >> that is a whole other book. in fact we address some of that in our book. also a couple of things. first i think that you described well what is conventionally believed by the
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house and i think there is a lot of truth to that, having said that, the members act as, if even during the period we know this observational-y that the committee sometimes will just do, just wildly unpredictable things. the speaker of elections will proceed as the speaker is --, it's striking as you know. bibliography, here -- one of the most famous books in congressional history. he has a great section about henry clay, in which he says clay is seen as the father of parliamentary power, but they swept the floor with him so many times. he lost so many things. he couldn't stack committees to save his life, he's got so many failures
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and yet he is held up as a strong speaker in the antebellum period. that's why he kept getting elected. so observation, committees are weak, but they are fighting to things, tooth and nail over this position. so either they are diluted, war there are things still worthwhile in being speaker. as brooks once said, it is good being king. if nothing else, you did get some things as speaker. please. >> i believe that our time is about expired, i want to give charles a round of applause for a really informative presentation.
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next on american history tv. congressional research jane hudiburg talks about the life and legacy of jeanette rankin. the first woman elected to congress. the u.s. capital historical society hosted the event, it is about 55 minutes. >> today we are here to listen to jane hudiburg, front of the society. your first us understand involvement with the capital,


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