Normally I do not like to admit this in polite company, but I was once a Democrat. In fact a liberal Democrat.
As a precocious kid of 12 or 13, I used to tag along with a Democrat precinct captain as he went door to door.From him I learned some of the savvy techniques (and dirty tricks) that would later serve me well when I became a sentient being and began working to elect conservatives.
But I am not ashamed to admit it. I was once a Democrat. But then so was the very witty conservative writer, P.J. O'Rourke. He was not just a liberal Democrat, but was in fact, a drug addled hippie wwhen he wrote for Rolling Stone. Now he leans more toward dry martinis and H. Uppmann cigars. Now his writing makes sense.
And so, of course was the Great Communicator, himself, Ronald Reagan. Most people are unaware of this, but not only had he been a Democrat, but he was the only President of the United States who had been a labor union leader. He served as President of the Screen Actors Guild.
I can't often think of nice things to write about Democrats, but in recent reading, I came across the one indisputably good thing the Democrats ever did.
They legalized booze!
It was largely at the urging of pecksniff Midwestern and Bible Belt Republicans that liquor was outlawed in the US from 1919 to 1933.
It was the Democrat FDR who gave us back legal liquor.
Here is what the political scientist, William E. Leuchtenburg had to say about it:
"On Monday, March 13th, the President asked Congress to fulfill the Democratic pledge of an early end to prohibition. Roosevelt's victory had speeded a remarkable revolution in sentiment; even some veteran dry Congressman now voted for liquor. While the 21st Amendment was making its way through the states, Roosevelt requested quick action to amend the Volstead Act by legalizing beer of 3.2% alcoholic content by weight.
"Roosevelt's message touched off a rollicking debate. The drys, who had succeeded in killing a beer bill only a few weeks before, rehashed the arguments that had been so convincing for more than a decade, but to no avail.
"Impatient Congressmen chanted: 'Vote -- Vote -- We Want Beer!'
"Within a week, both Houses had passed the beer bill and added wine for good measure, although Congressmen protested that 3.2% wine was not 'interesting.' On March 22, Roosevely signed the bill.
"As the day of liberation approached, breweries worked feverishly to meet the anticipated demand. Working around the clock, a St. Joseph Missouri factory turned out ten tons of pretzels a day, but still ran two month behind. Emanuel Kovelski, president of the New York bartenders union proclaimed: 'We're all set. The bartenders will be all fine, clean upstanding yound men.'
"On April 7, 1933, beer was sold legally in America for the first time since the advent of prohibition and the wets made the most of it. In New York, six stout brewery horses drew a bright red stake wagon to the Empire State Building, where a case of beer was presented to Al Smith, 'the martyr of 1928.'
"In the beer town of St. Louis, steam whistles and sirens sounded at midnight, while Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee was blocked by mobs of celebrants singing 'Sweet Adeline.' The most important ritual took place at the Rennert Hotel bar in Baltimore: H.L. Mencken downed a glass of the new beer and assured anxious connoisseurs it was a worthy brew."
In 1936, The Democrats made the most of it as FDR easily sailed into his second term. They had a campaign song, which I once taped off of NPR. It went:
We Got Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Since Roosevelt's been elected
Moonshine liquor's been corrected
We got legal wine, whiskey, beer and gin."
So don't ever say that I never gave the Democrats credit for ever doing anything good.