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The Democratic Class of 1974 Passes From the Scene
Townhall.com ^ | February 4, 2014 | Michael Barone

Posted on 02/04/2014 7:03:15 AM PST by Kaslin

Henry Waxman and George Miller are retiring from the House and not running for re-election after 40 years as congressmen from southern and northern California.

Also retiring and not running for re-election is Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana will resign if, as expected, he is confirmed as ambassador to China. Both were first elected to the House in 1974 and were later elected to the Senate.

These four are just about the last members serving in Congress of the 75 Democrats first elected to the House in the Watergate year of 1974.

The only other members of the Class of 1974 are Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, one of only 17 Republican freshmen elected that year, and Congressman Rick Nolan, who retired from the House in 1980 but was elected again in 2012 after 32 years in the private sector.

Aside from these two outliers, the Class of 1974 is about to pass into history. What did it accomplish?

First, it changed the way the House of Representatives operates, starting from before its members took the oath of office and continuing to the present day.

Democrats had held majorities in the House for 20 years, but the liberal majority in the caucus was often stymied by the seniority system that allowed conservative Southerners to hold key chairmanships.

Beginning in 1974, the leadership allowed the Democratic caucus to vote up or down on chairmen against whom a certain number of signatures were gathered.

San Francisco's Phil Burton, who had shrewdly backed many '74ers, gathered a sufficient number of signatures for every chairman. Three were defeated by the newly enlarged caucus, including one, first elected in 1940, who addressed the freshmen as "boys and girls."

Election of committee chairmen became routine, and it meant that anyone seeking a chair had better have a voting record in line with the Democrats' liberal majority. For example, Jamie Whitten of Mississippi, first elected a month before Pearl Harbor, shifted suddenly from Right to Left.

Republicans did something similar when they won their House majority in 1994. Their 73 freshmen, shrewdly backed and mentored by Newt Gingrich, supported his move to have chairmen chosen by a leadership-dominated steering committee.

The result is that the Democratic Caucus became solidly liberal, and the Republican Conference (the two parties use different names) solidly conservative. The polarized House is in large part the product of the Classes of 1974 and 1994.

The change can be justified on neutral principles. Committees more closely resemble the legislature as a whole, which makes legislating more feasible -- and party leaders and members accountable to the voters.

The downside, in some critics' view, is that the election of chairmen also gave would-be chairmen motives to raise money for other members, very often from K Street lobbyists.

Many Class of 1974 members proved to be productive legislators. Waxman, who ousted a more senior chairman of a health subcommittee in 1978, sponsored bipartisan laws on generic drugs and orphan drugs (for rare diseases), forced expansion of Medicaid in the Reagan years, shaped the 1990 Clean Air Act and pushed Obamacare and cap-and-trade through the House in 2009-10.

Miller worked with John Boehner and Edward Kennedy on the Education Act of 2001. Harkin helped lead the bipartisan move to double funding for the National Institutes of Health over five years. Baucus led Senate Finance Democrats for 13 years.

The Class of 1974 also shifted the House and the congressional Democratic Party from hawkish to dovish. One of its first acts in March 1975 was to block funding for South Vietnam when it was under attack by the North. Saigon fell in April.

In the 1980s, the Democratic House kept pushing back on the Reagan foreign policy. In 2002, Nancy Pelosi, who holds the seat once held by Phil Burton, led most House Democrats to oppose the Iraq war resolution.

Pelosi says she is staying on, even as her ally Waxman and her consigliere, Miller, leave the House. The 201-member caucus she leads has more black and Hispanic members and fewer young doves and reformers than the 291-member caucus Waxman and Miller entered nearly 40 years ago.

Still, the Class of 1974 has left a mark on history -- though not as much as one Democrat who narrowly lost a House race that year, a 28-year-old Arkansan named Bill Clinton.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: demonrats; houseofreps; nostrilluswaxman

1 posted on 02/04/2014 7:03:15 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

This is why we need a constitutional amendment to allow only one 6 year term for the House and Senate. No re-election. You serve and then you hand the keys over. So many things could be corrected by this.


2 posted on 02/04/2014 7:09:07 AM PST by Right Brother
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To: Kaslin

Interesting read. Thanks for posting.


3 posted on 02/04/2014 7:14:32 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Right Brother

As long as we have the Establishment Turds running things in the House and the Senate, that’s not going to happen.


4 posted on 02/04/2014 7:15:41 AM PST by Howie66 (Molon Labe, Traitors!)
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To: Right Brother

The goosesteppers in the electorate love electing psycho goosesteppers to political office. (and they’ll do it forever.)

IMHO


5 posted on 02/04/2014 7:16:05 AM PST by ripley
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To: Kaslin

“The Class of 1974 also shifted the House and the congressional Democratic Party from hawkish to dovish. One of its first acts in March 1975 was to block funding for South Vietnam when it was under attack by the North. Saigon fell in April. “

And thus have the blood of millions on their hands.


6 posted on 02/04/2014 7:20:56 AM PST by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
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To: Kaslin

All of the democrat rats leaving a sinking ship.I just hope their retirements go the same way.


7 posted on 02/04/2014 7:58:58 AM PST by puppypusher ( The World is going to the dogs.)
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To: headstamp 2

One of its first acts in March 1975 was to block funding for South Vietnam when it was under attack by the North. Saigon fell in April. “

But our Republicans can’t block anything.


8 posted on 02/04/2014 8:14:38 AM PST by Luke21
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To: Right Brother

I don’t disagree with the idea of term limits.

My plan is 12 years - two 6-year terms in the Senate or six 2-year terms in the House.

Rightly or wrongly, a legislative body needs to have some institutional stability and history. With the kind of turnover that we’d see if everyone was restricted to six years, it would not be good for the nation.


9 posted on 02/04/2014 10:52:41 AM PST by MplsSteve
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To: Kaslin
Crazy, I was born in '74.

Speaks volumes about the permanent political class.

10 posted on 02/04/2014 10:54:17 AM PST by turducken
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To: Kaslin

Thank God..... it certainly took long enough!


11 posted on 02/04/2014 11:52:21 AM PST by pat1969 (Where is the compromise between right and wrong?)
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To: MplsSteve

I like your plan better. Frequent elections in the House were intended to keep representatives responsive to the people.


12 posted on 02/04/2014 11:57:20 AM PST by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: headstamp 2

Thank you. Beat me to it. The Democrat Party has the murder of millions of poor Asians on its hands. But we’re the only ones who will ever say it out loud.


13 posted on 02/04/2014 12:01:17 PM PST by Hardastarboard (The question of our age is whether a majority of Americans can and will vote us all into slavery.)
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To: Right Brother
The only reason we don't have annual House elections is because the difficulty of 18th century travel.

The Framers had enough experience with the electoral process to fear long, popularly derived terms.

The 17th Amendment did two horrible things. It introduced six year popular terms and kicked the states out of the senate. There was no way the government could tyrannize the states or people as long as the states appointed senators.

Those amendments from 101 years ago are why America 2014 is police state.

14 posted on 02/04/2014 1:03:09 PM PST by Jacquerie (To destroy America, destroy Christianity.)
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To: Howie66
As long as we have the Establishment Turds running things in the House and the Senate, that’s not going to happen.

So long as we have the American people, nothing will change.

15 posted on 02/04/2014 1:28:19 PM PST by Theodore R. (TX Republicans to endorse Cornball and George P! Stay tuned March 4)
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To: Hardastarboard

And if the D’s de-funded a war, why can’t the R’s de-fund bamacare?


16 posted on 02/04/2014 3:30:04 PM PST by thirst4truth (Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil - it has no point.)
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To: Kaslin

well...at least they left the country better than they found it (extreme sarcasm)


17 posted on 02/04/2014 3:32:03 PM PST by BookmanTheJanitor
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To: Kaslin
Ah yes . . . the '74 "Watergate" class.

Good riddance to all of them!

18 posted on 02/04/2014 4:00:39 PM PST by Zionist Conspirator (The Left: speaking power to truth since Shevirat HaKelim.)
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To: Kaslin; fieldmarshaldj; AuH2ORepublican; BillyBoy; Clintonfatigued; yongin; campaignPete R-CT; ...
Good riddance watergate babies!!!!

The only other members of the Class of 1974 are Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, one of only 17 Republican freshmen elected that year, and Congressman Rick Nolan, who retired from the House in 1980 but was elected again in 2012 after 32 years in the private sector.

Grassley was elected to the House in '74 of course, Senate in 1980. Damn that Nolan!!! I want em all gone!!!

Strange the way things work out. Unless we beat him (which is possible but not likely), Nolan, a guy who retired before I was born and whom most people forgot about, will be the last watergate baby left thanks to a 2012 comeback in a mostly different district.

If Grassley, a Republican, outlasts him that would be the ultimate irony.

19 posted on 02/04/2014 10:16:32 PM PST by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
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To: Viennacon

I think I neglected to include you in this ping


20 posted on 02/04/2014 10:18:35 PM PST by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
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To: Impy

Reelected after a 32 year layoff...is that a record? Has to be close if it isn’t.


21 posted on 02/05/2014 6:52:03 AM PST by GOPsterinMA (You're a very weird person, Yossarian.)
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To: GOPsterinMA; fieldmarshaldj; AuH2ORepublican
Reelected after a 32 year layoff...is that a record? Has to be close if it isn’t.

I would imagine. All I for sure is that it's the state record by more than double. DJ?

22 posted on 02/05/2014 7:17:29 AM PST by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
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To: Impy; fieldmarshaldj; AuH2ORepublican; GOPsterinMA; randita; Sun; LdSentinal; ExTexasRedhead; ...

People claim that the Watergate Babies were so politically astute because they kept getting reelected in marginal districts. The truth is that Congressional spending exploded during the 1970’s. The number of staffers and direct mail costs soared. The expanded staffers did the serious legislating and told the Congressmen what the laws were and how to vote. The Congressmen themselves were full-time candidates while others did the actual work. The result was that the taxpayers were indirectly subsidizing the reelections of the Watergate babies and even the best challengers couldn’t keep up with that. The 1974 elections were a disaster for the entire nation in every way imaginable.


23 posted on 02/05/2014 10:40:16 AM PST by Clintonfatigued (The War on Drugs is Big Government statism)
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To: Impy; Clintonfatigued; GOPsterinMA; BillyBoy; AuH2ORepublican

Nolan may have set the record, but he didn’t break it by much. Unless I’m mistaken, the previous record may have been held by Pennsylvania’s Galusha Grow. He served in Congress from 1851-1863 (including a term as Speaker). He came back 31 years later in 1894 to fill a vacancy and served until 1903.


24 posted on 02/05/2014 5:31:55 PM PST by fieldmarshaldj (Resist We Much)
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To: fieldmarshaldj; GOPsterinMA; AuH2ORepublican

Damn! Pretty close. I didn’t know Grow returned to Congress.

He was the last sitting Speaker to lose reelection until Tom Foley, I believe.


25 posted on 02/05/2014 5:37:05 PM PST by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
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To: fieldmarshaldj; Impy; Clintonfatigued; GOPsterinMA; BillyBoy

31 years, 36 years, they have nothing on President John Tyler. Tyler served in the U.S. House of Representatives until March 5, 1821, left to return to private life, fairly quickly got into state government, became governor, then elected to the Senate, then elected VP, then became President upon W.H. Harrison’s death, then returned to private life for over 15 years, and then, in January 1862, returned to the House of Representatives after an absence of almost 41 years. Of course, this time, it was the House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America ....


26 posted on 02/06/2014 10:43:39 AM PST by AuH2ORepublican (If a politician won't protect innocent babies, what makes you think that he'll defend your rights?)
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To: AuH2ORepublican; fieldmarshaldj

Didn’t that WINO die before he could take his seat in the Confederate Haus?

Anyway

http://go.bloomberg.com/political-capital/2012-11-16/bloomberg-by-the-numbers-32-2/

That article seems to confirm that Nolan holds the US House record and that Grow was the previous record holder.


27 posted on 02/06/2014 2:37:39 PM PST by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
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To: Impy; fieldmarshaldj

Tyler died before the session started, but is listed as having served for 12 days (maybe the term started but not the session).


28 posted on 02/06/2014 2:39:57 PM PST by AuH2ORepublican (If a politician won't protect innocent babies, what makes you think that he'll defend your rights?)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
Philip Francis Thomas of Maryland, Isaac Ruth Sherwood of Ohio, and Daniel Sickles of New York. also had long gaps between terms.

Maybe the most memorable example, though, was Jeanette Rankin. She served only two terms separated by 22 years, but managed to vote against our entering both World Wars.

I agree that there's much to be said for term limits, but there's a "Rip Van Winkle" quality to such stories that appeals to the imagination.

I predict Nolan will get thrown out of Congress soon enough for being too "old school" about things like sexual harassment.

29 posted on 02/06/2014 3:07:17 PM PST by x
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To: fieldmarshaldj
Also Louis St. Martin of Louisiana.

Wikipedia writes: "The long hiatus between St. Martin's two terms can be partially explained by the intervening Civil War."

Bing's picture of him is actually a hockey player named Martin St. Louis.

30 posted on 02/06/2014 3:10:44 PM PST by x
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To: Impy; Kaslin; fieldmarshaldj; BillyBoy; Clintonfatigued; yongin; campaignPete R-CT

Barone is limiting the term “Watergate babies” to those first elected to the House in 1974, but if we extended the term to apply to those first elected to Congress (whether House or Senate) that year, it would also include Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT).

When Leahy was elected in 1974, he was the first Democrat ever elected to the Senate from VT—I’m talking *ever*, and Andrew Jackson had founded the party 150 years before!

As DJ has noted before, had longtime Republican Senator George Aiken run for reelection in 1974, he would have waltzed to victory (he was by far the most popular politician in the state, and had been reelected unopposed in 1968); the GOP almost certainly would have held the seat in 1980 upon Aiken’s retirement, given that GOP nominee Stewart Ledbetter nearly defeated incumbent Senator Leahy that year (and in an open-seat race whoever would be the GOP nominee would have been carried in by Reagan’s coattails). Had Aiken run for reelection in 1974, it is quite likely that Leahy never would have been elected to the Senate, and if he ever was it elected it wouldn’t have occurred prior to 1986.

My hypothesis, actually, is that had Aiken run for reelection in 1974, Congressman Richard Mallary would have stayed in the House (he gave up his seat to run for the Senate that year), thus blocking Jim Jeffords from being elected to Congress in 1974. Mallary almost certainly would have run for the Senate in 1980 when Aiken finally retired, and been elected easily (and would have had a good chance at reelection in 1986 despite the political environment); his House seat would have stayed Republican in 1980, perhaps being won by Stewart Ledbetter. Had Ledbetter been elected to the House in 1980, he would be the likely GOP Senate nominee in 1988 upon Senator Robert Stafford’s retirement, and likely would have won in 1988 (and if so, obviously reelected in 1994). Had all this occurred, who knows who would be the Republican elected to the House in 1988?; perhaps it wouldn’t be someone anti-gun like Peter Smith, and Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be able to get elected as an Independent in 1990 by running to his right on guns. So, conceivably, had Aiken run for reelection in 1974, Vermont would have an all-Republican congressional delegation as late as 1996 or 2000, and Pat Leahy and Jim Jeffords never would have sullied the Senate’s halls.


31 posted on 02/07/2014 5:33:26 AM PST by AuH2ORepublican (If a politician won't protect innocent babies, what makes you think that he'll defend your rights?)
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To: AuH2ORepublican; Impy; Kaslin; BillyBoy; Clintonfatigued; yongin; campaignPete R-CT

I should point out that Mallary didn’t turn out to be substantially different from Jeffords. When he made a return to the VT legislature, he switched parties to Independent (liberal). It was only a matter of time before the state sent a moonbat delegation given the demographics of the nutty Whites that live there (although all it would take would be about 100,000 committed Conservatives to flip the state back to normalcy).

It was Vermont’s GOP that made the wrong-headed decision decades ago (in the ‘50s) to embrace its left-wing and discard Conservatism. A premier example is when they told Conservative Lt Gov. Consuelo Bailey not to run for Governor in 1956 (or even for reelection). They ran her out in favor of liberal Bob Stafford (who would then go on to serve a term as Lt Gov (’57-’59), Governor (’59-’61), House (’61-’71) and Senator (’71-’89), who preceded Jeffords.

Those left-wingers should’ve gone to the Democrats and left the VT GOP to the small government types. Yes, the state then might’ve gone Democrat even earlier (noting in 1958, they did elect an ultraleftist Dem Congressman, William Meyer, who Stafford left the Governorship after a single term to defeat in ‘60. Meyer’s hippie moonbat son moved here to Nashville), but the leftist RINOs certainly did us no favors.


32 posted on 02/07/2014 8:20:08 PM PST by fieldmarshaldj (Resist We Much)
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To: fieldmarshaldj; AuH2ORepublican; BillyBoy
(although all it would take would be about 100,000 committed Conservatives to flip the state back to normalcy).

I'd be willing go be one of the 100'000 if there was an effort afoot. With the weather lately I wouldn't notice any difference! Greeeeeeeeeeeen acres is the place for me! (I've seen a little of that show, I recall hating it. I did figure it was Vermont for some reason)

Anyway, yes how could I forget Leahy, the ultimate Watergate baby. First rat and officially still the ONLY rat elected to the Senate from VT.

33 posted on 02/07/2014 10:59:07 PM PST by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
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To: fieldmarshaldj; AuH2ORepublican; Impy
>> It was only a matter of time before the state sent a moonbat delegation given the demographics of the nutty Whites that live there (although all it would take would be about 100,000 committed Conservatives to flip the state back to normalcy). <<

It's funny, Vermont actually IS a rare example of a state that completely "switched sides" both idealogically and political party wise in the last 100 years. Back around 1912 or so, that was one of the most reliably Republican states in the country and it was one of only two states to stick with the more conservative Taft over Teddy Roosevelt that year (the other state, Utah, remains one of the most conservative states tonight, though it keeps electing RINO Governors for some bizarre reason).

Of course, you're right about the nutty white "progressives" making that state increasingly liberal whether it stayed Republican or not. George Aiken was certainly a lifelong Republican, but he was no conservative, and very pro-New Deal. Most of the Republicans Vermont had in power by the 50s and 60s were RINOs who remained in the GOP for country club rich boy reasons ("we're too good to associate with those poor farmers in the RAT party").

>> (although all it would take would be about 100,000 committed Conservatives to flip the state back to normalcy). I'd be willing go be one of the 100'000 if there was an effort afoot. With the weather lately I wouldn't notice any difference! Greeeeeeeeeeeen acres is the place for me!

It would be fun to take back Vermont with 100,000 or so staunch conservatives moving there en masse and returning the state to its roots, though it wouldn't help much from geographic and electoral standpoint.

You know what would be even better in an ideal world? If conservatives took control of the NAACP and restored it to its roots. Most Americans today would be shocked if you told them that the vast majority of the NAACP's early leadership were white (mostly Jews) and quite a few pre-1960s NAACP Presidents and Chairman were staunch card-carrying Republicans.

The NAACP today only has about 300,000 members total. Half a million conservatives joining en masse could easily outnumber them and take control of the organization. (I presume there's no modern day rule that white people can't join). Black and white conservatives would then theoretically be able to wrestle control of the organization by voting themselves into power at the local levels of the NAACP chapters, and then elect a national chairman. It would drive liberals absolutely insane if we suddenly had control of the NAACP and used it to promote free-market and pro-family policies that would actually HELP blacks like the organization is supposed to! (we could start by reversing the NAACP's resent resolution in support of gay marriage). Lefties LOVE to hijack and destroy decent organizations like the Boy Scouts. Imagine if we took over one of "theirs" that was organization to begin with.

34 posted on 02/09/2014 5:23:10 PM PST by BillyBoy (Looking at the weather lately, I could really use some 'global warming' right now!)
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To: BillyBoy; fieldmarshaldj
though it wouldn't help much from geographic and electoral standpoint.

Well, it would mean plus 2 Senators.

As for the NAACP, I like that idea. But the liberals would just break off and form the Real IRA "RealNAACP" which the media would probably recognize as the well, real NAACP.

35 posted on 02/09/2014 6:45:25 PM PST by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
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