In the late 1930s, in Minneapolis and across the urban-industrial North, a cohort of self-described liberal Republicans helped reverse almost a decade's worth of defeats for the Grand Old Party. Liberal Republicans accepted the political reality of a society responsible for the welfare of its individual citizens but rejected the class-based notion of affirmative rights to security and equality that was central to the New Deal. Under Governor Harold Stassen, this “New Dealized” wing of the Republican Party made its most important contributions in the arena of labor relations. Though liberal Republicans applauded trade unionism in principle, Stassen won office by pledging to restrict workers' ability to strike and ridiculing labor's program of social reform as a threat to economic recovery. The Minnesota Labor Relations Act, which swept through the state legislature in 1939, encapsulated Stassen's conservative statism whereby Republican policy makers adopted the statecraft of the New Deal precisely to thwart the working-class forces energized by New Deal legislation. Furthermore, the legwork of the Minnesota Republican US Congressional delegation made Stassen's labor relations act a template for the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, commonly known as the Taft-Hartley act. By delegitimizing strike activity in law and political discourse, New Dealized Republicanism set the foundation for a system that gutted a more expansive working-class politics and confined unions within a highly vulnerable and isolated collective bargaining regime.
Research Article|May 01 2014
- Views Icon Views
Kristoffer Smemo; A “New Dealized” Grand Old Party: Labor and the Emergence of Liberal Republicanism in Minneapolis, 1937 – 1939. Labor 1 May 2014; 11 (2): 35–59. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-2410903
Download citation file:
- Share Icon Share