The Democratic Party for most of the 19th century was actually the more conservative of the parties. During the Panic of 1837, which was the worst economic depression of the 19th century, Martin Van Buren did little to turn the tide. Grover Cleveland was very conservative in his approach to government and was only pushed to auction when a shortfall in the government’s gold supply threatened to bring down the national currency.
The first big Democratic Party shift came in 1896 when the party nominated William Jennings Bryan for president. Bryon’s “free silver campaign” brought a new level populism to the national debate, and forever turned the Democrats into a left leaning party. The clock behind Bryan’s portrait is set at “16 to 1.”
The next shift came in 1912 with the nomination of Woodrow Wilson. He was the first globalist although his 1916 campaign was based on the phrase, “He kept us out of war.” And then he got us into war.
The New Deal revolution was the next big shift. This medal, which was issued in the mid 1930s, had a lot of New Deal, activist symbolism.
And one of FDR’s favorite symbols was that he was “captain of the ship.”
The huge shift came with LBJ’s “Great Society.” Welfare benefits went crazy, but there of little hint of that in his 1964 campaign pieces. He was only saying …
And he lied through his teeth on this piece.
I’ll conclude with George McGovern who openly called for the re-distribution of wealth and income. Here is a classic McGovern button that has been very popular with the Liberal Democrat collectors.