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‘Let it be One Whom We Can Oppose’: Legacy of Party Divisions

May 17, 2016

Donald Trump has secured the Republican nomination, but still, many conservatives in the party don’t seem ready to accept him yet. The #NeverTrump movement took a body blow, but hasn’t bowed out in stopping Trump’s campaign for the presidency – even talking of fielding a conservative third party candidate.

Citing Trump’s donations to Democratic politicians and various left-leaning stances on trade, national security and health care, some conservatives wonder if Hillary Clinton would be any worse.

Or, as Alexander Hamilton said of a previous election: “If we must have an enemy as the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolishness and bad measures.”

Since political parties existed, there have been intra-party divisions. One of the most vicious came during the 1800 presidential election, when Federalist President John Adams stood re-election against Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson. That year many Federalists were aligned not against an outsider insurgent but against their incumbent president. Those opposing Adams as too moderate and backing Hamilton were known as the High Federalists, as examined in Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.

It was perhaps Hamilton’s propensity to truly loathe political rivals, or even allow his emotions to create heated rivalries, that helped determine this election. He was extremely angry with Adams for being overly moderate and not going to full-scale war with France in 1798, a conflict in which he hoped to be a glorious general.

The break between the moderate Adams Federalists and Hamilton’s High Federalists helped make the president’s party dysfunctional against the Democratic-Republican well-organized apparatus. America’s first and still best Treasury secretary hated Jefferson for being a dangerous radical. As for Burr, it was probably based on more personal and practical reasons. Burr was an old rival in New York politics, whom Hamilton found loathsome and void of any moral compass.

As today, it’s easy to imagine elements of either party being so annoyed by sellout candidates they would just as soon lose the election, believing a defeat could even be better for their party’s future and ideological strength as opposed to a squishy moderate who will give away the store to the other side.

This was essentially how Hamilton felt about the choice of Adams and Jefferson. Hamilton said: “If we must have an enemy as the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolishness and bad measures.”

Hamilton – who would go on to be a deciding factor in the election – also wrote a letter that ended up being both a liability for him and for Adams. More from Tainted by Suspicion:

Hamilton’s 50-page letter excoriating Adams leaked into the Democratic-Republican newspapers. The surrounding publicity closed off any future hopes of Hamilton ascending to the presidency—and it didn’t do a lot of good for Adams re-election campaign. In a message targeted at Federalists in South Carolina, Hamilton wrote: “Few go as far in their objections as I do. Not denying to Mr. Adams patriotism and integrity and even talents of a certain kind, I should be deficient in candor, were I to conceal the conviction, that he does possess the talents “adapted to the administration of government, and that there are great intrinsic defects in his character, which unfit him for the office of chief magistrate.”

Burr got a copy and leaked it to Democratic-Republican newspapers around the country. The letter titled The Public Conduct and Character of John Adams ran to the great humiliation of the president and Hamilton.

Adams expressed his own frustration of Hamilton, even blaming him for the loss of New York: “Hamilton is an intriguant, the greatest intriguant in the world—a man devoid of every moral principal—a bastard… Mr. Jefferson is an infinitely better man, a wiser one, I am sure, and if President, will act wisely. I know and would rather be vice president under him or even minister resident at Hague than indebted to such a being as Hamilton for the presidency.”

Click here to order: Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.

(This post was originally published by Stairway Press blog.)



When the Rules Changed: Donald Trump’s Campaign Echoes Andrew Jackson’s 1824 Insurgency

May 17, 2016

Donald Trump’s insurgent campaign for the Republican presidential nomination marked a dramatic change in how presidential campaigns are typically run.

My book “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections” chronicles similarities between Trump and the first presidential campaign of Andrew Jackson.

As Tainted by Suspicion says of Jackson:

He was almost the Donald Trump of his day, though not as wealthy. He could also be compared to a class-oriented populist such as Bernie Sanders. Jackson excited the electorate with plain talk. He knew how to channel anger, anger that was largely justifiable toward an out of touch, unproductive elite in Washington.

While in those days, surrogates would generally sling mud in presidential campaigns, the candidates themselves would—gentlemanly—avoid mixing it up, Jackson had no such constraints and called the banks, the War Department and Washington in general, “The Great Whore of Babylon.”

Willard Randall, an award winning journalist and historian, who is the author of 14 books on U.S. history and a professor emeritus at Champlain College, said: “Andrew Jackson would be a very strong candidate today. He would deliver ripping speeches about the 2008 recessions, how the big banks were bailed out, but how the working people lost their homes. It’s the kind of thing Bernie Sanders would also say. Jackson called the National Bank the ‘hydro-headed monster.’ It’s the kind of thing Trump would say.”

Just as Trump has very much been part of the political system in lobbying and donating to establishment politicians, Jackson likewise had been a U.S. senator. Yet both managed to position themselves as absolute political outsiders to a country fed up with Washington. It caught the political class off guard then and now.

From the book:

For the 1824 election, there was an undercurrent of that reoccurring “time for a change” theme that surfaces in every few presidential elections to the current day. To put this in modern perspective, the old Republican guard continued to say throughout 2015 that the 2016 campaigns of outsiders Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, or even Sen. Ted Cruz were doomed to fail. That’s what history tells us, since insurgent candidates on the Republican side always eventually succumb to the frontrunner. Unlike the Democrats, who historically nominates surprises. But the rules completely changed in 2015 leading up to the first primaries. Likewise, the rules completely changed in 1824.

Click here to order Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections

(This post was initially published on the Stairway Press blog.)

Not Another ‘Corrupt Bargain’: Andrew Jackson Gets the Boot Again by Washington

May 17, 2016

“The corruptions and intrigues of Washington … defeated the will of the people.”

That might come close to Andrew Jackson’s sentiment if he could comment on his image is being removed from the $20 bill. Those were at least his words after losing the presidential election of 1824 to John Quincy Adams.

This time he was vanquished by Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist and early leader of the Underground Railroad, who will replace him as the first woman on paper currency.
Jackson supporters today could accurately say it was a decision out of Washington, to be more precise the Treasury Department. But no one “defeated the will of the people.” Quite to the contrary actually. Tubman won a poll conducted by the online group “Women on 20s.”

So in this currency case, there is no evidence of a “Corrupt Bargain,” which Jackson and his backers alleged after Speaker Henry Clay moved the House of Representatives to back Adams for president.

As currency elections go, Jackson was booted. But the power of incumbency worked for Alexander Hamilton – who managed to stave off an attempt to remove him from the $10 bill.

Both Jackson and Hamilton are a significant part of my book “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections“, which details the two elections decided in the House of Representatives.

Jackson won the popular vote and a plurality of electoral votes in a four-man contest of 1824, but didn’t win a majority. Jackson used his loss in the House and the “Corrupt Bargain” mantra to mount a comeback in 1828, where he won and became famous for shutting down the national bank, and infamous for the Trail of Tears and establishing the spoils system. Tainted by Suspicion also explores how America would be different if Jackson had emerged the winner of the 1824 election.

After an Electoral College tie in 1800, it fell upon Hamilton to convince the lame duck Federalist-controlled House to support his long-time nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, over Aaron Burr. The book also explores how America would have dramatically changed if Burr had become president.

Click here to order Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections

For now, the people have spoken – or at least the the Treasury Department has. So, in the spirit of 2016, maybe it’s time for a victory party for Tubman and Hamilton.

(This post was initially published on Stairway Press blog.)

New York’s Clout in Presidential Politics – Then and Now

May 17, 2016

Two prominent New Yorkers are facing off for the presidency in 2016, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

New York was the deciding factor in the controversial 1800 presidential election. The Federalist stronghold moved to the Democratic-Republicans because of sharp political maneuvering by Aaron Burr, as explained in my book “Tainted By Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.”

New England was easily going to Adams, but Jefferson had a chance of winning if he could carry New York. Without New York, he would have to win New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which the Democratic-Republicans thought nearly impossible. Burr knew the political climate and electorate in the state, and realized the key to controlling the legislature would be winning 13 assembly seats in New York City. He recruited the best candidates for the seats and helped organize and strategize their campaigns. Jefferson repeated Burr’s message to Madison that, “if the city election of New York is in favor of the republican ticket, the issue will be republican.”

Long before he went off the rails later in life, Burr was an incredibly smart political operator. He would go down in infamy for worse, but among his nefarious acts was inventing the notorious political machine that went on to dominate New York politics.

Burr also recognized a gem in a social club known as the Society of St. Tammany, which he helped turn into the first political machine in getting out the vote for Democratic-Republican legislative candidates by holding out the promises of government goodies and jobs on the other side as payback for delivering the vote. After demonstrating the power of New York politicos, it stopped being a social club and became the powerful political force known as Tammany Hall, which defined the New York state Democratic Party well into the 20th Century, with immense clout in the national Democratic Party.

Delivering the New York State Legislature to the Democratic-Republicans – which would select presidential electors for the state – was a devastating blow to Federalist President John Adams, whose victory over Jefferson in 1796 rested on carrying New York.

The questions for the 2016 presidential race is whether the reliably blue New York could change in the November, in a contest between the billionaire Manhattan developer and a former senator elected twice statewide. Either way, ahead of the results, it’s worth noting when New York made Thomas Jefferson’s presidency and the nation’s first peaceful transfer of power possible.

Click here to order a copy of Tainted by Suspicion.

(An original version of this post was published on the Stairway Press blog.)





2015 Heavy Hundred Stars Praise for The Right Frequency

March 28, 2015

Several of the top talk radio hosts ranked in the Heavy Hundred by industry bible Talkers Magazine also endorsed The Right Frequency.

Mark Levin, nationally syndicated conservative radio host with Cumulus Media Network ranked #6 on the Talkers list and said: “Fred Lucas not only delineates the roots of talk radio as a venue for communicating conservative political thought in the 1930s and 40s, he explains how it has become, in the 21st century, the life force for the conservative movement and the voice for conservative ideals on the current political landscape. Anyone who loves talk radio will love this book.”

Brent Bozell: The Right Frequency 'Chronicles Conservative Talk Radio Stars Over The Decades, Reminding us how They Kept the American Idea Alive'Mike Gallagher, a nationally syndicated conservative host on the Salem Radio Network, ranked #10 on the Talkers list said: ‘The Right Frequency’ is an insightful, thorough, exciting chronicle of the talk radio story. This is destined to be a classic as it perfectly captures the nature of talk radio in a way no book I’ve ever read ever has.”

Alan Colmes, a nationally syndicated liberal host on Fox News Radio, ranked #21 on the Talkers list, said during an interview with Lucas: “I enjoyed it because I’m in the business and I think you did a really good job in writing about the business including, I notice I’m in there a little bit.”

Phil Valentine, ranked #32, with Westwood One, said, “It’s a great book about conservative talk radio.”

To learn more about these and other top talk radio stars, read The Right Frequency.

Rush vs. Bush – Again

March 28, 2015

Politico recently ran a feature on Republican presidential frontrunner Jeb Bush’s problem with talk radio. The piece mentions Laura Ingraham, who said there would be no difference between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, and called for them to run on a ticket together, “Clush 2016.” But it goes deeper into the complicated relationship that talk radio king Rush Limbaugh has with Jeb.

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

The Right Frequency describes the complicated relationship between Limbaugh and the Bush family. The book describes how Limbaugh endorsed Pat Buchanan’s primary challenge to George H.W. Bush in 1992. Limbaugh actually tore into Buchanan in the 1996 Republican presidential primary. In 2000, Limbaugh wholeheartedly supported George. W. Bush in the Republican primary against John McCain.

From Politico:

Bush, who’s all but officially announced he’s running for president, has said he would want to run a “joyful” campaign. He’s said he would want to have “adult conversations.” It’s phrasing that hints at his general distaste for conservative talk radio. Some Bush allies privately refer to some of the medium’s leaders as “warlords”—a description meant to convey the unreasonable, unrealistic and pugilistic agenda of those who thrive off of conflict. Bush, on the other hand, believes a winning Republican campaign a decade and a half into the 21st century must promote inclusion and optimism, not discontent and fear. People think he’s too moderate in part because Limbaugh and the Limbaugh-like are saying he is. So here, almost a year before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, the primaries have started already—the fundraising and positioning of the so-called invisible primary, but a visible one, too, or at least an audible one. Call it the Rush primary.

Every Republican politician of a certain consequence over the last quarter-century has had to make a decision about how to engage with Limbaugh and the many others who populate America’s most redward airwaves. Bush right now isn’t talking about this because (1) it’s so early in the campaign the campaign can’t even technically be called a campaign and (2) that would be unwise. Limbaugh and his imitative competitors don’t need additional oxygen. But based on conversations with strategists and advisers connected to Bush, consultants, show hosts and industry watchers—and what he’s done over the past month—Bush won’t ignore talk radio.

If there is in fact a Rush primary, Bush, headstrong and self-assured, thinks he can win that one, too.

To learn more about Limbaugh’s complicated relationship with the Bush family, read The Right Frequency.

Could the Supreme Court’s Fairness Doctrine Ruling Provide Precedent for Net Neutrality

March 22, 2015

A recent Bloomberg piece discussed the famous Red Lion case that upheld the Fairness Doctrine, and how the legal precedent could impact the Net Neutrality debate.


Of course, if the ISPs are in the information business, it doesn’t immediately follow that net neutrality is compelled speech. Back in 1969, the Supreme Court decided a case called Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC. In the decision, the court upheld the FCC’s “fairness doctrine,” which required broadcast networks to provide equal time for both sides of controversial political and social issues.

The court’s rationale was that bandwidth was inherently limited. The government was giving out that bandwidth through its broadcast licenses. In so doing, the government was justified in imposing certain speech on broadcasters in the service of “the right of the public to receive suitable access to social, political, esthetic, moral, and other ideas and experiences.”

With the emergence of cable television and then the Internet, the Red Lion doctrine faded almost into obsolescence. The fairness doctrine looked like a relic of the days when there were three national television networks that dominated news provision. In the era when anyone could say anything on the Internet, bandwidth no longer seemed to be limited.

The net-neutrality debate provides an occasion to revive the Red Lion decision. Does the public have a right to equal access to information on the Internet? If it does, that right must come from a combination of limited access and the right to know.

To learn more about the Red Lion case, the abuses of the Fairness Doctrine by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and how the rule was dismantled, read The Right Frequency.