The last time the Democratic Party Bosses thwarted the will of the people

“The city slickers took Estes Kefauver and a loyal band of Tennesseans into camp this week, tricked and tortured him and then sang ‘Happy Birthday to You’ within a half hour after they had cut his throat.”
- Charles Bartlett, 1952


Estes Kefauver was a populist Democratic senator from Tennessee. He was a New Deal enthusiast who made a career out of fighting the concentration of corporate power and exposing political corruption.
He led crusades against Big Pharma and the mafia. For his efforts he was accused of being a "fellow traveler" and of working for the "pinkos and communists" with the stealth of a raccoon.
Kefauver responded to this by campaigning in a coonskin cap and saying, "I may be a pet coon, but I'm not Boss Crump's pet coon."

Because of his honesty, integrity, and his refusal to sell out his principles, one Democratic insider called him "the most hated man in Congress."

Does any of this sound familiar?


Even before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948, he was known for being as a crusader for consumer protection laws, antitrust legislation, and a consistent supporter of organized labor and civil rights for African Americans.
In 1952 Kefauver decided to run for president against incumbent Harry Truman.

Truman had famously upset Republican Thomas Dewey in 1948, but his popularity had waned amid discontent about U.S. involvement in the Korean War.

Truman sniffed that the primaries were “eyewash” and that he didn’t need them to be nominated. But he reluctantly allowed his name to be put on the New Hampshire ballot. Then he went off to his winter home in Key West, Fla.

Kefauver, with his wife, Nancy, headed to snowy New Hampshire with his coonskin cap, a shoestring budget and an old sedan borrowed from a friend...
Truman was still favored by 3 to 1. But Kefauver scored a stunning upset, winning 54 percent of the vote...
Two weeks later, Truman announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection.
He later claimed that he had made his decision long before the New Hampshire primary loss. But “Give ‘em Hell Harry” never forgave Kefauver.

Kefauver then went on to win in Nebraska and Wisconsin despite being smeared as a communist, and then proceeded to win five more states.

“I don’t like the idea of smearing, and I don’t like the idea of McCarthy.”
- Kefauver, 1952

Kefauver won 12 of the 15 primaries. He received 3.1 million votes, while Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson, got only 78,000 votes.
Kefauver absolutely crushed his opposition. It wasn't even close.


Kefauver still had two problems.
In those days, most states didn't have primaries. Their delegates were appointed by state party bosses. Even the delegates that Kefauver won were not obligated to vote for the primary winner.
He was still short of the 615½ delegates needed to win the nomination.

His other problem was a even more daunting.

“The big city machines detest him, and will do their best to stop him,” wrote the author John Gunther, who was covering the campaign. “This is partly because he is a lone wolf, an irregularity, a nonconformist, and partly because the crime investigation upset the Democratic apple cart in states like Illinois.”
Most important, Truman was out for revenge. He appealed to 52-year-old Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson to get into the race. Stevenson said he didn’t want the nomination but indicated that he wouldn’t refuse a draft.

In the first roll call Kefauver led with 340 votes to 273 for Stevenson. Kefauver led on the second roll call with 362½ votes to 324½.
Then the party insiders made their move.

When the roll call came to the New York delegation, the state’s party chairman read a statement from Harriman. “I withdraw as a candidate and urge my supporters to cast their votes for my old friend, Adlai E. Stevenson.” Other delegations began switching to the governor.
Kefauver knew it was over. He entered the arena and walked toward the podium to speak. But the convention chairman, Rep. Sam Rayburn (Tex.), refused to interrupt the roll call.

By 12:30 am it was all over. The Democratic voters had lost. The party insiders had won. Kefauver conceded.

With that, Kefauver walked out of the arena as a band played “Happy Birthday.” It was now the early morning of his 49th birthday.

Stevenson went on to get crushed in the general election by Eisenhower.
Largely because of the 1952 election, both parties began changing primary rules to bind delegates to the winners of their state contests.

Kefauver twice won reelection to the Senate. In 1963 he suffered a heart attack on the Senate floor while attempting to place an antitrust amendment into a NASA appropriations bill. He died two days later at age 60.

48 users have voted.


They never learn, so they?

20 users have voted.

Just another Bozo on the bus.

SnappleBC's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter

.. and they've learned quite well. It's just we need to understand that "winning an election" is not the goal of the game. Controlling the populace is. Most everyone here is probably savvy to the idea that the Democrats are more than happy to throw this and the next 5 elections in order to stop Bernie.... or more accurately... stop Bernie's movement. Bernie himself is just the general du-jour.0

15 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

Wally's picture

Right when Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson started talking out in defense of Bernie and democratic socialism, lookee here:

We're gonna win, dogdarnit!

Don't let SC results getcha down. Then again, we may be surprised and Bernie does better than expected. Gotta wonder when Jesse Jackson and Rev. Sharpton start talkin' loud and proud about democratic socialism.

21 users have voted.

People actually expect the primaries to matter.
So if they tried to rob us like they did Kefauver people would explode!

21 users have voted.
Wally's picture


Just waiting till Super Tuesday to try to sort things out.

Seems worries about a brokered convention are intensifying among lefties in DSA at the same time that Nancy Pelosi and Revs Al and Jesse are defending Bernie (the latter also defending democratic socialism). And Brana/Movement for a People's Party seem to be welcoming a brokered convention to start up a new party.

I don't know what else to do 'cept to keep on pushin' for the bernmeister.

12 users have voted.
SnappleBC's picture


I'm on record saying Bernie WILL be stopped. They will not allow him to win the nomination and if by some miracle he does, then they will scuttle his efforts in the general.

That doesn't change our goal. Every time they cheat, we get stronger. Every time they are forced to show how corrupt they are, we win.

9 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

Kefauver was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1956 when Stevenson threw it open to the convention instead. Kefauver defeated, among others, JFK, Hubert Humphrey and Al Gore Sr.

21 users have voted.

"When my wife makes Harvard beets they taste like they went to Brooklyn College. "-Henny Youngman

earthling1's picture

For putting that together.

8 users have voted.

After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

Sounds like some combination of the Huey Long/Ron Paul/Jim Webb/Bernie experience.

Elites win and the people lose.

9 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

This is after democrats refuse to let Bernie win. One idea is to give it to Kambama Harris and then have Michelle be VP to unite the party.

Yeah like Bernie's supporters will just fall all over Michelle just because she is Barack's wife. I wish I could be at the convention if this happens. Lmao.

8 users have voted.

“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

Twitter is like a game of telephone

… Cuz the last time the Dem Party thwarted the will of the people was (unless you include 2016) the Chicago convention in 1968, where they nominated a candidate who didn't contest a single Presidential primary, and where most of those who voted supported one of two anti-war candidates (RFK or Gene McCarthy), yet those votes were silenced, in part by an assassin's bullet but, more shamefully, by Mayor Pigface Daley and his armed thugs who assaulted peaceful protesters on the streets of the City, and ironically, the tear gas wafted up into the air, outside the open window of the suite occupied by their preferred candidate, one Hubert Humphrey, the first of a series of unsuccessful runs by Dem VPs, something I fear is likely to be repeated with Biden in 2020.

1 user has voted.