Reconstruction, really. When the South seceded the predominantly conservative (i.e. pro-slavery, pro-planter, anti-small farmer) Democratic and Whig Reps. withdrew from Congress, thus allowing what one might call a rump caucus of pro-equality, pro-federal aid to education, pro-settler - free soil, free men, free labor - Republicans to make federal policy. Had the GOP followed PA Rep. Thaddeus Stevens' recommendation to redistribute ex-slaveholder plantations to those who had worked them for generations, and then actually protected the Af-Am right to vote in the South, we could have had an enduring left-wing GOP.
Of course, as we all know, the bad guys won. Thank God 150 years later we have the chance to reconstruct our own progressive majority!
And all you MyDD contributors out there: this post is precisely the cause of my incurable addiction to the site, not for the cheerleading but the capacious grasp of electoral politics. Having grown up with the Left as social movement model, I'm loving the convergence of progressive politics and electoral strategy. Big Ups.
I worked for Chris Owens throughout the primary, out of respect for his father's supremely progressive politics as well as his own outspoken willingness to stand up to lavishly-funded developers like Bruce Ratner. My beef with Yvette had more to do with her family's role in West Indian Dem. politics in Brooklyn; her mother Una flirted with Giuliani at different points throughout her career on the City Council.
In any case, Yvette will be strong on labor/taxation votes, and will at least have the potential - if not the intention - to be a little more active in advancing progressive legislation than Major was, in his declining years.
Moment o' snark - I love Major to death, this is a man who addressed the Revolutionary Communist Party Youth convention, he is an absolute democrat and a kind of throwback to high-minded 1940s labor-liberalism, like Vito Marcantonio and the American Labor Party. But the fact that he built no machine whatsoever ensured the seat would be open to capture by the better-organized and better-funded. The risk that a DLC Dem. like David Yassky - a nice man, but a useful idiot for developers in williamsburg, ft. greene, and park slope - could have taken the seat was too much to face given the district's entirely blue makeup.