As a young Social Studies teacher during the 1956 election, my students would ask, “How can I tell if I’m a Democrat or a Republican?” The real answer is you can be either one; you don’t have to have a reason. Nevertheless, utilizing the historical positions taken by the two parties, I prepared a test to help them determine which party best represented their views Check one answer for each of the following:
1. Public power:
A. Would tend to favor governmental development of water resources.
B. Would tend to favor development of water resources by private industry.
A. Would support a high protective tariff.
B. Would be less supportive of the tariff.
3. Price supports:
A. Would generally favor federal price supports for agricultural products.
B. Would generally favor a market economy for farm products.
4. Labor unions:
A. Would work for more restrictions on labor unions.
B. Would work for stronger labor unions.
A. Would favor a higher tax on corporations.
B. Would favor a lower tax rate on corporations.
6. Minimum wage:
A. Would permit management to determine the minimum pay.
B. Would favor minimum wage legislation.
7. Public works:
A. Would favor a program of public works to stimulate a sagging economy.
B. Would favor a program of concessions to industry to stimulate the economy.
A. Would accept higher interest rates.
B. Would favor lower interest rates.
9. Loan program:
A. Would favor a program of government loans for small businesses.
B. Would favor a program of loans using private capital.
10. Social security:
A. Would favor less involvement by the government in social security.
B. Would favor a strong government run system.
Some of these questions are almost non-issues today. In the opinion of the writer (at least for the 1950s), a die-hard Democrat would check “A” for the odd-numbered questions and “B” for the even numbers. A dyed-in-the-wool Republican would check “B” for the odd numbers and “A” for the even numbered questions. Don’t be surprised if you don’t go along with your party on all issues. During that time frame, unlike today, there was often as much difference within each party as there was between the two parties. At times, the parties have flip-flopped on the issues. No claim is made as to the validity of this test. By all means, don’t change your party affiliation on the basis of the results.
Roy Shaver writes a weekly column for the Daily News.
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