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  Smith Wildman Brookhart: Iowa's Renegade Republican
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TitleSmith Wildman Brookhart: Iowa's Renegade Republican
ASIN081382107X - Purchase This Book
CategoryBiography
ContributorCraverguy
Last ModifiedCraverguy - December 16, 2008 12:37am
DescriptionSmith Wildman Brookhart of Washington, Iowa, served as U.S. senator from Iowa in the years 1922-1933. Few Iowa senators have been as well known in their own time. "Insurgent, Bolshevik, lusty bedouin, buffoon," and "son of the wild jackass" were some of the editorial epithets. A Progressive who was deeply concerned about the agricultural depression in his home state, Brookhart's political career before and during his Senate term illuminates the continuing Populist tradition in Iowa politics. It also explains much about the developing character of the modern Republican Party in Iowa.

Brookhart began elective politics in 1894 as a dry Republican candidate for county attorney. Over the next decade, he moved toward the Progressive wing of his party. Elected to the U.S. Senate 1922-1933, Brookhart's belief that government had a role in the regulation of the economy finally led him to support the goals of the New Deal. "I'd rather be right than be regular," he proclaimed.

Nationally, Brookhart was highly visible -- some thought the rifleman senator from Iowa was more of a showhorse than a workhorse. Brookhart was convinced that Eastern business interests had conspired to depress farm prices and restrict credit. The Populist solution he proposed was a cooperative banking and marketing system for farmers and small businesses.

In Iowa, Brookhart became the focal point of a continuing struggle for control of the Iowa Republican Party. By 1920 he split with the old Progressives to run as a "true Progressive." He became such an irritant that during the 1920s the Republican Party frequently wished that Brookhart would disappear from the scene, and many worked hard to bring about that end.

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