12 LaGuardia and Progressive Politics, 1924-1929

FOR some Progressives the defeat of La Follette in 1924 was further evidence of, as H. L. Mencken put it (though he was not a Progressive), the American people's "congenital incapacity for the elemental duties of citizens in a civilized state."1 Others took hope from the nearly five million votes, but returned, weary and disappointed, to the between-elections lethargy that often marks middle- class liberals in days of middle-class prosperity. Still others, sharply or vaguely aware of discontent in the midst of plenty, or moved by some inner turbine that functioned through defeat as well as victory, refused to relinquish their battle regalia. LaGuardia and a handful of Progressives in and out of Congress were among these.

First, they had to face the calm but efficient retribution of the victor. When the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives convened in January, 1925, thirteen Progressives, including LaGuardia, were not on the invitation list.2 In a stormy House debate, Representative Wood of Indiana, speaking for the Republican party, declared the outcasts could not come to the caucus unless they "appeared as penitents."3 Protesting this action, Wis-

____________________
1
Notes on Democracy, 100-101.
2
Besides LaGuardia, those excluded were Keller of Minnesota, Sinclair of North Dakota, and Cooper, Veight, Nelson, Schafer, Lampert, Beck, Browne, Schneider, Frear, and Peavey, all of Wisconsin ( New York Times, Jan. 30, 1925).
3
Ibid.

-158-

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