Shifting political definitions make it hard to find the ten best Republican senators. This list has some of the most conservative names in American politics, and some of the most liberal. See for yourself what makes a Republican Senator great.
- Thomas Jefferson. T.J. founded the original Republican Party (historically, the Democratic-Republican Party), and was a vociferous proponent of Republicanism, a political philosophy that heavily influenced the modern Republican Party. Jefferson’s romanticized portrait yeoman farmers still largely informs the Republican notion of what America is (this even after the dusty old white folk have been forced to accept that black people exist and most American’s live in urban areas).
- Charles Sumner. Chuck was a Radical Republican and vehement abolitionist. A genuinely great statesman, Sumner believed strongly that ending slavery was useless if African Americans weren’t immediately granted equal rights. A friend to Emerson, the Senator sought US recognition of Haitian statehood following Haiti’s slave revolt. Charles Sumner was one of the ten best Republican Senators for his belief in absolute equality.
- Robert La Follete. “Fighting Bob” is an American original. He fought hard for the people of America, supporting women’s suffrage, social security, child labor laws, and the freedom of speech during wartime (which has been banned more than once in the Land of the Free). Fighting Bob was a champion of the people, and one of the best Republican senators.
- Henry Clay. Henry Clay is an O.G. A Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican, Clay was known as “The Great Compromiser”. Clay accomplished many things in his career, though is one of the ten best Republican Senators for his ability to see past Party lines and reconcile differences for the benefit of the country and his constituents.
- Daniel Webster. Another Democratic-Republican, Webster was a hellfire orator. His retort to fellow Senator Henry Clay has been deemed the best speech ever given in Congress. One of the ten best Republican Senators, Webster was known to change his mind when proved wrong, something we could certainly do with more of these days.
- George Norris. What makes Nebraskan Norris one of the ten best Republican senators was a stance we see too little in the US: the belief that government works for the people. In his own words, “To get good government and to retain it, it is necessary that a liberty-loving, educated, intelligent people should be ever watchful, to carefully guard and protect their rights and liberties.”
- Jim Jeffords. Jeffords lived up to Republican anti-Big Government ethics by sticking it to the man. The Vermonter left the Party in order to prevent a situation he saw as dangerously close to totalitarianism: a Republican President (Cheney), largely conservative Supreme Court, and Republican-controlled House and Senate. Jeffords is one of the ten best Republican Senators for placing the people before Party alliance
- Robert A. Taft. Taft is one of the ten best Republican senators for his complexity. He strongly opposed the New Deal and Labor Unions, but was appalled by a lack of affordable housing, and championed government-sponsored projects. Taft was suspicious of American involvement in World War II and, later, the Red Threat, but worked hard to curb the efforts of Senator McCarthy. All told, Taft was a uniquely American senator.
- Strom Thurmond. Ah, Strom: the ultimate Washington charlatan. Thurmond was once the longest-serving US Senator (since surpassed by former K.K.K. member Robert Byrd). Strom is on record for the longest filibuster in US history, having spoken for more than 24 hours (topics included his grandmother’s biscuit recipe) in order to prevent the passing of the Civil Rights Act. But what really makes Strom one of the best Republican Senators? The notorious racist had jungle fever, having fathered an illegitimate child with an African-American maid.
Senator Palpatine. Senator Palpatine was, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a Republican Senator. Predicting the Neocon spin-doctor proliferation well before its Bush-administration pinnacle, Palpatine used rhetoric and (actual) mind control to convince his constituents that their enemies were their friends. Senator Palpatine is one of the ten best Republican Senator’s for realizing the ultimate Necon goal: becoming Galactic Emperor of the know universe (and shooting badass lighting bolts from his finger tips).
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