Didn’t You Always Vote Democratic?

Several political pundits have stated over the last few years that the United States’ political climate has seen a large increase in the political divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats and that the country has never been “so divided.” Today, I will share evidence that the political divide existed over 40 years ago and why dissension should actually be celebrated.

Recently, my grandfather-in-law and I watched the movie The Cheyenne Social Club made in 1970 featuring Jimmy Stewart as John O’Hanlan and Henry Fonda as Harley Sullivan. In the film, John O’Hanlan works as a cow poke for very little money with his friend Harley Sullivan when John gets word his brother, DJ, has left him The Cheyenne Social Club. John is forced unexpectantly into the world of business.

In the historic film, there are two scenes I feel prove this political divide is not actually new. Below is the script where John communicates to Harley that since he has become a businessman, he’s switching from being a Democrat to a Republican. John’s friend Harley reminds him of their Democratic past.

Harley: My folks were Democrats, John.
John: And look where it got you. A lifetime on the range, and sweatin’ in the summer, and freezin’ the winter, and sleepin’ on the ground, and fightin’ wolves and the rattlesnakes. No, no, Harley, there can’t be a finer calling in the whole world than being a Republican businessman.
Harley: I don’t like to dispute you, John, but didn’t you always vote Democratic?
John: Well, that was when I didn’t know any better. (pause) Harley, I want you to do me a favor. Don’t tell anybody here in Cheyenne I ever voted Democratic. You’ll do that for me, won’t you?
Harley: If you say so. You don’t mind if I still vote Democratic, do you?
John: Just so long as you’re not seen with me when you do it. It’s be bad for business.

Below is another famous scene from later in the movie where Harley tells John he’s thinking like a Republican again…

John: How much money do you want, Harley?
Harley: Fifteen or twenty dollars ought to do me.
John: What do you need it for?
Harley: Things.
John: Well, what kind of things?
Harley: Just-just things. You know, like a drink of whiskey if I wanted it, or a new shirt or something.
John: You already have two shirts. You don’t want to wear but one of them at a time unless it’s winter.
Harley: There you go thinking like a Republican again.
John: Well, you don’t bring up politics while you’re borrowing money, Harley. It ain’t seemly!

If you ever get an opportunity and like westerns, watch The Cheyenne Social Club (1970). When watching it, remember the United States of America is a Constitutional Republic in which both the voices and rights of the majority and minority are heard and respected. Therefore, dissension in the United States is not only a good thing but a guaranteed right.

The Cheyenne Social Club