As the designated time for Kirk Rodden’s presentation drew closer Thursday, staff at the Greater Southwest Historical Museum continued to set up additional chairs.


As the designated time for Kirk Rodden’s presentation drew closer Thursday, staff at the Greater Southwest Historical Museum continued to set up additional chairs.

 

Turns out the summer speaker series is growing in popularity.

 

Rodden, Assistant Professor at Murray State College, delivered a talk over the election of 1932 Thursday night. During his presentation, Rodden drew parallels between the presidential election of 1932. He also talked about the economic hardships during the time period while mixing facts with humor.

 

“He is good at drawing the connection from what has happened and what is happening now,” Michael Anderson, Museum Director, said. “I think Ardmore is a community very much interested in its history, the state’s history and the nation’s history.”

 

Rodden highlighted the 1932 election as one of the most critical in the nation’s history. It was during the election Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the White House from incumbent Herbert Hoover. Hoover was widely criticized for a depression that sank the nation to depths that dwarf today’s economic struggles. During that period, unemployment was at 25 percent, industrial production was cut in half, steel production dropped 60 percent and over 5,000 banks failed. In one day, the stock market lost more than all spending for World War I.

 

Unrest was evident within the state, region and nation. Gov. “Alfalfa” Bill Murray declared martial law during a bridge war with Texas, Arkansas experienced food riots. In Washington D.C., a protest by World War I veterans seeking their bonuses was broken up using the military.

 

Because of the unrest, support for Hoover dropped significantly within his own party, Rodden said.
“Blaming Hoover became a science,” he said.

 

Rodden said one of the reasons Hoover was nominated by the Republican Party for a second term was in part, because denial would have been an admission of failure. Rodden drew parallels to Barrack Obama in the way he is ostracized. There were also parallels drawn between Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson in the way they were viewed in a negative light.

 

“If you go back, you can replay it and just replace the names,” he said.

 

For all the negative campaigning taking place, Rodden said this election pales in comparison to the past.

 

“They can’t hold a candle to the 19th Century,” Rodden said.

 

During a question and answer period, Rodden also discussed what he viewed as one of the problems in today’s politics.

 

“I maintain our system was not meant to be splayed out on a 24-hour news cycle,” he said, “where every conflict is ratcheted up to a constitutional crisis.”

 

Rodden spoke of LBJ, who could get everyone in a room and make a deal with everyone getting something. In today’s politics, Rodden said people sway to the extreme leaving little room for moderates.

 

“Nobody wants to make a deal anymore in fears of being labeled soft,” Rodden said.

 

Rodden’s speech signaled the end of the summer speaker series. Because of the series’ success, Anderson said there would be events scheduled in the fall.

 

“We will have to try and do this every month or every other month,” he said.