Question About All in the Family Theme Song

Think you got whooshed there, ducati.

In his rap prior to singing the song, Lehrer tells an anecdote about LBJ being unable to attend a state funeral in some small country. Someone floated a suggestion that he send Hubert (since one of the VP’s “duties” is to attend not-important-enough-for-the-President-but-too-important-to-ignore funerals). And Johnson said, “Hubert who?”

What gets me about the song was that Archie was born in 1924*. He was 9 at most when Hoover left office.

*This gets mentioned in one of the early episodes. It also fits with him being a WWII vet and having a college-age daughter in 1971.

He was a teenager during the years when FDR was the authority figure in the White House. So he questioned authority.

My father was born in 1922. The New Deal turned him into an ardent laissez faire capitalist. In his view, the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression.

Norman Lear’s view of conservatives was just as stereotyped as Archie Bunker’s view of minorities.

Since I was born and raised in Archie Bunker’s neighborhood (Astoria, Queens), I can tell you first hand: NOBODY in Astoria, let alone a working class guy who remembered the Depression, would EVER have reminisced fondly about Herbert Hoover.

I liked the show, and thought Carroll O’Connor did a great job imitating a lot of the men in my neighborhood. No question, there WERE a lot of white, middle-aged, blue collar Astorians who tossed around the “N Word” casually, who hated hippies (remember the “hard hat riots” of the Seventies?), and who loathed liberal mayor John Lindsay.

So, were they staunch conservative Republicans? Hell, no! If Archie Bunker bothered to vote at all (he frequently didn’t), he voted a straight Democratic ticket. Why? Because he despised Herbert Hoover, and regarded Franklin Roosevelt as a demigod.

In my Irish grandfather’s vocabulary, the word “Republicans” didn’t exist. There were only “Democrats” and “Republicanbastards.” Oh, my grandfather was extremely conservative and, yes, racist, but he would NEVER have voted for a Republican or sung wistfully about Herbert Hoover. To blue-collar Astorians, Herbert Hoover was synonymous with soup kitchens and unemployment, while the Democrats were The People’s Party.

That Archie Bunker was a bigot and a staunch conservative in many ways is quite believable. I know! But that he’d sing fondly about Hoover? Not a chance.

But wasn’t Archie a bit of an outlier even among his blue-collar peers? Aside from being a diehard Republican (when he voted), he was a loyal Protestant of English-descent while nearly everybody else at his workplace were ethnic Catholics or Jews. I also seem to recall in a few episodes he inveighed against unions even though he was a union-member himself.

The show was about whatever producer/writer/political activist Norman Lear wanted it to be about, even if that meant stretching Archie out of his normal bigot-ridden bounds on occasion. It was ground-breaking in that it covered such fare as racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence.

And at that it was a softened-down copy of the British series Till Death Do Us Part.

And the sound of the terlet flushing.

That’s what I’m getting at: Archie was an entertaining character but he didn’t make sense as written.

I knew Archie! I lived next door to him (seriously, the steamfitter next door said comically racist things all the time). But that guy was a die-hard union man and a loyal Democrat. The real-life guys who inspired the character were very reactionary in some ways but tended to vote for liberal Democrats.

Norman Lear’s modus operandi was to make Archie the voice for every cause Lear opposed, even if a blue collar New Yorker would never really hold the opinions being mocked.

He’s sad and he’s cross and he’s gathering moss.

You folks need to rewatch All In The Family. Archie’s prejudices that he has been taught are almost always wrong, but in the end he always does the right thing for the reason that it is right and humane.

Those times were trying for many families as much as for the country. Old met new with a painful collision.

Everyone was clamoring for notice of their issues. All at once. And better media services made us all aware of it.

If I hadn’t have been so young and inexperienced I would have realized how unprecedented it was.

If you’ve ever seen Born on the Fourth of July you have had a peek at some of the issues that were damaging American families.

I think that program was a real gem and a gift to middle America at a time when we could hardly speak to each other because of our differences. Everybody got their say and everybody took a shot.

And Edith was just there to remind us not to let ideas get in the way of love.

I don’t think audiences were supposed to believe that Archie had written the song. In the world of the show, presumably, this was an existing song that Archie and Edith simply enjoyed singing.

As for studio audiences laughing at Archie’s racist remarks–wasn’t this discussed at the time? As in, the producers intended that Archie be despised, but people are inexplicably identifying with him.

Similarly, today, right-wing viewers supposedly watch Stephen Colbert’s show with no awareness that he is actually parodying right-wing pundits. They take him at face value and enjoy his reactionary remarks as much as they enjoy those of Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh.

In one episode, Archie and Maude are arguing, and it comes up that Maude’s favorite president was FDR, while Archie’s was Herbert Hoover.

Regardless of how realistic that may have been for a Bronx construction worker, that was explicitly stated in the show.

Crud. Edit window has ended. Please disregard my previous post; I apparently misremembered an exchange:



Archie also compares FDR unfavorably to Richard Nixon, which is probably the germ of the false memory I have.

I realize that. I’m just saying that, in reality, no blue collar New Yorker would have had a single good word for Herbert Hoover in the Seventies. Indeed, the Democrats were still running against Hoover decades after the end of the Great Depression.

Norman Lear and his writers made a conscious choice to put Archie on the “wrong” side of EVERY political issue, no matter how implausible that might have been.

Like it or not, the blue-collar whites (whether in large Northern cities or small Southern towns) now regarded as hopeless bigots or mocked as “fundies” were yellow dog Democrats! Bible thumping Mississippi Klansmen voted for FDR four times, based on the pocketbook issues.

And woe be to the Meathead whenever he said anything negative about Nixon. Archie was a staunch Nixon supporter. At least during his first term.

I always liked Maude’s line: “One of his fireside chats is worth a barrel of ‘now let me make this perfectly clear.’”

My understanding is that while Archie would have been a likely FDR supporter IRL, he belonged to a faction of Democratic voters (white middle aged uneducated blue collar worker) that felt alienated by the Democratic party when it became the party more closely associated with the civil rights movement, anti war protests, social liberalism, etc., during the Johnson administration and although he lived in the Northern U.S. he belonged to a demographic that switched over to the GOP as a result of of its Southern Strategy.

In my experience, when someone changes their party affiliation they tend to view their votes and opinions of the past with 20/20 hindsight. Regardless of what Archie might have thought of Hoover in 1932, he belonged to the party of Archie’s current favorite, Richard Nixon, and thus in the 1970s Archie still might feel that he “should have” voted for him back then.

Just want to say how great it is that this question isn’t the one I saw all the time in the 1970’s and 80’s? “What’s the line after ‘Everybody pulled his weight’?”

Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.

A good choice, but “Lyndon Johnson” scans as well. :smiley: