The Weiner Component V.2 #20 – The Origins of American Government & its two Major Political Parties

A cotton gin on display at the Eli Whitney Museum.

A cotton gin on display at the Eli Whitney Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To understand the government and the two major political parties in the United States we need to examine assorted economic happenings.  These entities changed the course of history in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.  The first was the invention of the Cotton Gin, from the 1780s on, another was the American Revolution, a third was a rebellion by small yeoman farmers in inland Massachusetts, and the fourth was the Constitution of the United States.  What occurs here is a cause and effect relationship that brings about major historical changes.

************************************

Eli Whitney was an American inventor who developed the Cotton Gin.  The word gin is short for engine.  The problem with cotton is that it is filled with seeds.  It takes a person working diligently for an hour to clean one pound of cotton.  A single cotton gin could clean 55 pounds daily.  Whitney received a pattern for his gin in 1807.  Like the grist and sawmills he expected to charge farmers for cleaning their cotton by getting 2/5 of the cotton cleaned.  The mechanical simplicity of the device and the primitive state of the pattern law made infringement inevitable.  Local carpenters could easily make duplicates of the gins.  Ultimately lawsuits consumed the profits and the cotton gin company went bankrupt in 1797.  Whitney, however, gained national, if not international fame for his invention.

 

Cotton had been very labor intensive and expensive.  The new inexpensive cotton changed the economics of the world by bringing about the Industrial Revolution in England in the early 19th Century and it also made slavery profitable in the new United States.

 

Prior to the 1790s slave labor was a slowly dying institution.  Slaves were employed in the growing of tobacco, rice, and indigo.  None of these crops were particularly profitable.  With the invention of the cotton gin cotton became the chief source of wealth in the American South; it became king cotton or the chief export of the new United States.  In the Southern settlements from South Carolina to Texas cotton became the dominant economic force and slavery became the key institution of Southern society.  This would persist until the end of the Civil War.

 

With the early Industrial Revolution from the late 18th Century, both England and New England became dependent upon this crop.  Their factories buzzed spinning thread and weaving cloth.  In the American South enormous fortunes were produced and the large cotton growers lived regally.  They tended to utilize the large English purchasers as suppliers of all the goods they wanted, ordering furniture, grand pianos or whatever they decided they wanted or needed.  This in time resulted in their spending more than their current crops allowed.  Eventually the large plantation owners owed their future crops to these people.  To the English manufacturers this was good business because it tied these planters and their crops to them.  The combined debt must have been in the millions.

 

With the formation of a new central government in 1788, caused by the Revolutionary War the Southern cotton barons refused to honor their debts to the English manufacturers.  In essence cotton as an export was still “king” and could always be sold in England or New England.  Some of the English manufacturers sued in the New United States.  Not one ever won his case.  The large cotton growers wiped out millions in debts virtually overnight without spending a penny.

**********************************

The American Revolution was fought from 1765 to 1783.  By the end of the Battle of Yorktown it became obvious to the British that it was far less expensive to trade with the American colonies than to gain trading advantages from them by ruling them.  Consequently the colonies gained their independence.

 

The government that the new independent state established was codified under the Articles of Confederation.  This document rested sovereignty with each of the 12 newly independent states with a central elected body have representatives from all 12 states.  The final decision on any measure passed by this Continental Congress had then to be approved by each of the 12 states.  Any state or states that so wished could disregard any measure passed by the Continental Congress.  In essence what existed were 12 independent nation states that had agreed to more or less cooperate with one another.

******************************

In the period during 1786 and 1787 the Revolutionary veteran, Daniel Shay, led 4,000 rebels, called Shayites, in an uprising against economic and civil rights injustices.  Basically the inland area of the state largely consisted of subsistence agriculture.  Mostly where roads existed they were unpaved, becoming muddy and impossible to use during rain, making it impossible for the farmers to bring their crops to the coastal areas where they could be shipped throughout the tidewater areas of the colonies or overseas.  Consequently most, if not all, of the farmers had stills.  A lot of grain made a small amount of whiskey, which was always in demand and could be easily transported.

 

Along the economically developed or older coastal areas of Massachusetts Bay there existed a market economy which was driven by the activities of wholesale merchants dealing with Europe, the West Indies, and elsewhere on the North American coast.  The state government was dominated by this merchant group.

 

After the end of the Revolutionary War the European businesses, for good reason, refused to continue to extend lines of credit to these merchants and insisted that they pay in hard currency, gold.  There was a shortage of such currency.  Also the state government, run by the business class, needed money.  Following a period of taxes not being paid where it could be avoided, the state of Massachusetts passed a whiskey tax on the small inland farmers to be paid in gold coins which were in short supply.

 

The rural farmers were unable to meet the demands made upon them by the merchants or the civil authorities and many began to lose their land and other possessions.  This led to strong resistance against the collectors and the courts where the collectors obtained judgements authorizing property seizures.

 

A great many of these depressed individuals felt that they should be able to cancel the debts the same way that the Southern planters had.  This led to open warfare between the two groups, temporarily shutting down the courts, sporadic fighting, and the governor refusing to enforce actions against the small farmers and being replaced by one who would enforce the law.  In 1787 Daniel Shay, leading 4,000 rebels, attempted to take the federal armory in Springfield, which was stoutly defended by state troops raised as a private army.

 

Eventually in 1787 4,000 people signed confessions admitting participation in the rebellion in return for amnesty.  Most of those indicted were eventually pardoned.  In subsequent years the state legislature cut taxes and placed a moratorium on debts.  In 1787 John Hancock replaced the militant governor.

 

As a note of irony it should be noted that at that time the only people allowed to vote were male property owners.  All the small farmers were property owners.  There were more of them than there were merchants.

*********************************

As a result of this and of other effects, many upper class individuals felt that there was a need for a stronger central government that could protect property rights throughout the states.  The most important effect was the call for a Constitutional Convention which would reform the Articles of Confederation, presumably strengthening the central government.  In addition Shay’s Rebellion brought George Washington out of retirement at Mount Vernon to chair the Constitutional Convention and to eventually become President for the first two four year terms.  It also brought two distinct political groups into existence: the Federalists who wanted a stronger central government and the Anti-Federalists who didn’t want this.  It was the merchant, businessmen class against the agrarians and laborers.

 

The people at the Constitutional Convention tended to represent the wealthy and educated classes.  They agreed to hold the meetings in secret and soon discovered that amending the Articles of Confederation could not produce a government with central control of all the states.  Consequently they produced from May 25 to September 17, 1787 a totally new document of government.

 

France has been through more than a dozen Constitutions since 1789; the U.S. has only had one, which still exists and functions.  The reason for this is that the U.S. had two sets of states: One free and one slave.  The elite of upper classes in both ends of the country agreed upon the necessity of a stronger central government.  They did not agree on numerous other issues.  They needed a document of unity but they did not agree upon a host of other issues.  In order to create their document of government they had to compromise upon innumerable issues.  Interpreting these issues, according to the needs of the times, has kept the Supreme Court busy since the inception of the nation.

 

The one issue that the Court could not deal with was the issue of where the basic power lay, with the Federal Government or the States.  That issue was resolved by the Civil War.

 

Although there were different political groups in the United States at that time the issue of political parties was never considered by the Founding Fathers.  Once the new government came into existence so did political parties.  The first one was the Federalist Party, representing coastal business and the educated classes.  They were able to dominate the first three elections, two for George Washington and one for John Adams.  The Federalists were opposed by the Anti-Federalists, who represented the small yeoman farmers like Daniel Shay.

 

The leader of the Federalist Party at that time was not the President but was Alexander Hamilton.  The first dramatic election was that of 1800 when John Adams ran against Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson had organized the Anti-Federalists groups and anyone else who was dissatisfied with the Federalists into, what he called, the Republican Party.  As a put-down the Federalists called the new political group the Democratic-Republican Party.  Eventually the word “Republican” was dropped and this became the Democratic Party, which we still have today.  They represented the interests of the small, or as Jefferson preferred to call them, “Yeomen farmers.”  In fact the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by the Jefferson administration in 1803 would provide land for yeoman farmers for at least the next 100 years, according to Jefferson.

 

Initially only males voted who were property owners.  With the availability of cheap or free land the Federalists, after the Election of 1800, were never again able to mount a successful Presidential election.  They went out of existence after the War of 1812, when they backed the wrong side, England.  From 1814 on there was only one major political party in the U.S., the Democratic Party.

 

Other groups across the United States formed small political groups.  The other major party that would come into existence in 1835 was the Whig Party, which more or less carried on the values of the old Federalist Party, they represented largely the growing businesses across the ever growing nation which was blossoming with the new Industrial Revolution.  In addition they were also strongly anti-slavery.  In 1860 the Whig Party and a number of fringe groups coalesced into, what was to become, the Republican Party in the Election of 1860.

 

Lincoln was originally a Whig, He won the Presidential Election of 1860 with less than 40% of the popular vote because the Democratic Party had split into two parts, the South voted for one candidate and the North and West voted for another.  With the exception of Virginia where he received less than 2% of the popular vote Lincoln was not even on the ballot on any of the other Southern states.  In essence there were two elections in 1860: one in the South and a different election in the North and West.

 

Here we have the origins of the two major political parties in the United States.  Today, with a so-called Republican President and universal suffrage, the two political parties are at a point where they can barely communicate with one another.

 

Here we can see the origins of our government and our political system.

**********************************

It should also be noted that when United States history is taught as a survey in the schools everything is taught as a group of events which generally are simplified and not related to one another.  Cause and effect relationships are ignored or not understood.  This article generally deals with, on a general basis, cause and effect.  The invention of the cotton gin and the Industrial Revolution, switching from manmade to machine made products, brought about the changes which resulted in the growth of slavery, the Civil War and the country as it is now,

 

If the discovery of the cotton gin had been delayed for another twenty years or so, slavery might have died out on its own and there would have been no Civil War.  If Shay’s Rebellion had not occurred the government might have gone on under the Articles of Confederation and the United States could have eventually developed a Parliamentary System similar to the present day government of Great Britain.  There certainly would have been no immediate need for a Constitution.  There are certainly a lot of “Ifs” available.  Of course we’ll never know the answer to a lot of these questions because they never happened.

The Weiner Component V.2 #20 – The Origins of the American Government & Its Two Major Political Parties

 

To understand the government and the two major political parties in the United States we need to examine assorted economic happenings.  These entities changed the course of history in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.  The first was the invention of the Cotton Gin, from the 1780s on, another was the American Revolution, a third was a rebellion by small yeoman farmers in inland Massachusetts, and the fourth was the Constitution of the United States.  What occurs here is a cause and effect relationship that brings about major historical changes.

************************************

Eli Whitney was an American inventor who developed the Cotton Gin.  The word gin is short for engine.  The problem with cotton is that it is filled with seeds.  It takes a person working diligently for an hour to clean one pound of cotton.  A single cotton gin could clean 55 pounds daily.  Whitney received a pattern for his gin in 1807.  Like the grist and sawmills he expected to charge farmers for cleaning their cotton by getting 2/5 of the cotton cleaned.  The mechanical simplicity of the device and the primitive state of the pattern law made infringement inevitable.  Local carpenters could easily make duplicates of the gins.  Ultimately lawsuits consumed the profits and the cotton gin company went bankrupt in 1797.  Whitney, however, gained national, if not international fame for his invention.

 

Cotton had been very labor intensive and expensive.  The new inexpensive cotton changed the economics of the world by bringing about the Industrial Revolution in England in the early 19th Century and it also made slavery profitable in the new United States.

 

Prior to the 1790s slave labor was a slowly dying institution.  Slaves were employed in the growing of tobacco, rice, and indigo.  None of these crops were particularly profitable.  With the invention of the cotton gin cotton became the chief source of wealth in the American South; it became king cotton or the chief export of the new United States.  In the Southern settlements from South Carolina to Texas cotton became the dominant economic force and slavery became the key institution of Southern society.  This would persist until the end of the Civil War.

 

With the early Industrial Revolution from the late 18th Century, both England and New England became dependent upon this crop.  Their factories buzzed spinning thread and weaving cloth.  In the American South enormous fortunes were produced and the large cotton growers lived regally.  They tended to utilize the large English purchasers as suppliers of all the goods they wanted, ordering furniture, grand pianos or whatever they decided they wanted or needed.  This in time resulted in their spending more than their current crops allowed.  Eventually the large plantation owners owed their future crops to these people.  To the English manufacturers this was good business because it tied these planters and their crops to them.  The combined debt must have been in the millions.

 

With the formation of a new central government in 1788, caused by the Revolutionary War the Southern cotton barons refused to honor their debts to the English manufacturers.  In essence cotton as an export was still “king” and could always be sold in England or New England.  Some of the English manufacturers sued in the New United States.  Not one ever won his case.  The large cotton growers wiped out millions in debts virtually overnight without spending a penny.

**********************************

The American Revolution was fought from 1765 to 1783.  By the end of the Battle of Yorktown it became obvious to the British that it was far less expensive to trade with the American colonies than to gain trading advantages from them by ruling them.  Consequently the colonies gained their independence.

 

The government that the new independent state established was codified under the Articles of Confederation.  This document rested sovereignty with each of the 12 newly independent states with a central elected body have representatives from all 12 states.  The final decision on any measure passed by this Continental Congress had then to be approved by each of the 12 states.  Any state or states that so wished could disregard any measure passed by the Continental Congress.  In essence what existed were 12 independent nation states that had agreed to more or less cooperate with one another.

******************************

In the period during 1786 and 1787 the Revolutionary veteran, Daniel Shay, led 4,000 rebels, called Shayites, in an uprising against economic and civil rights injustices.  Basically the inland area of the state largely consisted of subsistence agriculture.  Mostly where roads existed they were unpaved, becoming muddy and impossible to use during rain, making it impossible for the farmers to bring their crops to the coastal areas where they could be shipped throughout the tidewater areas of the colonies or overseas.  Consequently most, if not all, of the farmers had stills.  A lot of grain made a small amount of whiskey, which was always in demand and could be easily transported.

 

Along the economically developed or older coastal areas of Massachusetts Bay there existed a market economy which was driven by the activities of wholesale merchants dealing with Europe, the West Indies, and elsewhere on the North American coast.  The state government was dominated by this merchant group.

 

After the end of the Revolutionary War the European businesses, for good reason, refused to continue to extend lines of credit to these merchants and insisted that they pay in hard currency, gold.  There was a shortage of such currency.  Also the state government, run by the business class, needed money.  Following a period of taxes not being paid where it could be avoided, the state of Massachusetts passed a whiskey tax on the small inland farmers to be paid in gold coins which were in short supply.

 

The rural farmers were unable to meet the demands made upon them by the merchants or the civil authorities and many began to lose their land and other possessions.  This led to strong resistance against the collectors and the courts where the collectors obtained judgements authorizing property seizures.

 

A great many of these depressed individuals felt that they should be able to cancel the debts the same way that the Southern planters had.  This led to open warfare between the two groups, temporarily shutting down the courts, sporadic fighting, and the governor refusing to enforce actions against the small farmers and being replaced by one who would enforce the law.  In 1787 Daniel Shay, leading 4,000 rebels, attempted to take the federal armory in Springfield, which was stoutly defended by state troops raised as a private army.

 

Eventually in 1787 4,000 people signed confessions admitting participation in the rebellion in return for amnesty.  Most of those indicted were eventually pardoned.  In subsequent years the state legislature cut taxes and placed a moratorium on debts.  In 1787 John Hancock replaced the militant governor.

 

As a note of irony it should be noted that at that time the only people allowed to vote were male property owners.  All the small farmers were property owners.  There were more of them than there were merchants.

*********************************

As a result of this and of other effects, many upper class individuals felt that there was a need for a stronger central government that could protect property rights throughout the states.  The most important effect was the call for a Constitutional Convention which would reform the Articles of Confederation, presumably strengthening the central government.  In addition Shay’s Rebellion brought George Washington out of retirement at Mount Vernon to chair the Constitutional Convention and to eventually become President for the first two four year terms.  It also brought two distinct political groups into existence: the Federalists who wanted a stronger central government and the Anti-Federalists who didn’t want this.  It was the merchant, businessmen class against the agrarians and laborers.

 

The people at the Constitutional Convention tended to represent the wealthy and educated classes.  They agreed to hold the meetings in secret and soon discovered that amending the Articles of Confederation could not produce a government with central control of all the states.  Consequently they produced from May 25 to September 17, 1787 a totally new document of government.

 

France has been through more than a dozen Constitutions since 1789; the U.S. has only had one, which still exists and functions.  The reason for this is that the U.S. had two sets of states: One free and one slave.  The elite of upper classes in both ends of the country agreed upon the necessity of a stronger central government.  They did not agree on numerous other issues.  They needed a document of unity but they did not agree upon a host of other issues.  In order to create their document of government they had to compromise upon innumerable issues.  Interpreting these issues, according to the needs of the times, has kept the Supreme Court busy since the inception of the nation.

 

The one issue that the Court could not deal with was the issue of where the basic power lay, with the Federal Government or the States.  That issue was resolved by the Civil War.

 

Although there were different political groups in the United States at that time the issue of political parties was never considered by the Founding Fathers.  Once the new government came into existence so did political parties.  The first one was the Federalist Party, representing coastal business and the educated classes.  They were able to dominate the first three elections, two for George Washington and one for John Adams.  The Federalists were opposed by the Anti-Federalists, who represented the small yeoman farmers like Daniel Shay.

 

The leader of the Federalist Party at that time was not the President but was Alexander Hamilton.  The first dramatic election was that of 1800 when John Adams ran against Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson had organized the Anti-Federalists groups and anyone else who was dissatisfied with the Federalists into, what he called, the Republican Party.  As a put-down the Federalists called the new political group the Democratic-Republican Party.  Eventually the word “Republican” was dropped and this became the Democratic Party, which we still have today.  They represented the interests of the small, or as Jefferson preferred to call them, “Yeomen farmers.”  In fact the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by the Jefferson administration in 1803 would provide land for yeoman farmers for at least the next 100 years, according to Jefferson.

 

Initially only males voted who were property owners.  With the availability of cheap or free land the Federalists, after the Election of 1800, were never again able to mount a successful Presidential election.  They went out of existence after the War of 1812, when they backed the wrong side, England.  From 1814 on there was only one major political party in the U.S., the Democratic Party.

 

Other groups across the United States formed small political groups.  The other major party that would come into existence in 1835 was the Whig Party, which more or less carried on the values of the old Federalist Party, they represented largely the growing businesses across the ever growing nation which was blossoming with the new Industrial Revolution.  In addition they were also strongly anti-slavery.  In 1860 the Whig Party and a number of fringe groups coalesced into, what was to become, the Republican Party in the Election of 1860.

 

Lincoln was originally a Whig, He won the Presidential Election of 1860 with less than 40% of the popular vote because the Democratic Party had split into two parts, the South voted for one candidate and the North and West voted for another.  With the exception of Virginia where he received less than 2% of the popular vote Lincoln was not even on the ballot on any of the other Southern states.  In essence there were two elections in 1860: one in the South and a different election in the North and West.

 

Here we have the origins of the two major political parties in the United States.  Today, with a so-called Republican President and universal suffrage, the two political parties are at a point where they can barely communicate with one another.

 

Here we can see the origins of our government and our political system.

**********************************

It should also be noted that when United States history is taught as a survey in the schools everything is taught as a group of events which generally are simplified and not related to one another.  Cause and effect relationships are ignored or not understood.  This article generally deals with, on a general basis, cause and effect.  The invention of the cotton gin and the Industrial Revolution, switching from manmade to machine made products, brought about the changes which resulted in the growth of slavery, the Civil War and the country as it is now,

 

If the discovery of the cotton gin had been delayed for another twenty years or so, slavery might have died out on its own and there would have been no Civil War.  If Shay’s Rebellion had not occurred the government might have gone on under the Articles of Confederation and the United States could have eventually developed a Parliamentary System similar to the present day government of Great Britain.  There certainly would have been no immediate need for a Constitution.  There are certainly a lot of “Ifs” available.  Of course we’ll never know the answer to a lot of these questions because they never happened.

The Weiner Component #169 – Part 2: The Presidencies & Political Parties in the United States

English: Partisan makeup of the Senate at the ...

English: Partisan makeup of the Senate at the beginning of the 107th United States Congress, January 3, 2001. Democratic Party – 50 Republican Party – 50 Tie broken by the Vice President of the United States (Al Gore to 2001-01-20, Dick Cheney thereafter) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

If you draw a horizontal line across a sheet of paper and put a mark in the center then the right side proceeding to the end of the line tends to be conservative getting more reactionary as you move farther toward the right end and the left side tends to be liberal, getting more radical as it moves to the left end.  Today the left side represents the Democratic Party and the right side is the Republican Party.

 

This model of right and left was initially created by the way the Chamber of Deputies placed themselves in the hall during the period of the French Revolution in late 18th Century.   The difference then was that the legislative body was divided into three groups, the right were the reactionaries who wanted to bring back the king and his form of government; the left were the radicals who wanted to get rid of the king and brought about the “Reign of Terror.”  They wanted a representative government, essentially led by a dictator.  The majority of the Chamber was called the Mountain.  It was the center which contained the majority of delegates.  They were the moderates.  France would eventually become a Representative Democracy.

 

Today in the United States legislature there is no center.  We have a right, the Republicans and a left side, the Democrats.  And between the two major groups, in the center, there is an empty space, which, in turn, makes it difficult for any type of compromise to be reached or even for any real communication to occur.  As far as the far right is concerned compromise is giving in to their position.

*********************************

In 1797, when the Constitution was written, there were no thoughts of political parties.  By 1789, when it took effect, Alexander Hamilton, the First Secretary of the Treasury, had organized the Federalist Party, which basically supported the tidewater mercantilist groups rather than inland yeoman farmers.  Thomas Jefferson, who supported the latter group at the very tail end of the 18th Century organized the Republican Party as a solution to the Federalists and ran as its first candidate for the presidency in the year 1800.  The Federalists, as an insult, rechristened it as the Democratic-Republican Party.  This first name has stuck through the years and is still used today.  The Presidential campaign in the year 1800 was a very raucous one with Jefferson being denounced, among other things, as an atheist.

 

Jefferson won the election and the Federalists were never again able to win a Presidential Election.  They ceased to exist as a political party after the War of 1812.  In that war with England they had refused to support the government against Great Britain.

 

President Thomas Jefferson, following his philosophy of leading a country of small yeoman farmers, in 1803 bought the Louisiana Territory from France for $11,250,000, adding 828,000 square miles to the new United States and doubling its size.  He calculated that he had added enough land to allow it to freely grow with small farms for at least one hundred years.

 

The Federalist position had been favoring a strong central government, close ties with Great Britain, a centralized banking system and close links between the government and men of wealth.

 

What followed after the War of 1812 was the Era of Good Feelings which ended in 1824 when John Quincy Adams was appointed to the Presidency by the House of Representatives after an election in which none of the four regional candidates achieved enough of a majority to win the election.

 

In 1828 the Democratic-Republican Party split into Jacksonian Democrats and the Whig Party.  The Jacksonian Democratic Party became the modern Democratic Party.  They supported the primacy of the President over the other branches of government.  The Whig Party advocated the primacy of Congress over the executive branch.  In the 1850s the Whig Party declined.  Its leaders had died out and it split over the issue of slavery.  The Democratic Party also split into two section, Northern and Southern, anti-slave and pro-slave.

 

In the Election of 1860 the remnants of the Whig Party and remnants of other third parties like the Abolitionists and other dissatisfied groups coalesced into the new Republican Party while the Democrats split into two separate political parties, one Northern and Western and one Southern.  The Northern Democrats ran Stephen A. Douglas while the Southern Democrats put forth John C. Breckenridge.

 

Douglas and Breckenridge had over 50% of the vote together but neither one had as much as Lincoln.  Lincoln won the election with under 50% of the popular vote.  No one Southern State had his name on their ballot.  It was as though two totally separate elections had occurred.  In point of fact one can easily say that the Civil War actually began with this election.

 

At the end of the Civil War Radical Republicans dominated both Houses of Congress.  The President of the United States was a former Southern Democrat, Andrew Johnson.  He had been a senator from Tennessee who remained in Washington and refused to join in the Secession from the Union.  Johnson ran with Lincoln during his second term as the Vice-presidential candidate under the slogan of the National Unity Ticket.

 

Lincoln was assassinated early during his second term and Andrew Johnson became president from 1864 to 1867.  The Radical Republicans had a super majority in both Houses of Congress; consequently they were able to do whatever they wanted.  Johnson was unsuccessfully impeached toward the end of his term.  In 1868, the Republican, former General Ulysses S. Grant, became the 18th President of the United States.

 

In the election of 1876 the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ran against the Democrat, Samuel J. Tilden.  The Republicans desperately wanted to retain the presidency.  Tilden had the greater number of popular votes.  Several states ended up electing two sets of electors, both Democratic and Republican.  The crisis was not resolved until the night before the new President was to take office.  A back-door deal was made by which the Republicans got the presidency and the Southern States had the Northern armies of occupation removed and became independent states again, ending all the remnants of the Civil War.  The United States reemerged as a two party nation.  At this time the Blacks systematically lost their rights as freedmen, although they kept that title.

 

The Republican Party adopted many of the economic policies of the Whigs: national banks, railroad expansion, and high tariffs.  They were the businessman’s political party.  Their anti-slave policy and the Civil War had brought the Black population, the freedmen, into their party and kept them dominant in Congress until this time.  The Southern States returned to the Democratic Party which maintained its traditional values.  The Republicans also attracted shop owners, skilled craftsmen, clerks, and professionals who were attracted to the party’s modernization policies.  These political coalitions lasted almost to the end of the 19th Century.

****************************

The Civil War expedited economic change in America.  From its end through the 1920s there was a rush of new immigration into the United States, mainly from Eastern Europe and Ireland.  The Industrial Revolution in all forms of rapid economic growth took hold of the country at this time generating a rapid settlement of the entire continental United States.  The late 19th Century was the period of the Gilded Age, rapid industrial growth, the confluence of money into the hands of a few brought about the rise of the “robber barons,” monopoly and oligopoly; phenomenal affluence for a small number and sweat-shops and twelve to fifteen hour shifts for large groups of children, women, and men in factories.  The country went from a rural nation to an urban one during this period.

 

Small towns became cities virtually overnight with almost no understanding or regulations about supplying clean water to large populations and housing or sewerage or food regulation laws.  The government performed no social services.  Political machines developed by both political parties in the urban areas.  Epidemics became common, particularly in warmer weather.  Death tolls, particularly in slum areas were inordinately high, especially among infants and young children.

 

Among this environment, within the urban areas, individual states, and the Federal Government the Progressive Movement developed and grew.  It would continue until the United States got involved in the Great War (World War I).  Both major political parties would at different times lead this movement, which, to a large extent, would be fed by magazine articles and books demonstrating the horrific conditions that existed in the factories, slums, and cities.

*******************************

All the presidents from Lincoln’s death until Teddy Roosevelt’s accession were decent men but weak presidents.  They and Cabinet members were continually hounded by jobseekers and political machine operators looking to collect on campaign promises.

 

The major issues of this period were the protective tariff, currency reform, and civil service reform.  President James A. Garfield was shot by a dissatisfied job seeker.  Even with this civil service reform came slowly over the course of the late 19th Century.

 

Tariff and currency reform lasted throughout this period and led to the Progressive Movement.  Business interests supported protective tariffs and tight or hard money (gold).  They lobbied and spent freely to achieve these goals, which the Republicans tended to support.  The Democrats largely backed a loose money policy, using both gold and silver.

 

From 1876 through 1900, Congress was known for being rowdy and inefficient and the Presidents as more or less capable of doing their jobs but not much more.  The two major political parties tended to be similar in their outlook with the exception that the Republicans favored business and the Democrats vied slightly toward farmers.  And the government was considered highly corrupt.

 

With one exception, and that was Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate, who was twice elected to a four year term in 1884 and in 1892, all the other presidents had been Republicans.  All of them, from both political parties had served in the Civil War.

 

In addition, among the farmers, at this time, the Granger Movement gradually developed and it in turn become part of the Populist Movement, which pushed for Agrarian Reform in the United States.  The Populist Movement and urban conditions and corruption throughout the country gave birth to the Progressive Reform Movement which existed on the both the state levels and on the national level.

 

The early Progressive Movement rose on a grass root level.  It was supported by the farmers who wanted a loose money policy.  This would allow them to pay back their debts with less expensive currency.  The businessmen and bankers preferred a tight money policy.  They wanted the debts paid back with more expensive money than they had initially spent or loaned out.  Into this mix came magazine and book writers, the muckrakers, who tended to expose the corruption that existed on all levels of society.  Also at this time the giant industrial cities came into existence with no initial rules or regulations on how they had to be governed or function, in areas like hygiene, sanitation, and city government and social services to the newly arrived immigrants.

 

All this gradually ended with the accession of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency after the assassination of William McKinley by an anarchist in 1901.  Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, would be the first of the Progressive Presidents.  He would be followed by William Howard Taft, another Republican.  The third Progressive President would be Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat.  This period would end with the First World War

 

During this period corruption was exposed in numerous aspects of the nation and a certain amount of regulation was promulgated throughout the various levels of the society: local, state, and national.  The Senate up to 1913 had been appointed by the different state legislatures and had become, usually by bribery, largely an extension of large corporations like Standard Oil’s attorneys.  It thereafter, through the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, was directly elected by the people within the individual states.  Oregon introduced in 1902 the initiative and the referendum process, which, in turn, was copied by numerous other states.  The recall election was also introduced whereby an elected official could be unelected from his office.  In addition Women Suffrage (the vote) came about at this period.  The tide of reforms ended with the World War.

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At the end of the war Woodrow Wilson went to Europe to develop the Treaty of Versailles.  He brought the treaty to Washington where it was rejected by the Republicans in the Senate.  There was a struggle to pass the Treaty, and, during that time, President Wilson suffered a heart attack from which he never totally recovered.

 

The Treaty could have been modified to satisfy the Republicans but Wilson refused to compromise.  The United States never signed it.  Instead they eventually signed a separate treaty with Germany.  The major item in the Treaty was the establishment of a League of Nations, which the United States never joined.

 

At the end of his term the invalid, Woodrow Wilson, was replaced by the Republican, Warren Harding, who died in office after a number of corruption scandals emerged.  He was replaced by his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, who later ran on his own and won.  He, in turn, was replaced by Herbert Hoover.  These three Republican presidents fully believed Adam Smith’s theory that the market-place would make all the proper economic decisions for how the country should be run.

 

The motivating force according to Adam Smith was the “invisible hand,” the profit motive.  This brought the country in 1929 to the Great Depression.  Neither Hoover nor his staff knew how to really deal with this situation.  The United States and numerous other industrial nations went through periods of unbelievable misery with the governments trying to function in periods of massive unemployment and chaos.

 

In 1933, four years later, the new President, the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, working on almost an experimental basis saved capitalism and the country by adopting socialistic principles.  He called his policy “The New Deal,” a term taken from poker.  The Federal Government assumed responsibility for those who could not care for the mselves.  They created jobs and projects like Hoover Dam, which was originally called Boulder Dam, throughout the United States and he brought about social security.  It was a time of rapid experimentation, anything that worked and solved problems was utilized.

 

But even with all this many of the aspects of the Great Depression remained.  The country was better off but many still suffered.  What ended the last remnants of the Great Depression was World War II.  The spending required to fight and win the war and the army the U. S. raised ended the last remnants of the massive economic turndown.  In point of fact, the country entered the war in December of 1941 with the majority of the population being in the lower class and ended the war in 1945 with the majority of the population belonging to the middle class.  The economy had changed considerably.

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During the Second World War both political parties concentrated on fighting the war.  Roosevelt died during the last year of the fighting and was replaced by his Vice President, the Democrat: Harry S. Truman.

 

Truman in 1945, after the war ended, sponsored, what he called, the Fair Deal, as a continuation of the prewar New Deal.  The Republicans derided Truman and his program as a poor man’s version Roosevelt’s politics.  In 1948 they ran Thomas E. Dewey against him.  They also passed the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which limited presidential tenure to two terms in office.  While the Amendment did not affect Truman; it would come into being with the next president; still it gave him a strong hint.  Franklin D. Roosevelt had died in office during his fourth term in office.

 

In 1948 the Republicans were positive that they would win the election.  At that time, before television, victory celebrations were held on radio.  On the night of the election there was a victory celebration for Dewey.  The Chicago Tribune headline the next morning was “Dewey Wins.”  But when the votes were counted Harry S. Truman had won and was still President of the United States.  All the polls had predicted Dewey as the winner; they all ate crow that year.

 

For the next four years there were a lot of frustrated Republicans in both Houses of Congress; but Congress still worked.  The fear after the war was that with the massive return of the military to civilian life the country would go into a deep recession with massive unemployment as it did directly after World War I.  But with intense rationing, the continual sale of war bonds, and unlimited employment during the war there was lots of money available.  All the automobile factories had been producing only for the war effort for the last four years; they now converted to civilian production, everyone wanted a new car.  A new industry, television came into being.  Other positive things happened.  There was no recession.  The returning veterans found jobs, started their own small business, returned to school: finishing high school and colleges.  The country smoothly went back to peacetime.  In fact, veterans received a government allowance if they went back to school.

 

Unfortunately, even with the new Organization, The United Nations, to which all the allied nations now belonged, peace did not come.  On June 25, 1950 until July 27, 1953 the United States and other United Nation countries were involved in the Korean War, which ended at the 38th Parallel, where it had begun.  This was the line splitting Korea into two parts: Communist in the North and non-communist in the South.  It would seem that almost every succeeding president from Truman on would have their own specific war.

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Truman was followed in the presidency in 1953 by Dwight David Eisenhower, the general who had led the war in Europe.  Eisenhower, initially had never voted in a presidential election.  He did not know which political party he belonged to.  Finally he decided he was a Republican and ran as their presidential candidate.

 

Eisenhower ended the Korean War by threatening to use atomic weapons.  It ended in a draw, which still continues to this day.

 

As a replacement for Truman the Democrats came up with Adlia Stevenson, the governor of Illinois.  Stevenson ran against Eisenhower twice and lost both times.  Eisenhower considered himself a middle-of-the-road Republican, that is, a moderate or liberal Republican.  The two parties functioned well together during his eight years in office.

 

In 1960 Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s Vice President, ran against the Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who was a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.  Kennedy won that election by less than one per cent of the vote.  The two parties were able to function together and more or less pass all the necessary legislation.  /there were problems with his civil rights reform attempts.  In Viet Nam There was action, but not a major crisis.  It was during Kennedy’s presidency that the Bay of Pigs debacle occurred and later the Cuban Missile Crisis came about.  The Soviet Union had installed atomic missiles in Cuba.  Kennedy, short of war, got Russia to remove them.  His frustration came about in being limited in passing civil rights legislation.

 

Kennedy, while getting ready to run for a second term in 1963, was in a motorcade in downtown Dallas, Texas, when he was shot by an assassin.  His Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson became the next President of the United States.  President Johnson was reelected in 1964.  He ran against the arch-conservative Barry Goldwater and overwhelmingly defeated him.  Johnson attempted to force the war in Viet Nam toward an American victory by massively increasing U.S. forces there.  He was not successful.  In the United States he declared War on Poverty.  Again he was not successful.  As an essentially defeated man Johnson announced that he would not run for the presidency in 1968.

 

Where Johnson was eminently successful was in pushing through Congress both his and John F. Kennedy’s plan for civil rights reform in the nation.  Segregation was essentially legally ended throughout the South and in other parts of the country.  The statement that “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence was expanded to include Blacks and Women.  It was a major achievement.

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In the 1968 Election the Republican Richard M. Nixon ran against the Democratic Vice President, Hubert Humphrey.  A third party candidate, former Alabama Governor, George Wallace, ran representing the American Independent Party, which supported separation of the races in public education.  Nixon won with 43.4% of the vote; Humphrey got 42.7%, and Wallace received 13.5%.

 

The election year was tumultuous, being marked by the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.  The Democratic Convention had open warfare between Viet Nam protestors and the Chicago police.  Nixon won the popular vote by .07 percentage points and the Electoral College vote by 301 to 191 for Humphrey.

 

Besides economic problems Nixon faced a massive protest throughout his presidency over the Viet Nam War.  He presumably had a secret plan to end the war.  This came down to a return of American prisoners of war and withdrawing with honor.  That was making a defeat in war not look like a defeat.

 

Negotiations were begun.  The initial problem was the shape of the Negotiating Table.  There were people from North Viet Nam, from South Viet Nam, and from the United States, and there was also the National Liberation Front, who were from South Viet Nam but favored the North.  The issue was resolved by using a round table with two smaller ones nearby.

 

Nixon’s strategy was to bring increasing pressure on Communist North Viet Nam by increasing the war so they would be willing to compromise.  He expanded the war to Cambodia and bombing along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Supplies were being brought into North Viet Nam into the South over this route.  There was both warfare and peace negotiations that would be going on during Nixon’s term as President.

 

In 1972 Nixon ran for a second term as the Republican candidate.  The Democratic candidate was the highly liberal senator from South Dakota, George McGovern.  The Republicans were so sure he could not win that they contributed money secretly to his campaign wanting to make sure he was the Democratic candidate.

 

McGovern ran on an Anti-War Campaign against the incumbent, Richard Nixon.  McGovern was perceived by many voters as a left-wing extremist.  Nixon won in a landslide, gaining 60.7% of the popular vote.  He received 18 million more votes than McGovern, carrying 49 states.

 

Unfortunately, during the election, because of some paranoid tendencies of Nixon, a group of his employees called the plumbers  burgled Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. several times in order to find out what the Democrats were doing and planning.  The final time they did this they were caught and arrested.

 

The question became: What did Nixon know?  And when did he know it?  It took two years for this to unravel.  And then the answer was that he knew about the burglary from the very beginning.  Nixon resigned from the presidency two years after being elected for a second term.  He resigned the day before a Bill of Impeachment was to be voted upon in the House of Representatives.

 

Interestingly his vice president, Spiro Agnew, had resigned earlier.  The government had an 80 page inditement against him for extortion, going back to when he was governor of Maryland.  Because of the Watergate controversy the Justice Department allowed him to plead, no contest, and resign from the vice-presidency.

 

The irony was that Nixon chose a new Vice-President, Senator Gerald Ford, who assumed the Presidency in 1974.  President Ford later issued a Proclamation on September 8, 1974 pardoning Richard Nixon from any crimes he may have committed.

 

President Gerald Ford ended the Viet Nam War.  This was the first war that the United States lost.  Today Viet Nam trades with the United States and is a relatively inexpensive tourist attraction.  It cost a lot less to visit Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) than to go to a city in Hawaii.

 

In 1978 Republican President Gerald Ford ran against the Democratic contender, James Earl (Jimmy) Carter.  Jimmy Carter won by a margin of 57 Electoral votes.  He had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress during both congressional terms.  On his second day in office President Carter pardoned all evaders of the Viet Nam War.  He created the Departments of Energy and Education.  He brought about the Camp David Accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

The country suffered from Stagflation at this time, a combination of both high inflation and high unemployment.  Carter could not bring himself to allow the Draconian program that would solve this problem.  The next President, Ronald Reagan would do this and bring about a large homeless problem throughout the United States which still exists today.

 

President Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaties, giving the canal to Panama.  It was during his term in office that the Iranian Revolution occurred and the American Embassy personnel were held as captives by the new government of Iran.  They were returned to the U.S. shortly after the next president took office.  Carter was defeated in the 1980 Election by Ronald Reagan.

 

Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency on January 20, 1981 and served two terms through January 20, 1989.  He was a Republican and a conservative, bringing about changes that the conservatives had wanted for years.  He was also the oldest man elected to the presidency.

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Forgetting the post-Civil-War Period when the Radical Republicans, wanting to punish the South and controlled Congress from 1865 to 1878 when Rutherford Hayes stole the presidency from the Democrat, Samuel Tilden.  At that time the Republicans had a super majority in both Houses of Congress and could and did pass any law they put forth without the President’s signature.

 

Outside of this relatively short period in the nation’s history the two major political parties essentially got along and, more or less, cooperated with one another in passing the necessary laws for the nation.  The point has been made in an earlier blog that Democratic President Jimmy Carter was more conservative that Gerald Ford’s Republican Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller.  On the political line mentioned at the beginning of this blog Rockefeller would be placed left of center and Carter would go right of center.

 

This was true of many Congressmen.  There have historically been many conservative Democrats and moderate or liberal Republicans.  There was no separate void between them in terms of political positions.  There was always a slight difference in basic philosophy but there was always open communication and the possibility of compromise.

 

This has been a fact of United States history.  There was generally cooperation between both political parties.  The Conference Committee, which met after a bill was passed in slightly different versions in the two Houses of Congress, has been able to continually come up with a compromise bill for both Houses of Congress to successfully vote upon.

 

This system has existed until Barack Obama became President of the United States.  What has occurred from that time on has essentially been the development of the Tea Party, an extreme right arm of the Republican Party that is largely uneducated in the function of government and modern economics.  In the House of Representatives they are the Freedom Coalition.  In point of fact their aim seems to be to do away with the Federal Government

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The Weiner Component #146 Part 1 – The Republican Party & the Future

English: Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon...

English: Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter at the dedication of the Reagan Presidential Library (Left to right). Français : De gauche à droite, les présidents américains Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan et Jimmy Carter à la bibliothèque Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (1991) où se trouve une reconstitution du bureau ovale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo. Fran...

Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo. Français : Gerald Ford, premier portrait officiel du Président américain, (1974). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: US map 1856 shows free and slave stat...

English: US map 1856 shows free and slave states and populations; this is “Reynolds’s Political Map of the United States” (1856) from Library of Congress collectionhttp://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart3b.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Embed from Getty Images

Over most of its history the Republican Party has been essentially a Caucasian male Protestant group.   This was the population that originally made up the American colonies and revolted against British in the late 18th Century, setting up the United States initially along the East coast of the American continent.

 

During the late 19th and early 20th Century there were large migrations from Eastern Europe.  Asians, Chinese and Japanese initially could not become citizens of the United States, but their children, who were born in the U.S., were citizens.  Earlier there had been a large initially unwelcome migration of Irish Catholics caused by the Great Potato Famine in Ireland.  In the early 20th Century laws were passed setting quotas for people coming from different countries.  These quota systems are largely with us today.

 

We never seem to reach the quotas allowable for Western or Northern Europe but for Eastern Europe and other areas of the world like the Middle East and Central and South America there are waiting periods, after one gets in line, that in some instances could take a decade or more.

 

Since the last 40 years of the 20th Century the demographics of the United States has been changing.  Because of assorted wars in which the U.S. has been involved in the post-World War II Period in Asia, in the Middle East, and in other areas, large numbers of these peoples have come to the United States from the rest of the world.  These movements, are still continuing.  They have and are continuing to change the demographics in the U.S.  It is no longer a Wasp nation, a white Anglo-Saxon-Protestant nation.  Today there are growing numbers of other ethnic and so-called racial groups.  In fact the original Caucasian Protestant population is now a large minority among other large minorities and the Republicans make up about 19% of that population.  They are a minority among other minorities.

 

Generally in the present the Republican Party is made up of mostly the economic upper 1% of the population.  These are the wealthy who form the executives of most of the large corporations in the U.S. plus others who have intense wealth.  They have largely benefited from Republican leadership in Congress.

 

There is also a large independent-loving blue collar group who, with the evangelicals form the voting base of the party.  There would also be a percentage of white collars members, many of whom see themselves eventually joining the upper 1%.

 

Unfortunately for a good percentage of the blue collar base, particularly the independent, gun-loving ones, outside of freely owning their weapons, they have gotten nothing from the Republican leadership in Congress, particularly since 2011,  when the Republicans assumed leadership in the House of Representatives.  These currently are most of the people who support Donald Trump for President.

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With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 advocating popular sovereignty, in which one of the two newly entering states would supposedly be free and the other a slave state, the Whig Party split into two groups: the Conscience Whigs repudiated slavery and the Cotton Whigs were for slavery.  The first group joined the Free-Soil Party.  They were joined by the American Party and the remnants of the Know-Nothings Party which had become popular for a short period, calling for restrictions on the foreign born.

 

At this time, 1854, the Republican Party also began. It was able to run its first Presidential Election in 1860, attaining 40% of the popular vote and the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.  The majority party, the Democratic Party, had split into two parts, one Northern and one Southern.  The Southern section supported slavery and the Northern part tended to be neutral on this issue.

 

The new Republican Party was a combination of different political groups.  They were mainly the Northern and Northwestern Whig Party, the Conscience Whigs.  The Southern Whig Party, the Cotton Whigs, ran their own candidate in the South.  The Northern Whigs consisted of pro-business supporters who did not agree with the Democrats; abolitionists that strongly opposed slavery; and other small groups like the remnants of the Know Nothing Party.

 

In essence during 1860, there were two separate elections: one in the North and one in the South.  The Northern candidates did not run in the South and the Southern candidates were not on the Northern ballots.

 

The new Republican Party had grown from the ranks of the Free-Soilers, the Anti-Slavery Whigs, and the Anti-Nebraska Democrats.  They were in opposition to the extension of slavery anywhere within the territories of the United States.

 

Since the majority of the population occupied the North and Northwest the new Republican Party won with 40% of the vote.  As we’ve seen none of the political parties were on the ballots in all of the states.  There were no Republican votes cast in any of the Southern states.  The Southern Democrats had no ballots cast in the newer Northwestern states and in many of the other older Northern states.  The other Democrats had no votes cast in the other Southern states.  The election was actually two separate elections.  When the ballots were counted Lincoln had received 40% of the popular vote.  This translated to 180 electoral votes.  The other three candidates together had a total of 123 electoral votes.

 

This was the first Republican National Election.  Henceforth it would be them and the Democrats; the other political parties and the issue of slavery would disappear after the Civil War.  In 1876, with the election of Republican, Rutherford Hayes as President, the Southern states would lose the Northern army of Reconstruction or occupation and would come back into the Union as independent states and the country would move forward as a single unit.  The South reentered the Union as Democratic voting states.  Around the middle of the 20th Century with the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement the South would change its political allegiance to the Republican Party.  Outside of the slavery issue the Republican Party was always the Party of business and of the well-to-do owning classes, which it is still today.  It has always been conservative, against any kind of major change within the society, and conservative in its outlook.

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Up until 1964, when Barry Goldwater lost the election to Lyndon B, Johnson, the Republican Party had both liberal and conservative elements, the two political parties tended to be close to one another.  After that the Republicans tended to move farther and farther to the right.  Even as late as 1977, when Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter became President he was more conservative than a small percentage of the Republicans.  In 1974, when Nelson Rockefeller was appointed Vice President by President Gerald Ford, the Republican Vice President was more liberal than the later President, Jimmy Carter.

 

The two group’s philosophies ran into one another and compromise between the two political parties was relatively simple.  But after the Reagan Presidency the majority of the Republicans had moved much farther to the right and the Democrats to the left.  The first group became more reactionary and the other more radical.  Total philosophical separation had begun to set in.  This would continue and increase bringing the country to where it is now, at polarization.

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In order to understand the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats one needs to draw a horizontal line across a blank sheet of paper.  Mark the center of the line.  On the right side of the line would be the Republicans and on the left, the Democrats.  As one proceeds to the far left the people become more radical, on the right the further you go they become more reactionary.  At either end either end of the line they are extreme. Radical on the left and reactionary on the right.

 

_______Democrats__________|_____Republicans__________

 

No so long ago in our history the two lines overlapped.  Now they are widely separated.   This all began in the 1964 Presidential Election when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson and lost by a large amount.  Goldwater carried six states and Johnson won 44.

 

Goldwater had been the leader of the Conservative Movement.  During the campaign he alienated the liberal section of the Republican Party.  He was an opponent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguing that it took rights away from the states.  When Communist China became a member of the United Nations in 1971 he wanted the United States to give-up its membership in that organization.  Goldwater criticized Johnson’s Administration for being soft on Communism and failing in Vietnam.  During his campaign he wanted a tougher blockade against Cuba and increased military action in Northern Vietnam to cut off supplies from China.  He indicated that he might use a nuclear bomb against North Vietnam.  On the domestic front Goldwater called for substantial cuts in social programs and he wanted social security to become optional.  He believed that the Tennessee Valley Authority should be sold to the private sector.  His political slogan was, “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right”

 

It was at this time that Ronald Reagan entered politics with his “A Time for Choosing” speech.  He would run for the governorship of California two year later, largely on a Goldwater type platform and win.

 

These doctrines, those of the far right, were worked through the Republican Party until they dominated it.  Reagan would be elected President in 1980 and serve until 1988.  He would with some modification carry through Goldwater’s philosophy.  Currently all the potential Republican Presidential candidates are reflections of Barry Goldwater.

 

The Republican Party itself as it currently exists reminds me of the old Communist Party.  Everyone follows the Party-Line, there is no individuality.  I get the impression that the far right controls most, if not all, of the political contributions and they are spent only on proper followers of the party-line.

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The Democrats tend to be liberal; the Republicans, conservative.  Since the 1932 Presidential Election the Democrats have assumed a responsibility for those who cannot care for themselves while the Republicans hold to a position of individual responsibility.

 

Since that time many Republican presidents have also had the Democratic concept.  Dwight David Eisenhower (1953 – 1961), the first Republican president since Roosevelt’s election in 1932 considered himself a Moderate Republican.  As President he built a Federal Highway System across the United States, the Interstate Highway System; continued FDR’s New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security.  Nixon (1969- 1974), as the next elected Republican President, experimented with Price and Wage Controls during a period of rapid inflation; was the first chief executive to enforce desegregation in Southern schools; established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act of 1970, and made state run insurance policies available to all with income based premiums and cost sharing.

 

The next Republican President was Ronald Reagan, who served from 1981 to 1989.  He was the first far right Republican to run the United States.  Reagan, as we’ve seen, first entered politics in 1964 supporting Barry Goldwater.  In 1966 he was elected governor of California.  He successfully ran for the presidency in 1980 and served two terms.  Reagan applied Supply Side Economics (Reaganomics), a theory developed in the 1970s and disregarded after the Reagan Administration for not really working.  It held that economic growth is enhanced by investing in capital and lowering barriers on the production of goods and services; if excess goods were produced, it was believed prices would come down so they could be consumed (sold or supplied).  It sounds good but it has never worked.

 

President Reagan encouraged tax reduction to spur economic growth, control of the money supply to curb inflation, economic deregulation and reduction in government spending, which didn’t happen, as his administration raised the deficit to over a trillion dollars for the first time.  He did not believe in government regulation and, among other things, totally deregulated the banking industry.  This would slowly lead to the 2008 banking-caused Real Estate Crash and near depression.  He fought public sector labor by firing all traffic controllers when they went on strike.  He bombed Libya and mined the main harbor of Nicaragua, two countries with whom we were not at war and ended his administration with the illegal Iran-Contra Affair.  He was the first of the far right presidents.

 

The next two Republican Presidents were the Bushes, father and son.  While they were not to the far right they were both well to the right of center.  (For more comments on the Bush Presidencies read The Weiner Component #125 – The Bush Presidencies.)

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Democrats typically support a broad range of social services; many in the area of helping those who cannot, for one reason or another, provide adequately for themselves, making us all our brother’s keepers.  Republican policy is based upon self-reliance, more freedom for individuals, and a limited interference by government.  People are more responsible for themselves and their families.  Among other things they have the freedom to starve.

 

The Republicans also advocate a dominant foreign policy based upon a strong military.  Consequently their conservative far right is pro-religion, anti-bureaucracy, pro-business, pro-military, and pro-personal responsibility.  They see big government as wasteful and an obstacle to getting things done.  Ultimately they are pro-Darwinistic, believing in survival of the fittest.

 

Democrats tend to favor an active societal role for government in society and believe that such involvement can improve the quality of all the people’s lives and achieve greater opportunity and equality for all.  For example the Affordable Health Care Act can eventually gain health benefits for all.  But ultimately to the Republicans it means that it is unfair because they are helping to pay for other people’s medical care.

 

Republicans favor a more limited role for government and believe that reliance on the private sector can improve economic productivity and achieve the more important goals of freedom and self-reliance.  They are still for Supply-Side Economics.  To them environmental regulations and discrimination laws (regulations) impede economic growth.  They oppose laws that limit pollution because they increase the cost of pollution.  Ultimately Republicans lean toward individual freedoms and rights while to Democrats equality and social responsibility are more important.

 

Interestingly if you’ve read the novels of Paul Ryan’s former mentor, Ann Rand, who as a good Catholic he dropped when it was discovered that she was an atheist.  Society is divided into the elite and the mob.  The Republicans, especially the leadership and the well to do, are the elite and the Democrats support the masses or the mob.  This thinking goes back to Friedrich Nietzsche and the mid-19th Century.

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Up until the 2,200 page Federal Government funding bill that was passed at the end of 2015 the Republicans have been dominated by the far right of their political party which saw compromise as having the other side come to their position.  The choice here was to pass an actual political compromise or shut down the government.  It took nearly a year to effect this compromise.  The bill could never have passed without Democratic votes in both Houses of Congress.  In order to not shut down the Federal Government the Republicans had to legitimately compromise with the Democrats.

 

What the country, in disgust, has essentially seen since 2011, when the Republicans took over control of the House of Representatives, was gridlock in Congress.  The Affordable Health Care Act, which was initially passed in 2010 by a Democratic Congress, has been voted out of existence by the House 62 times since 2011.

 

At the end of 2015 there was true compromise, a bill to fund the government and avoid a government shut-down.  However, early in 2016 the House passed a bill, which the Senate has passed the prior year, defunding both Affordable Health Care and Planned Parenthood.  The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, announced that even though the bill would be vetoed by the President, it had passed in the Republican dominated Senate earlier in 2015.  Even though there were not enough votes to pass it over the veto when it was returned to both Houses of Congress, it was still declared a victory for the Republicans because it showed the American public what will happen in 2017 if they elect a Republican President.  He further stated that the House agenda in 2016, all 110 days it would meet, will be to pass bills that the President will veto but will state the Republican position and show the Public what will happen if they elect a Republican President.

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None of the Republican group running for the presidency strikes me as being charismatic or capable of leading the nation.  What will happen is that the Republican House will function for its three day week, be paid over $140 thousand for the three day weeks it works while attempting to embarrass the President by forcing him to issue constant vetoes.  The current one, passed the second week in January 16 will be his tenth veto in seven years.  These bills will largely disgust the Democrats and the country at large by accomplishing very little if anything.  The Republican Congress will pass well beyond gridlock for the year 2016.

 

And I wonder if Ryan and the Republicans will feel that all this will happen if Donald Trump becomes their presidential candidate?