Will the Republican Party finally go the way of the Whigs?

It doesn’t happen very often but occasionally a political party folds up its tent and goes home.  In the 1850s, the once proud Whig Party of Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster collapsed. The main culprit was the expansion of slavery into the federal territories, a volatile issue that became a fissure, splitting the party in two and leading to its ultimate extinction.

It happened before and it could very well happen again.  Just hours after Romney’s loss to Obama, the GOP began handwringing over the possible reasons why the unthinkable happened. Two answers have been put forth so far, with both sides facing off against each other.  A great fissure is shaping up within the party, just like the Whigs in the 1850s.

The Whigs had what amounted to a pro-choice attitude toward slavery.  They could get no consensus on that issue, so they fell apart.  Today’s Republicans seemingly cannot agree about immigration and the continuation of the welfare state.  So that is the essence of the debate: is our problem demographics or the welfare state?  My answer: It’s demographics AND the welfare state.  If not addressed, both issues will kill the party and the republic. Continue reading

Clearing Up the Confusion of Party Ideology

When discussing the history of the two major political parties and their ideologies, most people have a tendency to get very confused and with good reason.

Both major parties of today have their origins in the early 1790s, coming out of disputes in George Washington’s Cabinet between Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.  Jefferson opposed Hamilton’s entire fiscal program, arguing for a limited federal government and a strict interpretation of the Constitution.  Hamilton wanted the new government to expand beyond its constitutional powers, the Constitution becoming what he hoped would be a “fail and worthless fabric.”

Though the Founders yearned for a nation without parties, or factions, as they called them, inevitably they did form.  One was the Federalist Party, founded by Hamilton, which lasted from 1792 to 1816, the last year it ran a candidate for President, having succumbed to the might of Jefferson as well as its opposition to the War of 1812.  The other was Jefferson’s Republican Party (sometimes referred to as the Democratic-Republicans), lasting from 1792 to 1824.  The two parties in existence today can be traced to these two original organizations. Continue reading