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