Saturday, November 26, 2022

Did The Republicans And Democrats Switch

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The Ideology Of Old Democrats And Modern Republicans

Why Did the Democratic and Republican Parties Switch Platforms?

Andrew Jackson was a southern states rights;populist;and;Jacksonian Democrat, which is similar to todays socially conservativelibertarian.

Early factions;like Jeffersonians;and the Young America movement;were rather progressive. The Copperheads and;War Democrats;in the North were;non-Confederate conservative factions during the Civil War. A;Bourbon Democrat is essentially a Libertarian. Thus, we can say the pro-states rights;Democrats of Lincolns time;held both the beliefs of their predecessors the;Anti-Federalists;and;Democratic-Republicans, and those;of;todays;modern Libertarians and;Republicans.

Compared to their opposition the above major;parties;are roughly;pro-south, pro farmer, pro-state-power, anti-central-bank, anti-debt, and anti-taxes. They tend to;favor;individual rights over collective rights, typically choosing deregulation over;government;enforced social justice. Thus, they are;liberal regarding;authority but conservative in terms of social policy. They are, as a party, classical liberals and social conservatives. Today they might be called;neocons, libertarians, and;paleocons.

TIP: Want to understand modern Republicanism? See this documentary on the Tea Party.


The Rise Of Modern Social Liberalism And Social Conservatism

Later we get a third way with Bill Clintons New Democrats. This third way is an extension;of the;progressive bourbon liberal wing, but mashed-up with the progressive social liberal wing, and Reagan-era;conservatism. These three social liberal ideologies which Clinton embodied can collectively be referred to as an;American liberalism. These factions, which we can today denote as;progressive, neoliberal, and social liberal, can be used to differentiate types of liberals on the political left from the New Deal Coalition and the modern Democratic party of today.

TIP: As noted above in the introduction, there is no one way to understand Americas political ideologies, but each angle we look at things from helps us to better understand;bits of the historic puzzle.

How Can We Tell What Switched If Anything

If we want to more accurately see what is happening with the parties we have to look at each political, party, faction, and platform in regards to each issue. We can take any;issue, from any;major American political party platform over time, and see how it compares to other issues of other parties. This can help us see how parties like;Federalists, Whigs, Republican-Democrats,;Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Progressives;did or didnt change over time, and what that means in perspective.

Below is a chart we created showing one way to view the complex political left-right spectrum;.

A left-right paradigm using a four point graph to show how common government types relate to left and right in terms of who has authority and who says so.


If one had to place historical figures on the left and right, in terms of the chart presented above , then VERY loosely we might say:

  • Right Wingers: Hamilton , Cleveland ,;Hoover, , Reagan
  • Left Wingers: Jefferson , Lincoln , Teddy;Roosevelt , FDR , Johnson

If one had to place historical figures on our more complex 4-point spectrum, then VERY loosely, but more accurately than above, we might say:

Again, we find that party names are spread out over political leanings;. From here forward we will focus on telling the history of each Party System;in detail, discussing platforms and political views to better illustrate the changes.

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The Conservative Coalition Vs The New Deal Coalition

Now that we know the basics, the changes in both parties in the 1900s are perhaps best understood by examining;the Conservative Coalition;and the New Deal Coalition.


The Conservative Coalition was a coalition between the anti-Communist Republicans like Nixon and Reagan and conservative Southern Democrats. It arose to oppose FDRs New Deal progressivism, and it blocked a lot of the progressive legislation the New Deal Coalition tried to pass from the 1930s to the 1960s. The socially conservative solid south;was still its own entity. It sometimes voted;with other Democrats, and sometimes broke off into its own factions. See the 1960 election Kennedy v. Nixon v. Harry F. Byrd. The Coalition tellingly dwindled post 64 Civil Rights and ended in the Clinton era as conservative southerners became Republicans and formed;the modern construct of the Red States and the Blue States.

Meanwhile,;the New Deal coalition explains the progressive coalition of Democrats and Republicans the Conservative coalition opposed. Today the two parties largely resemble these coalitions.

Why Were Different Colors Used

Democrats and Republicans Switched Platforms

Prior to the 2000s colors were chosen for a variety of reasons. They include:

  • The flag is Red, White, and Blue. I think we can assume why no one wanted to overtly be the white team.
  • Every party would try to use;the;color blue as, especially after the Cold War, no one wanted to be RED. Thus, wed often get yellow .
  • In other cases, red was picked for liberals as that is the traditional international liberal color; blue was picked for conservatives.

Today, when looking at documents produced after 2000, Democrats are typically coded blue. For instance, this color map;of all past elections by state;uses Blue to represent the Democratic Party and Red to Represent Republicans regardless of what color was used at the time.

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Better Understanding The Changes In American Politics

Above we summarized the switching of ideologies and platforms;between the parties by looking at the party systems and Presidents.

Below we explore;details, clarify semantics, answer questions, present curated videos, and illustrate some of the key telling moments regarding the changes described above.

Please consider sharing your insight below, our summing up of the history of American politics is an ongoing effort, see the videos for supplemental content from other authors.

For deeper reading:

This Is Not A New Argument

Princeton University Edwards Professor of American History Tera Hunter told USA TODAY that this trope is a fallback argument used to discredit current Democratic Party policies.


At the core of the effort to discredit the current Democratic Party is the refusal to accept the realignment of the party structure in the mid-20th century, Hunt said.

In September, NPR host Shereen Marisol Maraji called the claim, one of the most well-worn clapbacks in modern American politics.

Comedian Trevor Noah tackled the misleading trope on an episode of “The Daily Show” in March 2016, after two CNN contributors debated the topic.

Every time I go onto Facebook I see these things: Did you know the Democrats are the real racist party and did you know the Republicans freed the slaves? Noah joked. A lot of people like to skip over the fact that when it comes to race relations, historically, Republicans and Democrats switched positions.

A similar meme attributing the claim;to U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development;Ben Carson has been circulating;on social media since November 2016.


Who started the KKK? That was Democrats. Who was the party of slavery? Who was the part of Jim Crow and segregation? Who opposed the Civil Rights Movement? Who opposed voting rights? It was all the Democrats, the meme reads.

Other posts making more specific;claims about the Democratic Party;starting the Civil War or founding the KKK continue to circulate.

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Other Factors Of Note Regarding Switching Platforms Progressivism The Red Scare Immigration Religion And Civil Rights In 54

Other key factors involve;the Red Scare , the effect of immigration, unions, and the Catholic vote on the parties.

The Republican party changed after losing to Wilson and moved away from progressivism and toward classical liberal values under Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. In this time they also became increasingly anti-Communist following WWI . While both parties were anti-Communist and pro-Capitalist, Wilsons brand of progressive southern bourbon liberalism and his New Freedom plan and then FDRs brand of progressive liberalism and his New Deal were opposed by Republicans like Hoover due to their;use of the state to ensure social justice. Then after WWII,;the Second Red Scare;reignited the conversation, further dividing factions and parties.


Another;important thing to note is;that the Democratic party has historically been pro-immigrant . Over time this;attracted new immigrant groups like Northern Catholics ;and earned;them the support of;Unions;. Big City Machines like Tammany Hall;also play a role in this aspect of the story as well. The immigrant vote is one of the key factors in changing the Democratic party over time in terms of progressivism, unions, religion, and geolocation , and it is well suited to be its own subject.

Despite these general;truisms, the parties themselves have typically been factionalized over;complex factors relating to;left-right ideology, single issues, and the general meaning of;liberty.

Southernization Urbanization And Big Government Vs Small Government

Did the Republicans and Democrats switch Platforms?

Today the Republican party doesnt have a notable progressive left-wing and the Democratic Party doesnt have a notable socially conservative right-wing.

Instead both parties have establishment and populist wings and the parties are divided by stances on social issues.

In other words, regional interests and the basic political identities of liberal and conservative didnt change as much as factions changed parties as party platforms changed along with America.


The modern split is expressed well by;the left-right paradigm Big Government Progressivism vs. Small Government Social Conservatism, where;socially conservative and pro-business conservative factions banded together against socially liberal and pro business liberal factions, to push back against an increasingly progressive Democratic Party and America .

This tension largely created the modern parties of our two-party system, resulting in two Big Tents;who disagree on the purposes of government;and social issues. This tension is then magnified by the;current influence of media and lobbyists, and can be understood by examining;what I call;the Sixth Party Strategy and by a tactic called Dog Whistle Politics).

The result is that today the Democratic Party is dominated by liberal Democrats and Progressives.

Meanwhile, most of those who would have been the old;socially conservative Democrats now have a R next to their name.

Just look at;the 115th United States Congress under Trump;.


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The Bottom Line On The Party Switch

The parties changed over time as platform planks, party leaders, factions, and voter bases essentially switched between parties.

Third parties aside, the Democratic Party used to be favored in the rural south and had a small government platform , and the Republican party used to be favored in the citied north and had a big government platform .

You can see evidence of it by looking at;the electoral map over time;. Or, you can see it by comparing which congressional seats were controlled by which parties over time . Or, you can see the big switch specifically by looking at the electoral map of the solid south over time. Or, you can dig through;the historic party platforms.

With that in mind, we can sum up the history of the switches that created the modern party system as:

The old southern conservative Democrats, a big faction of voters called the solid south who were in Jeffersons anti-Federalist coalition, have essentially today changed parties and teamed up with the old Republican party of Lincoln .

Meanwhile, Teddys progressive faction essentially switched as well starting after Teddys run as a Bull Moose in 1912.

Generally then, the Democratic party started moving toward progressivism and the Republican party starting shifting more toward the conservative right from Harding forward, and this in turn changed the parties .

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Fourth Party System: The Progressive Era Mckinley And Teddy 1896 1932

The election between;Theodore Roosevelt;William McKinley was pretty heated;over social issues, but the parties stay the same. Republican Theodore Teddy Roosevelt is arguably the last of the left wing Republicans. Roosevelt;is;a very progressive president, and he even started his own progressive party after breaking away from the Republicans. The parties are more or less still the same as they were since the split over reconstruction, but the lines are much less clear due to the changing tides of the time.

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A Quick Summary Of How The Major Parties Changed And Switched With Some Visuals

Above was an overview of the main points, below is a more detailed;summary of points that will help one understand the party switches of the different party systems. After the summary are some images and videos which help tell the main points of the story:

Also consider the following general notes about the party platforms in any era:

  • Northern City Interests : Federalists, Whigs, Third Party Republicans, Fourth Party Progressive era Republicans , Fifth;Party Democrats , Modern Democrats.
  • Southern Rural Interests : Anti-Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, Third Party Democrats, Fourth Party Progressive Era Democrats , Fifth;Party Republicans , Modern Republicans.

NOTE: Saying there is way too much ground to cover to say it all in a consumable bite is an understatement, so if you are looking for specifics use command find or our site search.

TIP: The Confederates wanted free-trade and states rights, meanwhile the northern Republicans wanted a debt-based economy with modernization and protectionist trade. Things have changed considerably, but not every plank changed. What happened was complex.

Below some images that might help tell the story without me even having to say another word:

A map showing realigning elections and Presidents who represent major changes in the U.S. parties. We can see something happened, that is empirically undeniable, but what?

An Overview Of Platform Switching In The Modern Era From Lbj To Today

Bill Whittle

The;growing tension between progressive southern Democrats and social conservative southern Democrats came to a boil;with 1954s;Brown v. Board of Education. This Supreme Court ruling;led to divisive issues like;Desegregation busing;causing further splits in the Democratic Party, which Republicans capitalized on as;they did under Hoover.

Tellingly, progressive Southerners like;Albert Gore, Sr.;,;Estes Kefauver,;Ralph Yarborough, and;Lyndon B. Johnson;;refused to sign 1956s;Southern Manifesto;.

By the 60s, the tension was mounting around;LBJs;Great Society programs;;specifically 64s Civil Rights. Some conservative Dixiecrats like;Strom Thurmond began to leave the Democratic Party for the Republican Party and;the George Wallace-led American Independent Party. .

Other;southern politicians and voters followed Strom Thurmond over time. Their exit left the now social-liberal ;Democrats;to support the;increasingly socially conservative Republicans under Goldwater-Reagan-Nixon. The southern strategy these leaders developed was continued into the 80s under;Lee Atwater, and even extended;into the 2000s).

In the transition period of the mid-to-late 60s, progressive Democrats and Republicans usually carried the less progressive Dixiecrats and Republicans on social issues like;Voting Rights 65;and;Civil Rights 68,;but over time, as the Republicans moved further to the political right, this became increasingly less true.

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Choosing Who To Vote For

Douglas was right. As citizens we must vote righteously. And by the way, this first assumes that we are voting. This responsibility to vote and to vote righteously has been made clear from generation to generation.

Once such a voice heralding this responsibility was that of Charles Finney. Finney was a famous American revivalist, a leader in the American revival movement called the Second Great Awakening.

He was also the president of a college that even decades before the Civil War admitted both black and white students as equals. In fact, the students from the college where Reverend Finney was president not only became some of the most active conductors of the underground railroad but also started several of Americas black colleges and universities.

Reverend Finney wisely admonished, The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics. Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this manner but the time has come when they must act differently. Christians seem to act as if they think God does not see what they do in politics but I tell you, he does see it. And he will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.

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The Myth Of The Republican

When faced with the sobering reality that Democrats supported slavery, started the Civil War when the abolitionist Republican Party won the Presidency, established the Ku Klux Klan to brutalize newly freed slaves and keep them from voting, opposed the Civil Rights Movement, modern-day liberals reflexively perpetuate rather pernicious myth–that the racist southern Democrats of the 1950s and 1960s became Republicans, leading to the so-called “switch” of the parties.

This is as ridiculous as it is easily debunked. ;;

The Republican Party, of course, was founded in 1848 with the abolition of slavery as its core mission. Almost immediately after its second presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln, won the 1860 election, Democrat-controlled southern states seceded on the assumption that Lincoln would destroy their slave-based economies.

Once the Civil War ended, the newly freed slaves as expected flocked to the Republican Party, but Democrat control of the South from Reconstruction until the Civil Rights Era was near total. ;In 1960, Democrats held every Senate seat south of the Mason-Dixon line. ;In the 13 states that made up the Confederacy a century earlier, Democrats held a staggering 117-8 advantage in the House of Representatives. ;The Democratic Party was so strong in the south that those 117 House members made up a full 41% of Democrats’ 283-153 advantage in the Chamber.

So how did this myth of a sudden “switch” get started?

It would not be the last time they used it.

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History Of The Democratic And Republican Parties

The Democratic Party was founded in 1828, while the Republican Party was founded in 1854.;

;You can trace the historical backgrounds of these two parties back to their Founding Fathers.

The United States founding fathers had different political beliefs. The contrasting political views eventually led to the formation of two parties.;

The political view of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams was to have a powerful government. Therefore, they wanted a government with a national bank and a central banking system. Hence, their unique banking system ideas birthed the Federalists party.;

In contrast, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had different political ideologies. They wanted a political system where they can advocate for a minimal, more decentralized approach. With their decentralized government views, they founded the Democratic-Republicans party.

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