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.
An Overview Of The Platform Switching By Party System And President From The Founders To Eisenhower
The First and Second Party Systems included some important changes and debates. Examples included the argument;over the Federalist favored Constitution, and the Anti-Federalist favored Articles of Confederation;and Bill of Rights;and debates over slavery, modernization, and;banking.;Major;changes began;at the end of the Second Party System.
The Second Party system ended with the;Whig Party dissolving;in 1854. They were critically divided by the;Kansas-Nebraska Act;and the related debate over;manifest destiny and popular sovereignty;. The heated battle;over whether;Kansas should be a slave state, and the debate over whether the south could keep expanding southward creating slave states,;resulted in the country being split.;This had happened in the Mexican-American war.;One;faction became the Northern Republicans and their;allies the Union, who wanted to hold together the Union under a strong central government. The other became the Southern ex-Democrats and their allies the Confederacy, who wanted independence;and wanted to expand southward, to for instance Cuba, creating new slave states. By the time;Lincoln took;office in 1861, the division was inescapable
FACT: The tension was so great the Democratic party ceased to exist from 1861 1865 as the Confederacy rejected the;concept of party systems; which is why we refer to;them ex-Democrats above.
The Third Party System: Reconstruction And The Gilded Age
Post-Civil War era politics in the United States can be understood by examining the;Third Party System factions of;Reconstruction and the Gilded Age.
In the Gilded Age things change in a major way due to both parties embracing cronyism but before we get there we need to understand Reconstruction.
The changes in the Republican party in this era are best explained by looking at;the conservative, moderate, and radical;Republicans of Reconstruction;. Meanwhile factions like carpet baggers and ex-Southern Unionist scallywags are illustrative of different reconstruction Democrats.
Here it is vital to note one of the hardest;things to talk about in American history, but Ill say it plain. The South didnt want to lose the war, they wanted to win, they didnt want to stop slavery, they wanted to continue it. They did not respond well to losing the war. Lincoln was immediately executed, Andrew Johnson took over, he was impeached, and the military had to occupy the south while the KKK committed what was frankly genocide against Freedmen.
As noted above, Reconstruction was part rebuilding, part Civil Rights ,;part enforcing actual law and order and preventing forced slavery under different names and murder , and part ;Redeemers.
The Redeemers completely changed the Democratic party by unifying the non-racist factions and moving the Democratic party toward business interests .
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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.
Democrats Blue Wave Crashed In Statehouses Across The Country
Democrats failed to flip chambers in Texas, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Republicans flipped New Hampshires Legislature.
After an election that failed to deliver the powerful gains that Democrats had hoped for, results from statehouses painted a similar picture, with the lowest number of chambers changing hands in more than half a century.
Democrats had hoped for a Blue Wave to sweep statehouses that Republicans had controlled for years, running expensive ad campaigns and extensive get-out-the-vote efforts. But as the results came in, it became increasingly clear that they had failed on multiple fronts.
On Wednesday, the results were not yet final, but the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state-level races, said there were changes or potential shifts of control in just four chambers: the New Hampshire House and Senate, which Republicans took back from Democrats, and possibly the House and Senate in Arizona, though the contests for those chambers were still too close to call. He said it was the first time since 1946 that so few chambers were changing hands.
This is crazy in that almost nothing has changed, said Tim Storey, an expert with the N.C.S.L. It really jumps off the page.
In all, about 80 percent of the nations 7,383 state legislative seats were up for grabs.
Michael Wines contributed reporting.
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Republican Voters Turn Against Their Partys Elites
The Tea Party movement, which sprang into existence in the early years of the Obama administration, was many things. It was partly about opposing Obamas economic policies foreclosure relief, tax increases, and health reform. It was partly about opposing immigration when Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson;interviewed Tea Party activists across the nation, they found that “immigration was always a central, and sometimes the central, concern” those activists expressed.
But the Tea Party also was a challenge to the Republican Party establishment. Several times, these groups helped power little-known far-right primary contenders to shocking primary wins over establishment Republican politicians deemed to be sellouts. Those candidates didnt always win office, but their successful primary bids certainly struck fear into the hearts of many other GOP incumbents, and made many of them more deferential to the concerns of conservative voters.
Furthermore, many Republican voters also came to believe, sometimes fairly and sometimes unfairly, that their partys national leaders tended to sell them out at every turn.
Talk radio and other conservative media outlets helped stoke this perception, and by May 2015 Republican voters were far more likely to say that their partys politicians were doing a poor job representing their views than Democratic voters were.
Southernization Urbanization And Big Government Vs Small Government
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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James A Haught Says Teddy Roosevelt Was The Last Republican Liberal And Was Shifting By The Time His Democratic Nephew
Strangely, over a century, America’s two major political parties gradually reversed identities, like the magnetic poles of Planet Earth switching direction.
When the Republican Party was formed in 1856, it was fiercely liberal, opposing the expansion of slavery, calling for more spending on public education, seeking more open immigration and the like. Compassionate Abraham Lincoln suited the new party’s progressive agenda.
In that era, Democrats were conservatives, partly dominated by the slave-holding South. Those old-style Democrats generally opposed any government action to create jobs or help underdogs.
Through the latter half of the 19th century, the pattern of Republicans as liberals, Democrats as conservatives, generally held true. In 1888, the GOP elected President Benjamin Harrison on a liberal platform seeking more social services.
Then in 1896, a reversal began when Democrats nominated populist firebrand William Jennings Bryan , “the Great Commoner.”
“He was the first liberal to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination,” political scholar Rich Rubino wrote. “This represented a radical departure from the conservative roots of the Democratic Party.”
The Progressive platform attacked big-money influence in politics, vowing “to destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics.”
How Republicans Gave Up On Reforming The South
As mentioned above, Republicans had done a lot to help former slaves in the South, but many of the gains they had made existed more on paper than in practice, and others were in danger of being rolled back.
And indeed, the backlash soon arrived. In the South, whites were dead set against what Radicals had done, and were willing to use violence to fight it.
In the North, whites essentially thought they’d done more than enough for black Southerners at this point. Businessmen wanted their own interests to take center stage. Some intellectuals worried about the federal government squelching states rights.
And public opinion turned there was little appetite among white Northerners for an indefinite violent federal occupation of the South.
But most Republicans no longer cared. The party had achieved its founding aim and had gone quite a bit further, since the Slave Power was now a thing of the past, and that provided a handy rationalization for not doing more. The cause of equal rights for black citizens would now essentially vanish from national American politics for decades.
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Understanding The Basics: How The Parties Changed General Us Party History And Why The Big Switch Isnt A Myth
Above we did an introduction, this next section takes a very general look at how the major parties changed and how factions changed parties.
To sum things up before we get started discussing specific switches, both major U.S. parties used to have notable;progressive socially liberal left-wing;and socially conservative right-wing;factions, and now they dont.
Originally, like today, one party was for big government and one party was for small government .
However, unlike today, party lines were originally drawn over;elitism and populism; and preferred;government type more than by the;left-right social;issues;that define the parties today, as the namesake of the parties themselves imply;.
In those days both parties had progressive and conservative wings, but the Southern Anti-Federalist, Democratic-Republican, and then Democratic Party was populist and favored small government, and the Northern Federalist, Whig, and then Republican Party was elite and favored bigger central government.
However,;from the lines drawn during the Civil War, to Bryan in the Gilded Age, to Teddy Roosevelt leaving the Republican Party to form the Progressive Party in 1912, to FDRs New Deal, to LBJs Civil Rights, to the Clinton and Bush era, the above;became less and less true.
Instead, today the parties are polarized;by left-right social issues, and;each party has a notable populist and elitist wing.
This Is What The Gop Has Unleashed
Texas Democrats are mad and motivated after a slew of new hard-right legislation. But its not clear the party has the organization to translate the anger into electoral wins.
Nancy Thompson, founder of the Mothers Against Greg Abbott Facebook group, protests against the Texas governor outside the state capitol in Austin. | Photo courtesy of Nancy Thompson
Renuka Rayasam covers Texas politics, policy and health care for POLITICO.
EL PASO, Texas One Friday in early August, Nancy Thompson woke up and decided to protest Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. She had, in her words, been stewing all night, worried about sending her kids to school after a summer of rising Covid cases and Republican leaders resistance to mask mandates and other pandemic measures. A day earlier, Abbott also called a second special legislative session to pass a partisan election reform bill that Democrats had blocked earlier in the summer.
Thompson, an Austin-based mother of three, found a poster board and red and bluesharpies. When she finished writing, she realized her sign which read, Mothers Against Greg Abbott spelled out MAGA down the side. Thompson thought that was cool and perfect. She drove south from her home to the state capitol and stood on the steps by herself with the poster. Then, almost on a whim, she created a private Facebook group under the same slogan on her sign.
This, Thompson said, is what the GOP has unleashed.
Texas has been here before, of course.
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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.
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.
Three Factions Of Modern Republicans To Oppose This
Although conservatism is complex, it is defined well as an opposition philosophy to liberalism. Through this lens, there is a type of conservatism that stands against for;brand;of liberalism. Modern American conservatism wants to conserve, which means not being progressive on a given issue and which by its nature is not conservative. Thus we get modern social conservatism which says no to social programs and federal power, except when it upholds conservative social values.;There is also a;more liberal version that;we call libertarianism. It is against all uses of state power for any reason and is a form of radical classical liberalism, combined with;traditional classical conservatism, which is willing to use federal power to keep order, but not inherently against social programs. These factions can be said to become;allies;the conservative coalition mentioned above, although the establishment of both parties tends to favor aspects of traditional classical conservatism.
TIP: When either party uses government power, they are traditional conservatives, when either party deregulates and lets the private market and individuals handle it, they are classically liberal. More than one ideology uses classical liberalism, and more than one uses classical conservatism, as all political ideologies grow out of these foundational ideologies.
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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.