Third Party Part 2: The Industrial Revolution To The Progressive Era
The string of Presidents between Lincoln and Grover Cleveland includes some important stories of know-nothing parties and populist parties , but we cant cover everything here.
Importantly, this era ends with Clevelands second presidency and the Panic of 1893 . Cleveland is a right-wing President, who was very popular and supported by the South, ultimately his downfall, the height of the industrial revolution, and an upcoming war set the stage for more changes in American politics.
TIP: Cleveland is a great example of a true Conservative, he is a Democrat by name, but this Bourbon Democrat is great like an Eisenhower, he should be a model for todays Libertarian who sometimes gets side-tracked by their cousins on the right. The end of his Presidency is arguably more about the changing times than the man.
Gilded Age Politics:Crash Course US History #26. The corruption pointed out in this video starts after Lincoln and continues into the late 1800s and, of course, some of the arguement hasnt gone away. At the very, least figures like Cleveland and Roosevelt do a bit to get politics back on the right track before the upcoming Progressive era .The Progressive Era: Crash Course US History #27. The Progressive era, named due to all the parties embracing progressivism to some extent.
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.”
The Civil War Drives Republicans To End Slavery
In the Republican Partys first six years of existence, slavery-related controversies pitting the North against the South grew more and more heated. Free-Soilers fought pro-slavery settlers in Kansas, the Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case that black Americans couldnt be citizens, and abolitionist activist John Brown tried to start an armed insurrection against slaveholders.
Throughout all this, the Republican Party gradually gained strength in the North and in 1860, the party’s victories throughout the region were to win its little-known nominee, Abraham Lincoln, the presidency. Now, Lincoln wasnt the Great Emancipator yet; in fact, he continually promised that he wouldnt interfere with slavery where it existed.
But white slaveholders in the South still didnt want to abide by the rule of the entirely Northern Republican Party. So in 1861, 11 statesseceded to form a new nation, the Confederate States of America. And when Northerners concluded that they could not stand for secession, the Civil War began.
At first, the Norths stated aim was merely to restore the South to the Union not to free slaves. But as the war dragged on, strategic imperatives inexorably pulled Lincoln and the Republicans further toward abolition, as they sought to undermine their Southern opponents.
The Ideology Of Old Republicans And Modern Democrats
The and who became the Republicans were often classically conservative in terms of trade, taxes, and general authority. However, factions like Conscience Whigs, , and Radical Republicans worked along with the fact that Republicans were not the Confederate pro-slavery South and drew a lot of progressives in Americas first 100-or-so years especially in the mid-1800s at the height of tension over slavery.
With that noted, we can say the anti-slavery Republicans of Lincolns time roughly held the beliefs of their predecessors the Federalists and Whigs, but also of todays modern Progressives and Democrats.
Compared to their opposition the above major parties are roughly pro-north, pro-banking, pro-federal power, pro-northern factory, and pro-taxes. They favor collective rights over individual rights, typically using Federal power to ensure the welfare of the collective. Thus, they are classically conservative in terms of favoring authority, but liberal in terms of social policy. So they are, as a party, classical conservatives and social liberals .
TIP: See this documentary from 1992 to understand New Democrats.
Last Baseball Game Played At Historic Yankee Stadium
The Dixie Democrats seceding from the Democratic Party. The rump convention, called after the Democrats had attached President Trumans civil rights program to the party platform, placed Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Governor Fielding L. Wright of Mississippi in nomination.
Up until the post-World War II period, the partys hold on the region was so entrenched that Southern politicians usually couldnt get elected unless they were Democrats. But when President Harry S. Truman, a Democratic Southerner, introduced a pro-civil rights platform at the partys 1948 convention, a faction walked out.
These defectors, known as the Dixiecrats, held a separate convention in Birmingham, Alabama. There, they nominated South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond, a staunch opposer of civil rights, to run for president on their States Rights ticket. Although Thurmond lost the election to Truman, he still won over a million popular votes.
It was the first time since before the Civil War that the South was not solidly Democratic, Goldfield says. And that began the erosion of the southern influence in the Democratic party.
After that, the majority of the South still continued to vote Democratic because it thought of the Republican party as the party of Abraham Lincoln and Reconstruction. The big break didnt come until President Johnson, another Southern Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
With The Help Of Liberal Educators And The Liberal Media Democrats Have Been Rewriting History For Decades
Our public schools as well as our colleges and universities have either stopped teaching U.S. Civil Rights History entirely or they teach a revised version in which they chronologically report the good and the bad without attribution. For example, they may report the horrors of the KKK but will not mention that it was the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party or that the KKK often hung Blacks and Republicans together of which many were Black Republicans. Our history books may cover the history of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which freed the slaves, without revealing the party associations of those who voted for and against it. In other words, they fail to teach their students the truth.
And the media? In MSNBCs coverage of the 50th anniversary of Democratic Governor and segregationist George Wallaces attempt to prevent the integration of the University of Alabama, the network identified Wallace as R., Alabama. Yes, they really are that dishonest.
The Democrat lies just keep on coming
Racism and the Democratic Party share an ugly past. Now, the accusation of racism and the Democratic Party share an ugly present.
The Most Important Points In Terms Of The Parties Switchings
So much changed it is near impossible to sum up neatly. There are a few important things to note however:
1. There isnt one thing that changed. As time rolled on factions changed parties, political leaders changed parties, platforms changed, regions that had always voted one party switched and began to support another slowly, and over time. Further some of the switches were in response to changing times and platforms and some of the switches led to platforms changing.
3. Although a few notable politicians literally switched parties, that isnt the main thing that happened. What happened was that seats in government in states that used to be held by one party came to be held by the other and regional voters switched parties over time as new officials came into office . Again, this happened to a degree that the voting map looks like it flipped.
4. There were so many major changes in history that historians have a name for them, the party systems. See an overview of the party systems.
5. In general one could say that the Democratic Party became more progressive over time and the Republican Party became more conservative. Both are big tents, but in the past each had a prominent liberal and conservative wing and today each party has become more polarized . So the parties switched in that way as well, and this is notably one of the main reasons factions and voter bases switched.
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.
Democratic And Republican Ideologies Undergo Dramatic Role Reversal
The Democratic and Republican Parties have undergone a long transition from their founding ideological principles. The started out as the conservative party but are now the liberal party, and the were once the liberal party but are now the conservative party.
The Democratic Party we know today evolved from the conservative Democratic-Republican Party of the 1790’s. The first contested Presidential election was in 1796. The Democratic-Republican Party nominated the conservative Thomas Jefferson as their first presidential nominee. Party members were anti-federalists who favored state sovereignty, free markets, a decentralized federal government, and an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and the attendant Bill of Rights. The Democratic-Republican Party also supported the institution of slavery.
Democratic President Martin Van Buren presided over the panic of 1837, and during that time he was steadfastly opposed to using the government as a means of employing workers on public works projects. In fact, during this economic depression Van Buren literally sold the federal government’s tool supply so that the government could not use the tools for public works projects. This ideological mindset is diametrically opposite of the economic stimulus proposals that contemporary Democrats now support and advocate for, especially during periods of economic morass.
Party Switching In The United States
In the politics of the United States, party switching is any change in affiliation of a partisan public figure, usually one who is currently holding elected office. Use of the term “party switch” can also connote a transfer of holding power in an elected governmental body from one party to another.
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 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.
The Republican Sixth Party Strategy Where The Tea Party And Alt
Everything noted so far leads up to one other thing that needs to be discussed on its own .
After Voting Rights 1965 it wasnt just a matter of switching the South, it was a matter of taking that 1930s conservative coalition to the next level and the Republicans switching themselves .
No social conservative faction was strong enough on its own to win an election, not after Voting Rights, but together, under a strategically planned big tent, the social conservatives and establishment conservatives could create a siren-like Frankensteins monster to push for free-enterprise and socially conservative values against the progressive state an increasingly progressive Democratic Party .
This story involves:
The Powell memo, the southern strategy, the John Birch Society, the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Norquist, Roger Aisle, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Fox News, Reagan, Right-Wing Radio, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, and a vast right-wing conspiracy aimed at getting the many different social conservative and establishment conservative factions to adopt each others ideology .
Essentially, the Conservative Coalition in their fight against Communism and liberal democrats since WWI, but especially when their hand was forced post 1965, have created the modern right-wing populist political machine to counter the lefts own political machine .
Republicans And Democrats After The Civil War
Its true that many of the first Ku Klux Klan members were Democrats. Its also true that the early Democratic Party opposed civil rights. But theres more to it.
The Civil War-era GOP wasnt that into civil rights. They were more interested in punishing the South for seceding, and monopolizing the new black vote.
In any event, by the 1890s, Republicans had begun to distance themselves from civil rights.
Adams And The Revolution Of 1800
Shortly after Adams took office, he dispatched a group of envoys to seek peaceful relations with France, which had begun attacking American shipping after the ratification of the Jay Treaty. The failure of talks, and the French demand for bribes in what became known as the XYZ Affair, outraged the American public and led to the , an undeclared naval war between France and the United States. The Federalist-controlled Congress passed measures to expand the army and navy and also pushed through the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Alien and Sedition Acts restricted speech that was critical of the government, while also implementing stricter naturalization requirements. Numerous journalists and other individuals aligned with the Democratic-Republicans were prosecuted under the Sedition Act, sparking a backlash against the Federalists. Meanwhile, Jefferson and Madison drafted the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which held that state legislatures could determine the constitutionality of federal laws.
The Claim: The Democratic Party Started The Civil War To Preserve Slavery And Later The Kkk
As America marks a month of protests against systemic racism and many people draw comparisons between current events and the Civil Rights Movement, an oversimplified trope about the Democratic Partys racist past has been resurrected online.
Many Instagram users read between the lines for the tweets implication about the modern Democratic and Republican parties. Some argued this past action discredited current liberal policies, while others said it did not matter.
Historians agree that although factions of the Democratic Party did majorly contribute to the Civil War’s start and the KKK’s founding, it is inaccurate to say the party is responsible for either.
The Party Of Kennedy V The Party Of Nixon In The Civil Rights Era
Two things started happening at the same time:
- Racist Democrats were getting antsy
- Neither party could afford to ignore civil rights anymore
In 1960 Kennedy defeated Nixon. At the time of his election, the both parties unevenly supported civil rights. But President Kennedy decided to move forward.
After Kennedys assassination in 1963, Johnson continued Kennedys civil rights focus.
As you can imagine, that did not sit particularly well with most Southern Democrats. This is when Strom Thurmond flew the coop for good.
In fact, a greater percentage of Congressional Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than did Democrats. Support for the Act followed geographic, not party, lines.
Soon after, the Republicans came up with their Southern Strategy a plan to woo white Southern voters to the party for the 1968 election.
The Kennedy and Johnson administrations had advanced civil rights, largely through national legislation and direct executive actions. So, the Southern Strategy was the opposite states rights and no integration.
As in the Civil War, the concepts of states rights and tradition, were codes for maintaining white supremacy.
Starting with Thurmond in 1964, and continuing throughout the Johnson and Nixon administrations, Dixiecrats left the Democrats for the Republicans.
Dinesh Dsouza Gives An Inaccurate Reading Of The Big Switch Myth: His Version Of History Is A Myth
Dinesh DSouza decided to make a movie about how the Democrats didnt change and how Northern ghettoes are proof of modern slavery .
This argument shows a lack of an understanding of American history .
Northern ghettoes are a problem because lots and lots of reasons . Their problems stem from things like: the nature of capitalism and classism, a push-back against busing and integration, the great migration, immigrant rather than a history of slavery, and even less heartwarming truths of obstructionist factions in both parties .
Northern Ghettoes like South Side Chicago arent a product of the Confederate ideology, they are a product of economic inequality. It isnt because Socially Liberal Progressives and are racist and have racist policies, it is because aristocracy + oligrachy + capitalism + the welfare state = economic inequality for economic minorities .
This is very different than Southern Slavery where the less-thans were known by skin color rather than pocketbook size.
This is to say:
- The party with the outwardly hurtful policies is generally the party with the Social Conservatives in it .
- The party with the policies that are economically hurtful is typically the business wing of both parties, always. Not all factions of a given party, but generally the dominate establishment factions; as those are always the factions with the most money and thus the ones least likely to create policies that dont help their class first.
Summarizing The Party Systems As A Two
Current events and complexities aside, there has almost always been a two-party system in the United States. The mentality of each party can be expressed as northern interests and southern interests, although I strongly prefer city interests and rural interests . Sometimes we see both interests in the same party, as with Humphrey and LBJ, and sometimes it is less clear cut, but we can always spot it in any era.
Thus, we can use a simple two party answer as to which held which interests over time, which I hope will be seen as helpful, and not divisive. Remember the U.S. is a diverse Union of 50 sovereign states and commonwealths where the need to get a majority divides us into red states and blue states as a matter of custom, not as enemies, but as a United Republic with a democratic spirit.
- 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.
TIP: One way to summarize all of this is by saying the changes happened under, or as a result of, key figures including Jefferson and Hamilton, Adams and Jackson, Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, Bryan, the Roosevelts, Wilson, Hoover, LBJ, and Clinton. See a comparison of the political ideology of each President from Washington to Obama.
A Response To The Claim Welfare Is Equatable To Slavery
In the 1850s, inequality in the Northern big government cities, northern immigration in the big cities , and African slavery in the small government south all existed side-by-side. and in ways, so it is today . Northern cities still favor bigger government, and they still have problems of racism and inequality, Rural South still favors small government . This does not make the North of today equatable to the slave economy of the South of yesterday however.
There is this idea that welfare is equatable to slavery in this respect, as in both cases a societal structure is providing basic essentials for a class of people . This argument, often presented in tandem with the claim the parties didnt switch/change is essentially a red herring that misses the nuances we describe on this page .
The southern conservatives who held slaves and fought for the Confederacy essentially switched out of the Democratic party starting in the 1960s, and even continuing to the modern day , in response to LBJs welfare programs . In other words, if the southern conservative had wanted to oppress a class of people with welfare, one would logically assume they wouldnt have switched out of the Democratic party over time in response to welfare programs.
Today it is a Southern Republican who flies to Confederate flag, today it is a Republican who champions small government in America. Yesterday, it was a Southern Democrat.
The Ideology Of Old Democrats And Modern Republicans
Early factions like and the Young America movement were rather progressive. The 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 , , and .
TIP: Want to understand modern Republicanism? See this documentary on the Tea Party.