Tuesday, March 30

Our Two-Party System and the Okie-Doke Shuffle

Every time I delve back into a reminiscent history lesson, I become more discouraged by the things I don’t know and/or didn’t remember. I’m struggling to wrap my head around this idea recently-found nugget that the Republican Party once stood for the abolishment of slavery. I’m not talking about the earlier Federalist vs. Republicans era where their Republican Party name was as vague and absurd as the Democratic-Republicans, the Federalist-Republicans, and the Federalists (who the F is who?). Oh, and they were quite fearful, at first, of that “Democratic” title because it had come to be linked to the mob rule mindset of the French Revolution but it was eventually tacked on.

No, that’s not the period I’m referring to. I’m talking more around the time of Honest Abe and the royal ass-fucking Dred Scott received in 1857. Poor bastard.

In the wake of the dying Whig Party (what was the obsession with weird names?), the Republican Party arose with a “primary demand…that slavery be excluded from all the territories”. In fact, the Republican Party nominated Good ol’ Abe as their 1860 presidential candidate—the platform of which “declared that slavery could spread no farther”. Of course 8 days after he was elected the confederates were a-hootin and a-hollerin, shot up a federal garrison and started the Civil War.

Why is this a shock? The ideologies of the two main parties have turned a full 180 degrees since then. The Republican Party used to stand for the compassionate side of the Divided Nation—antislavery free-soilers who distrusted bankers, cared little for commerce and manufacturing, etc. Even jumping back to the Hamilton/Jefferson period, Jefferson projected an eloquent democratic radicalism against Hamilton’s instinctive conservatism. Hint: Jefferson was the Republican…I might have consulted some sources to obtain such knowledge.

Also shocking, in 1862 virtually every democrat in Congress voted against eliminating slavery in the District of Columbia and prohibiting it in the territories. Much of this sentiment came from the poor and weary immigrants who feared a massive migration of newly-freed slaves would sweep up all their jobs. They shouldn’t have been so afraid, the blacks were only used for quick seasonal jobs and then discarded—like an ugly mistress before the bosses' friends caught them, how dirty, yuck!

Now if my memory serves me correctly, the horrors of “The Jungle” happened and then Nixon was elected and then Clinton played his saxophone and then some overestimated black guy told us what we already knew about George Dubbya. Somewhere in that short time frame, the country's conceptualization of the two parties switched. I guess my worry is that when you, sir, do invent your time machine, take caution not to run into the Democratic Party Headquarters donning your fanny-pack and “Had Enough” pin shouting “Free the slaves!” Get your shit straight. If I offended either party, conservatives, liberals, or modern-day confederates that still talk like Yosemite Sam, refer to the picture.


  1. haha, how do you get a "reaction" thing? I want that! True about the parties back in the day, but it isn't like they switched sides. Their members just got bought out by the same corporations and they're so used to doing the left-right dance it didn't matter they were both rocking the runaway-federal-gov't song (see: Milkshake by Kelis) Actually, Ron Paul recently made a good point on RT (Russia Today) about how congress gave all their power to the executive branch so they could avoid taking responsibility for actually legislating.

  2. The reaction bar is pretty nifty, huh? Go to Layout, then Edit in the Blog Posts box. You'll see the Reactions selection near the bottom. You can customize it too.

  3. dan, i didn't know you had a blog. i want one! i just wanted to say, i got a's in almost every history class ever in my life...and i barely remember a thing. it's a shame because i would be more interested if i learned it now, but now, nobody will give it to me for free. yeah, i could get it myself, i know, but eh. who has the time?

  4. I think you just summed up a lot of peoples' thoughts. I couldn't remember history facts after each chapter, especially in Maynard Pennington's class. what a waste of time that was. As for not having the time, there's like a million things I would "love to get around to" but probably will never do. Get a blog!

  5. I don't think it is too surprising if you consider the ideals of both party. Republicans historically stood as the party of states rights and small government. Freeing the slaves and civil rights acts both republican measures were essentially freedom for oneself.

    I don't have a lot of personal context to know if it's true, but it seems now more than before it has just turned into an "us against them" where winning is more important than running the country. No one wins if a republican or democratic government fails but that seems to be the current strategy.

    As for the big business you mentioned, I don't think that is a fair assesment that the republicans of yore were anti-business. They followed the idea that a free economy was the best. This holds true today as well but our economy is much more corporation-based than in the 1800s.

    My biggest issue though is the commandeering of the party by social conservatives. And you are right that it flies contrary to the civil rights and freedom of the slaves thing. I think this has more to do with stealing their support to win elections after they were disillusioned by the democrats welfare movement.

    All in all, I am very disappointed with the republicans and their childish bickering, vitriolic rhetoric, their refusal to moderate their viewpoints and move away from their core of small government and personal freedom. The vast majority of the country are not jesus-freak rednecks. I was hoping the election of Obama would wake them up to this but apparently they figured they just weren't crazy enough last election.

  6. Nick: stern, but fair. As for the Big-Businessers-of-Yore, I was referring to the Jefferson/Hamilton era seedlings. Jefferson was wholly unconcerned with big business and industry.

    Keep an eye out for the BL post, arriving shortly!


You should probably engage in some conversation.