We are a nation of Democrats and Republicans and maybe we haven’t explored to deeply why. The more we tie ourselves to a political party the more we forfeit independent thinking. We become biased. If we believe something as true it is hard to recognize when it is not. Mark Twain said it best: It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
Republicans and Democrats can be found everywhere. They are both part of car pools, they are neighbors, they are parents of our children’s friends, they are co-workers, and they sit next to us in church, at ball games, at graduations, and at parades. We can’t tell if someone is a Republican or a Democrat unless we talk politics or put up a yard sign. And yet we have such a harsh view of the “other” Party.
That harsh view is usually well beyond being realistic or accurate. We can be gullible the more our emotions are tied to a subject whether it is buying a Ford or a Chevy, rooting for the Dodgers or the Giants, or becoming an adherent of one of the major political parties.
The Founders of the United States warned against Parties because they thought politics was supposed to be rational and collaborative, not competitive. Competitiveness has resulted in Americans voting for President and the US Congress based on Party and not person. It started in the 1970s and has been significantly increasing to where voters overwhelmingly voted for their party’s nominee in the 2016 national election.
Not that anybody cares what President Bill Clinton might opine but here is a short, even for him, bit of wisdom he expressed that I like:
“Politics and governing are one long conversation where you have to explain to people what went wrong and why, explain your plan to fix it, persuade them your idea is better than the other side’s.”
“Today, politics tends to be heavy on assertion, light on explanation, and bereft of persuasion.”
Do we need to free ourselves from the bonds of political party affiliation that divides our nation and makes it difficult to keep our nation in balance? Balance is found in the middle between far left and far right dogma. I think moderates in both parties should join forces and free themselves from the money and rigidity in the wings of the two parties. It may be too late for an affiliate of one party to vote for a candidate from another party. So, maybe a third party is needed, a moderate party.
We didn’t have political parties when Washington was President. They gradually formed as we were trying to figure out what our fledgling country needed from Washington DC such as a central bank and national policy.
Long before there were Republicans and Democrats, there were Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton and the Anti-Federalists led by Thomas Jefferson. In 1787 The Federalists became the first American political Party. They were businessmen and merchants who wanted a strong central government to protect industry.
The Federalists were opposed by Anti-Federalists; a group mostly made up of small farmers and planters that wanted a smaller government that wouldn’t interfere with their lives. The Anti-Federalists would later form a party called the Democratic-Republicans.
In 1828, Andrew Jackson changed the Democratic-Republican Party’s name to the Democrats. Jackson’s opponents changed the Federalist Party’s name to the Whig Party.
The Democratic Party was well on its way to splitting between North and South when in 1854, the Civil War finalized the split into the Northern Democrats and the Southern Democrats with the Southern Party being pro-slavery pro-states’ rights members. Shortly thereafter the Whig party split and the Republican Party was added. There were essentially four parties—Northern Democrats, Southern Democrats, Whig, and Republican.
After the Civil War the Republicans grew and the Democrats shrunk. Republicans would favor business interests and taxes on imports. Democrats supported free trade and attracted farmers and immigrants. Democrats didn’t expand until 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt created economic relief and social security. Democrats wanted the federal government to actively help those affected by the Depression. Republicans, being more pro-business, preferred to not burden business with those costs.
The next major shift in party affiliation came when huge numbers of southern state democrats became republicans after President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
So, when did you decide to be a Republican or a Democrat? Why are older working class white men especially in rural areas generally Republicans? Why are college educated younger men and women generally Democrats?
Newer research that includes brain maps, gene pool analysis, and unconscious attitudes shows the following generalizations:
People who prefer a simple vision of good and evil, are cognitively inflexible, are fond of hierarchy, are inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death, and are unaware of their unconscious fears tend to vote Republican. Republicans want to spend on the military and the military industrial complex.
People who are more open to reason and nuance and complex policy tend to vote Democrat. Democrats want to spend on people.
The Republican Party of today is pro-business and the Democratic Party is pro-people. Being pro-business does not mean people support greed and being pro-people does not mean people do not want businesses to be very successful. Does being pro-business mean someone is materialistic or does being pro-people mean someone is more spiritual? No! But if it did we would again need balance between the two parties. Material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war. Spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine.
We need balance in our lives. America needs balance in their politics. Moderates seek balance. The Supreme Court needs balance to make decisions that support the balance people need in their lives.
A wise President and Senate would seek balance for the Supreme Court. And within that balance there should be more moderates and less far right or far left Justices. We should not be able to accurately predict how a Justice will vote based on the title of the case and without hearing testimony or reading the briefs.
While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle for control of the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.
Does America move in the direction where we become a nation where all people are equal before the law and have unrestricted participation in self-governance? Or, does America move in the direction where only some us enjoy the full blessings of liberty; where only some of us can decide on who is granted privilege and who is capable of self-governance?
The Democratic Party has seen a liberal socialist element grow within their party but has for the last 12 years seen moderates win control over far left liberal/socialist elements.
The Republican Party has long had battles between progressives and conservatives for the control of the Party. It has been in the grasp of conservatives since Reagan and has moved away from progressive icons Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party. The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc.
Centrists Progressives/moderates in both Parties have a chance to bring this country together and take more steps toward the America that exists in words contained in our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Maybe there is a need for a third Party called The Moderate Party– A Party that doesn’t have the baggage that the Democratic and Republican Parties have in the eyes of the other Party.