While I haven’t always been a political person, I have always been interested in Political History. I am, by nature, interested in history and, for whatever reason, I am quite interested in the way the two major parties in America have evolved, devolved, died out, been reinvented and reborn.
Searching through various WordPress posts the other day, I came across a blog that resparked my interest in the history of the parties.
The Big Switch: Conservatives leaving the Republican Party from Newsparade
The post describes a recent trend away from the Republican Party by conservatives. Certainly, I was interested as that would likely be great news for Democrats. Still, I’m not sure I agree that the thesis is true (I know no evidence either for or against the claim). Even so, if the thesis is true it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a huge windfall for the Democrats as many disenfranchized conservatives are probably as likely to not vote as to vote for Hillary Clinton (or any other Democrat). They may even follow Senator Lincoln Chaffee’s lead from 2004 and vote for George Bush Sr.
Still, it is interesting. What is happening to the parties and to the party faithful? Back around the primaries for the 2000 election, I had a conversation with one of my brother’s friends. We were discussing the two party system and how there hadn’t been a major change in the system in over a hundred years. Major shifts rarely happen. The parties rarely crumble. But there have been significant shifts in the political alignment and platforms of the two major parties. This can most easily be seen in the shift of Southern voters toward the Democratic party after the Civil War, in response to their dislike of Republican President Lincoln. This shift reversed itself in many ways after Democratic President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.
So, we were talking about the state of the parties back in 2000. We both recognized a fissure occuring within both parties. On one side, for the Republicans, there were old school, fiscal conservatives like John McCain. On the other side were the newer social conservatives like George W. Bush. But the same was true for the Democratic party. There were old, school, hard lined liberals (my kind of people) like Ted Kennedy. But there was also a new group of moderate, or centrist, Democrats that had formed the Democratic Leadership Council (President Clinton was a DLC member).
My brother’s friend and I pondered this and wondered what the future would hold. Would the two parties splinter into four, necessitating a long period of political fighting and in-fighting in order to determine which of the four options would dominate and, ultimately, take over the Two Party System (This could explain why, in a House and Senate where barely a majority exists, so little is able to be accomplished that is veto-proof)? Or maybe the differences within the parties would be worked out and a united front could still be put forward.
I’m not sure if, seven years later, it is clear how the movements within the parties will work out. This election, it seems, the Democrats are united at least in message. The Republicans seem less united and with an unpopular President and an unpopular war, both of which are popular among their base of primary voters, the political historian in me is quite interesting to see how it all plays out.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Election, George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Iraq, News, Politics | Leave a comment »