Whose Child Is This?

by Tiberius Gracchus on November 14, 2013

The American people often cry out for the renewal of bipartisan government. The bipartisan needs of an efficient and functioning government are essential as we’ve learned over the years. Unfortunately when fear and disdain for our fellow countrymen manifests itself we elect monoscopic brawlers to the halls of government. Still most Americans would like to believe that those that love this country can embrace their fellow countryman and find common ground. We’ve shared the common torments of events over a decade that are unique in American history. Although our Union’s diversity creates unavoidable friction, especially through our proud individualistic mindset, we are honored to witness the evolution and glorious achievements of Americans in many environments. As Americans we learn a sense of tolerance for differences through our mutual experiences and that fosters bipartisanship. That mutual respect for our countrymen, because we share the same founding fathers, should allow our political leaders to be bipartisan with a willingness to compromise like family does when it is demanded through that familiar respect. However the actions of political leaders have demonstrated a political and economic parentage foreign to our nation irregardless of campaign claims to the contrary. Because of this a Republican is likely to find common ground with a Democrat whose political philosophy claims Jefferson as his or her father while finding bipartisan agreement nearly impossible with Democrats whose philosophical father is Georg Hegel, or even Karl Marx.

Since we profess that all mankind will rejoice in liberation and strongly protect their God-given rights, out of self-preservation, then why do we live in a nation with so many that would trade it for that security government can offer in return for obedience and dependence? Few people develop naturally to distrust freedom and individual choice. When a people come under great duress they act irrationally and opportunistic leaders take advantage of that vulnerability as history proves. That duress can be caused by an economic calamity, a war, an injustice, or as a tutored fear passed along to children. Those are reasons we find ourselves at times debating with those that don’t understand nor desire the American dream. The parentage of each individual’s political and economic philosophy is of utmost importance in explaining why bipartisanship is elusive now in American government.

I have no wish to bore the reader with a two hundred year history lesson that would break a table from the weight of ink and paper, however I seek through the following few paragraphs to develop a brief narrative regarding the philosophical parentage of today’s Democratic and Republican Parties.

Looking back at the early political parties of our nation it was not a question for them as how government can best solve society’s problems, but how to shackle it so that our people would never face tyranny from our own Federal government. Our Union’s combined strength was sought after by Federalists, through mutual vigilance for an uncompromised Constitutional integrity throughout our land and a strong national defense of our borders, to preserve individual freedom in part because they knew our nation was surrounded by despotic rule and injustice. The debate over whether or not to include the Bill of Rights in our Constitution between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists illustrates that American politicians at the time considered how to best keep this country free from centralized government for the entirety of her future existence. The Anti-Federalists demanded a list of rights to be guaranteed, whereas the Federalists saw the indirect risk of unavoidably limiting our citizens to only those rights. The Anti-Federalists, which included Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, greatly feared concentrated power and preferred the majority of governance to remain with the states. The Jeffersonian, or Anti-Federalist, origins of the Democrats continued to materialize in their politics past the first 100th anniversary of the United States.

At the end of the 19th Century, the Democratic Party was transformed into what could more easily be described as a Labor party. President Grover Cleveland’s conservatism and the Democratic party platform of 1888 would be unrecognizable to today’s Democrats. Many Republicans left to join his party’s ranks. At the time American conservatives were impressed by the free market system that the Democrats espoused since early in their party’s history, in contrast to the Federalists and later Republican Party’s desire for protectionism to grow home industry and general employment. However President Cleveland made a grave error with federal intervention in the Pullman strike, a railroad union strike, and lost much credibility as a leader that governed Constitutionally. As economic crises took place progressive Republicans and labor-centric Democrats trickled into power. The emergence of the Union leader Eugene Debs, who ran under the Socialist ticket with some success, can further illustrate the rising concerns Americans had for the welfare of “working families.” By President Wilson’s time ambitious political leaders were making far reaching changes to government power and the Republicans gave little protest since they were also changing with their constituents demands. After the stock market crash of 1929 and further economic calamities the American people, anguished by the country’s downturn, were desperate for solutions and demagogues like the Fascist leader Father Coughlin and Socialist leader Governor Huey Long became popular. Elected in this political environment, Franklin D. Roosevelt and his party vocally supported the belief that democracy hadn’t been properly protected or implemented in our nation’s history and was in danger of control from profiteering mega corporations or the super rich. Playing off the fears of the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’ class struggle promoted by the populist Farmer’s Movement and also the rising labor movement, the Democrats claims were accepted as truth by the American people. With Socialism growing in popularity throughout the world programs favorable of further centralized control easily moved forward in midst of the “Great Depression.” Between the early labor movement and FDR’s dramatic reconstruction of our economy the Democratic Party was changed to the party that looked to centralized government for greater economic security.

The new Democratic Party took its ideas largely from across the oceans where political revolutions were taking place. The peoples of autocratic nations, starting in the mid to late 19th century Europe, were embracing the political philosophies of a collection of writers that demanded the restructuring of government to eliminate all free market and private property rights. International Socialism swept the globe, gaining strength after World War One. “Social Justice” was the campaign slogan for many candidates around the world at this time, which from an American conservative’s perspective comes from the immoral theft of wealth from one to redistribute to another, the supposed placing of people on an equal footing by treating people differently, and the endorsement of government interference in the free market system. Roosevelt borrowed much of his platform, like Social Security, from the British Labour Party’s programs. With little party foundation in the philosophy of inherent personal freedoms, as exists in U.S. culture, the British began experimenting with the “Cradle to Grave” welfare system, which then exploded in scope and development under the recommendations of social reformer William Beveridge that were utilized by Prime Minister Attlee and his Labour Party. This new philosophy on the increased role of government was integrated in a new American culture. The Supreme Court, whose duty it is to defend the integrity of the U.S. Constitution, initially threw out many of FDR’s New Deal programs. Roosevelt tried unsuccessfully to eliminate the interference of his programs by the Supreme Court through the Judiciary Reorganization Bill, which would have added extra members by Presidential appointment. Despite that set back to his agenda over time he filled the Supreme Court with those that would “go along” with his administrations set of New Deal programs. Certainly, there was a great change in the tolerance of the American people for leaders that sought to drift from the limits placed on our early government. The Democrats continue to evolve their social and labor agenda through programs that can be traced to European social reformers and economists. The “hands off” government style was largely abandoned by both parties at the demands of their members.

The Jeffersonian Democrats live on within the Republican Party as well as other minor parties, and are even a small fragment of the Democratic Party but they have no noticeable influence on the direction of the modern Democratic Party, whose gradualist agenda of government intervention is inspired by Marxist philosophy. The Grand Old Party can trace its parentage to the founders, however it was nearly destroyed internally as the Democratic Party was. The Republican Party’s distance from political conservatism was at its greatest under the ‘big government’ administration of President Nixon. However with Buckley’s National Review, Goldwater, and national unrest over a troubled economy mixed with social engineering failures such as the Great Society, American conservatism retook the Republican Party. That refocusing on our founders’ model of government injected new life into the Republican Party throughout the 1980’s. The Republican Party’s platform today reflects largely pre-20th century American culture and ideals but we have seen the Republican Party continue to wrestle with its direction of policy that sometimes relates little to our founders’ vision. Only time will tell if another conservative movement will successfully invigorate the Republican Party to hearken back to the spirit of the days of “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” and our nations’ founders.

Every generation of U.S. citizens born after our Constitution was written and signed had that document as inheritance. But for those new Americans born before the Constitution our rights were not expected to be guaranteed to us no matter how necessary and natural, and they did not take for granted their precious and fragile rights. Those that realize the shrewd perspective of our founders would not see the American people returned to the clutches of servitude. As the torch-holding inheritors of the great American experiment in developing a country based on the rights of man our bipartisanship will only succeed with those that believe in the validity of that experiment. Many carry a parentage of political philosophy that didn’t come from within our shores and those “children” are unrecognizable to old Uncle Sam. With two visions for our country’s future competing, one natural to its Constitutional inheritance and one adopted from foreign fathers, the Halls of Congress will continue to be packed with combatants ready for battle rather than philosophical brothers.



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