Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Brief History of Democrats and Republicans

Alright so I keep complaining about not knowing the differences between the parties. But not the differences themselves, but how they emerged.

Tackling this topic is tricky because it requires me to look all the way back in history. So, that is what I want to do right now is work backwards.

So from what I can see, what we know as Democrat actually used to be called republican. And what is republican used to called democrat.

As I read the time line there are three eras that stand out to me. The first is the very beginning, because the beginning is always important. In the beginning the Democrats, back then known as the Republican party, believed in limited central government. The face of this party at that point was Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

The party that is now known as the republicans was known as the Federalist Party. They believed in strong central government. Washington and Hamilton were the representatives of this party.

Ok, the next era that caught by attention was during the 1860s when Abraham Lincoln was abolishing slavery. The Democrats wanted to keep slavery, and the republicans wanted to get rid of it. You would think it was the other way around, but not so!

The third era that really sets the foundation for our modern Democrat and Republican begins in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt was elected. Around this time, or just before that was the Populist movement and following it the Progressives emerged.

"Populists rallied against large-scale commercial agriculture that would put them out of work, and they supported federally regulated communication, transportation, and banking systems." That sounds more the style of what we know as a Democrat, right?

Then Theodore Roosevelt started the progressive party which stood for women's rights, 8 hour work days, minimum wage, registered lobbyists, "direct democracy", essentially things that really worked to protect the working class people.

The next Democratic President was Franklin Roosevelt who in 1932 implemented the New Deal which saved the country from the Great Depression by putting workers to work. You could easily compare this to Obama's Job Act.

From the timeline that I looked at (http://www.edgate.com/elections/inactive/the_parties/) these are the eras that really stood out to me when mapping the history of parties.

It is so strange that the last time Americans were united completely was during the revolution, and they weren't completely then. Some people still wanted to stay loyal to England.

It surprises me that we have made it this far with our differences. The differences it seems lies in geography, our incentives, class, religion, etc.

From where we left during the progressive era is when it becomes clear to me the distinction between the two parties based on economic standing or position.

From then on Republican candidates stood to be pro-business.

Despite knowing a little more about these parties now, it seems even stranger to me. No matter what there is always a split, from slavery to policy, to how to run the market and neither party ever really seemed to maintain a common theme and often switched places.

The only theme I see, and one that I see only because I am a bias Democrat, is the theme of Democrats being behind workers, minorities, and women since the early 1900s. Republicans seem to believe that the less government the better, but how do you explain then things like telephone tapping and operation swift, war, and them trying to tell me what to do with my reproductive system? They say 'no no big government' when it comes to government run programs that help people and don't hesitate to step in when it comes to my body and who I marry?

I just don't understand.

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