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View Diary: The American System (205 comments)

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  •  Once you take away the party labels... (7+ / 0-)

    ... things get much simpler. Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party stand for what they used to. People make a mistake in looking back 150 years and trying to understand the participants through the filters of what the parties are currently.

    But if you remove the party labels, and just look at liberal vs. conservative, it ceases to be a confusing mess.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:55:07 AM PST

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    •  The one consistency, the only one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Is that the Republicans, and the forebears the Whigs and Federalists, all promoted commercial/industrial interests more wholeheartedly than did Democrats -- who were on the side of agriculture--which of course included slaveowners -- and the emerging (white) wage-working population. The early Federalists and Whigs were right -- as the post makes clear -- that the American System would help grow the economy of course. Much more could be said, but football starts soon!

      •  Up until the Civil War and big industrialization (0+ / 0-)

        took hold, which led to factories that led to mass immigration to have laborers to work in them, there was no major income inequality and poverty in the US. It existed, of course, and obviously slavery was the big exception, but we didn't see the sort of mass inequality and poverty that led to the populist, progressive and labor union eras until after the Civil War. Until then, I think that the Federalists and later Whigs were simply promoting prosperity, not inequality.

        It was only after Reconstruction, when the Radical Republicans were pushed out of the GOP leadership, that we began to see these things, and pushing prosperity alone was no longer sufficient, because the issues of poverty and inequality and the need for regulation and a social safety net to deal with them emerged. This is when the GOP lost its moral credibility, never to truly recover it except perhaps in the Eisenhower-Reagan era, and Democrats slowly began to take on the role of the more moral party of the people.

        I am oversimplifying, of course. But I think that there's a clear division between the ante-bellum and post-Reconstruction eras, that forever changed the roles played by each party, and the nature of the US economy and the role that government played in it. The inheritors of the political ideology of Hamilton, Clay and Lincoln went the way of big business and the rich, and the inheritors of the political ideology of Jefferson, Madison and Jackson went the way of the working and middle classes, farmers and labor (and, ultimately, blacks too).

        I think that today's GOP combines the worst of the Democratic party until the Civil Rights era, and the post-Reconstrution GOP, and today's Democratic party is trying to combine the best of the Federalists and Whigs and pre-Reconstruction GOP, and post-Reconstruction progressive and populist movements. I think it's an error to label the GOP as pro-business and Dems as pro-people. I think that the GOP is pro-amoral business and Dems are pro-moral business and people. They're both "pro-business", but only one is for the sustainable and decent kind.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:57:15 PM PST

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