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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Third Party?

Third parties come into being in the American system when a sufficiently large group has a sufficiently clear and well-defined goal and their sense of honor and morality forbids them from accepting the politics as usual anymore.
The Republican Party was founded in 1854 as a party opposed to the enslavement of human beings in the USA, and opposed to any further extension of slavery to any American territories: it was impossible for these founders to accept a compromise on the issue of slavery.

Nobody today has such an issue that will inspire a large enough group of people.
Ron Paul and his libertarian ideas are great for discussion, but I would not want to see him as president. He may inspire me in certain ways, but he frightens me in others. Similarly for the rest of the group of presidential poseurs.
It will be a while before there is a third party: we must learn honor and steadfastness, but I believe there will be such a political party within 8 years.


Baysage said...

Point of order: the Republican party was not formed in opposition to the institution of slavery. Many may have found it distasteful; there was a small abolitionist wing to be sure. But the real issue that united them was opposition to the spread of slavery. Why? Because most believed its spread was a threat to expansion of free labor. The Republican party recognized that chattel slavery was constitutionally protected, but they contended that the national government had the power to restrict its spread. Naturally, the South disagreed.

Montag said...

Thank goodness.

Even as I wrote it, part of my mind said "How do you explain Lincoln's reticence on emancipation if what you are writing is correct?", but I overruled it.

The clarity rendered by the correct account always makes me feel good. It clears up everything, and we can more easily focus on matters.

Now I want to know why the focus on free labor seemed to diminish within the GOP, and may have been assumed by William Jennings Bryan.

I also appreciate the work of historians who focus our attention on the "central concepts" that drive the politics of a society...
I like it so much I've added your comment to my personal notebook (which is an Excel spreadsheet).

At this point, I'm thinking about a lot of different things, but I am concentrating on "free labor" as a concept which focuses political action, and why and how it changed after the Civil War.

And I'm thinking of our own present day ill-defined focus... reducing the deficit does not point us into any future other than the fiscal future.

Baysage said...

On the free labor concept, Eric Foner's "Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free Men" is definitive. Why did focus on the free labor concept diminish? First of all, it was never strictly about industrial labor, the way we think of "labor." But rather an all-embracing concept of free, white yeomanry.

Once slavery was abolished, the driving force behind the notion of a free/slave labor conflict was obviated. Other aspects of the party, which had been present from the beginning became its core. At the outset, the Republican party contained a substantial segment of northern Whigs--like Lincoln--with its preference for government benignity to internal improvements (roads, canals, railroads) and other aspects of Clay's "American System" (such as a protective tariff and a general disposition to be friendly to capital). After the war, the party moved seamlessly into the pro-business, anti-labor aggregation of the Gilded Age.

Montag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Montag said...

Query 1:
As the Republicans moved into the Gilded Age, did William Jennings Bryan then pick up their discarded platform, making some modifications?

You have no idea how much I enjoyed this. I mean, all this talk and chatter about third parties over the last 20 years, and would any of us go right to the source and delve into the history of a real Third Party that made good? And why and how they made good? What were the dynamos impelling them forward?

Which is why the Tea Party will come to nothing, and also Occupy, unless they drop the anger; it's too late to be angry anymore, because the horse is already out of the barn.
To prevent future abuse, goals must be defined.

(I think a good example of the idiocy of anger and resentment as political goals was Eric Cantor saying that Joplin -after the tornadoes-could not get federal aid until matching offsets were found...
As if he were going to teach all of us spendthrifts a lesson!)