Skip to comments.The Republican Party Becomes the Whig Party
Posted on 02/01/2012 1:36:41 PM PST by servo1969
In 1831, Henry Clay formed a new political party. He called it the Whig Party. His goal was to ensure Jeffersonian democracy and fight President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat. Over the course of the next 20 years, the Whig Party achieved several presidential victories. But as slavery assumed more and more national importance in the political debate, the Whig Party began to shatter. Southern Whigs were slave owners; Northern Whigs were industrial gurus who hated slavery. In 1849, the Illinois Whig leader, one Abraham Lincoln, quit politics completely in frustration with the party's inability to come together. With the Compromise of 1850, in which Whig leaders strengthened the Fugitive Slave Act on the one hand and admitted California as a free state on the other, the Whig Party was fractured beyond repair.
In 1852, the anti-slavery faction of the Whig Party prevented the nomination of the incumbent, controversial president, Millard Fillmore; the party settled on a compromise choice, the bland, boring and elderly Gen. Winfield Scott. He lost in dramatic fashion to the handsome, young cipher Franklin Pierce. In 1854, with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Whigs were irrevocably split. Northern Whigs joined the Republican Party. Southern Whigs vanished.
By 1860, Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States -- as a Republican.
Why tell this story? Because the party of Lincoln seems about to splinter the same way its predecessor did.
The center of the Republican Party cannot hold. With Mitt Romney's victory in the Florida primary, it's clear that large swaths of the Republican establishment have rejected the Tea Party; it's similarly clear that the Tea Party has largely rejected Romney and his backers. While Republicans hope that the party will unite behind Romney in opposition to President Obama, that hope seems strained. Democrats, optimists think, fought a brutal Hillary vs. Obama battle in 2008, then united to defeat Republicans. They forget, however, that the Hillary vs. Obama battle was not so much a battle over message as a battle over messenger. More than anything, it was a fight over whether to push for the first black president or the first female president. When it came to ideology, however, Obama and Hillary were virtually identical.
The same is not true within the Republican Party. On what basis will the party unite? On fiscal responsibility? Romney and his cohorts have said nothing about serious entitlement reform; the Tea Party, meanwhile, calls for it daily. On taxation? Romney has a 59-point plan that smacks of class warfare; the Tea Party wants broad tax cuts across the board. On health care? Romney and much of the establishment aren't against the individual mandate in principle; the Tea Party despises the individual mandate as a violation of Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties. On foreign policy? Paleoconservatives want a Ron Paul-like isolationism; neoconservatives want a George W. Bush-like interventionism; realists want something in between.
There is the very real potential for the Republican Party to spin apart in the near future. It could easily become a set of regional parties knit together by opposition to extreme liberalism. Chris Christie and his followers don't have all that much in common with Rick Perry and his followers. Never has that chasm been so obvious.
The Republican Party is like a bed of nails. It works so long as the nails are relatively close together -- but as the nails are moved further apart, the chances of winding up spiked from head to toe grow. Right now, the nails are too far apart. The Republican Party is about to be cut to shreds, even as the establishment declares victory over those redneck insurgents from the Tea Party. Romney's victory may very well end up being pyrrhic for the GOP in the end.
Screw the GOP. I am done with them.
The Gone Old Party.
Given the way the party elites have behaved in recent years, I no longer care. Sure an Obama re-election irreparably wrecks the economy and brings about economic collapse, but a Romney Presidency probably does the exact same thing just at a slightly slower pace.
This country isn't serious about reform. Might as well go ahead and have the total collapse now and get it over with. Sure there will be a tremendous amount of pain and suffering, but we will have brought it all upon ourselves as a nation.
If we can hold off the Chinese and other potential scavengers, then perhaps we can start rebuilding from the ashes. Who knows? Maybe then common sense conservatism can at long last prevail.
and them the very ones pushing your 2008 pick, your boy Willie Mitty...
How come youre so upset with them ???
arent we “anti-Romneys” the ones you hate with a passion any more ???
you should be mad with glee...
But the Democrats have clearly become the Communist Party, and that seems to have worked out quite well for them.
Yes, very well indeed.
To be among the Ruling Class is to be a creature of government or else firmly attached to one of its multitude of nourishing teats. Those of us desirous of a more anonymous and privately remunerative life must compete with them not only for political influence, but increasingly, for a right to the fruits of our own labors and to make even minute decisions about the course of our own lives.
In such a parlous state, no nation can long endure. Things eventually do fall apart. And presently, they are.
In 1852 the Whigs nominated an old war horse who lost to a political newcomer. A new party was in power 8 years later.
In 2008 the Republicans nominated an old war horse who lost to a political newcomer. Will we have a new party in 2016?
Everything seems to be falling apart at once.
Not quite, but I guess it's kind of in the ballpark.
About the present: Parties out of power exaggerate their positions, and parties in power tend to moderate them. So the Republicans of 1994 were different from the Republicans of the Bush years. So the Democrats of the Bush years made all kinds of claims about foreign policy that weren't supported by the actions of the Clinton or Obama administrations. So the next Republican President isn't going to have the level of tea party sentiment to deal with that was present in 2010. So will the party be as split as he claims if we win?
The other factor is that parties can get serious after a loss. If we lose this time, won't we get organized enough to do it right next time?
Slavery, by contrast, was an issue that didn't go away. You could be say that the Whigs didn't get a chance. They lost in 1852 and the Democrats started to set the scene for civil war.
If the Whigs had won that election, would they have coped better with sectional divisions and not let things decay as quickly as they did? I guess in the end, though, the Whigs did fail, whether they had a chance or not.
There is no Tea Party candidate in the race.
Yes that abut sums it up/
I listened to Newt’s speech last night and he almost sounded like he was campaigning as a third party candidate. Several things he said made me immediately jump to the idea of ‘third party.’
Very good article. We’ll see how it all plays out probably by Super Tuesday. If Gingrich takes the lead the Republican party might continue on... and if Romney wins, there will be a split.
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