In the USA the political system became bifurcated early on. There were those in power with their ideas of how things should be done and the opposition who fought against these ideas. George Washington first fought against the idea of political parties because it would make it more difficult to work together on different issues. Washington reasoned
that men should put aside party and unite for the common good, an "American character" wholly free of foreign attachments.
Well, American politics has gone from cooperative to confrontational and back many times. In our current state of politics I can understand the fear that George Washington felt in his fear of political parities. Political Parties are more powerful than each individual elected representative, which is good when you are on the winning side of an issue, but bad when you are on the loosing side of the issue. When an individual sees an error with a law that everyone in your party agrees with it is difficult to win the favor of the party. The leaders in the party have more influence than the lesser members, because they control the agenda.
The positive aspect of a political party is the ability to create a unified structure of laws that a majority agrees with. In effect 26% of the congress could influence the other 74%. This is because the majority party may have 51% and only slightly more than half of the party needs to agree on the comprehensive structure needed to pass. Obviously it is more complicated than this in reality, but it also explains why a minority group like the Fundamentalist Christians have taken over the US government. It also explains why the Democrats have failed to offer an alternative to the Fundamentalist Christians.
The Democrats have their roots in the Jeffersonian Republican Party, but they didn’t become the party of labor until FDR won the 1932 election on a platform of “relief, recovery, and reform” after the Great Depression struck America. When the majority of workers realized that joining together gave them the strength to stand up to the corporations, they realized that the country could be improved for the common man.
FDR harnessed the power of the working man to not only pay these unemployed workers, but he gave them jobs to make them feel good about themselves. The projects created rivaled the great works of history, like the building of the pyramids. But the projects were not worthless symbols of a leader’s power, rather they were infrastructure used to supply water and electricity for millions. FDR was able to harness the power of the United States of America for domestic good, and when the necessity to fight a war revealed itself the country already knew how to work together.
Building on this vision of American unity and cooperation the Democratic Party adopted these values to be the values of this party. Strength in unity, no matter what your race, creed or color. Of course, like any political party the Democrats were not all united behind this ideal. Southern Democrats especially disliked the idea on unity with the “coloreds” as they said. But the majority of Democrats was all that the party needed to push its agenda even though a delicate balance was needed to maintain its political power.
The history of getting the overwhelming majority of Americans to get behind the idea of rights for the working class allowed FDR to clearly dominate the government through out the 1930s, and into WW II. Republicans feared the working class would be able to control their future and demand to be paid a reasonable wage and get reasonable living conditions, so they were able to get a law limiting the number of terms a president could serve in office. Harry Truman continued FDR’s policies for two more terms.
It took a clever slogan “I Like Ike” and a moderate Republican philosophy to win enough working class votes to win the election of 1952. Eisenhower wasn’t threatening, but his Vice President Richard Nixon was another story. Richard Nixon had the election strategy to have one objective, but to say something else in order to get elected. Republicans saw how successful this strategy was that they have developed it and expanded it to this day.
Over the last 75 years the Democratic Party has been the Political Party of the working class. Since the working class has traditionally been made up of people from a variety of ethnic and racial groups the Democratic Party has championed the cause of equal rights for all groups that had traditionally been exploited by businesses. Business has been able to use differences in ethnic groups to limit employment opportunities for various groups.
Over time the Democratic Party has taken on the role to support the common man, the worker, and the immigrant. In the 1960s the Democrats expanded their role to take on the Civil Rights issues of the South. Of course, this moral action has cost the Democrats power in Government. Racists that had formerly aligned themselves against the Party of Lincoln on the issue of slavery and segregation found themselves hit by their own Party’s ideals and these racists jumped ship to the Republican Party.
Throughout the 1960s morals were the high ground of the Democratic Party. Civil Rights, the Vietnam War and then the Environment were the issues that the common man wanted solved at the behest of the establishment. Corporations with their deep pockets became the obstacles blocking the road to the vision of the Democrats. Corporations wanted cheap labor, so they opposed minimum wage laws. Corporations wanted cheap resources to fuel their factories, so they opposed environmental regulations. Corporations wanted International Security in third World countries so they favored opposition to Democracy in these countries where stable governments are preferred to freedom of the people.
Since the common man finds it difficult to support the wealthy corporations and their stockholders a new scheme needed to be developed by the Republican Party. This scheme involved the morals question in a different light. Instead of saying that the battle was between the corporations and the common man, the Republicans began to say that Government was the problem. Since Government is the representation of the people, the Republicans were able to fight the community in a stealth way. With propaganda and marketing Americans have been convinced that they are the problem with America. The working class people who want the government to unite the people behind issues and fight the corporations have been convinced that they are the problem. The corporations who have the money will gradually be given more freedom to take advantage of the workers and exploit them in whatever way they can to make a profit for the corporation. And the Republicans have convinced enough people to do this.
The only way for the Democrats to win back this group of people is to expose the Republicans and preach the philosophy of the Democratic Party. The Republicans are weak and the time is ripe to spread the word.politics