Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Real History of Democrats and Republicans

For the record, please note that when I reference Liberals in this post, I mean ELECTED Liberals.  Those of you who read my writings know that I differentiate between well meaning private citizens who are Liberals and those who are elected to public office.

Democrats have spent years convincing Americans that they are the party with the claim on being for Civil Rights, that they are the party who is concerned with minorities, and that Republicans are the party of racism and xenophobia.  Unfortunately for Democrats, history does not back this at all.  Democrats will try to tell you "the Republicans USED TO BE the Democrats and the Democrats USED TO BE the Republicans.  This is untrue.  Rather, the Republican party had a specific set of legislative goals which were achieved, for all intents and purposes, by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Brown v. Board of Education

For the record a full 80% of Republicans in the House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill, as opposed to 60% of Democrats, and 82% of Senate Republicans voted for the bill, as opposed to 69% of Senate Democrats. (1)  But history goes back much, much further.  So let's take a look at the history of these two political parties. 

History of the Democrat Party

The modern Democratic Party would like to trace it's history and polices back to Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. If you ask the majority of high school teachers and college professors of history (the majority, of course, who are liberal) they will tell you that it was the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans were the party of "the little person" and therefore they were most like the Democrats of today.  Since the Democrats have tried to co-opt the idea of being for the "little person," and Jefferson was indeed a politician for the common man, the Democrats make the sizable leap that they are in line with Jefferson.

The truth is the original political party that was closest to the beliefs of the Democrat Party of today was the Federalists.  The Federalist Party believed in a strong and very powerful centralized Federal Government.  Politicians like Alexander Hamilton believed that the common person was too stupid or at least too ignorant to make the best decision possible for the country.  The Federalists believed that a group of elite, educated individuals should call the shots for the rest.  Does this sound a bit like our current President? It should.

The Democrat Party as we know it was founded in the 1830s behind politicians like Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson.  The party hit the national stage during the antebellum years, (for those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that is the years leading up to the Civil War).  The Democratic party was built largely with politicians in the south who staunchly supported the institution of slavery and by northern politicians who preferred to compromise on slavery.  That's right, friends, the Democrat party was the party of slavery leading up to the civil war.  The Democrats were, to one degree or another, fighting to maintain the practice of slavery!

During the Civil War, only Northern Democrats remained in the country (obviously) along with those in the Border States.  These Democrats were broken into two camps.  The first, the War Democrats, essentially were more pro-union than anti-slavery.  In 1864, these individuals actually shed the Democrat label entirely in favor of the title "Union Party." The Union Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for President in 1864 along with Andrew Johnson, a Union Party member, as their Vice Presidential Candidate (the Republican ticket also nominated Johnson, replacing Lincoln's first Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin).  The second camp, the Copperheads, essentially were a peace at whatever cost group.  Ironically, one can easily imagine our current President in that camp.

After the Civil War, the country was pretty solidly controlled by Republicans until the end of Reconstruction.  However, when Reconstruction concluded, Democrats rose to power in the south. The Democrat party was the party of Jim Crow and Segregation.  In fact, only whites were legally allowed to vote in Democratic Party primaries by law in the South for many years.

Oh, and let's not forget the terrorist wing of the Democrat Party, the Ku Klux Klan.  Bet your liberal teachers never taught you that one, did they?  But the Ku Klux Klan was the force within the Democrat party throughout the South to reduce votes for the Republican Party, and thus maintain segregation and fight Civil Rights (under the guise of States Rights).

The foundations of modern Liberalism began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal in 1933.  Granted, certain economic regulations which were instituted under the New Deal were actually quite reasonable.  While I believe such programs as Social Security and Unemployment Insurance ought to be optional, I also believe that such programs are tolerable so long as they remain a safety net rather than a hammock. Unfortunately, Liberal Democrats moving forward began to learn that they could gain votes by continuing to provide better and better benefits at taxpayer expense, leading to the economic woes we are in now.

The problem with the New Deal is that Roosevelt seemed loathe to let some immediate problem solving programs die after the Great Depression ended.  Such was the case with Works Progress Administration which gave people in need of employment the opportunity to work as government employees. Once World War II began and jobs were available aplenty between factory jobs and military jobs, the WPA became unnecessary.  Yet FDR wanted to keep these programs running, beyond their necessity, setting the table for Liberals across the decades to keep programs running past the need for said programs.

In the 1940s-1960s as the Civil Rights movement began, it was the Democrat Party who fought Civil Rights in the South (and yet they claim Republicans are racist...huh).  With the Ku Klux Klan working behind the scenes, the Democrat Party fought to maintain the status quo (that status quo, by the way, was segregation). This was the history of the Democrat Party until the  Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 In 1963, Lyndon Johnson ascended to the Presidency after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Thus modern liberalism began to take hold.  President Johnson's Great Society began the policies of "the Government will care for you" that are so prevalent with the Democrat party.  Such programs like Medicare, Medicaid, the Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS), National Public Radio (NPR) were all instituted under this program.

Think about Medicare for a moment, will you?  Every individual over 65 years old is eligible, regardless of need.  I'll give you a prime example of someone who ought not be eligible for Medicare.  My grandmother will turn 79 years old this year.  Her late husband, my grandfather, worked for the majority of his career as a supervising engineer for General Electric's Radar Division during the Cold War.  As his widow, my Grandfather maintains 50% of his pension and his benefits, including his medical insurance.  She does not need Medicare in the slightest.  She doesn't mind the paid-for flu-shots, etc, but she also need it at all.  Yet elected Liberals institute programs like it to buy votes (doesn't work on Gram, by the4 way).  

Oh, and let's not forget the War on Poverty, America's longest war (a 45 year quagmire).  Do we still have poverty?  OF COURSE WE DO!  In fact, we have MORE THAN BEFORE the War on Poverty! (2)  But, with typical liberal mindsets of the means justify the ends and the intentions outweigh the results, we're still spending billions annually on these failed programs!
Since the the New Deal and the Great Society, the Democrat Party has swung from being far, far right to being far, far Left. This fact is true.  However, the Democrat party has tried to claim that the Republicans ALSO swung from the far Left to the far Right.  Unfortunately for Democrats, this is not true.  So, let us look at the true history of the Republican Party.

History of the Republican Party

At the beginning of the history of the Democratic Party, I noted that modern Democrats would like to consider their party's earliest ideological ancestor to be Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans.  However, the Democratic-Republicans believed in small government with the individual states having more individual authorities than the Federal Government (while the Federal Government maintained certain authorities which reached past the authorities of the states).  They believed in a "deserving aristocracy" , that is that the brightest and best would naturally rise to the top and therefore be elected to public office as a duty of service.  They also believed in the will of the people and that the common man could rise up out of their circumstances to improve themselves (without government assistance) through hard work.  They believed that an individual could achieve ON THEIR OWN through hard work.

This does not sound like the modern Democratic Party.  It sounds like the Republican Party.  The real one, not the false impression of Republicans that the Drive-By Media has sculpted on behalf of the Democrats.  The values of the Democratic-Republicans are the values of modern Conservatives.  Self-reliance and freedom.

The modern Republican Party was founded in 1854.  The primary issue for the Republicans was the ending of the institution of slavery.  First, the Republican Party believed in genuine freedom, that all men were created equal, and that no one ought to be enslaved.  They believed (correctly) that slavery took away the second most fundamental right of man kind, the Right to Liberty.  Abraham Lincoln famously stated, "As I would never be a slave, so I would never be a master." This fundamental principle guided the Republican Party.

Secondly, the original Republican party felt that free-market labor was superior to slave labor, because a slave had no incentive to work harder.  Indeed, slaves historically worked at the slowest possible pace they could get away with, which is completely understandable.  When an individual is working because he is forced to do so, he has no reason to work harder.  A free individual working for wages does have incentive to work hard.  His hard work can earn him raises and promotions, giving him a better life for his family.

It must be noted that yes, some individuals in the Republican Party at it's founding still did not believe people of color were equal to white people.  It has become quite chic in America to act indignant at these individuals for not being politically correct as Americans today.  This principle is foolish, because, as one of the most popular cliches in history states, hindsight is 20/20.  Further, an individual who is raised in a society which assumes the inequality of the races as a matter of certainty, it is difficult to assume instead perfect equality of all men in the sight of God.  I do not condone the inherent racism within this society as acceptable, simply as understandable. (2)  What is extraordinary, however, is the fact that a good portion of the founders of the Republican Party DID see all persons of all races as equal!

The Republican Party was founded on the concept of "free soil, free labor, free speech, free men." In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican to be elected President.  Lincoln was vociferously opposed to slavery, however he was also a pragmatist. His originally policies did allow for slavery to die of old age by restricting it to it's current locations.  However, when the Civil War reached it's second year, Lincoln realized that slavery would not die of old age, and it must instead be killed.  That summer he issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Most notably this document declared:

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free. (3)

Yes, this proclamation fell short of perfection in the modern mindset, because it allowed slavery to continue (temporarily) in those slave states which remained loyal to the Union.  However, upon victory in the Civil War, one of the very first acts performed by the Republican Party was the 13th Amendment.  The 13th Amendment was proposed and sent to the states in 1865.  It declared:

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (4)

Yep, that's right, it was Republicans who abolished slavery while Democrats fought it.  How about equal protection for all people under the law and universal citizenship?  That's what the 14th Amendment, also passed by Republicans, did:

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (5)

Or how about the 15th Amendment, which prohibited legally prohibiting any individual who had, according to the 14th Amendment, the right to vote:

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (6)

Southern States, lead by Democrats, found legal ways like Jim Crow Laws and general intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan, their terrorist wing, to stop blacks from voting. But Republicans did their level best on a legal level to promote the exercising of their freedom and rights for blacks.  One must remember that the politics of the time belonged primarily to local and state governments, leaving a Federal Government which was quite a bit smaller and without mass media generally unable to deal with this violations of rights.  It was the Republican Party at the turn of the century which lead to reasonable government regulations to protect the quality of food, improve sanitation and living conditions.

Moving to the Civil Rights Act, we reach a major turn in the history of the Republican party, because the Republicans achieved, legislatively, that which they had fought for since the party's inception.  It was the Republican Party that broke the fillabuster of Senator Robert Byrd (yep, Robert Byrd, who by the way was the leader of a branch of the Mississippi Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s and 50s) to bring the Civil Rights Act to a vote.  As I stated above, Republicans passed the law in Congress by a rate of about 80% in the House and 82% in the Senate.

This is the point in history where most liberals will tell you the parties "switched."  It's bunk.  The Republicans stayed pretty much in the same place for their existence.  The Democrats made a huge swing from right to left, moving to the left of where the Republican Party stood.

Republicans, on the other hand, achieved a the legislative goals which the party set out to achieve.  As far as legal action was concerned, between the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down segregation (lead by Republican Chief Justice Earl Warren, by the way), all that could be done legislatively had been done.  Recognizing that laws cannot force people to change their hearts and minds, Republicans moved their goals to conserving the freedom and rights which the founding fathers intended and the 110 years of the Republican Party had achieved.

So What Does it All Mean?

For starters, Democrats don't like their history too much.  Who would?  Meanwhile, the history of the Republican Party embodies everything the Democrat Party would like people to believe they embody.  The Democrat spin machine has spent years trying to call Republicans racist in an effort to not only maintain their government plantation of liberal voters by continuing to allow voters to vote themselves benefits (paid for by other people's money) but also to maintain their stronghold on some minorities in America due to the same.

Make no mistake about it, the Democrat party is also still seeking what it has always sought: control.  People to accept that they are the "best and brightest" and therefore allow them to rule.  Democrats continue to tell minorities that they can't achieve on their own, but rather that they need the government to take care of them.  Republicans continue to tell minorities that "YOU can do it, you don't need government to do it for you!" The GOP believes each individual, regardless of color, creed, gender can achieve whatever their skills and hard work allows them to achieve.  Democrats believe that  people need government help, especially minorities.  So who's the racist?

Sorry, Democrats, but what preceded what your real history.  If the party has changed it's ways, fine.  But your history is your history.  You cannot pass off your poor history on the Republican Party.  The Republican Party stands for and has always stood for freedom and for individual rights.  That is who we were when we were founded, and that is who we are now.  We became "Conservative" only after we achieved legislatively exactly what we set out to achieve: equal protection and liberty under the law. Only then did we fight to maintain what we achieved.  Republicans, this is who we really are.  And Democrats, this is at least who your party was in the past. Accept it. Change your future if you like.  Don't try to steal the Republicans history as your own!


(1) Civil Rights Act of 1964

(2) The War on Poverty (Chart)

(3) I consider myself blessed to have been born in the late 20th Century so that I could live in a world   where I was taught from birth that skin color is simply a physical trait and that it has as much bearing on the value of a person as eye color.  I believe this was the ideal set by the Founding Fathers, that all men are created completely equal.  Unfortunately, it took us about two hundred years to achieve that ideal.  

(4) The Emancipation Proclamation

(5) 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

(6) 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

(7) 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States


  1. Chris, this is one of the best posts you have written so far. Awesome job.

    I do have one question: how did the transition happen between Confederate Democrats to the liberal Democrats? How did such an extreme switch take place? Or is it not as extreme as it appears?

  2. First off, thank you.

    Secondly, good question. I need to do some more homework on that to give a good answer.

  3. Obviously, you're a Republican...my question is: why do we need to have these two different office? Why not have one group? Why do we always need to compete as opposed to working in unity?

    An Independent

  4. Anindy:

    Because working together isn't the only priority to the detriment of the best possible ideas. It always strikes me as a fanciful lack of wisdom when we pretend "working together" is more important than the best solution.

    Ideas should be competing. There's nothing wrong with that. Some ideas work and some don't. That's the beauty of our system!

    Systems without intellectual competition end up in a long slog of mediocrity (see the later history of the Roman Empire).

  5. And by the way, I am a CONSERVATIVE.


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