Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Predicting the future

Back in 1792, Thomas Jefferson was fed up. The Federalists, led by (tastefully named) Alexander Hamilton, were trying to pass legislation to establish a national bank, to shore up the Federal governments primacy over the states, and to establish a treaty with Britain (who was at war with France).
Jefferson retaliated by forming the "Democratic-Republican" party. For simplicity they were called "the republicans". From 1800-1824 this party held the majority in both the House and Senate, and eventually became so large that party unity dissolved and the party split into the Jefferson loyalists: "the democrats" and several other groups. None of those groups was the modern Republican party as we know it today; that party formed in 1854 as an anti-slavery party.

Anyway, the point is, in 1820 James Monroe ran under the party's banner for President and was elected almost unanimously in the electoral college. Four years later the party fractured.

Is this the future of the Democratic Party? With Specter now entrenched in the Democratic party, but still claiming to be at least moderate, and with the possibility that the Dems might gain more Senate and House seats in the 2010 election, I have to wonder if the Democratic party is on its way to utter dominance...and then utter collapse.

Could the Democratic party soon get so big and broad-ranged in political attitudes that it fractures? Ask the Blue Dogs.


1 comment:

Benjamin Dueholm said...

Thanks to the history you describe, the Democrats were at one point the party of both northern immigrant progressives and Southern white supremacists. That was a pretty unwieldy party ideologically, but it mostly held together between about 1932 and 1968.

I don't think we'll see anything like that again, for a lot of reasons. A combination of Democratic mistakes and a Republican willingness to chase the median voter (who is less white and less Christian than the Republican Party by a wide margin right now) could change this pretty soon. But indications so far are that Republicans have no interest in persuading actual people to vote for them, so a possible scenario is the UK Labor Party 1997-present. Eventually the GOP will figure out how to stop shooting itself in the foot, but it looks right now to take a while.