Nothing New Under the Sun about Political Party Infighting Notwithstanding the Hand-wringing of Colin Powell and Arlen Specter

A tip of the hat to Steve Foley linking a blogger who wrote the following:

Thomas Jefferson warned us of Heretics [RINOs] 1803 AD
“I have spoken of the [Republicans] as if they were a homogenous body, but this is not the truth. Under that name lurks the heretical sect of [liberals]. Afraid to wear their own name, they creep under the mantle of Federalism, and the [Republicans], like sheep permit the fox to take shelter among them, when pursued by dogs. These men have no right to office. If a [liberal] be in office, anywhere, and it be known to the President, the oath he has taken to support the Constitution imperiously requires the instantaneous dismission of such a officer; and I hold the President criminal if he permitted such to remain. To appoint a [liberal] to conduct the affairs of a republic, is like appointing an atheist to the priesthood.”

Note: I replaced the word federalist with Republican, and the word monarchist with liberal; but the message is the same.

After reading it my reaction is that he could have replaced the word federalist with Democrats and the message is the same as well. It is not a new phenomena for Political Parties to fight over principles of governance. The two parties in the beginning were the Federalists led by John Adams and the Anti-Federalists led by Thomas Jefferson.

The Federalists Party tended to favor a strong central government. Federalists tended to be a coalition of urban New Englanders and also tended to be pro-British.

The typical description of the Anti-Federalists, like Thomas Jefferson, have them as states rights advocates (fear of central power); as the voice of the common, rural, and western peoples; and pro-French (who had helped the Americans beat the British and gain U.S. independence.

One example of over-reach by the Federalists is the Alien and Sedition Acts. The pro-British Federalists were concerned with French and Irish anti-British immigrants. Anti-Federalists were also a direct target. The government actually imprisoned people for voicing displeasure with the president and his policies! In other words, public discourse, legitimate opposition, and dissent were banned. Or, to put it another way, parts of the 1st Amendment to The U.S. Constitution had been legislated away. Those then in the seats of government did not want the public or members of the other party to be meddlesome. They had no tolerance for anybody else’s opinion.

Ironically, the Federalists’ last, dying gasp occurred in 1814. American soil had been invaded by a foreign army (the British) in The War of 1812. During the course of the war, the few remaining Federalist leaders met in Hartford, Connecticut. The meeting was called the 1814 Hartford Convention. The members of the convention threatened to have their New England states secede from the U.S. and to join the British. They opposed the war and the government’s policies. The war wasn’t in their self-interest. Treasonous actions during wartime by the very same people who had made laws only 16 years earlier claiming that any verbal disagreement with their ideas and their policies was seditious and treasonous. Now, it was they who disagreed with the party in power. Only, this time they wanted to leave the country and form their own! They wanted things their way, they knew better, they were “the better sort.” They could not tolerate any other view but their own.

Now some historians may argue with me about the nature of the two political party systems in the US, and the twists and turns they have made, and that’s fine. In my opinion the Republican Party that elected Ronald Reagan President in 1980 more closely resembles the Anti-Federalist Party of Thomas Jefferson than the Democratic Party. I base my opinion on the principles that President Reagan held, and the types of citizens he won over so much so that they remained Republican for the next 25 years.

In my opinion the Democratic Party that elected Barack Obama in 2008 more closely resembles the Federalist Party leaders who met in the 1814 Hartford Convention. YMMV

Examples from Dave Leip’s Atlas of Presidential Elections A note: Dave uses Red for the Anti-Federalist states and purple for the Federalist states. Dave uses Red for the states the Ds win and Blue for the states the Rs win

1796 Election Results

2008 Election Results