Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Time to revive the Democratic-Republican Party?

By Maureen Johnson

This article originally appeared in The Daily Journal.

The Whigs. The Federalists. The Bourbon Democrats. Since ink met parchment to create the Declaration of Independence in 1776, America has seen its fair share of major political parties. Our forefathers warned against the danger of factionalism, recognizing the insidious desire for dominance easily could result in discord if not outright disenfranchisement. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison discussed these views in Federalist Papers Nos. 9 and 10. Yet Madison, along with Thomas Jefferson, went on to form America’s first political party, known as the “Democratic-Republican” or “Anti-Administration” Party. Hamilton took the helm of the competing Federalists. Hence, our two-party system was born.

In the wise words of Abraham Lincoln: “And this too shall pass.”

Many historians view our country as tumbling through five to six distinct eras in our two-party system. Over time, the nomenclature and ideals of major political parties transmogrify. In Lincoln’s day, the Grand Old Party Republicans fought for the rights of African-Americans. Democrats took up that laboring oar for many more minorities no later than the1960s, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. And GOP’s finest hour soundly was kicked to the curb in 2016 when modern-day alt-right leaders — including David Duke, a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan — gave a thumbs-up to the GOP presidential candidate.

Is it time for a seventh era in our two-party system?

Many moderate Republicans are caught in the middle of a bitter tug-of-war between Democrats and an unrelenting far-right faction of the Republican Party that continues to stoke racism, either to validate prejudice or as a means for political gain. Put simply, Democrats certainly can get along with moderate Republicans, and vice versa. The civil war America faces is not between Democrats and moderate Republicans; rather it is with that small hard-right faction who have an unprecedented but very real stranglehold on how our country is run.

How can it be that 70 to 80 percent of Americans agree on major political planks yet that consensus is all but ignored by those in power? We agree Dreamers are entitled to a path to citizenship, babies should never be stripped from the arms of parents seeking asylum, and affordable healthcare should cover preexisting conditions. There even is general concurrence for basic gun control reform. And a majority of Americans easily would rather spend billions of dollars on meaningful programs, e.g., infrastructure or addressing the opioid crisis, instead of funding a symbolic “wall” that Trump promised would be paid for by an outside source. Even a 5-year-old understands that being asked to pay for a promised gift is a far cry from a promise kept.