Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If the Republican Party turns...

Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-SC) supported Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964.
...its back on Big Business, as an article in the New York Times this morning suggests, it will complete the almost total transformation of America's two-party system in the last 80 years or so. From the piece (my emphasis):

Corporate chiefs in recent months have pleaded publicly with Republicans to raise their taxes for the sake of deficit reduction, and to raise the nation’s debt limit without a fight lest another confrontation like that in 2011 wallop the economy. But the lobbying has been to no avail. This is not their parents’ Republican Party.

In a shift over a half-century, the party base has been transplanted from the industrial Northeast and urban centers to become rooted in the South and West, in towns and rural areas. In turn, Republicans are electing more populist, antitax and antigovernment conservatives who are less supportive — and even suspicious — of appeals from big business. 

While the Democrats were traditionally the party of Jefferson and Madison -- southern, rural, libertarian -- the Republicans emerged in the mid-nineteenth century as the political descendants of Hamilton, the Federalists and the Whigs -- northern, industrial, and concerned with facilitating economic development. This meant that after the Civil War, the GOP became the party of Big Business. 

With the election of FDR in 1932, however, the parties gradually began to change places. The Democrats became the party of federal intervention in the economy (and elsewhere). Over time, they evolved into a center-left, northern, urban and suburban party. And all of the moderate northern Republicans of yesteryear are now Democrats.

The Republicans, beginning in about 1964, morphed into the old Democratic Party: conservative, southern, rural and -- yes -- white. So while it was once difficult to find a Republican in the South, it's now nearly impossible to find a Democrat. 

All that was left of the old GOP coalition was Big Business, which backed leaders like Reagan, the Bushes and Romney.

But, according to the article in today's Times, that may be over too. Today's GOP may be thought of as the new Libertarian Party, or the old Dixiecrat Party. The Democrats, meanwhile, are the new centrist party.

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