Once upon a time, when our great nation was a mere fledgling child, there were two schools of political thought which dominated the landscape. The Federalists were the first true party to emanate in American politics. Fathered by Alexander Hamilton, the party had been building a broad network of support among capitalists throughout George Washington's reign in office from 1789-1797. Despite their growing strength, the party was not actualized in Congress until 1792. Federalists postulated that a strong, central government was essential to any enduring nation and commanded the support of bankers, merchants and the noble class of early America.
Prior to 1792, the political system of the United States was a no-party or one-party system, depending on the individual outlook. Men campaigned for office based upon their personal merits, qualifications and discretion's, rather than the broad based group approach to present day politics. However, once our nation had emerged from war into continuance as a sovereign state, men of all qualities began to organize towards consolidation. Thus, as Alexander Hamilton organized his parties base of support, Thomas Jefferson understood the ramifications of such action. Without organized opposition, this party of sound and virtuous origin could descend towards ill ambitions if it's power became superfluous.
Due to the magnitude of this political reality, the Democratic-Republican party commenced existence in 1792, in direct opposition to the Federalist party. The Democratic-Republicans maintained that each states sovereign right to govern itself was of the very essence of a strong Republic. Moreover, they believed in the governments inherent duty to protect the property and personal rights of all citizens. The Democratic-Republicans developed the majority of their support among the agricultural class of rural America.
It was not until the French Revolution in 1793 that the balance of power among parties began to shift. Peace seemed to be coming to an imminent halt when King Louis XVI of France was guillotined in the dead of winter 1793. Britain and Spain immediately declared war upon the French revolutionaries, although exacting war upon the entirety of the nation. The French had been our allies throughout our War of Independence and without their support the British may have drawn the war on for several more years, or perhaps have won.
The Federalists believed that war with Britain was not an option. Moreover, they held vigorous favor for the Jay Treaty which sought to closen American relations with Britain and rectify outstanding grievances of various assortment. The 'Old Republicans', as the Democratic-Republican party had come to be known, repudiated the Jay Treaty as treasonous consent to British demand and callous disregard for the French allies who had so recently brandished their swords towards the American cause. Despite the 'Old Republican' defiance, the Jay Treaty was ratified by a Federalist majority against the will of the American plurality and against the interests of the average American. The final pages of the Federalist book were soon to be etched by the Democratic-Republicans who held auspicious power from 1800-1824.
To understand the correlation to modern American government, one can simply draw comparisons on the issues that men of yesteryear and the men of the present day would be willing to stand stalwart upon. The 'Old Republicans' had but one thing in common among their Representatives and Senators, they were not Federalists. The Democratic Party of today commanded a supermajority in Congress this year because of what many classify as a 'George W. Bush related repudiation' of the Republican party in 2006 and '08 elections. Upon their call to dominance, the Democratic party proceeded towards an agenda which was ambitious and honorable in definition, but more politically motivated in reality.
The Democrats sought to delve directly into health reform, climate change, tax increases on wealth and 'restoring our diplomatic standing'. The entirety of the Democratic party understood that such an extremely Democratic agenda would be inherently opposed by the Republicans on principle alone. Nonetheless, the Democrats not only proceeded immediately towards this agenda born of naivety, but did so with incompetent urgency and forceful intent which triggered ideas of deception and ulterior motives in the minds of many Americans. To use an old adage in summation, the Democratic party overplayed their hand.
At this very instant the Republican party is gaining momentum and broad support across this nation as the alternative to the Democratic party. They are successfully positioning themselves as the party of the people, despite a perception of quite the opposite only one year past. The difference between these two massive ideological shifts in the past two years and the shift towards the 'Old Republicans' in 1800 is the absolute most important issue plaguing American politics today.
These two parties of today have become so indefinitely polar that the American voter's choice has become one extreme or the other. Moreover, this circumstance is not a product of accident, fate or fortune. This path is being tread due to the advent of marketing in political campaigns. No candidate seeks to charm the entirety of their audience. They seek to charm their base first, which in the United States today, is respectably 30%-30%, give or take a point or three. Then, they seek to woo the independent, swing voters based upon issues which will not significantly affect the nation as a whole, but will force most people into taking a position. For example, abortion, gay marriage, etc. He who commands the issues of minor to medium relevance commands the office in most cases.
In 1793, the Democratic-Republican party consisted of Representatives and Senators who were of Democratic and Republican schools of thought. Their union was forged because of their willingness to compromise and their ability to empathize and seriously analyze opinions from all involved. For around 24 years in this nation, men of office did what was righteous, justified and in the long-term interests of all citizens. These men decided to set aside petty differences of all kinds because the alternative in preceding years was becoming ever more biased, radical and divisive.
These men exist in the United States today. There are moderates in both parties of power and both Chambers of Congress who refuse to 'toe the party line' or violate their principles for a short term political benefit or towards the long-term personal goal of re-election. Where are these men and women of conviction and aptitude who will rise from the smolder of our two dying parties to incite a new political movement towards the interests of all?
The harsh reality in American politics today is that the majority of our politicians choose the easiest path rather than the path of right and justice. A man can be a Democrat who condemns abortion, debates the validity of global warming and supports the war on terrorism. A woman can be a Republican who supports gay marriage and tax increases while wanting tighter regulations on financial institutions. Too often do Americans today relegate themselves to the duty of one party based upon a few issues of major or minor relevance. It is the individual who provides the merit and never the organization.
In the end, there are two conflicting morals to this story. The high point is that the Democratic-Republican party rose to power out of the necessity of the times, but towards a righteous and honorable goal. Moreover, they were men of opposing schools of political thought who functioned upon deductive reason, intuition and common sense rather than 'gut feelings' and catered words that are carefully scripted towards the arousal of certain perceptions in place of simple truths. The low point is that the 'Old Republicans' rise and reign of power led to the eventual partition of the party into Democrats and Republicans in 1824.
To conclude, one should ponder this. The Democratic-Republican party favored sufficient taxation to fund programs and nothing more. They favored the working class of industrial and agricultural means in lieu of the bankers, merchants and equivalents of modern day 'big business'. All the while, they did not seek retribution upon these entities, nor did they utilize them as puppets of political instrumentation; cash dispensary or whipping boy depending upon the sway of the masses at the time. The 'Old Republicans' believed in small government and states rights to govern themselves. Most importantly, when war was imminent and upon us in 1812, these men governed this nation as stalwarts of sense, dedication and decisiveness.
If one were to collect the undeniable merits and virtues of both the Democratic and Republican parties, while ejecting their deep biases and radical positions, one might find the definition outlined above being personified by an enlightened horde of men and women. At this moment the American people are being offered left or right and black or white. Where are those people who understand that the center, where gray drapes the landscape, is the path to long-term prominence? Simply exchanging left for right and white for black every four to six years will never solve a single problem that plagues this land. Moreover, our nation's political poles have been found, and the consequences of this discovery could prove to be eternally dire.
It is time for the independent to rise and the new Democratic-Republican party to be born.