Political Parties in US
“Political parties are indispensable to democracy, and strong political parties are absolutely essential to effective governance of American society” (American Assembly 3). These are words quoted from The Future of American Political Parties: the Challenges of Governance. In the United States of America, there have been two strong political parties. Power has been shifted from one party to the other if one weakens. How did the political parties come about? What is the future that lies behind these parties? This essay seeks to explore the history of the American political parties from their origin, through their past and into the future.
Origin of Political Parties When the Americans colonies came to a decision of breaking political ties that had been connecting them to the very motherland, erstwhile colonists still had more years to build up a political atmosphere that would thrive in Northern part of America. The colonists had governments that had been functioning since the formation of Virginian House of Burgesses in 1619. The new American people were not ready to accommodate the sudden power expansion from regional to national setting after American Revolution.
Politicians could not be satisfied by dealing with issues arising from their colonies but extended their hands to a national scale ensuring that interests, competing sections and philosophies were perfectly balanced. Due to these disagreements that started this early, United States of America’s system of political parties was born (The Everything Development Company, par 1) Major Political Parties Federalist vs. Anti-Federalists in a constitutional debate Two major political parties were born and they had been in opposition to each other on the interpretation of the constitution.
One of the parties gave more power to federal government. On the other hand, the other political party wanted states to be given more power (Bancroft, par 1). The first of the divisions named Federalist (got its name from their advocating of federal governments) was made up of the famous Founding Fathers such as the war-hero George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. The propertied class supported them as they felt threatened by liberal strides in a move towards democracy that had been made during heady days just after Revolution.
The Federalist’s group was strongly conservative in the new born republic. The reason of this was to protect their property and the large amounts of political power that they exercised (The Everything Development Company, par 3) The second of the division, Anti-Federalist, strongly opposed the proposed constitution. It was mainly comprised of lower class people who felt threatened by rich people. To them, a strong Central Government was dangerous in respect to the people’s power and further more would be a corruption haven. (The Everything Development Company, par 4)
After the tug of war, a new constitution that empowered a central government was passed. Though neither Federalists nor Anti-Federalists survived long enough, they were a stepping stone to the development of American Political Parties. Parties never existed at this stage but factions did exist and they would later evolve into well-oiled parties (The Everything Development Company, par 5) Merchants vs. Farmers: the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans (17899-1815) The infant America had now settled in a Federal Republic.
However, peace never lasted for long as new divisions within George Washington’s cabinet emerged. He was the first president of the United States. The Treasury’s Secretary, Alexander Hamilton started a clash with the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton promoted policies that were in favor of merchants. For instance, he advocated for a tariff that would protect US’s infant industries. On the other side was idealist Jefferson. His policies were in support of the farmers; the backbone of the US economy as Jefferson viewed it.
He therefore advocated for agro-based economy. Hamilton’s supporters, mostly the merchants, floated high his banner and Federalists was resurrected. Similarly, Jefferson’s supporters who were mostly lower class and Southern plantation owners formed the Democratic-Republicans or in short Republicans. The two divisions however refused the identity of political parties. This is because both Jefferson and Hamilton viewed political parties as divisive as well as corrupt (The Everything Development Company, par 6-8) Federalists’ Death and the rise of Democratic-Republicans (1800-1815)
John Adams an equal conservative with Washington took power. He pushed through unpopular, authoritarian and xenophobic Sedition and Alien Acts. By so doing, he had fired-up the Democratic-Republicans and alienated electorate miles away. Democratic-Republicans were severely restricted of their constitutional rights and the leaders revolted in the election that followed in 1880 and worn though with a small margin. Jefferson had won and the death of the Federalists began. Adams was the last president of Federalists in US (The Everything Development Company, par 9-10)
Good Feelings Era (1815-1820) After the Federalists were dismantled at the end of 1812 war, the US found itself in a situation that had never happened before. US experienced harmony that it had never experienced before under President James Monroe’s leadership. He had brought together the disparate sections and created unity never felt before in America. It was a period of relative calm but it did not last for long. New debates had risen and they sprung different opinions between the politicians especially over slavery and tariff (The Everything Development Company, par 6-8).
The lines were drawn between strict and loose constructionists. In 1819, US was hit by a financial crisis and the splits became apparent. Arguments rose as to which group was responsible for what US was going through economically. More so, the groups disagreed on how to amend the situation. The old institutions that had been governing American politics slowly began fading away. However they opened avenues for other new political parties; parties that were more organized than the older. The new parties had a close resemblance to present parties (The Everything Development Company, par 14).
Republicans gives birth to Democrats In the years of 1820’s and during the reign of Adams, Republican split into two; National Republicans and Democratic Party headed by Adams and Andrew Jackson respectively. National republicans later took the name Whig Party; traditional name given to British liberals. Whig held the ground for internal improvements but the Democrats who were much stronger opposed this. Democrats called for an opportunity for common man and personal liberty. Implicitly, the common man had been understood to mean the white man and for this reason African American received hostility.
The success of the democrats was attributed to them involving the masses. A new phenomenon of mass participation was thus adopted in politics (AUTHOR 286). Parties in Civil War (1850s) In the years of 1850s, the North and the South States became so hostile towards each other towards slavery issue. The parties were not spared either and they were divided. Whigs was the first to split into southern and northern Whigs (AUTHOR 286-287). Southern Whigs stopped from being an organized party but the northern Whigs united and formed a union with Democrats who were anti-slavery.
Together, they formed the current Republican Party (AUTHOR 287). Further disagreements rose. Republicans supported economic growth and business. More so, many of the Republicans wanted moral values of evangelical Protestants imposed and limit alcohol sale. Public schools with protestant curriculum were what they advocated. Democrats were strongly Catholic and they opposed the policy (AUTHOR 287). During the elections of 1896, urban working class outnumbered farmers and the Republican won headed by William McKinley. The Republican remained in power between 1896-1932 (AUTHOR 288)
The Future of Political Parties in US The political parties in America are at time of rapid change within the social and economic sectors. They are not as dominant as they used to be (American Assembly 3). However, the parties have not stopped fighting. A clear view of the politics reveals that political fight is not a fight between Republicans and Democrats but parties fighting American people. Political parties are corrupt and for this reason they will end up splitting. The Christians will soon realize they have been abused and move out of Republican Party and most likely form a party of their own.
Democrats will not be spared either. They will perhaps split into two. There is a possibility that corporate wing will break and join Republicans and left-leaning the new Democrats. Liberals are bound to remain as they have been. A group of people who have been so disillusioned for long will probably not participate (Mulier, par 1-5). Conclusion American political parties have evolved in history. The two major parties in US; Democrats and Republicans have stood against the test of time. No other independent party can stand to oppose the two. They are however the perfect political parties that would be imagined.
From the time immemorial, the two parties had been in constant fights over supremacy. To date, they are still fighting and the future does not seen bright either. They will perhaps break forming other new Democrats and Republicans but their names will remain. Work Cited American Assembly. The Future of American Political Parties: The Challenges Of Governance. New York: The American Assembly Columbia University, 1982. Print. Bancroft, Hubert. History of Political Parties in the United States. Love To Know, 2003. Web. 7 July 2010 <http://www. publicbookshelf. com/public_html/The_Great_Republic_By_the_MasterHistorians_Vol_II/unitedsta_ii.
html>. Mulier, Richard. Reflections: The Future of Political Parties in the U. S. Helium, 2010. Web 7 July 2010 <http://www. helium. com/items/615685-reflections-the-future-of-political-parties-in-the-us>. The Everything Development Company. Evolution of American Political Parties From The Revolution to the Reconstruction. The Everything Development Company, 23 August 2003. Web 7 July 2010 <http://everything2. com/title/Evolution+of+American+political+parties+from+the+Revolution+to+the+Reconstruction>. Author. People and Politics. City: Publisher. Year of publicationSample Essay of Custom-Writing