The Two Party System

While cleaning out the garage, I found something dating back to my schoolboy days—a mini ten-page report I did for my ninth grade Civics class back in 1978.  As I reach the half-century mark in age, I realize it is uncanny that I could have written something this sophistication, especially with strong thesis conviction in just ten pages typed on an old Remington portable typewriter at the beginning of my adolescence.  I used a book titled Politics: The American Way, co-written by John O. Newman and former governor and senator from Connecticut, the late Abraham Ribicoff, my father’s wisdom, the late Alan E. Schoenhaus, who for over twenty-five years covered state and national political news for the Bridgeport Post, when it was privately owned by a Bridgeport family that was unusually particular about the content of the news-hole (not seen in newspapers today), and my unusually politically informed background as a youngster stemming from the fact that my grandfather, the late Stanley H. Stroffolino, Republican State Senator in Connecticut and pharmacist and owner of Stanley’s Drug Store (established in the 1930s when he graduated Columbia University School of Pharmacy until his passing in 1974; back then a state legislator had to have a second career as it was not the high-paying profession it was today and in Connecticut, the legislature only met in odd-numbered years), and the high level of political conversation that took place in the household with parents, grandparents, and other relatives on both sides of my family.  The Newman-Ribicoff book was written in 1967 and when I wrote this in 1978, the Republican Party was still suffering the aftermath of Nixon and Watergate—it took The Great Ronald Reagan to bring it back in a big way.  Some of the information is outdated, but as I was reading through it after all these years, I found a prophesy that actually did happen.

While the report starts with the beginning of the American political system when the objective was for people to run for president without party affiliation, I made reference to George Washington’s farewell address where he warned the of the baneful effects of the spirit of parties [sic] generality.  The fear of a farmer’s party, a businessmen’s party, a skid-row bum’s party, a socialist or communist party, etc. would have forced the American voter to align him or herself with the party and not the person.  On the other hand, with the electorate system we use in this country, if we were more like France with many parties or individuals running for the nation’s highest office in the same year, it would be impossible for any one candidate to ever get a 51% majority and with multiple parties, interests, and philosophies in Congress, it would make it impossible for him to effectively govern.  The result was the evolution of party specificity consolidated to only two major political parties, setting up a mandate by virtue of the laws of mathematics (aided by the electoral college) that the winner would be guaranteed that 51%

It began with the Whigs and Federalists, the Whigs carried over from the British as they were the anti-Tory force who were more liberal and in the end, did not oppose [the colonies] from declaring their independence, the Federalists evolved from The Federalist Papers written by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison who wrote of the flaw in the loose and powerless nature of the Articles of Confederation and the need for, as stated in our Constitution’s preamble: in order to form a more perfect union…

The Whigs disbanded after failures they cited in the War of 1812 and the Federalists saw new opposition in the Anti-Federalists, who would label themselves Democrats, from the root word for democracy, as this group felt the federal system was diverting the American people from the real meaning of living in a democracy—as Lincoln would say later, government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  In 1856, with the election of James Buchanan, and the pre-civil war migration to a party of the North (anti-slavery) and a party of the South (slavery status-quo), the Federalists became the Democratic-Republican party, emphasizing the importance of a republic or representative democracy and not an oversized New England Town Meeting and as rebuttal to Jefferson Davis’s desire for a confederacy, prototyped after the failed Articles of Confederation.  The Democratic-Republicans shortened their name to simply Republican.  Though the history books cite the Democratic Party as the oldest political party in America, the Republican Party is the party that stuck with the basic principles of the Federalists and The Federalist Papers, and that is why it is nickname is the Grand Old Party, or G.O.P.

As the industrial revolution transformed this country and drastically changed the distribution of wealth in this country, working class and poor Americans flocked to the Democrats and the wealthy and business owners flocked to the Republicans.  My maternal grandfather, Stanley Stroffolino, was a fiscal conservative but did not always agree with Republican views on social issues as he observed first hand in the neighborhood in South Norwalk where the pharmacy was located, the plight of the urban (actually, suburban) poor.  Likewise, I had family and friends that who worked for a company they did not own but were not completely on board with the Democrats tax and spend economics (who likes paying taxes).  But in those days, your political party was more or less your birthright; working class Democrat and business owner Republican.

One part of the mini-report my father helped me with was on page 8 as it wrapped up when I wrote about a proposal, for lack of a better term, for the two parties to realign based on liberal versus conservative philosophy.  For poor and middle class who believed in conservative viewpoints to switch to the G.O.P., and for people my father referred to as Limousine Liberals to go with the Dems.  More or less, as the century and millennium switched over, that is exactly what happened.  The election of Ronald Reagan and 1980 and re-election in 1984 turned out to be the ultimate antidote for the pestilence called Watergate for the Republican Party in America the success of Reganomics took us out of recession and got America working again and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Iron Curtain, and Communism at the end of his presidency shifted the minds of men and women from income bracket to political philosophy.  As the century and millennium turned, the Dixi-crat faction of the Democrat party, more conservative than Northern Republicans, disbanded and the old dixi-crats became Republicans.  A 1978 prophesy came to be.  As I covered the race for the Republican nomination for president in 2012, Rick Santorum comes from very humble beginnings as the son of a coal miner and Mitt Romney, if elected would be the wealthiest man ever to get elected president.  Who is more conservative?  Confirms the shift from income to philosophy I stated.  Santorum’s decision to do the Godly thing and be with his ailing daughter instead of on the campaign trail is what precluded this race from continuing and I still believe Santorum would have pulled it off creating a liberal versus conservative battle in November.

What is important is the alignment continue as status quo, or if necessary, align some other way, but for alignment in any form not be broken.  Too many of my fellow Republicans have broken away from the basis on who to vote: instead of voting on the basis of conservatism, voting on which candidate is most-likely to beat Barrack Obama.  Sure, I have major differences with President Obama’s politics, but he is a good decent family man outside the realm of politics and the disturbing part of it is the notion that the Republicans should run another liberal against him just for the sake of taking home the silver cup.  Philosophically, we will be at status quo regardless whether we elect Obama or Romney in 2012.  If this philosophical alignment I speak of is going to work, we must as people base our decision on who to vote for on how we stand on the issues.  This is the most fundamental definition of Republic or Representative Democracy; how the majority stands on issues and electing the candidate who best represents our stand on most issues.



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