I am reading a book titled Abraham Lincoln: The Southern View, by Lochlainn Seabrook. The author describes the antagonistic political factions in America, from the end of the American Revolution until today. What he says makes modern political struggles understandable.
The two political factions are simply these: the centralizers vs decentralizers, the Federalists vs the Anti-Federalists, strong central government vs weak central government.
The centralizers want a federal government that dictates to the states. The decentralizers want a federal government that takes its orders from the states. Early centralizers include Alexander Hamilton and his followers, and decentralizers were Thomas Jefferson and followers.
The Hamiltonians wanted a central bank of the United States, and bigger federal government financed by trade tariffs and excise taxes. The Jeffersonians opposed a strong federal government, opposed a central bank and supported low taxes and tariffs.
The Hamiltonians became the National Republicans, then the Whigs, and then the Republican Party. Note: the early Republican Party was a party of big government and big taxes.
The Jeffersonians became the Democratic Party. However, what modern people fail to realize is that these early Democrats were Jeffersonian Democrats, who supported small government, low taxes and an agricultural society.
In modern times, the Republican Party moved right and supported Jeffersonian ideas, and the Democratic Party moved left, supporting Hamiltonian ideas. The two parties did indeed switch sides, though modern gun-boat, Lincoln-loving Republicans vainly deny it.
In present times, the Democratic Party has moved even further left, and are now more socialist or fascist in their leanings. The Republican Party has also moved left, all but abandoning its base of Jeffersonian conservatives, and now seeks to attract new constituents by adopting leftist ideas.
Has Jefferson lost the argument after 240 years? Not as far as real conservatives are concerned. However, we Jeffersonians are largely out of office. How to retake the political initiative is the question.
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