No matter which party you are affiliated with there’s a history behind that party. From the beginning of our country, the people have been split in beliefs. During the Revolutionary War, it was loyalists, patriots and independents (those who didn’t side with either). In the beginning when men were first deciding the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, it was Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Now, we have the Republican and Democratic Party. So how did that evolve into the two dominant parties we have now?
In the Beginning
George Washington, our very first president, was actually against political parties. He explained why in his famous Farewell Address explaining the dangers of allowing political parties to form. In Washington’s view, parties would allow “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men” to misguide the trust of the people in a way that would allow them to gain more control and power of the government. Washington was the only president who didn’t align with a party.
The Federalist Party was what John Adams, our second president, aligned with. It’s considered more as a faction, partly because the Federalist Party didn’t necessarily have a cohesive, all-encompassing platform. They just advocated for a specific issue. The most well-known being how much power the federal government should yield. Federalists wanted a central government and then faded away after the issue was resolved. Anti-Federalists came about as a response to Federalists and advocated for states’ rights and later changed their name to become the Republican Party, and later Democratic-Republican Party. By 1815, the Federalists ceased to keep their hold and ended as a party.
The Republican Party and Democratic Party
After the fall of the Federalist Party, the Democratic-Republican Party split into what we now know as the Republican and Democratic Party. The split first happened when those who supported John Quincy Adams and those supported Henry. The supporters of Henry named themselves the National Republican party in 1824. The second split occurred when Andrew Jackson was elected president in 1829, his supporters, the remainder of the Democratic-Republican Party, dropped “Republican” from their name and became the Democratic Party.
Considering the 1860s version of the Republican Party, heavily populated in the north, advocated for expanding federal power. The Democratic Party, heavily populated in the south, wanted less government involvement. Looking at history now, it’s clear that the parties began advocating for what seemed to be the opposite party’s issues. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln ran with the Republican Party and pushed for government intervention in areas such as slavery and trade. By the 1936 election, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected following the success of the New Deal, a program based almost entirely on government intervention in creating jobs and improving infrastructure. Our current Republican Party leans further from bigger government intervention while the Democratic Party is for bigger government intervention, at least in business, and the switch can be easier understood through the lens of business.
Flip or Flop
While it may seem like the names flipped, the Republican party since its conception has always advocated for bigger business. The only difference is back in the 1860s, the Republican party wanted government assistance for activities such as building the transcontinental railroad, establishing state universities and enacting protective tariffs. Now, with many businesses able to find means to meet their needs themselves, they want less government intervention (laissez-faire). Loyalties may not have changed, but goals have, thus resulting in the switch in values.