Friday, July 16, 2010
Evolution of America's One Party System
I just sent the following letter to the Olive Press, our local penny saver. Paul Smart, the editor, published two letters for me this issue as he had forgotten to publish both Gus Murphy's and my letter in the last issue:
Gus Murphy is right that government is a nessary evil. Mr. Murphy is also right that the ideas of Hamilton, Madison and Jay in the Federalist emphasized centralization. But while the anti-Federalists, who opposed the Constitution, lost the argument, they won key battles. The best part of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, was due to the anti-Federalists. Even today most Americans believe that freedom of speech, enshrined in the First Amendment, is the most important right.
As Charles Beard pointed out a century ago in his Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States the authors of the Constitution, who favored centralization and Federalism, were bankers and merchants. Alexander Hamilton, co-founder of the Bank of New York, was the most intellectually important Federalist. The centralizing party was always the party of the rich. Following the Federalists, the Whigs were formed to fight Andrew Jackson, the president of the working man, who abolished the equivalent of the Fed. The Republicans were formed to stop the South from seceding and to fight for higher tariffs, public works and the Fed.
In the late 1890s the Republican Party adopted Progressivism, another way to argue for centralization and the Fed. The final step was the creation of conservatism and the transformation of the two party system into a single Federalist Party. First, there was a conflict between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt over whether the US economy should be socialist and regulated, which Theodore Roosevelt (a Republican) favored, or whether anti-trust enforcement should be the responsibility of the Justice Department, which Taft favored. As president, Taft ignored Roosevelt. This made Taft the first "conservative". Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate in the Bull Moose or Progressive Party, and helped Woodrow Wilson defeat Taft. This made Roosevelt the first "liberal". The debate between "liberals" and "conservatives" is between two kinds of Progressives. Both liberals and conservatives today would have been Federalists in 1786, Whigs in 1836 and Progressives in 1904. We have a one party Federalist system just like in 1788 when Washington was elected.
Franklin Roosevelt took the fake liberal-conservative distinction further. He realized that support for big business would be more effective if cloaked in rhetoric that sounded like it was supportive of labor. The Democrats became super-Federalists, even more aggressively supportive of centralization of power into the hands of the Federal Reserve Bank and Wall Street, by using the rhetoic of helping the poor. The supposed help was through ineffective programs like Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act. None of these laws cost big business very much and and involved wealth transfers from lower to middle income taxpayers. Progressivism created inner cities characterized by drug addiction and dependency. The welfare-dependent lumpen proletariat became a political bargaining chip, just like the Roman proletariat in the days of Augustus Caesar.
Has America been getting greater and greater since the Federalists/Progressives took power in 1904? Do increasing income inequality, the Depression, the Stagflation of the 1970s, the mismanagement of the oil spill, the banking crisis, inflation, the massive increase in big business power, the massive increase in Wall Street's power, the stagnating real hourly wage and the exodus of manufacturing tell us that the one party Federalist system has succeeded?
While Mr. Murphy is right that government is a necessary evil, is Berndt Leifeld's giving Olive's school teachers a six percent raise when everyone else is not getting a raise a necessary evil? Is it necessary to spend 45% of your income on wortheless government "services"? Is providing Medicaid to non-residents who arrive in New York and whose first stop is the Medicaid office a necessary evil? Was seeing 500,000 jobs exodus the state during the Cuomo administration a necessary evil?