Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Third Party Necessity continued

The importance of the third party is best seen in the Civil War, but before we examine that point, let us look at the election of Andrew Jackson first.

The 1824 election had only one party, and the party nominated John Quincy Adams, a Nationalist. The anti-federalist were not going to sit for this, and John C. Calhoun threw his name into the hat, as did a Southern Federalist named Crawford. Henry Clay, a lesser Nationalist also ran in 1824. Just to make the race even more interesting Andrew Jackson a Federalist was nominated by some friends at the Tennessee state convention. The one party had told people to vote for Adams, the people had listened when they put forth James Monroe twice. Yet, this time the people voted the way they felt rather than the way their were told by their party. Calhoun bowed out before election day accepting the only Vice Presidential nomination instead. He threw his support to Andrew Jackson, the next alliance of the anti-Federalists, and Jackson won the popular vote and the electoral count, but because Crawford and Clay also grabbed electoral votes, it went to the House where Adams was made President. Jackson went on to create the Democratic Party, which still exists today, and the National Republican party of Adams disappeared after two Jackson victories in 28 and 32, along with his Vice President, Martin Van Buren winning in 36. The electorate disregarded the party and while losing the actual election, created a party that rode into power easily in four years.

The three way ideological split is easily seen in the Civil War’s three great Senators.
William Seward was the Nationalist who favored banning slavery from the territories and viewed military struggle with the South as inevitable.
Stephen Douglas was the Federalist who favored the rights of those living in the Territories to decide the question not the federal government.
Jefferson Davis was the anti-Federalist who viewed the territories as belonging to the States in general; thus, slaves could be taken into any territory and only when the territory became a state did it have the right to settle the slavery question.

Both the Whig and the Democrats were alliances between these ideologies, and the existence of third parties like the Free Soil showed the discontent of the Nationalists. The Free Soil party merged with the Know-Nothings and gained some unhappy Whigs like Seward and made the Republican Party. This was a completely nationalist party. The first election for the Republicans showed their strength in 1856 even though they lost the election. By 1858 they had control of the House of Representatives, and in 1860 they won the Presidential election. They replaced the Whig Party which died out because it would not take a stand. Thus, one ideological group left and voted for a party more in line with its thinking, and it won out. The same can be said of the Democratic Party. It put forth a Federalist, Stephen Douglas and the anti-Federalist group walked out. They put forth John Beckonridge, and they finished second. The Federalist finished last because the leftover Federalist Whigs failed to support Douglas and put forth John Bell as a Constitutional Union candidate. The Federalist party failed to find a place to stand and thus with the Nationalists in control of the North and the anti-Federalist controlling the South it ended in bloodshed.

The third party point in all of this is that people voted their conscious and major changes ended up occurring. It may have taken many years to actually achieve a victory, but victory was achieved. The Free Soil party had been around for decades, and finally enough people saw their point, and voted with them to win the Presidency. It should be noted that Abraham Lincoln was not on the ballot in every state because the Republican Party was a regional party. Yet, people voted for them anyway, and victory came. If people had the attitude of you need to be on every ballot Lincoln would have lost and slavery might still exist in Utah. Principle was more important the electability. Voting for principles beginning the process with the Free Soil Party, ended up changing the face of America forever. A point well worth remembering when trying to decide where to cast your vote.


Anonymous said...

The situation than now exists in the U.S. is such that the only third party that could be viable would be "moderate" read liberal without being rabid. John McCain anyone? That senario could be worse, in my opinion than what we now have. Third parties won't work under the current conditions because there is no third party in the legislative branch. What this country needs is a conservative leadership. We have none, including some that may make that claim such as Howard Phillips. When the predominate ideal is accomodation, especially in the Senate and the White House, we really cannot expect much more than the drift to the left that has been ongoing since FDR. The power is now in the hands of those that can pander to the percieved lowest common denominator. The concept of the Republic has given way to democracy = (tyranny of the mass). There is even a strong movement now to eliminate the electoral college and elect the president by popular vote. The mood in the country hasn't reached the point where rightous outrage can prevail. That outrage will probably not materialize in a third party but from within one of the established parties. Note the fight taking place for control of the Republican party by the conservatives vs. the "moderates". The numbers aren't there for decisive action given the split. The Democrat party is now controlled by the radical left whose only agenda appears to be the destruction of the president regardless of what his stand is on any issue. What third party could generate the numbers needed to enact real reform? In any senario, I only see more libralism prevailing not unlike Europe for some time to come.

Andrew Duggan said...

The viability of a third party in the legislative branch, I think was really damaged by the 17th amendment (direct election of Senators.) Prior to this, the Congress was divided in power between the interest of the people directly, and the (now formerly) sovereign republics of the several states. If senators still had to report to state legislatures, I wonder if the sovereignty of the states might not have eroded quite so quickly.

From the 1788 to 1967 the PCUSA basically had the American Westminster Confession and Catechisms as it doctrinal standards, the 1903 modification notwithstanding, but after 1924 it simply became irrelevant, just like the US Constitution after 1860. (Coincidentally about the same time the two-party system really became entrenched.)

Anonymous said...

Noonan in the Wall Street Journal has an opinion about third parties that is worth reading. Note the "moderate" bias.


Robert said...

Absent a "none of the above" choice on our ballots, in most races, how should Christians vote?

Lee said...

Thanks for the link. Good article.

I cannot tell you how to vote. Nor am I saying people should all vote for third parties. Vote for the one that most agrees with you. If it is a Democrat or Republican, so be it. But do not vote for one of those two when a third candidate lines up with your views.

Anonymous said...

Another link for you.


louis vuitton backpack said...

Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me!