Time for a Little Political Philosophy

It’s a bit long – sorry.

After the Civil War, the South had a habit of avoiding Republicans. Lincoln was a Republican. After the war, the radical Republicans in the US Congress wanted the “Reconstruction” of the South to be as long and painful as possible. Oh, and profitable for them and their cronies.

Until the mid-1960s – literally a century after the war, elections in the South often dispensed with any Republican candidate in the general election leading to a runoff between the Democrats. The “Solid South” could thus be counted on to elect many Democrats to local, state and federal offices.

Not all Southern Democrats were alike. There were radical conservatives like the Dixiecrats, who were anti-black, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic and some say the political arm of the Ku Klux Klan. However, most Democrats were moderates or liberals.

This was an advantage in politics. If two people or two parties are going to strike a deal, they have to negotiate an arrangement that each finds acceptable. With Democrats representing a range of attitudes, it was the idea that drove political negotiation, not the political affiliation. This was repeated to a certain extent in the mid-1990s, when conservative Democrats caucused as “Blue Dog” Democrats. Once again this provided the opportunity for successful negotiations within the Congress.

Today, too many politicians – screaming liberals and the ultra-conservative Tea Partiers alike – are so focused on performing political theatrics for their political base that they ignore their duty to do what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole.

Why do I bring this up?

I’m seeing a trend among both voters and candidates who are leaving the Republican Party in favor of becoming moderate or even conservative Democrats. In discussions with them, I am led to believe that these are critical thinkers. This is a key point.

In our system our system of government, correctly called a democratic-republic the people vote for their representatives who go to Washington DC to, well, represent. When we elect these people, some voters will never waver from their position; they are loyal to the party or position regardless of any other circumstances. This may be due to a single issue (abortion, gun rights, marijuana) or to an overall stance (think Archie Bunker.)

The decisions, therefore, belong to those “swing voters” who make a decision based on other factors. They are the key to winning, which is why, during the last presidential election, both the candidates and the media focused to an extraordinary degree on the swing states. The Democrats didn’t worry about New York and the Republicans didn’t worry about Texas. Instead, everyone focused on the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

We may be seeing the emergence of swing voters who are moving from the Republican Party to the Democrats but representing a more rational than ideological position.

Could be interesting.

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One response to “Time for a Little Political Philosophy

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