Evolution of The American Political Parties
الأربعاء - 19 يونيو 2019
Wed - 19 Jun 2019
No things stay constant over time. Change is something that is happening around us all the time. This principle applies for the two major political parties in The United States. The two inflection points for both parties were World War II and The Vietnam War. Both events had profound affects on them and in the paths they have traveled to the present day. It has been said in jest that the difference between The United States and it's Constitutional Republic and an authoritative dictatorship is that The United States offers you two choices instead of the one that the authoritative system offers. Over the course of its history The United States has had a very involved political process with more than two parties, especially during its very first years. Like all things this political landscape evolved and the parties eventually coalesced around two, The Republican and Democratic Parties. How both parties were affected by World War II and The Vietnam War is a good basis for trying to determine who they currently are. Like people, political movements also carry lessons from their formative years into the latter stages in life. The evolution of both vis-à-vis the two wars will focus on defense and foreign policy and how these two conflicts shaped them both.
Contrary to conventional wisdom The United States since its inception in 1776 went through great efforts to not be heavily involved in international affairs. It began as a rural, agrarian, and relatively poor nation in its early beginnings. Briefly in 1800-1802 it contemplated the likelihood of a French invasion of The Caribbean and The Louisiana Territory under Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1812 The United States was again at war with Great Britain where The British marched on the capital, sacked it, and left it in ruins. President James Madison had to leave Washington, D.C. to avoid the destruction and potential capture by the besieging British forces. With the fall of Napoleonic France, the emergence of the Pax Britannica emerged with Great Britain being the preeminent world power from 1815-1945. The United States remained inward looking, only to be setback by The American Civil War (to this day the most costly conflict The United States has ever fought is when American fought American). Traditional suspicions over European intentions regarding them became even sharper when The European Powers intently watched the slaughter of The American Civil War, hoping for demonstrative Confederate victories where they could give diplomatic recognition to the breakaway southern states and break The United States in two. It was here where The United States began to think more outwardly and their place in the world, but this though process was still slow-moving and very cautious.
The Americans were shocked by the loss of life incurred in World War I, and both parties resolved to not get the country involved in any protracted conflicts, especially European ones. Isolationism ruled the thinking of The American People from 1920 until the late 1930’s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) watched the emergence of Germany and Japan and knew that The United States would not be able to live in a world where these two belligerent powers were victorious. He began to slowly prepare the country for war even though the populace was still largely isolationist. The American People were predominantly against any American involvement in World War II, on any scale at all, prior to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Democrats under Roosevelt championed defense and international presence globally in foreign affairs, especially towards The Japanese Invasion of China. The Republican Party was the exact opposite, isolationist, arguing for no intervention, and as minimal a global presence as possible. With German dominance in the beginning of World War II, and Japan’s attack on The United States it showed that The United States must play a role in the world and could no longer isolate itself. It would now begin to emerge on the global stage. From 1945 to the present day the Pax Americana has defined the world.
President Truman (D) had fought The Korean War and throughout the 1950’s The Cold War heated up. The Vietnam War would sharply change both parties. From around 1965 onwards The Democratic Party’s constituency did not like the war, and the anti-war movement would be born from its masses. Within the party itself a serious challenge to President Lyndon Johnson would be mounted in The Democratic Primaries of 1968 by the anti-war left. The candidacies for The Democratic Nomination for President of Senators Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy would be born of the anti-war left. It is here where The Republican Party in contrast would begin to emerge stronger on the issue of foreign policy and national defense. It is at this point where the trajectories of both parties would diverge and separate. For the remainder of The Cold War, and even afterwards, The Republican Party would be the party of defense and strong foreign policy presence where The Democratic Party would be one more oriented to domestic politics.