Political leaders in the US wouldn’t exist without the parties that spawn them. but aside from the core beliefs of being a Democrat (progressiveness and large government) or a Republican (small government and economic freedom), not too many people know about the origins of the parties that have created the Lincolns, Reagans, and Jeffersons of the world.
The origins of political parties
The Romans had political factions with the Patricians who were nobles, and the Plebeians who were the rich merchants. While these two parties were friendly to one another, they could divide the Senate through party lines.
The monarchies of the middle ages had no political parties, and they wouldn’t exist again until 1678. At that time a rumor was started that Roman Catholics were going to kill King Charles and throne his Roman Catholic brother the Duke of York instead. The parliament panicked and banned all Roman Catholics from office, which also affected the Duke’s right to rule.
King Charles, seeing the threat to his power, dissolved parliament and divided England into a group who wanted a new parliament and those who didn’t want any control over the king’s actions. One side wanted the people to have more rights and the other wanted only the king to rule, which led to the impact on America.
The American political parties
While the leaders of the American revolutions hated political parties and partisan division, parties were founded anyway. The Federalists led by Hamilton wanted a strong government and the Democratic-Republicans wanted a government run by the people.
The North wanted a strong government that would support the interests of northern bankers and merchants, while the south wanted a state-run government to support their farmers and landowners. These political differences would divide the country in one way or another, even helping to cause the civil war.
The second great division was during the Great Depression as both sides struggled to figure out the best way to deal with the crisis and rebuild the country after everything was done.
The parties have ebbed and flowed in power since then and have morphed and shaped into the two main parties that are in government today. The ironic thing is that today, everyone seems so convinced that their party is correct and the other is wrong, but both sides agree on the goals, just not the means to achieve them.
More than two parties
Third parties have risen up alongside the two parties, either running on issues and ideas or created the parties such as Progressive parties and the Socialists. More parties tended to form around flash points in the world, such as the Dixiecrat party or the Reform party.
While they haven’t gotten enough support to overthrow the popularity of the ruling two parties, they have made good cases for their ideas and issues.
Politics is all about belief, and whether someone is a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or Centrist, understanding why those ideas and parties came about can help everyone understand their position a little better.