What if American politics didn’t have to be so divisive and disgraceful? The United States is witnessing a major political realignment more significant than any of us have ever seen, as demographics and a demagogic president push the tides of American opinion in new directions, making heretofore policy planks seem archaic. The answer is that it doesn’t have to be this way, and Americans can begin to envision a brighter political future.
Donald Trump has destroyed the Republican party. It will never be the same. Surely the G.O.P. was steadily becoming obsolete due to changing demographics and the increasingly progressive views of milennials, yet the Trump presidency greatly accelerated this process. Hence why leading Republican’s of old are leaving — or considering leaving — the party on an almost daily basis.
The Democratic Party similarily faces an identity crisis. No Democratic voter can say with a straight face that they are for getting money out politics, or for serious electoral reform, which young folks so desperately want. Hence why millions of folks supported Sanders over Clinton, and Ocasio-Cortez over Crowley. Which way the party will go in the future remains to be seen, but it can’t remain both deeply progressive while simultaneously courting to entrenched corporate interests.
Even more voters, in fact 47%, don’t identify with either major party! Yet their views have been subordinated because they have no rational and legitimate outlet through which to funnel them. The Libertarians are so far right and Greens so far left that all they can do is ruin great opportunities.
Since 1840, America has been a two-party country. First it was the Whigs and Democrats, until the Whigs split over the issue of slavery in 1854, giving rise to the Republicans. The Democrats have been a major party for 168 years, matching the combined total of the Republicans, who have been a major party for 154 years, and the Whigs, who were for 14.
You see, in addition to the Democratic and Republican philosophies which have been corrupted and force-fed to the American public through restrictive ballot-access laws and media-conglomerates who are generally biased toward one party or the other, there’s a third ancient tradition that weaves through American history. This is the Whig tradition, which, according to David Brooks was “inspired by Alexander Hamilton, led by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, embodied most brilliantly in the minds of Abraham Lincoln and the early Theodore Roosevelt.”
The Whigs understood the necessity of using good government to create a cohesive and enterprising society, yet also were the first to stand up against government encroachment on individual liberty. Hence why any colonist who rebelled against King George III was called a “Whig” also known as a “Patriot”, and why the Whig Party of the 1830’s vehemently opposed “King Andrew” Jackson.
The upshot is that there is another mainstream political tradition for American’s to coalesce behind, and it’s never been in higher demand. Many Democrats who who’ve seen their party sprint left can fit in with Republicans. Nor can the many Republican’s who’ve rightly acknowledged that the G.O.P. will never be the same label themselves as Democrats.
Today, the Whig Party would be a party that appeals to these moderate Democrats and Republicans disenchanted by their parties sprints towards the ideological extremes. Centrist independents would inevitably be it’s base, yet millions of others who believe in electoral reform, transparency in campaign finance and ideological inclusion would also find this party much more appealing than the others.
The Whig Party would believe in using the better parts of government to create a more equitable society. This means they would be for universal education and universal health insurance, yet done in a way that’s so efficient it would be cheaper than current spending on these programs. They’d also believe in common sense gun reforms and accepting the inevitable liberalization of society on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, marijuana legalization and so forth.
Yet the Whig party would be far more radical than the Democrats and Republicans for their ability to tell the truth. To Whigs, the skyrocketing National Debt would be disclosed to the public daily and any policies put forth would aim towards it’s eventual limitation. The Whigs would also take zero dollars from corporate interests, which an overwhelming majority of American want, and therefore wouldn’t be shackled by special interests in their attempts to radically lower pharmaceutical prices and carbon emissions. Inevitably a majority of Americans would support this.
Most of all, the Whigs would be for pragmatism over ideology, and for civil debate over ad hominem attacks. Anyone who believes that the best solutions are found by getting folks from all different bends into a room and debating the merits of each proposal would find a home in the Whig Party. Those who enjoy watching divisive commentators go back and forth and play identity politics on CNN, MSNBC or FOX would not.
Fortunately, the Whig Party is back and better than ever. The Modern Whig Party is actively organizing to provide the millions of moderate Americans with an alternative in future elections.
For now, however, two major forces exist in American politics: those who support Trump, channeled through the Republican Party, and those who oppose him, channeled through the Democrats. This phase will pass however, and the major forces in American politics will be ready for something new.
The Whig Party will be back, ready to correct the two major parties and all of their flaws. They’ll win over a majority of voters by proclaiming “Vote Whig — They Couldn’t Possibly Be Worse!”