Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump: Political Parties vs Political Ideolgies

A number of Conservatives I know have been bragging about how they belong to the Republican part, the part of Lincoln that opposed slavery, while "Liberals" are all "Democrats" (often referred to as Demo-rats) who supported slavery. But this is a bold faced lie.

First, this claim confuses the difference between a political party name, like Democrat, Republican or Whig, with a political ideology, which is often characterized as "Liberal" or "Progressive" and "Conservative." But what must be understood is that a political party name is obviously in no way pegged to a particular political ideology; especially since the political landscape is forever changing. And these days, that landscape is only changing faster and faster. 

So it is comical to hear Conservatives today boast of belong to the party of Lincoln, since the Republicans who opposed slavery in those days were not "Conservatives" who voted for Abraham Lincoln because they wanted to "make America great again" by returning it to the days before progressive abolitionists started to threaten the way things were, and indeed had always been in America.

Rather, the Republican party at that time was, certainly by today's standards, the "progressive party," saw slavery as a problem in more ways than one, and wanted to change America for something better. Republicans who voted for Lincoln, in other words, were Liberals, not Conservatives.

The Democrats at that time, on the other hand, wanted to keep slavery alive and well in the Southern states, and many fought in the federal and state legislatures to expand slavery as America expanded west (killing native Americans as it went).  Many Democrats, like the Presbyterian minister James Henly Thornwell, the Episcopal clergy man from South Carolina Frederich Dalcho,  and even John C. Calhoun, argued that slavery was an institution ordained and supported by God and Christianity.

In short, today's arch Christian Conservative Republicans are yesterdays slave supporting Democrats, and today's Progressive Democrats are the successors of  yesterday's  Republican abolitionists. Indeed, without Progressives, America would still be colonies of the British Crown.

This divide is further illustrated by a map published by the NY Times that shows what TV shows are most popular in different areas of the country.. (The map can be seen here:

What's interesting about this map is how shows like Duck Dynasty and Bad Girls Club (a reality show that was described in a NY Times review as "The Jerry Springer show at its rowdiest) are most popular in many of the same states that chose to secede from the Union in 1861, where slavery was legal, while shows like Modern Family is and Big Bang Theory are most popular in the same states and "free territories" where slavery had been outlawed prior to the Civil War.

Such a chart may be simply more evidence that "Conservatism" is a kind of necromancy of the past, one that lives in fear of change, whether that changes comes from abolishing slavery, desegregating schools, civil and equal rights, permitting interracial or same sex marriage, or even considering the establishment of a healthcare system that would actually care about people's health first instead of maximizing profits only.

Indeed, as attempts to first stop and now abolish the ACA illustrate only to well, today's Republicans are not the successors of the party of Lincoln, but of the Third Reich.   

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