The following is a personal position paper of The Jacksonian Party.
It is always fascinating to see how writers look at the roots of problems in one party or another and come back to very, very basics without intending to. Take Michael Tomasky in The New York Review of Books on his 17 JAN 2008 article They'd Rather Be Right, looking at the plight of the Republican Party. Mr. Tomasky is, to say the least, liberal in his outlook especially his views on the 'progressive' concept. So when reading such a writer it is best to ditch the modern day polemic and see how far back they go in looking for the origins of things. Mr. Tomasky heads straight to the chase, after much verbiage, to give this view of the US two party system:
The two major American political parties have always been amalgams of factions, especially the Democratic Party, from its early tensions between Jacksonian frontier populists and Adams-descended Northern reformers up through the late-nineteenth-century disputes between the mercantilist "Bourbon Democrats" and the prairie populists led by William Jennings Bryan. Then came the uneasy New Deal coalition of Northern liberals and Southern segregationists, and finally, in our time, the sometimes bitter feuds between liberals and centrists. The Republican Party's history is slightly less convulsive, partly because its initial factions such as Whigs and Free-Soilers found unity under Abraham Lincoln on the central question of slavery. But in time the Republican coalition came to include both staunchly pro-business and trust-busting interests; nearer our own era, there was also room enough within the party for domestic conservatives and moderates, supporters and foes of the New Deal, and foreign policy internationalists and isolationists.Here we get one of the times where the current 'power politics' is, actually, seen through to near its beginnings when populism had to fight business interests and government interests, with the differences between Jacksonians and Adams', and it is this start that would pit 'government hands-off' of Jacksonians against 'government hands-on' of the Whigs against each other.
Coming from the purely industrial view of things, not sociological or other realms, Jacksonians supported individuals and States to make good decisions for themselves without the interference of the Federal government. This is not only a 'frontiersman' view, but an expansionist one: that the best way to expand liberty is to allow the common man to do good by his own hand. While the Whigs wanted a controlled Nation, Jacksonians placed their trust in the People as the background of the Scots-Irish plus various other English, Nordic and Germanic immigrants would find this attitude appealing after having life so strictured and confined by the State (or Principalities) that making National government more powerful was the last thing they wanted. The Whig Party would die and the Republican Party form in its wake, with Abraham Lincoln being first a Whig and then a Republican, and the quest to control westward expansion and put government in charge of conducting the economy would be put to the wayside after the Civil War. The 'Prairie Populism' of William Jennings Bryan bears the scars of that post-Reconstruction era and the slow shift of the Democratic Party away from Jacksonianism and towards a more controlled Nation concept. Those frontiersman ideals, however, would be picked up, almost exactly, by Theodore Roosevelt and recrafted for the industrial age. The exact, same, instinct to not have a Federal Bank was then shifted to the control of monopolists and industrial 'robber barons' who had 'industry towns' in which those working were in virtual servitude to the company owning the town. Theodore Roosevelt would push for American Exceptionalism of its people and enforce the anti-monopoly laws and seek to them extended. Theodore Roosevelt would then excoriate those seeking to give government ultimate control over markets, like Woodrow Wilson and his supporters, as taking liberty from the common man.
On the sociological side, Jacksonians are a tough lot to cleave from something they start: and they stuck with the Democratic Party through thick and thin as it *was* the Party of Jackson. That would last right up to 1968 where the force of the Democratic Party expanding government and denigrating the Nation reached a fervor and the Party, itself, started to shift to an anti-Nationalist or Transnationalist stance. Big business would re-coalesce around the Republican Party after the era of Wilson and FDR, and offer a 'business only' economics view that no longer upheld views of Theodore Roosevelt and personal liberty. These voters now no longer have a party that will: uphold personal liberty, hold government and business accountable to the needs of the Nation, will disavow Transnationalism, shift course from Big Government Nannystatism, or even be able to properly call an enemy 'an enemy' and mean it outside of petty, partisan political views.
Factional politics inside the Republican Party, as Mr. Tomasky sees it, breaks down into:
neoconservatives; theo-conservatives, i.e., the groups of the religious right; and radical anti-taxers, clustered around such organizations as the Club for Growth and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.And to take a bit of a look on the other side here are the factions as they stand on the Democratic side, as seen at Wikipedia, and I will summarize:
1) Progressive Democrats - From the George McGovern to Dennis Kucinich axis.
2) Liberal Democrats - From the Ted Kennedy to Nancy Pelosi axis including Bill Clinton.
3) Labor Democrats - From the Sherrod Brown to John Edwards axis.
4) Moderate Democrats - The DLC axis of Walter Mondale to Mark Warner. Nearly defunct.
5) Conservative Democrats - The 'Blue Dog Democrats' characterized by Zell Miller, in theory many elected in 2006 are from this axis, but events have shown shifting to Moderate, Liberal and Progressive axes. Nearly defunct.
6) Libertarian Democrats - Democratic Freedom Caucus axis, a non-player in most politics.
7) Ethnic Minoritarian Democrats - Multiple minorities seeking gains from other axes, especially 1 through 4.
In general for the Democratic Party the Transnationalists consist of: 1, 2, 3, 4, and often 7. Nationalists tend to be in 4 through 6 although those are dying breeds in the Democratic Party and nearly gone now.
To be fair I will expand upon Mr. Tomasky with Wikipedia's view of Republican Party factions:
1) Religious Right - Fundamentalists, Evangelicals and Traditionalists of different sorts end up here, with Sam Brownback and Rick Santorum being members of note.
2) Neoconservatives or Neocons - Interventionist foreign policy as seen by Charles Krauthammer, David Frum and others. Often coming from the Liberal Democratic faction and disavowing it when it went Transnationalist for governing concepts.
3) Social Conservatives - Anti-Big Government individuals, in strong support of the military and second amendment rights.
4) Security Oriented - Those individuals alarmed by threats to the US, and I disagree with the article's listing and reasoning, but not the presence of this faction.
5) States' Rights Oriented - Those wishing to keep the Federal Government small and out of State only issues. Strongly opposing Federal laws on marriage, property or anything else not given to the Federal government to do.
6) Paleoconservatives - Distrustful of modern ideologies and statecraft, and the expansion of government. Opposed to multi-culturalism, restrictionist on trade and foreign policy, generally isolationist.
7) Libertarian Conservatives - Emphasizing market over social controls, especially on spending, regulation and taxes. Generally seeking to privatize government and shift them to the States or private interests.
8) Log Cabin Republicans - Those that favor gay rights.
9) Liberal Republicans - "Rockerfeller Republicans" - Harold Stassen, Richard Nixon, Michael Bloomberg and Jim Leach axis. Supporters of the 'New Deal' and its concepts, generally.
The Transnationalists, Free Trade and pro-morality enforcement through government action of alignment have parts of 1, 2, 7, 8 and all of 9. Nationalists tend to be in 3 through 6 and parts of 1, 2, 7, 8.
Jacksonians tend to cluster on purely National interests, seeking social control of things like trade for the good of the Nation, not of industries, and keeping government small so it can do its job of protecting the Nation well. Jacksonians are pro-liberty and freedom as global ideas, but put forward you must *work for it* to get it and sustain it. The last real strongholds in the Democratic Party are in 5 and 6: Conservative and Libertarian. There are always some outliers cropping up in 7, as recent immigrants with a 'can do' attitude tend to shift to frontiersman views. There aren't that many of those remaining there. In the Republican Party this tends to be centered on 3-6, with parts of 1, 7, 8.
President Andrew Jackson in his Bank Veto Message of 10 JUL 1832 sums up the view:
It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society the farmers, mechanics, and laborers who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.Keep government *confined* to ensure that all garner equal protection so that prosperity can be created. Ensure the rich do not bend government to its will, nor that government create distinctions amongst the people between rich and poor. And stand against those seeking 'new rights' and 'new privileges' and 'entitlements' as they create worse problems than any original problem they seek to solve.
Nor is our Government to be maintained or our Union preserved by invasions of the rights and powers of the several States. In thus attempting to make our General Government strong we make it weak. Its true strength consists in leaving individuals and States as much as possible to themselves in making itself felt, not in its power, but in its beneficence; not in its control, but in its protection; not in binding the States more closely to the center, but leaving each to move unobstructed in its proper orbit.
Experience should teach us wisdom. Most of the difficulties our Government now encounters and most of the dangers which impend over our Union have sprung from an abandonment of the legitimate objects of Government by our national legislation, and the adoption of such principles as are embodied in this act. Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress. By attempting to gratify their desires we have in the results of our legislation arrayed section against section, interest against interest, and man against man, in a fearful commotion which threatens to shake the foundations of our Union. It is time to pause in our career to review our principles, and if possible revive that devoted patriotism and spirit of compromise which distinguished the sages of the Revolution and the fathers of our Union. If we can not at once, in justice to interests vested under improvident legislation, make our Government what it ought to be, we can at least take a stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of our Government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many, and in favor of compromise and gradual reform in our code of laws and system of political economy....
And, above all, Citizenship is not a 'right' it is a Duty as Theodore Roosevelt would point out on 23 APR 1910 at the Sorbonne (via the Theodore Roosevelt site):
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."Citizenship is in the doing, not the criticizing and it is in that doing that all life gains worth:
Such ordinary, every-day qualities include the will and the power to work, to fight at need, and to have plenty of healthy children. The need that the average man shall work is so obvious as hardly to warrant insistence. There are a few people in every country so born that they can lead lives of leisure. These fill a useful function if they make it evident that leisure does not mean idleness; for some of the most valuable work needed by civilization is essentially non-remunerative in its character, and of course the people who do this work should in large part be drawn from those to whom remuneration is an object of indifference. But the average man must earn his own livelihood. He should be trained to do so, and he should be trained to feel that he occupies a contemptible position if he does not do so; that he is not an object of envy if he is idle, at whichever end of the social scale he stands, but an object of contempt, an object of derision. In the next place, the good man should be both a strong and a brave man; that is, he should be able to fight, he should be able to serve his country as a soldier, if the need arises. There are well-meaning philosophers who declaim against the unrighteousness of war. They are right only if they lay all their emphasis upon the unrighteousness. War is a dreadful thing, and unjust war is a crime against humanity. But it is such a crime because it is unjust, not because it is a war. The choice must ever be in favor of righteousness, and this is whether the alternative be peace or whether the alternative be war. The question must not be merely, Is there to be peace or war? The question must be, Is it right to prevail? Are the great laws of righteousness once more to be fulfilled? And the answer from a strong and virile people must be "Yes," whatever the cost. Every honorable effort should always be made to avoid war, just as every honorable effort should always be made by the individual in private life to keep out of a brawl, to keep out of trouble; but no self-respecting individual, no self-respecting nation, can or ought to submit to wrong.These are all things that Jacksonians understand deeply and fully: one works to achieve by their own ends to create a better society so that the entirety of society may have liberty and be free. Your rights are self-evident... securing them comes at a cost.
Finally, even more important than ability to work, even more important than ability to fight at need, is it to remember that chief of blessings for any nations is that it shall leave its seed to inherit the land. It was the crown of blessings in Biblical times and it is the crown of blessings now. The greatest of all curses in is the curse of sterility, and the severest of all condemnations should be that visited upon willful sterility. The first essential in any civilization is that the man and women shall be father and mother of healthy children, so that the race shall increase and not decrease. If that is not so, if through no fault of the society there is failure to increase, it is a great misfortune. If the failure is due to the deliberate and wilful fault, then it is not merely a misfortune, it is one of those crimes of ease and self-indulgence, of shrinking from pain and effort and risk, which in the long run Nature punishes more heavily than any other. If we of the great republics, if we, the free people who claim to have emancipated ourselves form the thraldom of wrong and error, bring down on our heads the curse that comes upon the willfully barren, then it will be an idle waste of breath to prattle of our achievements, to boast of all that we have done. No refinement of life, no delicacy of taste, no material progress, no sordid heaping up riches, no sensuous development of art and literature, can in any way compensate for the loss of the great fundamental virtues; and of these great fundamental virtues the greatest is the race's power to perpetuate the race. Character must show itself in the man's performance both of the duty he owes himself and of the duty he owes the state. The man's foremast duty is owed to himself and his family; and he can do this duty only by earning money, by providing what is essential to material well-being; it is only after this has been done that he can hope to build a higher superstructure on the solid material foundation; it is only after this has been done that he can help in his movements for the general well-being. He must pull his own weight first, and only after this can his surplus strength be of use to the general public. It is not good to excite that bitter laughter which expresses contempt; and contempt is what we feel for the being whose enthusiasm to benefit mankind is such that he is a burden to those nearest him; who wishes to do great things for humanity in the abstract, but who cannot keep his wife in comfort or educate his children.
No one in either party now speaks in these terms and that 40%+ of society that no longer votes does so because this sort of voice has been removed from politics. In wanting to secure 'special rights' and 'entitlements' we are losing liberty and freedom. Yet society does have a responsibility to care for those who have suffered in life: to do otherwise is not civilized. That does not mean mortgaging the Nation to provide goodies for everyone. That does mean tending to the sick who have no means to care for themselves and for those mentally and physically able to contribute finding ways that such contribution can get them out of the public sphere as the government is the very worse caretaker for anyone ever invented.
That is why we trust the heart and soul of charity to ourselves and hand it to no other as no other can ever represent us in that realm. Governmental charity is not charity at all, but policy run by bureaucrats who have no heart and soul in what they do, just a paycheck. Every time and each that we hand more charity to government, we lose it in ourselves and to recover that we must recognize that no government represents the strength of its People or Nation.
Every 'special right' demeans that right for all to uphold it for the few.
Every 'entitlement' diminishes self worth until we are supplicants to government for all things.
Kindness is not the role of government, it has never been such at any time or place as it only has powers to enforce and punish, and that had best be equal for all.
Righteousness is in our hearts and souls, not in legislation or the prison cell.
We judge now only on those things done to us and our society so that justice may be done for us, and let final and other judgment be done by those worthy of such things, which will not once nor ever be our created government.
Only free People know how to build on kindness and that when such is not returned we understand and turn from its denial seeking to create understanding until it confronts us in opposition and lets us know that they consider themselves the final measure of us.
Let us join together to remember that Society is the creator of the Good, and Government the restrainer of the Bad, and that we will never, ever confuse the two.
I will, as I have previously, stand by that this New Year and onwards as these are the stars in the Sky of Liberty.