Third parties are generally a waste of time, and there are two primary reasons. #1: lack of sufficient funds and networking for a successful national campaign, and #2: a hesitancy among people in both major parties who fear that by abandoning the ship they are weakening it, only to dive into a sinking boat. Instead, the parties shift and sway with the interests of those who support it. Because of the fundamental ideological differences in the two parties, most issues go to one side or the other, but there is always disagreement within a party. Some Democrats oppose abortion, and some Republicans support it. Party affiliation isn’t so much about submitting to the beliefs of the party s it is influencing the party with your beliefs.
So there’s no real reason to go around calling for a new party – but it sure is fun to speculate.
Results from a Gallup poll came out last week that show how Americans believe the Democratic Party has become too liberal, but that views on Republicans are split. Some think they’re too liberal, others think they’re too conservative.
If I can digress for a second, I have to wonder whether the people answering these polls understand what the terms “liberal” and “conservative” mean. I suppose it is a result of the Culture Wars, but it seems that the modern political landscape in this country tends to be framed as a debate over moral traditionalism versus moral relativism. While that is definitely part of the discussion, we should remember that the true issue is not over which type of morality to legislate, but whether morality is the proper arena for government intervention in the first place.
I am not saying that law should ignore ethical issues, after all, what is law but a standard of ethics? I am simply saying that the principles of true Conservatism have been diluted by an overzealous crowd of politicians and yes, even church folk, who desire to use the Federal Government as a means to correct society’s ills and bring the prodigal sons back to order. Do I believe that our nation has made steps away from our Christian heritage? Yes. Am I disappointed and grieved at that fact? Yes. But do I think that making laws is going to cure America and bring God’s blessings upon us? No! Laws do not make people good, and perhaps the greatest problem is deciding whose definition of “good” we follow. The Baptists? The Presbyterians? The Catholics?
Anyway, it seems that while Republicans continue to be unpopular as a party, Conservatism itself is gaining steam when you get right down to its basic tenets. Americans believe in liberty. They may not like the scary aspects of Capitalism, or the burden of individual responsibility, but when faced with the real alternatives, and when the hidden details are made plain, Americans always value their personal privacy and freedom. So what the Republican Party has to do is embrace their traditional message of Liberty. Will they? Can they? I don’t know. But if not, the time would be ripe for a new party. What would I call it? With all the revolutionary-era references lately, what better name than “The Federalist Party.” Yes, there was a Federalist Party before, but there’s no reason why we can’t resurrect it. Especially since the Federalist Papers already provide the manifesto!
The original Federalist Party began only two election cycles after the first American election. They were the remnants of people who called themselves “Federalists,” who argued for the adoption of the Constitution. There’s a bit of confusion over the name, because in their own time they would have represented the “pro-Big Government” position. Yet today Federalism is often used to refer to the constitutional divide between federal and state powers, which is typically a small-government position. In reality, modern day conservative rhetoric more closely resembles that of the Anti-Federalists, who opposed the Constitution because it was a harsh blow to the liberties they had just fought for – and they were right. The Bill of Rights was not part of the Constitution, and was added only as a condition of New York’s ratification.
However, when compared to the modern era, it is clear that todays Democrats are a far cry from their 18th century counterpart. No one would have dreamed of direct income taxes (much less at 40%), nationalization of banks, or massive social programs in 1789. The principles that the Federalists promoted were of limited government with a reasonable amount of power, enough to sustain itself and protect its people. Under the Articles of Confederation – our oft ignored first constitution – the government was extremely inefficient, currency and military structures were abysmal, and the Federal Government had no real power to levy taxes on the states to pay for itself, or to do anything really. Washington has to have a certain degree of authority. We can’t deny that. But today’s conservatives argue that the ever-growing power of the Federal Government has far exceeded that which was intended by our Founders, and that under an authority this strong liberty cannot be protected. And I have to agree. No one can doubt that states and individuals in America have consistently lost ground over the last 100 years – especially under the leadership of such social utopianists as Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.
So maybe its time to go back to our roots and remind America of what she stood for on the day she was made. The new Federalist Party would do that. What would be the basic Federalist party platform? Let’s see….
1. The Separation of Powers, providing Checks and Balances between the 3 branches of Government and within Congress itself is essential in protecting liberty in America.
2. The Constitution, while it can be amended under severe necessity in order to achieve more thoroughly the ends for which it was intended, is not a “living document”, for it is designed for the sole purpose of protecting the liberties of Americans.
3. The 10th Amendment, which reserves all rights to the states that are not given to the Federal Government, must be respected.
4. We are a Representative Republic, not a Democracy. The public should be aware of the dangers of true democracy.
5. There should be as much separation between the individual and the Federal Government as reasonably possible.
6. Repeal the 17th Amendment, which disconnected State legislatures from Congress by making Senators electable through the population instead of the legislature, as originally designed.
I’m going to stop there and let other people fill the blanks….
If you have a suggestion for the “Federalist Party” platform leave a comment. I will add the ones I really like to the post. It doesn’t have to be serious, after all, this is just for fun… or is it?
Update: Lee Coursey asked below why I wouldn’t just join the Libertarian Party. Well, good question, and I do have an answer. In my opinion the Libertarian platform is so focused on absolute liberty that is comes quite close to Anarchy, and I do not believe that it can muster the kind of broad support it would need to become a major party, simply because it is so radical. Also, they seem to take on a view toward moral relativism that I don’t believe is a positive step.
A few examples of where I split with the Libertarian platform: 1) While there are grey areas on abortion, the Government should definitely not take the hands-off approach they are proposing. The freedom to live is our most precious freedom, and if nothing else a Federal ban on late-term abortions is entirely appropriate. The rest can be up to states. 2) They want to lift all censorship restrictions – that’s ridiculous. Many of our current regulations are very reasonable. Parents can filter most of what their children see and hear, but if there were no restrictions whatsoever that would be an impossible job. I do believe society has a certain right to make demands on communications through government. 3) I think one of the few ways government has to regulate business is when dealing with Monopolies – at least among non-luxury industries. The public needs competition. Without it, the consumer loses all negotiating ground and becomes controlled by the company. When freedom to pursue profit leads to the loss of choice on the consumer’s part something has to be done. 4) LIbertarians would put education completely in the private sector. Bad move. While education may not be a fundamental right, it is vital to our survival as a nation and to the very valuable American concept of economic Mobility. I did not come from a wealthy family, and if my mother had to pay for education I simply would not have gone to school. Obviously I wouldn’t have learned to read and write, and I would definitely not be blogging about political theory and whatnot. In order for people to be good citizens they require a certain degree of education, which should be available to all citizens.
My point is, when we enter into a society we do so understanding that we are all in it together, to protect one another. Those in our society that mean to disrupt this goal have their life, liberty and property taken. But in order to have a strong and prosperous society we must all be willing to give a reasonable amount of our own liberty. A peaceful society is a give and take relationship. To champion liberty in its absolute purest state is to call for an end to law, thus an end to the civil society. Many of the ideas Libertarians support would increase personal liberty – no doubt – but they would also weaken our nation. Abraham Lincoln understood this, and eventhough he was a proud sponsor of liberty – the first Republican, and “Great Emancipator,” in fact – he knew that there as a price to pay for lasting peace, and he was willing to deny transient cries of liberty in order to preserve the Union. Libertarians romanticize over liberty to an extent that they no longer ask what is reasonable to sacrifice for the greater good, and I fear that under their control America would be a weaker and less secure nation.