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  •  Terrific essay, Mark. (15+ / 0-)

    As a historian, I'm thrilled to see more history on this site -- which does a very good job actually of presenting history and its relationship to the present. My one comment is on the present day Republicans, and the idea that they cheer Lincoln and other liberals against the conservatives of their day.

    •  Yeah, really makes one's head spin (5+ / 0-)

      at the irony, obviously completely over their uncritical and unaware heads. Am I now supposed to cheer for Jeff Davis and Bobby Lee?

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:34:15 AM PST

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      •  Of course! (9+ / 0-)

        I love when they go off on Southern Dixiecrats. My response is: I'm a liberal, liberals have always been on the right side, and it's too bad Republicans aren't liberals anymore.

        •  Not many northern Dixiecrats, of course :-) (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ian Reifowitz, Justin93, freelunch

          Nor many southern ones, for that matter, since they're all Repubs now.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:13:28 AM PST

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        •  Once you take away the party labels... (7+ / 0-)

          ... things get much simpler. Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party stand for what they used to. People make a mistake in looking back 150 years and trying to understand the participants through the filters of what the parties are currently.

          But if you remove the party labels, and just look at liberal vs. conservative, it ceases to be a confusing mess.

          The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

          by A Citizen on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:55:07 AM PST

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          •  The one consistency, the only one (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kovie

            Is that the Republicans, and the forebears the Whigs and Federalists, all promoted commercial/industrial interests more wholeheartedly than did Democrats -- who were on the side of agriculture--which of course included slaveowners -- and the emerging (white) wage-working population. The early Federalists and Whigs were right -- as the post makes clear -- that the American System would help grow the economy of course. Much more could be said, but football starts soon!

            •  Up until the Civil War and big industrialization (0+ / 0-)

              took hold, which led to factories that led to mass immigration to have laborers to work in them, there was no major income inequality and poverty in the US. It existed, of course, and obviously slavery was the big exception, but we didn't see the sort of mass inequality and poverty that led to the populist, progressive and labor union eras until after the Civil War. Until then, I think that the Federalists and later Whigs were simply promoting prosperity, not inequality.

              It was only after Reconstruction, when the Radical Republicans were pushed out of the GOP leadership, that we began to see these things, and pushing prosperity alone was no longer sufficient, because the issues of poverty and inequality and the need for regulation and a social safety net to deal with them emerged. This is when the GOP lost its moral credibility, never to truly recover it except perhaps in the Eisenhower-Reagan era, and Democrats slowly began to take on the role of the more moral party of the people.

              I am oversimplifying, of course. But I think that there's a clear division between the ante-bellum and post-Reconstruction eras, that forever changed the roles played by each party, and the nature of the US economy and the role that government played in it. The inheritors of the political ideology of Hamilton, Clay and Lincoln went the way of big business and the rich, and the inheritors of the political ideology of Jefferson, Madison and Jackson went the way of the working and middle classes, farmers and labor (and, ultimately, blacks too).

              I think that today's GOP combines the worst of the Democratic party until the Civil Rights era, and the post-Reconstrution GOP, and today's Democratic party is trying to combine the best of the Federalists and Whigs and pre-Reconstruction GOP, and post-Reconstruction progressive and populist movements. I think it's an error to label the GOP as pro-business and Dems as pro-people. I think that the GOP is pro-amoral business and Dems are pro-moral business and people. They're both "pro-business", but only one is for the sustainable and decent kind.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:57:15 PM PST

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      •  I'd vote for Lincoln. (15+ / 0-)

        I'm reading Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past. The premise is flawed, that the 19th century Democratic Party was racist isn't buried or hidden. I've never met a Democrat who had a good word to say about Steven Douglas, Jefferson Davis or Andrew Johnson. If someone today has a Confederate flag sticker on their car, the chances that person is a Democrat are very slim.

        If I lived back in 1860, I would have voted for Lincoln. The Republican Party of the 19th century was the liberal - actually, radical - party. The Democrats of the time were the conservatives. Here's a quote from Lincoln: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." No conservative could have made that statement.

        Democrats of today aren't very interested in Democrats of the 19th century. Likewise, Republicans of today aren't interested in liberals like Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower. Listening to today's Republicans, you would think that Teddy Roosevelt and Ike never existed.

        Today's Republican Party pays lip service to Lincoln while standing against what he stood for.

        The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

        by A Citizen on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:22:33 AM PST

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        •  I'd go even further (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Citizen, Ian Reifowitz

          and argue that in many ways the Federalists were the liberal progressives and the Jeffersonians were the conservative reactionaries. Most Federalists were anti-slavery economic and fiscal progressives who wanted government to invest in the country's economy, while most Jeffersonians were states rights absolutists who either owned slaves and effectively if not openly believed in slavery, or didn't have a big problem with it, and wanted the government out of the economy. Of course the roles were reversed on other issues like civil liberties and militarism, but on the whole I think this holds true, and has every since, with the only big change being that the parties have taken over each others' historical roles and views, effectively being little more than a name change.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:38:35 AM PST

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        •  I think people are overly harsh on Douglas. (5+ / 0-)

          His overriding concern was trying to keep the two sides from coming to blows, and he had a far better sense than most Northerners that the South wasn't just blustering with its talk of secession.  Even Doris Kearns Goodwin, in the midst of what often verges on a hagiographic treatment of Lincoln, admits that neith he nor Seward thought that the South would actually secede, but Douglas did.  When it became apparent that the South wasn't bluffing, they both balked (Seward, especially), but Lincoln decided things were too far along now to pull back.

          Douglas will never be remembered as a principled opponent of slavery, to be sure, but given that the Civil War killed 600,000 people, one can hardly view his desire to prevent it as wholly ignoble.

      •  Traitors who needed to be hanged (0+ / 0-)

        I know that Lincoln didn't want to punish a lot of people, but Davis and Lee were the very public faces of treason. They deserved death.

        The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

        by freelunch on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:29:25 AM PST

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