Party Conflicts

The following is an excerpt from an edition of a Pearson Custom Textbook that I wrote in the past:

I am a big fan of political movements. I like how they bring new voters to the political process. For me, the more participation in politics, the better for our democracy. What I do fear, however, is the power of this anti-incumbent, anti-establishment movement that is currently in our midst and how long it will last.

History shows us that political movements that challenge the political status quo tend to start off quickly and then fade away just as fast.   The Liberty and Free Soil Parties of the 1830s and 1840s wanted to abolish slavery to different degrees, but because these parties were considered one-issue parties which could not challenge the breadth and depth of the major parties of the time, the Democrats and Whigs. In fact, those anti-slavery movements gave rise to the Republican Party in the 1850s.

The Populist Party of the 1880s established itself as a party working on behalf of America’s farmers and laborers. The Democratic Party, seeing a rift within their own party, usurped the rising third party’s issues, which in turn, nullified the need of a third party.  By 1900, the Populist Party as a national force was no more.

Progressives found a voice in 1912 with the candidacy of Teddy Roosevelt for President as the Bull Moose nominee. The Progressive movement had been around before 1912, but now they had a national figure to head their cause. When Roosevelt lost that year, the Bull Moose Party dissolved and the Progressive movement sputtered.

In 1992, I remember the anti-establishment candidacy of Ross Perot. He had ballot access in all 50 states. He rode a national tide built on small government, lower tax, and government accountability rhetoric. Perot lost, but Republicans used that same rhetoric to win both houses of Congress in 1994. When Perot ran for President in 1996, his campaign was considered unnecessary because the Republican Party was now firmly entrenched as the party of smaller government.

But what of that smaller government, low tax, government accountability, Republican Party of 1994? By 2008, the party had shifted away from those principles and gave rise to the Tea Party and anti-incumbent movements that we see today.  It is now 2015 and the Republican Party still has a conflict with its membership as so-called Tea Party Republicans have labeled House Speaker John Boehner as an establishment Republican.

My question is: are anti-establishment party movements good for American politics?

10 responses to “Party Conflicts

  1. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this situation, it’s very interesting. I think that based on the present economy, and future expectations, every political group is going to change their position on their views based off of those circumstances. I don’t think that these movements are good for America’s government; however, these sort of situations won’t change anytime soon.

  2. #PSC110

  3. I agree with Katie(above). every political party will change their postion on their views

  4. #PSC 110 I believe that it will always change, I think it could be good and bad, and there definitely needs to be more “healthy” change for the common good of the will. But yes, things will always change.

    • Yes it is good things will always change and this country needs that to keep up with advancement in certain areas. If we don’t change this country will be left behind. Younger people in this country are going to have a lot of different views than older politicians.

  5. I believe people trying to make these new movements is good. They put a different view on things and look at the government in different ways. It just seems to me that they don’t get enough high profile followers to make things stick. It looks like the movements last a few years and go away. The only problem I can see is these groups taking votes away during the election that might actually influence something. That is the only downfall I can see.

  6. Beth Triezenberg

    I believe that anti-establishment party movements are good for America. They form to support specific issues and the good ideas are then picked up by the current party therefore making the anti-establishment party obsolete. The anti-establishment party might be dissolved but their policies are incorporated into the current party and getting attention. Isn’t that the purpose no matter which party is successful at attaining it? If I was an adamant supporter of a specific issue I would vote for the party that supports that issue no what the party affiliation was.

  7. #PSC110 I believe that anti-establishment parties are a good thing. They provide another outlook at a current situation. Even though almost all of them are not permanent, the short while they are around they add new perspectives that some of the more known parties might use for themselves.

  8. Carlos Espinosa

    I agree with Mark Bennett that what they do is they create a new perspective. These movements question ideas that are set in place and with these new developments it only creates reason to strengthen the philosophies behind government and puts to light the weaknesses. It gives us room for analysis, and whether or not if its a system we wish to keep.

  9. Yes, I believe that anti-establishment party movements are good for American politics. So often politicians plateau and are afraid of trying out new ideas in fear of alienating their voters, donors, or party members. When anti-establishment party movements cause an issue to gain national attention then politicians gain the courage to try out these new ideas. But, often these new ideas are too extreme for the average citizen so they must be watered down and fed to the masses in the form of the two party system.

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