Tag Archives: Whigs

Are We Realigning?

Are the two major political parties in the United States currently realigning themselves?  Realignment or a realigning/critical election, has been defined by Walter Dean Burnham, as an event that occurs every 30-36 years.  When realignment does occur, the political parties tend to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant.  They do this by adjusting their political party platforms while the country or the political electorate changes.  Sometimes, however, it is the critical election that adjusts the way the voting behaves.  For the most part, political scientists agree that the United States has had five party systems.  The first party system somewhere between the creation of American political parties to the time of Democratic-Republican Party dominance (1789-1828).  The second party system occurred during the height of the Democratic Party strength and the somewhat competitive Whig Party (1828-1860).  The third party system took place with the emergence of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln and lasted until the late 1890s (1860-1896).  In fourth party system, the parties aligned themselves based on the economy, as Democrats became the party of unions and an agrarian mindset, while the Republicans captured big business and industry within their ranks (1896-1932).  With the fifth party system, the Democrats took on the role of supporting the New Deal, while the Republicans opposed the FDR platform.  From the time of the New Deal, Democrats have supported public policy solutions created by the federal government.  Republicans supported solutions initiated by state governments.  This party system has lasted since 1932 (1932-Present).    The two major parties have continued to promote their party platforms from a federal vs. state government angle.

Third Party Problems

The United States is a two-party country.  This means that one of two parties typically wins an election.  Those two parties are the Democrats and Republicans.  However, before there were Democrats and Republicans, the country had a two-party system involving Federalists and Democratic-Republicans.  The Federalists disappeared by the 1820s and the Democratic-Republicans would later become the Democratic Party.  They soon faced an adversary for a short in the 1830s-1850s in the Whig Party.  The Whigs slowly faded away and factions from their party formed what we know as the Republican Party.  Third parties consistently find little success in elections at the national, state, and local levels.

Why did you choose the answer that you did in the poll?