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Republican Union Party

Republican Union Party

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The Republican Union Party (RUP) was formed and led by Diego Martinez Barrio. In January 1936, he helped Manuel Azaña to establish a coalition of parties on the political left to fight the national elections due to take place the following month. This included the RUP, Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Communist Party (PCE).

The Popular Front, as the coalition became known, advocated the restoration of Catalan autonomy, amnesty for political prisoners, agrarian reform, an end to political blacklists and the payment of damages for property owners who suffered during the revolt of 1934. The Anarchists refused to support the coalition and instead urged people not to vote.

Right-wing groups in Spain formed the National Front. This included the CEDA and the Carlists. The Falange Española did not officially join but most of its members supported the aims of the National Front.

The Spanish people voted on Sunday, 16th February, 1936. Out of a possible 13.5 million voters, over 9,870,000 participated in the 1936 General Election. 4,654,116 people (34.3) voted for the Popular Front, whereas the National Front obtained 4,503,505 (33.2) and the centre parties got 526,615 (5.4). The Popular Front, with 263 seats out of the 473 in the Cortes formed the new government.

The RUP won 37 seats and Diego Martinez Barrio became speaker in the Cortes. The Popular Front government immediately upset the conservatives by releasing all left-wing political prisoners. The government also introduced agrarian reforms that penalized the landed aristocracy. Other measures included transferring right-wing military leaders such as Francisco Franco to posts outside Spain, outlawing the Falange Española and granting Catalonia political and administrative autonomy.

As a result of these measures the wealthy took vast sums of capital out of the country. This created an economic crisis and the value of the peseta declined which damaged trade and tourism. With prices rising workers demanded higher wages. This led to a series of strikes in Spain. On the 10th May 1936 the conservative Niceto Alcala Zamora was ousted as president and replaced by the left-wing Manuel Azaña. Soon afterwards Spanish Army officers, including Emilio Mola, Francisco Franco, Gonzalo Queipo de Llano and José Sanjurjo, began plotting to overthrow the Popular Front government. This resulted in the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on 17th July, 1936.

The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages

The GOP has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.

About the author: Tom Nichols is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the author of the forthcoming book Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy.

We are living in a time of bad metaphors. Everything is fascism, or socialism Hitler’s Germany, or Stalin’s Soviet Union. Republicans, especially, want their followers to believe that America is on the verge of a dramatic time, a moment of great conflict such as 1968—or perhaps, even worse, 1860. (The drama is the point, of course. No one ever says, “We’re living through 1955.”)

Ironically, the GOP is indeed replicating another political party in another time, but not as the heroes they imagine themselves to be. The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.

I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.

No one thinks much about the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, and no one really should. This was a time referred to by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, as the vremia zastoia—“the era of stagnation.” By that point, the Soviet Communist Party was a spent force, and ideological conviction was mostly for chumps and fanatics. A handful of party ideologues and the senior officers of the Soviet military might still have believed in “Marxism-Leninism”—the melding of aspirational communism to one-party dictatorship—but by and large, Soviet citizens knew that the party’s formulations about the rights of all people were just window dressing for rule by a small circle of old men in the Kremlin.

“The party” itself was not a party in any Western sense, but a vehicle for a cabal of elites, with a cult of personality at its center. The Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was an utterly mediocre man, but by the late 1970s he had cemented his grip on the Communist Party by elevating opportunists and cronies around him who insisted, publicly and privately, that Brezhnev was a heroic genius. Factories and streets and even a city were named for him, and he promoted himself to the top military rank of “Marshal of the Soviet Union.” He awarded himself so many honors and medals that, in a common Soviet joke of the time, a small earthquake in Moscow was said to have been caused by Brezhnev’s medal-festooned military overcoat falling off its hanger.

The elite leaders of this supposedly classless society were corrupt plutocrats, a mafia dressed in Marxism. The party was infested by careerists, and its grip on power was defended by propagandists who used rote phrases such as “real socialism” and “Western imperialism” so often that almost anyone could write an editorial in Pravda or Red Star merely by playing a kind of Soviet version of Mad Libs. News was tightly controlled. Soviet radio, television, and newspaper figures plowed on through stories that were utterly detached from reality, regularly extolling the successes of Soviet agriculture even as the country was forced to buy food from the capitalists (including the hated Americans).

Members of the Communist Party who questioned anything, or expressed any sign of unorthodoxy, could be denounced by name, or more likely, simply fired. They would not be executed—this was not Stalinism, after all—but some were left to rot in obscurity in some make-work exile job, eventually retiring as a forgotten “Comrade Pensioner.” The deal was clear: Pump the party’s nonsense and enjoy the good life, or squawk and be sent to manage a library in Kazakhstan.

This should all sound familiar.

The Republican Party has, for years, ignored the ideas and principles it once espoused, to the point where the 2020 GOP convention simply dispensed with the fiction of a platform and instead declared the party to be whatever Comrade—excuse me, President—Donald Trump said it was.

Like Brezhnev, Trump has grown in status to become a heroic figure among his supporters. If the Republicans could create the rank of “Marshal of the American Republic” and strike a medal for a “Hero of American Culture,” Trump would have them both by now.

A GOP that once prided itself on its intellectual debates is now ruled by the turgid formulations of what the Soviets would have called their “leading cadres,” including ideological watchdogs such as Tucker Carlson and Mark Levin. Like their Soviet predecessors, a host of dull and dogmatic cable outlets, screechy radio talkers, and poorly written magazines crank out the same kind of fill-in-the-blanks screeds full of delusional accusations, replacing “NATO” and “revanchism” with “antifa” and “radicalism.”

Falling in line, just as in the old Communist Party, is rewarded, and independence is punished. The anger directed at Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger makes the stilted ideological criticisms of last century’s Soviet propagandists seem almost genteel by comparison. (At least Soviet families under Brezhnev didn’t add three-page handwritten denouncements to official party reprimands.)

This comparison is more than a metaphor it is a warning. A dying party can still be a dangerous party. The Communist leaders in those last years of political sclerosis arrayed a new generation of nuclear missiles against NATO, invaded Afghanistan, tightened the screws on Jews and other dissidents, lied about why they shot down a civilian 747 airliner, and, near the end, came close to starting World War III out of sheer paranoia.

The Republican Party is, for now, more of a danger to the United States than to the world. But like the last Soviet-era holdouts in the Kremlin, its cadres are growing more aggressive and paranoid. They blame spies and provocateurs for the Capitol riot, and they are obsessed with last summer’s protests (indeed, they are fixated on all criminals and rioters other than their own) to a point that now echoes the old Soviet lingo about “antisocial elements” and “hooligans.” They blame their failures at the ballot box not on their own shortcomings, but on fraud and sabotage as the justification for a redoubled crackdown on democracy.

Another lesson from all this history is that the Republicans have no path to reform. Like their Soviet counterparts, their party is too far gone. Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Communist Party, and he remains reviled among the Soviet faithful to this day. Similar efforts by the remaining handful of reasonable Republicans are unlikely to fare any better. The Republican Party, to take a phrase from the early Soviet leader Leon Trotsky, should now be deposited where it belongs: in the “dustbin of history.”

The Inconvenient Truth About the Republican Party

When you think of the Republican Party, what comes to mind? If you’re like many Americans, you may associate the GOP with racism, sexism, and general inequality. It’s a commonly pushed narrative by left-leaning media and academia, but as former Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science Carol Swain explains, the Republican Party was actually responsible for nearly every advancement for minorities and women in U.S. history—and remains the champion of equality to this day.

Contrary to popular characterizations of the two parties, the Republican Party has a longer history of fighting for civil rights than the Democratic Party.

After the Republican Party’s establishment in 1854, its first platform promised to defeat “those twin relics of barbarism: polygamy and slavery.”

Republicans feared that as western territories became states, polygamy, which allowed men to marry multiple women, and slavery might expand.

Related video: “The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party” – Carol Swain

Inconvenient fact: The Republican Party was founded in part to fight slavery—and Democrats tried to stand in the way.

The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, was elected in 1860.

Six weeks after Lincoln was elected, South Carolina, a state dominated by Democrats, voted to secede from the union.

The Civil War that followed led to the Republicans’ passage of the 13th Amendment, which freed the slaves.

Republicans next passed the 14th Amendment, which gave African Americans citizenship.

Republicans then passed the 15th Amendment, which gave African Americans the vote.

Related video: “Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican?” – Carol Swain

The Republican Party was the first to include minority candidates and was more diverse than the Democratic Party for a century.

Shortly after the Civil War, the first black senator, Hiram Revels, and the first black congressman, Jefferson Long, were sworn in. Both of them were Republicans.

The first female member of Congress, Jeannette Rankin, was a Republican.

The first Hispanic senator, Joseph Hernandez, was Republican.

The first Asian senator, Hiram Fong, was Republican as well.

Related video: “Who Are the Racists: Conservatives or Liberals?” – Derryck Green

The Republican Party has a long history of fighting for women’s rights, including the right to vote.

In 1862, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was passed by the Republican-controlled Congress to put an end to polygamy, which threatens women’s rights.

In 1868, the Republican Party Platform included a plank calling for a woman’s right to vote.

In 1920, after 52 years of Democratic Party opposition, the 19th Amendment was ratified thanks to the Republican Congress.

Republicans have also always advocated for free economies, which provides more wealth and opportunity for women and minorities.

Women in free economies earn nearly ten times the income as women in non-free economies.

It was the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, that led the charge for a woman’s right to vote.

Republicans supported women’s suffrage since the party was founded in the mid-1800s.

In 1868, the Republican Party Platform included a plank calling for a woman’s right to vote.

In 1920, after 52 years of Democratic Party opposition, the 19th Amendment was ratified thanks to the Republican Congress.

In the final tally, only 59 percent of House Democrats and 41 percent of Senate Democrats supported women’s suffrage.

The new women voters helped elect Republican Warren G. Harding in the 1920 election.

Susan B. Anthony partnered with Republicans, not Democrats, to write the text of what would become the 19th Amendment.

Activist Susan B. Anthony helped the Republicans write the text of what would eventually become the 19th Amendment.

In 1920, after 52 years of Democratic Party opposition, the 19th Amendment was ratified thanks to the Republican Congress.

In the final tally, only 59 percent of House Democrats and 41 percent of Senate Democrats supported women’s suffrage.

The new women voters helped elect Republican Warren G. Harding in the 1920 election.

The Republican Party’s views on economic freedom have encouraged the promotion of civil rights.

Republican views on economic freedom encouraged the promotion of civil rights.

In the 1920s, Republican President Calvin Coolidge declared that the rights of African Americans are “just as sacred as those of any other citizen. It is both a public and private duty to protect those rights.”

By contrast, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt snubbed famed black sprinter Jesse Owens, a staunch Republican, after he won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

It was a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, who sent the 101st Airborne Division to escort black students into Little Rock’s Central High when Arkansas’ Democratic governor refused to integrate the state’s public schools in 1957.

WATCH: “The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party” – Carol Swain

Inconvenient fact: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 survived a filibuster by Democrats thanks to overwhelming Republican support.

Democrats have tried to remove themselves from their own racist history while propagating the myth that the Republican Party became racist during the 1960s.

The Civil Rights Act of 1960, which outlawed poll taxes and other racist measures meant to keep blacks from voting, was supported by Republicans.

Its follow-up bill, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, survived a filibuster by Democrats thanks to overwhelming Republican support.

Democrats during the 1960s combined liberal economic views with racist views on African Americans.

Related video: “Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican?” – Carol Swain

Related reading: “The Party of Civil Rights” – Kevin D. Williamson

These words are virtually interchangeable—at least, according to most professors, journalists, and celebrities. So, are they right? Let’s take a look at history.

The Republican Party was created in 1854. The first Republican Party platform, adopted at the party’s first national convention in 1856, promised to defeat, quote, “those twin relics of barbarism: polygamy and slavery.”

Those “twin relics” were spreading into the western territories. Republicans feared that as those territories became states, polygamy and slavery might become permanent parts of American life. Polygamy—the marriage of one man to multiple women—devalued women and made them a kind of property. Slavery, of course, did the same to blacks. Literally.

The Democrats were so opposed to the Republicans and their anti-slavery stance that in 1860, just six weeks after the election of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina, a state dominated by Democrats, voted to secede from the union. The Civil War that followed was the bloodiest war in US history. It led to the passage, by Republicans, of the 13th Amendment, which freed the slaves the 14th Amendment, which gave them citizenship and the 15th Amendment which gave them the vote.

In 1870, the first black senator and the first black congressman were sworn in—both Republicans. In fact, every black representative in the House until 1935 was a Republican. And every black senator until 1979 was, too. For that matter, the first female member of Congress was a Republican the first Hispanic governor and senator were Republicans. The first Asian senator? You get the idea.

Republicans also kept their pledge to defend women’s rights. In 1862, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was passed by the Republican-controlled Congress to put an end to polygamy.

In 1920, after 52 years of Democratic Party opposition, the 19th Amendment was ratified thanks to the Republican Congress, which pressured Democratic President Woodrow Wilson to drop his opposition to women’s rights. In the final tally, only 59 percent of House Democrats and 41 percent of Senate Democrats supported women’s suffrage. That’s compared to 91 percent of House Republicans and 82 percent of Senate Republicans. There certainly was a “war on women”—and it was led by the Democratic Party.

But while Republicans had won a major battle for women’s rights, the fight for blacks’ civil rights had a long way to go. In the 1920s, Republican President Calvin Coolidge declared that the rights of blacks are “just as sacred as those of any other citizen.”

By contrast, when famed sprinter Jesse Owens, a staunch Republican, won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he was snubbed by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt only invited white Olympians to the White House.

Two decades later, it was a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, who sent the 101st Airborne Division to escort black students into Little Rock’s Central High when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus—a Democrat—refused to honor a court order to integrate the state’s public schools.

The Civil Rights Act of 1960, which outlawed poll taxes and other racist measures meant to keep blacks from voting, was filibustered by 18 Democrats for 125 hours. Not one Republican senator opposed the bill. Its follow-up bill, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is one of the landmark pieces of legislation in American history. That, too, survived a filibuster by Democrats thanks to overwhelming Republican support.

But, you might be thinking, all that’s in the past. What have Republicans done for women and blacks lately? The answer you’d hear from professors, journalists and celebrities is. “not much.” And this time, they’d be right. They’d be right because the Republican Party treats blacks and women as it treats everyone: as equals.

The Democratic Party never has, and it still doesn’t. Today’s Democrats treat blacks and women as victims who aren’t capable of succeeding on their own.

The truth is, this is just a new kind of contempt.

So, there is a party with a long history of racism and sexism. but it ain't the Republicans.


The American party system had been dominated by Whigs and Democrats for decades leading up to the Civil War. But the Whig party's increasing internal divisions had made it a party of strange bedfellows by the 1850s. An ascendant anti-slavery wing clashed with a traditionalist and increasingly pro-slavery Southern wing. These divisions came to a head in the 1852 election, where Whig candidate Winfield Scott was trounced by Franklin Pierce. Southern Whigs, who had supported the prior Whig president Zachary Taylor, had been burned by Taylor and were unwilling to support another Whig. Taylor, who despite being a slaveowner, had proved notably anti-slave after campaigning neutrally on the issue. With the loss of Southern Whig support, and the loss of votes in the North to the Free Soil Party, Whigs seemed doomed. So they were, as they would never again contest a presidential election. [6]

The final nail in the Whig coffin was the Kansas–Nebraska act, passed by Democrats in 1854. It was also the spark that began the Republican Party, which would take in both Whigs and Free Soilers and create an anti-slavery party that the Whigs had always resisted becoming. [6] [7] [8] The Act opened Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory to slavery and future admission as slave states, thus implicitly repealing the prohibition on slavery in territory north of 36° 30′ latitude that had been part of the Missouri Compromise. [9] [10] This change was viewed by anti-slavery Northerners as an aggressive, expansionist maneuver by the slave-owning South. Opponents of the Act were intensely motivated and began forming a new party. The Party began as a coalition of anti-slavery Conscience Whigs such as Zachariah Chandler and Free Soilers such as Salmon P. Chase. [11] [12]

The first anti-Nebraska local meeting where "Republican" was suggested as a name for a new anti-slavery party was held in a Ripon, Wisconsin schoolhouse on March 20, 1854. [13] The first statewide convention that formed a platform and nominated candidates under the Republican name was held near Jackson, Michigan, on July 6, 1854. At that convention, the party opposed the expansion of slavery into new territories and selected a statewide slate of candidates. [14] The Midwest took the lead in forming state Republican Party tickets apart from St. Louis and a few areas adjacent to free states, there were no efforts to organize the Party in the southern states. [15] [16]

New England Yankees, who dominated that region and much of upstate New York and the upper Midwest, were the strongest supporters of the new party. This was especially true for the pietistic Congregationalists and Presbyterians among them and, during the war, many Methodists and Scandinavian Lutherans. The Quakers were a small, tight-knit group that was heavily Republican. By contrast, the liturgical churches (Roman Catholic, Episcopal and German Lutheran) largely rejected the moralism of the Republican Party most of their adherents voted Democratic. [17] [18]

The new Republican Party envisioned modernizing the United States, emphasizing expanded banking, more railroads and factories, and giving free western land to farmers ("free soil") as opposed to letting slave owners buy up the best properties. It vigorously argued that free market labor was superior to slavery and was the very foundation of civic virtue and true republicanism this was the "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men" ideology. [12] Without using the term "containment", the Republican Party in the mid-1850s proposed a system of containing slavery. Historian James Oakes explains the strategy:

The federal government would surround the south with free states, free territories, and free waters, building what they called a 'cordon of freedom' around slavery, hemming it in until the system's own internal weaknesses forced the slave states one by one to abandon slavery. [19]

The Republican Party launched its first national organizing convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 22, 1856. [20] [21] This gathering elected a governing National Executive Committee and passed resolutions calling for the repeal of laws enabling slaveholding in free territories and "resistance by Constitutional means of Slavery in any Territory," defense of anti-slavery individuals in Kansas who were coming under physical attack, and a call to "resist and overthrow the present National Administration" of Franklin Pierce, "as it is identified with the progress of the Slave power to national supremacy." [22] Its first national nominating convention was held in June 1856 in Philadelphia. [20] John C. Frémont ran as the first Republican nominee for President in 1856 behind the slogan "Free soil, free silver, free men, Frémont and victory!" Although Frémont's bid was unsuccessful, the party showed a strong base. It dominated in New England, New York and the northern Midwest and had a strong presence in the rest of the North. It had almost no support in the South, where it was roundly denounced in 1856–1860 as a divisive force that threatened civil war. [23]

The Republican Party absorbed many of the previous traditions of its members, who had come from an array of political factions, including Working Men, [Note 1] Locofoco Democrats, [Note 2] Free Soil Democrats, [Note 3] Free Soil Whigs, [Note 4] anti-slavery Know Nothings, [Note 5] Conscience Whigs, [Note 6] and Temperance Reformers of both parties. [Note 7] [24] [25] [26] [27] Many Democrats who joined were rewarded with governorships, [Note 8] or seats in the U.S. Senate, [Note 9] or House of Representatives. [Note 10]

During the presidential campaign in 1860, at a time of escalating tension between the North and South, Abraham Lincoln addressed the harsh treatment of Republicans in the South in his famous Cooper Union speech:

[W]hen you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to "Black Republicans." [. ] But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!" [28]

The election of Lincoln as president in 1860 opened a new era of Republican dominance based in the industrial North and agricultural Midwest. The Third Party System was dominated by the Republican Party (it lost the presidency only in 1884 and 1892). Lincoln proved brilliantly successful in uniting the factions of his party to fight for the Union in the Civil War. [29] However, he usually fought the Radical Republicans who demanded harsher measures. Many conservative Democrats became War Democrats who had a deep belief in American nationalism and supported the war. When Lincoln added the abolition of slavery as a war goal, the Peace Democrats were energized and carried numerous state races, especially in Connecticut, Indiana and Illinois. Democrat Horatio Seymour was elected Governor of New York and immediately became a likely presidential candidate. [30] [31]

Most of the state Republican parties accepted the antislavery goal except Kentucky. During the American Civil War, the party passed major legislation in Congress to promote rapid modernization, including a national banking system, high tariffs, the first temporary income tax (subsequently ruled constitutional in Springer v. United States), many excise taxes, paper money issued without backing ("greenbacks"), a huge national debt, homestead laws, railroads and aid to education and agriculture. [32]

The Republicans denounced the peace-oriented Democrats as disloyal Copperheads and won enough War Democrats to maintain their majority in 1862. In 1864, they formed a coalition with many War Democrats as the National Union Party. Lincoln chose Democrat Andrew Johnson as his running mate [33] and was easily re-elected. [34] During the war, upper-middle-class men in major cities formed Union Leagues to promote and help finance the war effort. [35] Following the 1864 elections, Radical Republicans Led by Charles Sumner in the Senate and Thaddeus Stevens in the House set the agenda by demanding more aggressive action against slavery and more vengeance toward the Confederates. [36]

Reconstruction (freedmen, carpetbaggers and scalawags): 1865–1877 Edit

Under Republican congressional leadership, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution—which banned slavery in the United States—passed the Senate in 1864 and the House in 1865 it was ratified in December 1865. [37] In 1865, the Confederacy surrendered, ending the Civil War. [38] Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865 following his death, Andrew Johnson took office as President of the United States. [33]

During the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, there were major disagreements on the treatment of ex-Confederates and of former slaves, or freedmen. Johnson broke with the Radical Republicans and formed a loose alliance with moderate Republicans and Democrats. A showdown came in the Congressional elections of 1866, in which the Radicals won a sweeping victory and took full control of Reconstruction, passing key laws over the veto. Johnson was impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate.

With the election of Ulysses S. Grant in 1868, the Radicals had control of Congress, the party and the army and attempted to build a solid Republican base in the South using the votes of Freedmen, Scalawags and Carpetbaggers, [23] supported directly by U.S. Army detachments. Republicans all across the South formed local clubs called Union Leagues that effectively mobilized the voters, discussed issues and when necessary fought off Ku Klux Klan (KKK) attacks. Thousands died on both sides. [39]

Grant supported radical reconstruction programs in the South, the Fourteenth Amendment and equal civil and voting rights for the freedmen. Most of all he was the hero of the war veterans, who marched to his tune. The party had become so large that factionalism was inevitable it was hastened by Grant's tolerance of high levels of corruption typified by the Whiskey Ring.

Many of the founders of the GOP joined the liberal movement, as did many powerful newspaper editors. They nominated Horace Greeley for president, who also gained the Democratic nomination, but the ticket was defeated in a landslide. The depression of 1873 energized the Democrats. They won control of the House and formed "Redeemer" coalitions which recaptured control of each southern state, in some cases using threats and violence.

Reconstruction came to an end when the contested election of 1876 was awarded by a special electoral commission to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, who promised through the unofficial Compromise of 1877 to withdraw federal troops from control of the last three southern states. The region then became the Solid South, giving overwhelming majorities of its electoral votes and Congressional seats to the Democrats through 1964.

In terms of racial issues, Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins argues that in Alabama:

White Republicans as well as Democrats solicited black votes but reluctantly rewarded blacks with nominations for office only when necessary, even then reserving the more choice positions for whites. The results were predictable: these half-a-loaf gestures satisfied neither black nor white Republicans. The fatal weakness of the Republican Party in Alabama, as elsewhere in the South, was its inability to create a biracial political party. And while in power even briefly, they failed to protect their members from Democratic terror. Alabama Republicans were forever on the defensive, verbally and physically. [40]

Social pressure eventually forced most Scalawags to join the conservative/Democratic Redeemer coalition. A minority persisted and, starting in the 1870s, formed the "tan" half of the "Black and Tan" Republican Party, a minority in every Southern state after 1877. [41] This divided the party into two factions: the lily-white faction, which was practically all-white and the biracial black-and-tan faction. [42]

In several Southern states, the "Lily Whites,” who sought to recruit white Democrats to the Republican Party, attempted to purge the Black and Tan faction or at least to reduce its influence. Among such "Lily White" leaders in the early 20th century, Arkansas' Wallace Townsend was the party's gubernatorial nominee in 1916 and 1920 and its veteran national GOP committeeman. [43] The factionalism flared up in 1928 [44] and 1952. [45] The final victory of its opponent the lily-white faction came in 1964. [46]

Gilded Age: 1877–1890 Edit

The party split into factions in the late 1870s. The Stalwarts, followers of Senator Roscoe Conkling, defended the spoils system. The Half-Breeds, who followed Senator James G. Blaine of Maine, pushed for reform of the Civil service. Upscale reformers who opposed the spoils system altogether were called "Mugwumps.” In 1884, Mugwumps rejected James G. Blaine as corrupt and helped elect Democrat Grover Cleveland, though most returned to the party by 1888. In the run-up to the 1884 GOP convention, Mugwumps organized their forces in the swing states, especially New York and Massachusetts. After failing to block Blaine, many bolted to the Democrats, who had nominated reformer Grover Cleveland. Young Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, leading reformers, refused to bolt—an action that preserved their leadership role in the GOP. [47]

As the Northern post-war economy boomed with industry, railroads, mines and fast-growing cities as well as prosperous agriculture, the Republicans took credit and promoted policies to keep the fast growth going. The Democratic Party was largely controlled by pro-business Bourbon Democrats until 1896. The GOP supported big business generally, the gold standard, high tariffs and generous pensions for Union veterans. However, by 1890 the Republicans had agreed to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Interstate Commerce Commission in response to complaints from owners of small businesses and farmers. The high McKinley Tariff of 1890 hurt the party and the Democrats swept to a landslide in the off-year elections, even defeating McKinley himself.

Foreign affairs seldom became partisan issues (except for the annexation of Hawaii, which Republicans favored and Democrats opposed). Much more salient were cultural issues. The GOP supported the pietistic Protestants (especially the Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Scandinavian Lutherans) who demanded prohibition. That angered wet Republicans, especially German Americans, who broke ranks in 1890–1892, handing power to the Democrats. [48]

Demographic trends aided the Democrats, as the German and Irish Catholic immigrants were mostly Democrats and outnumbered the British and Scandinavian Republicans. During the 1880s, elections were remarkably close. The Democrats usually lost, but won in 1884 and 1892. In the 1894 Congressional elections, the GOP scored the biggest landslide in its history as Democrats were blamed for the severe economic depression 1893–1897 and the violent coal and railroad strikes of 1894. [48]

Pietistic Republicans versus Liturgical Democrats: 1890–1896 Edit

Voting behavior by religion, Northern U.S. late 19th century [49]
% Dem % GOP
Immigrant groups
Irish Catholics 80 20
All Catholics 70 30
Confessional German Lutherans 65 35
German Reformed 60 40
French Canadian Catholics 50 50
Less Confessional German Lutherans 45 55
English Canadians 40 60
British Stock 35 65
German Sectarians 30 70
Norwegian Lutherans 20 80
Swedish Lutherans 15 85
Haugean Norwegians 5 95
Natives: Northern Stock
Quakers 5 95
Free Will Baptists 20 80
Congregational 25 75
Methodists 25 75
Regular Baptists 35 65
Blacks 40 60
Presbyterians 40 60
Episcopalians 45 55
Natives: Southern Stock (living in North)
Disciples 50 50
Presbyterians 70 30
Baptists 75 25
Methodists 90 10

From 1860 to 1912, the Republicans took advantage of the association of the Democrats with "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.” Rum stood for the liquor interests and the tavernkeepers, in contrast to the GOP, which had a strong dry element. "Romanism" meant Roman Catholics, especially Irish Americans, who ran the Democratic Party in every big city and whom the Republicans denounced for political corruption. "Rebellion" stood for the Democrats of the Confederacy, who tried to break the Union in 1861 and the Democrats in the North, called "Copperheads,” who sympathized with them. [ citation needed ]

Demographic trends aided the Democrats, as the German and Irish Catholic immigrants were Democrats and outnumbered the English and Scandinavian Republicans. During the 1880s and 1890s, the Republicans struggled against the Democrats' efforts, winning several close elections and losing two to Grover Cleveland (in 1884 and 1892). [ citation needed ]

Religious lines were sharply drawn. [50] Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Scandinavian Lutherans and other pietists in the North were tightly linked to the GOP. In sharp contrast, liturgical groups, especially the Catholics, Episcopalians and German Lutherans, looked to the Democratic Party for protection from pietistic moralism, especially prohibition. Both parties cut across the class structure, with the Democrats more bottom-heavy.

Cultural issues, especially prohibition and foreign language schools became important because of the sharp religious divisions in the electorate. In the North, about 50% of the voters were pietistic Protestants (Methodists, Scandinavian Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Disciples of Christ) who believed the government should be used to reduce social sins, such as drinking. [50]

Liturgical churches (Roman Catholics, German Lutherans and Episcopalians) comprised over a quarter of the vote and wanted the government to stay out of the morality business. Prohibition debates and referendums heated up politics in most states over a period of decade as national prohibition was finally passed in 1919 (repealed in 1933), serving as a major issue between the wet Democrats and the dry GOP. [50]

The election of William McKinley in 1896 marked a resurgence of Republican dominance and was a realigning election. [51]

McKinley Edit

The Progressive Era (or "Fourth Party System") was dominated by Republican Presidents, with the sole exception of Democrat Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921). McKinley promised that high tariffs would end the severe hardship caused by the Panic of 1893 and that the GOP would guarantee a sort of pluralism in which all groups would benefit. He denounced William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic nominee, as a dangerous radical whose plans for "Free Silver" at 16–1 (or Bimetallism) would bankrupt the economy.

McKinley relied heavily on finance, railroads, industry and the middle classes for his support and cemented the Republicans as the party of business. His campaign manager, Ohio's Mark Hanna, developed a detailed plan for getting contributions from the business world and McKinley outspent his rival Democrat William Jennings Bryan by a large margin. This emphasis on business was in part reversed by Theodore Roosevelt, the presidential successor after McKinley's assassination in 1901, who engaged in trust-busting. McKinley was the first President to promote pluralism, arguing that prosperity would be shared by all ethnic and religious groups. [48]

Roosevelt Edit

Theodore Roosevelt, who became president in 1901, had the most dynamic personality of the era. Roosevelt had to contend with men like Senator Mark Hanna, whom he outmaneuvered to gain control of the convention in 1904 that renominated him and he won after promising to continue McKinley's policies. More difficult to handle was conservative House Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon. [ citation needed ]

Roosevelt achieved modest legislative gains in terms of railroad legislation and pure food laws. He was more successful in Court, bringing antitrust suits that broke up the Northern Securities Company trust and Standard Oil. Roosevelt moved to the left in his last two years in office, but was unable to pass major Square Deal proposals. He did succeed in naming his successor, Secretary of War William Howard Taft, who easily defeated Bryan again in the 1908 presidential election. [ citation needed ]

By 1907, Roosevelt identified himself with the left-center of the Republican Party. [52] He explained his balancing act:

Again and again in my public career I have had to make head against mob spirit, against the tendency of poor, ignorant and turbulent people who feel a rancorous jealousy and hatred of those who are better off. But during the last few years it has been the wealthy corruptionists of enormous fortune, and of enormous influence through their agents of the press, pulpit, colleges and public life, with whom I've had to wage bitter war." [53]

Tariffs Edit

Protectionism was the ideological cement holding the Republican coalition together. High tariffs were used by Republicans to promise higher sales to business, higher wages to industrial workers, and higher demand for their crops to farmers. Progressive insurgents said it promoted monopoly. Democrats said it was a tax on the little man. It had greatest support in the Northeast, and greatest opposition in the South and West. The Midwest was the battle ground. [54] The tariff issue was pulling the GOP apart. Roosevelt tried to postpone the issue, but Taft had to meet it head on in 1909 with the Payne–Aldrich Tariff Act. Eastern conservatives led by Nelson W. Aldrich wanted high tariffs on manufactured goods (especially woolens), while Midwesterners called for low tariffs. Aldrich outmaneuvered them by lowering the tariff on farm products, which outraged the farmers. The great battle over the high Payne–Aldrich Tariff Act in 1910 ripped the Republicans apart and set up the realignment in favor of the Democrats. [55] Insurgent Midwesterners led by George Norris revolted against the conservatives led by Speaker Cannon. The Democrats won control of the House in 1910 as the rift between insurgents and conservatives widened. [23]

1912 personal feud becomes ideological split Edit

In 1912, Roosevelt broke with Taft, rejected Robert M. La Follette, and tried for a third term, but he was outmaneuvered by Taft and lost the nomination. The 1912 Republican National Convention turned a personal feud into an ideological split in the GOP. Politically liberal states for the first time were holding Republican primaries. Roosevelt overwhelmingly won the primaries—winning 9 out of 12 states (8 by landslide margins). Taft won only the state of Massachusetts (by a small margin) he even lost his home state of Ohio to Roosevelt. Senator Robert M. La Follette, a reformer, won two states. Through the primaries, Senator La Follette won a total of 36 delegates President Taft won 48 delegates and Roosevelt won 278 delegates. However 36 more conservative states did not hold primaries, but instead selected delegates via state conventions. For years Roosevelt had tried to attract Southern white Democrats to the Republican Party, and he tried to win delegates there in 1912. However Taft had the support of black Republicans in the South, and defeated Roosevelt there. [56] Roosevelt led many (but not most) of his delegates to bolt out of the convention and created a new party (the Progressive, or "Bull Moose" ticket), in the election of 1912. Few party leaders followed him except Hiram Johnson of California. Roosevelt had the support of many notable women reformers, including Jane Addams. [57] [58] The Roosevelt-caused split in the Republican vote resulted in a decisive victory for Democrat Woodrow Wilson, temporarily interrupting the Republican era. [23]

Regional, state and local politics Edit

The Republicans welcomed the Progressive Era at the state and local level. The first important reform mayor was Hazen S. Pingree of Detroit (1890–1897), who was elected Governor of Michigan in 1896. In New York City, the Republicans joined nonpartisan reformers to battle Tammany Hall and elected Seth Low (1902–1903). Golden Rule Jones was first elected mayor of Toledo as a Republican in 1897, but was reelected as an independent when his party refused to renominate him. Many Republican civic leaders, following the example of Mark Hanna, were active in the National Civic Federation, which promoted urban reforms and sought to avoid wasteful strikes. North Carolina journalist William Garrott Brown tried to convince upscale white southerners of the wisdom of a strong early white Republican Party. He warned that a one party solid South system would negate democracy, encourage corruption, because the lack of prestige of the national level. Roosevelt was following his advice. However, in 1912, incumbent president Taft needed black Republican support in the South to defeat Roosevelt at the 1912 Republican national convention. Brown's campaign came to nothing, and he finally supported Woodrow Wilson in 1912. [59]

Republicans dominate the 1920s Edit

The party controlled the presidency throughout the 1920s, running on a platform of opposition to the League of Nations, support for high tariffs, and promotion of business interests. Voters gave the GOP credit for the prosperity and Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were resoundingly elected by landslides in 1920, 1924 and 1928. The breakaway efforts of Senator Robert M. La Follette in 1924 failed to stop a landslide for Coolidge and his movement fell apart. The Teapot Dome Scandal threatened to hurt the party, but Harding died and Coolidge blamed everything on him as the opposition splintered in 1924. [48]

GOP overthrown during Great Depression Edit

The pro-business policies of the decade seemed to produce an unprecedented prosperity—until the Wall Street Crash of 1929 heralded the Great Depression. Although the party did very well in large cities and among ethnic Catholics in presidential elections of 1920–1924, it was unable to hold those gains in 1928. [48] By 1932, the cities—for the first time ever—had become Democratic strongholds.

Hoover was by nature an activist and attempted to do what he could to alleviate the widespread suffering caused by the Depression, but his strict adherence to what he believed were Republican principles precluded him from establishing relief directly from the federal government. The Depression cost Hoover the presidency with the 1932 landslide election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt's New Deal coalition controlled American politics for most of the next three decades, excepting the presidency of Republican Dwight Eisenhower 1953–1961. The Democrats made major gains in the 1930 midterm elections, giving them congressional parity (though not control) for the first time since Wilson's presidency. [23]

Unlike the "moderate," internationalist, largely eastern bloc of Republicans who accepted (or at least acquiesced in) some of the "Roosevelt Revolution" and the essential premises of President Truman's foreign policy, the Republican Right at heart was counterrevolutionary. Anticollectivist, anti-Communist, anti-New Deal, passionately committed to limited government, free market economics, and congressional (as opposed to executive) prerogatives, the G.O.P. conservatives were obliged from the start to wage a constant two-front war: against liberal Democrats from without and "me-too" Republicans from within. [60]

The Old Right emerged in opposition to the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hoff says that "moderate Republicans and leftover Republican Progressives like Hoover composed the bulk of the Old Right by 1940, with a sprinkling of former members of the Farmer-Labor party, Non-Partisan League, and even a few midwestern prairie Socialists.” [61]

The New Deal Era: 1932–1939 Edit

After Roosevelt took office in 1933, New Deal legislation sailed through Congress at lightning speed. In the 1934 midterm elections, ten Republican senators went down to defeat, leaving them with only 25 against 71 Democrats. The House of Representatives was also split in a similar ratio. The "Second New Deal" was heavily criticized by the Republicans in Congress, who likened it to class warfare and socialism. The volume of legislation, as well as the inability of the Republicans to block it, soon made the opposition to Roosevelt develop into bitterness and sometimes hatred for "that man in the White House.” Former President Hoover became a leading orator crusading against the New Deal, hoping unrealistically to be nominated again for president. [62] [63]

Most major newspaper publishers favored Republican moderate Alf Landon for president. In the nation's 15 largest cities the newspapers that editorially endorsed Landon represented 70% of the circulation. Roosevelt won 69% of the actual voters in those cities by ignoring the press and using the radio to reach voters directly. [64] [65]

Roosevelt carried 46 of the 48 states thanks to traditional Democrats along with newly energized labor unions, city machines and the Works Progress Administration. The realignment creating the Fifth Party System was firmly in place. [66] Since 1928, the GOP had lost 178 House seats, 40 Senate seats and 19 governorships, though it retained a mere 89 seats in the House and 16 in the Senate. [67]

The black vote held for Hoover in 1932, but started moving toward Roosevelt. By 1940, the majority of northern blacks were voting Democratic. Southern blacks seldom were allowed to vote, but most became Democrats. Roosevelt made sure blacks had a share in relief programs, the wartime Army and wartime defense industry, but did not challenge segregation or the denial of voting rights in the South. [68]

Minority parties tend to factionalize and after 1936 the GOP split into a conservative faction (dominant in the West and Midwest) and a liberal faction (dominant in the Northeast)—combined with a residual base of inherited progressive Republicanism active throughout the century. In 1936, Kansas governor Alf Landon and his liberal followers defeated the Herbert Hoover faction. Landon generally supported most New Deal programs, but carried only two states in the Roosevelt landslide. The GOP was left with only 16 senators and 88 representatives to oppose the New Deal, with Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. as the sole victor over a Democratic incumbent.

Roosevelt alienated many conservative Democrats in 1937 by his unexpected plan to "pack" the Supreme Court via the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937. Following a sharp recession that hit early in 1938, major strikes all over the country, the CIO and AFL competing with each other for membership and Roosevelt's failed efforts to radically reorganize the Supreme Court, the Democrats were in disarray. Meanwhile, the GOP was united as they had shed their weakest members in a series of defeats since 1930. [69] Re-energized Republicans focused attention on strong fresh candidates in major states, especially Robert A. Taft the conservative from Ohio, [70] Earl Warren the moderate who won both the Republicans and the Democratic primaries in California [71] and Thomas E. Dewey the crusading prosecutor from New York. [72] The GOP comeback in 1938 was made possible by carrying 50% of the vote outside the South, giving GOP leaders confidence it had a strong base for the 1940 presidential election. [73] [74]

The GOP gained 75 House seats in 1938, but were still a minority. Conservative Democrats, mostly from the South, joined with Republicans led by Senator Robert A. Taft to create the conservative coalition, which dominated domestic issues in Congress until 1964. [75]

World War II and its aftermath: 1939–1952 Edit

From 1939 through 1941, there was a sharp debate within the GOP about support for Great Britain as it led the fight against a much stronger Nazi Germany. Internationalists, such as Henry Stimson and Frank Knox, wanted to support Britain and isolationists, such as Robert A. Taft and Arthur Vandenberg, strongly opposed these moves as unwise for risking a war with Germany. The America First movement was a bipartisan coalition of isolationists. In 1940, a dark horse Wendell Willkie at the last minute won over the party, the delegates and was nominated. He crusaded against the inefficiencies of the New Deal and Roosevelt's break with the strong tradition against a third term, but was ambiguous on foreign policy. [76]

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 ended the isolationist-internationalist debate, as all factions strongly supported the war effort against Japan and Germany. The Republicans further cut the Democratic majority in the 1942 midterm elections in a very low turnout episode. With wartime production creating prosperity, the conservative coalition terminated nearly all New Deal relief programs (except Social Security) as unnecessary. [76]

Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio represented the wing of the party that continued to oppose New Deal reforms and continued to champion non-interventionism. Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, represented the Northeastern wing of the party. Dewey did not reject the New Deal programs, but demanded more efficiency, more support for economic growth and less corruption. He was more willing than Taft to support Britain in 1939–1940. After the war the isolationists wing strenuously opposed the United Nations and was half-hearted in opposition to world communism. [76] [77]

As a minority party, the GOP had two wings: The left-wing supported most of the New Deal while promising to run it more efficiently and the right-wing opposed the New Deal from the beginning and managed to repeal large parts during the 1940s in cooperation with conservative Southern Democrats in the conservative coalition. Liberals, led by Dewey, dominated the Northeast while conservatives, led by Taft, dominated the Midwest. [78] The West was split and the South was still solidly Democratic.

In 1944, a clearly frail Roosevelt defeated Dewey for his fourth consecutive term, but Dewey made a good showing that would lead to his selection as the candidate in 1948. [78]

Roosevelt died in April 1945 and Harry S. Truman, a less liberal Democrat became president and replaced most of Roosevelt's top appointees. With the end of the war, unrest among organized labor led to many strikes in 1946 and the resulting disruptions helped the GOP. With the blunders of the Truman administration in 1945 and 1946, the slogans "Had Enough?" and "To Err is Truman" became Republican rallying cries and the GOP won control of Congress for the first time since 1928, with Joseph William Martin, Jr. as Speaker of the House. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 was designed to balance the rights of management and labor. It was the central issue of many elections in industrial states in the 1940s to 1950s, but the unions were never able to repeal it.

In 1948, with Republicans split left and right, Truman boldly called Congress into a special session and sent it a load of liberal legislation consistent with the Dewey platform and dared them to act on it, knowing that the conservative Republicans would block action. Truman then attacked the Republican "Do-Nothing Congress" as a whipping boy for all of the nation's problems. Truman stunned Dewey and the Republicans in the election with a plurality of just over twenty-four million popular votes (out of nearly 49 million cast), but a decisive 303–189 victory in the Electoral College. [79]

Southern realignment Edit

Before Reconstruction and for a century thereafter, the white South identified with the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party's dominance in the Southern states was so strong that the region was called the Solid South. The Republicans controlled certain parts of the Appalachian Mountains [80] and they sometimes did compete for statewide office in the border states. [81]

Before 1948, the Southern Democrats saw their party as the defender of the Southern way of life, which included a respect for states' rights and an appreciation for traditional values of southern white men. They repeatedly warned against the aggressive designs of Northern liberals and Republicans as well as the civil rights activists they denounced as "outside agitators", thus there was a serious barrier to becoming a Republican. [81]

In 1948, Democrats alienated white Southerners in two ways. The Democratic National Convention adopted a strong civil rights plank, leading to a walkout by Southerners. Two weeks later, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 ending discrimination against Blacks in the armed forces. In 1948, the Deep South walked out, formed a temporary regional party (the "Dixiecrats") and nominated J. Strom Thurmond for president. Thurmond carried the Deep South, but the outer South stayed with Truman, and most of the Dixiecrats ultimately returned to the Democratic Party as conservative Southern Democrats. [82] While the Dixiecrat movement did not last, the splintering among Democrats in the South paved the way for the later Southern shift towards the Republican Party, which would see Thurmond himself switching to the Republican Party in 1964. [82]

Eisenhower, Goldwater, and Nixon: 1952–1974 Edit

In 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower, an internationalist allied with the Dewey wing, was drafted as a GOP candidate by a small group of Republicans led by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. in order that he challenge Taft on foreign policy issues. The two men were not far apart on domestic issues. Eisenhower's victory broke a twenty-year Democratic lock on the White House. Eisenhower did not try to roll back the New Deal, but he did expand the Social Security system and built the Interstate Highway System.

After 1945, the isolationists in the conservative wing opposed the United Nations and were half-hearted in opposition to the expansion of Cold War containment of communism around the world. [83] A garrison state to fight communism, they believed, would mean regimentation and government controls at home. Eisenhower defeated Taft in 1952 on foreign policy issues.

To circumvent the local Republican Party apparatus mostly controlled by Taft supporters, the Eisenhower forces created a nationwide network of grass-roots clubs, "Citizens for Eisenhower". Independents and Democrats were welcome, as the group specialized in canvassing neighborhoods and holding small group meetings. Citizens for Eisenhower hoped to revitalize the GOP by expanding its activist ranks and by supporting moderate and internationalist policies. It did not endorse candidates other than Eisenhower, but he paid it little attention after he won and it failed to maintain its impressive starting momentum. Instead the conservative Republicans became energized, leading to the Barry Goldwater nomination of 1964. Long-time Republican activists viewed the newcomers with suspicion and hostility. More significantly, activism in support of Eisenhower did not translate into enthusiasm for the party cause. [84]

Once in office, Eisenhower was not an effective party leader and Nixon increasingly took that role. Historian David Reinhard concludes that Eisenhower lacked sustained political commitment, refused to intervene in state politics, failed to understand the political uses of presidential patronage and overestimated his personal powers of persuasion and conciliation. Eisenhower's attempt in 1956 to convert the GOP to "Modern Republicanism" was his "grandest flop". It was a vague proposal with weak staffing and little financing or publicity that caused turmoil inside the local parties across the country. The GOP carried both houses of Congress in 1952 on Eisenhower's coattails, but in 1954 lost both and would not regain the Senate until 1980 nor the House until 1994. The problem, says Reinhard, was the "voters liked Ike—but not the GOP". [85]

Eisenhower was an exception to most Presidents in that he usually let Vice President Richard Nixon handle party affairs (controlling the national committee and taking the roles of chief spokesman and chief fundraiser). Nixon was narrowly defeated by John F. Kennedy in the 1960 United States presidential election, weakening his moderate wing of the party. [86]

Conservatives made a comeback in 1964 under the leadership of Barry Goldwater, who defeated moderates and liberals such as Nelson Rockefeller and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. in the Republican presidential primaries that year. Goldwater was strongly opposed to the New Deal and the United Nations, but rejected isolationism and containment, calling for an aggressive anti-communist foreign policy. [87] In the presidential election of 1964, he was defeated by Lyndon Johnson in a landslide that brought down many senior Republican congressmen across the country. Goldwater won five states in the deep South, the strongest showing by a Republican presidential candidate in the South since 1872. [88]

Strength of parties in 1977 [89]
Party Republican Democratic Independent
Party ID (Gallup) 22% 47% 31%
Congressmen 181 354
House 143 292
Senate 38 62
% House popular vote nationally 42% 56% 2%
in the East 41% 57% 2%
in the South 37% 62% 2%
in the Midwest 47% 52% 1%
in the West 43% 55% 2%
Governors 12 37 1 [Note 11]
State Legislators 2,370 5,128 55
31% 68% 1%
State legislature control 18 80 1 [Note 11]
in the East 5 13 0
in the South 0 32 0
in the Midwest 5 17 1
in the West 8 18 0
States' one party control
of legislature and governorship
1 29 0

By 1964, the Democratic lock on the South remained strong, but cracks began to appear. Strom Thurmond was the most prominent Democrat to switch to the Republican Party. One long-term cause was that the region was becoming more like the rest of the nation and could not long stand apart in terms of racial segregation. Modernization brought factories, businesses and larger cities as well as millions of migrants from the North, as far more people graduated from high school and college. Meanwhile, the cotton and tobacco basis of the traditional South faded away as former farmers moved to town or commuted to factory jobs. Segregation, requiring separate dining and lodging arrangements for employees, was a serious obstacle to business development.

The highly visible immediate cause of the political transition involved civil rights. The civil rights movement caused enormous controversy in the white South with many attacking it as a violation of states' rights. When segregation was outlawed by court order and by the Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965, a die-hard element resisted integration, led by Democratic governors Orval Faubus of Arkansas, Lester Maddox of Georgia, Ross Barnett of Mississippi and, especially George Wallace of Alabama. These populist governors appealed to a less-educated, blue-collar electorate that on economic grounds favored the Democratic Party and supported segregation. [90]

After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, most Southerners accepted the integration of most institutions (except public schools). With the old barrier to becoming a Republican removed, Southerners joined the new middle class and the Northern transplants in moving toward the Republican Party. Integration thus liberated Southern politics from the old racial issues. In 1963, the federal courts declared unconstitutional the practice of excluding African-American voters from the Democratic primaries, which had been the only elections that mattered in most of the South. Meanwhile, the newly enfranchised black voters supported Democratic candidates at the 85–90% level, a shift which further convinced many white segregationists that the Republicans were no longer the black party. [90]

The New Deal Coalition collapsed in the mid-1960s in the face of urban riots, the Vietnam War, the opposition of many Southern Democrats to desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement and disillusionment that the New Deal could be revived by Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. In the 1966 midterm elections, the Republicans made major gains in part through a challenge to the "War on Poverty." Large-scale civic unrest in the inner-city was escalating ( reaching a climax in 1968) and urban white ethnics who had been an important part of the New Deal Coalition felt abandoned by the Democratic Party's concentration on racial minorities. Republican candidates ignored more popular programs, such as Medicare or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and focused their attacks on less popular programs. Furthermore, Republicans made an effort to avoid the stigma of negativism and elitism that had dogged them since the days the New Deal, and instead proposed well-crafted alternatives—such as their "Opportunity Crusade." [91] The result was a major gain of 47 House seats for the GOP in the 1966 United States House of Representatives elections that put the conservative coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats back in business. [92]

Nixon defeated both Hubert Humphrey and George C. Wallace in 1968. When the Democratic left took over their party in 1972, Nixon won reelection by carrying 49 states.

Nixon's involvement in Watergate brought disgrace and a forced resignation in 1974 and any long-term movement toward the GOP was interrupted by the scandal. Nixon's unelected vice president, Gerald Ford, succeeded him and gave him a full pardon, giving Democrats a powerful issue they used to sweep the 1974 off-year elections. Ford never fully recovered. In 1976, he barely defeated Ronald Reagan for the nomination. First Lady Betty Ford was notable for her liberal positions on social issues and for her work on breast cancer awareness following her mastectomy in 1974. The taint of Watergate and the nation's economic difficulties contributed to the election of Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976.

The Reagan Revolution Edit

Ronald Reagan was elected president in the 1980 election by a landslide electoral vote, though he only carried 50.7 percent of the popular vote to Carter's 41% and Independent John Anderson's 6.6 percent, not predicted by most voter polling. Running on a "Peace Through Strength" platform to combat the communist threat and massive tax cuts to revitalize the economy, Reagan's strong persona proved too much for Carter. Reagan's election also gave Republicans control of the Senate for the first time since 1952, gaining 12 seats as well as 33 House seats. Voting patterns and poll result indicate that the substantial Republican victory was the consequence of poor economic performance under Carter and the Democrats and did not represent an ideological shift to the right by the electorate. [93]

Ronald Reagan produced a major realignment with his 1980 and 1984 landslides. In 1980, the Reagan coalition was possible because of Democratic losses in most social-economic groups. In 1984, Reagan won nearly 60% of the popular vote and carried every state except his Democratic opponent Walter Mondale's home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia, creating a record 525 electoral vote total (out of 538 possible votes). Even in Minnesota, Mondale won by a mere 3,761 votes, meaning Reagan came within less than 3,800 votes of winning in all fifty states. [94]

Political commentators, trying to explain how Reagan had won by such a large margin, coined the term "Reagan Democrat" to describe a Democratic voter who had voted for Reagan in 1980 and 1984 (as well as for George H. W. Bush in 1988), producing their landslide victories. They were mostly white, blue-collar and were attracted to Reagan's social conservatism on issues such as abortion and to his hawkish foreign policy. Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, concluded that Reagan Democrats no longer saw Democrats as champions of their middle class aspirations, but instead saw it as being a party working primarily for the benefit of others, especially African Americans and social liberals.

Social scientists Theodore Caplow et al. argue: "The Republican party, nationally, moved from right-center toward the center in the 1940s and 1950s, then moved right again in the 1970s and 1980s". [95]

Reagan reoriented American politics and claimed credit in 1984 for an economic renewal—"It's morning again in America!" was the successful campaign slogan. Income taxes were slashed 25% and the upper tax rates abolished. The frustrations of stagflation were resolved under the new monetary policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, as no longer did soaring inflation and recession pull the country down. Working again in bipartisan fashion, the Social Security financial crises were resolved for the next 25 years.

In foreign affairs, bipartisanship was not in evidence. Most Democrats doggedly opposed Reagan's efforts to support the contra guerrillas against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua and to support the dictatorial governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador against communist guerrilla movements. He took a hard line against the Soviet Union, alarming Democrats who wanted a nuclear freeze, but he succeeded in increasing the military budget and launching the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)—labeled "Star Wars" by its opponents—that the Soviets could not match.

Reagan fundamentally altered several long standing debates in Washington, namely dealing with the Soviet threat and reviving the economy. His election saw the conservative wing of the party gain control. While reviled by liberal opponents in his day, his proponents contend his programs provided unprecedented economic growth and spurred the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Detractors of Reagan's policies note that although Reagan promised to simultaneously slash taxes, massively increase defense spending and balance the budget, by the time he left office the nation's budget deficit had tripled in his eight years in office. In 2009, Reagan's budget director noted that the "debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts". He inspired conservatives to greater electoral victories by being reelected in a landslide against Walter Mondale in 1984, but oversaw the loss of the Senate in 1986.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Moscow, many conservative Republicans were dubious of the growing friendship between him and Reagan. Gorbachev tried to save communism in the Soviet Union first by ending the expensive arms race with America, then in 1989 by shedding the East European empire. Communism finally collapsed in the Soviet Union in 1991.

President George H. W. Bush, Reagan's successor, tried to temper feelings of triumphalism lest there be a backlash in the Soviet Union, but the palpable sense of victory in the Cold War was a triumph that Republicans felt validated the aggressive foreign policies Reagan had espoused. As Haynes Johnson, one of his harshest critics admitted, "his greatest service was in restoring the respect of Americans for themselves and their own government after the traumas of Vietnam and Watergate, the frustration of the Iran hostage crisis and a succession of seemingly failed presidencies". [96]

Emergence of neoconservatives Edit

Some liberal Democratic intellectuals in the 1960s and 1970s who became disenchanted with the leftward movement of their party in domestic and foreign policy became "neoconservatives" ("neocons"). [97] A number held major appointments during the five presidential terms under Reagan and the Bushes. They played a central role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq. [98] Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, while not identifying themselves as neoconservatives, listened closely to neoconservative advisers regarding foreign policy, especially the defense of Israel, the promotion of democracy in the Middle East and the buildup of American military forces to achieve these goals. Many early neoconservative thinkers were Zionists and wrote often for Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee. [99] [100] The influence of the neocons on the White House faded during the Obama years, but it remains a staple in Republican Party arsenal. [101]

After the election of Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1992, the Republican Party, led by House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich campaigning on a "Contract with America", were elected to majorities to both Houses of Congress in the Republican Revolution of 1994. It was the first time since 1952 that the Republicans secured control of both houses of U.S. Congress, which with the exception of the Senate during 2001–2002 was retained through 2006. This capture and subsequent holding of Congress represented a major legislative turnaround, as Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for the forty years preceding 1995, with the exception of the 1981–1987 Congress in which Republicans controlled the Senate.

In 1994, Republican Congressional candidates ran on a platform of major reforms of government with measures such as a balanced budget amendment and welfare reform. These measures and others formed the famous Contract with America, which represented the first effort to have a party platform in an off-year election. The Contract promised to bring all points up for a vote for the first time in history. The Republicans passed some of their proposals, but failed on others such as term limits.

Democratic President Bill Clinton opposed some of the social agenda initiatives, but he co-opted the proposals for welfare reform and a balanced federal budget. The result was a major change in the welfare system, which conservatives hailed and liberals bemoaned. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed to muster the two-thirds majority required to pass a Constitutional amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress.

In 1995, a budget battle with Clinton led to the brief shutdown of the federal government, an event which contributed to Clinton's victory in the 1996 election. That year, the Republicans nominated Bob Dole, who was unable to transfer his success in Senate leadership to a viable presidential campaign.

The incoming Republican majority's promise to slow the rate of government spending conflicted with the president's agenda for Medicare, education, the environment and public health, eventually leading to a temporary shutdown of the U.S. federal government. The shutdown became the longest-ever in U.S. history, ending when Clinton agreed to submit a CBO-approved balanced budget plan. Democratic leaders vigorously attacked Gingrich for the budget standoff and his public image suffered heavily.

During the 1998 midterm elections, Republicans lost five seats in the House of Representatives—the worst performance in 64 years for a party that did not hold the presidency. Polls showed that Gingrich's attempt to remove President Clinton from the office was widely unpopular among Americans and Gingrich suffered much of the blame for the election loss. Facing another rebellion in the Republican caucus, he announced on November 6, 1998 that he would not only stand down as Speaker, but would leave the House as well, even declining to take his seat for an 11th term after he was handily re-elected in his home district.

George W. Bush, son of George H. W. Bush, won the 2000 Republican presidential nomination over Arizona Senator John McCain, former Senator Elizabeth Dole and others. With his highly controversial and exceedingly narrow victory in the 2000 election against the Vice President Al Gore, the Republican Party gained control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time since 1952. However, it lost control of the Senate when Vermont Senator James Jeffords left the Republican Party to become an independent in 2001 and caucused with the Democrats.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, Bush gained widespread political support as he pursued the War on Terrorism that included the invasion of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. In March 2003, Bush ordered for an invasion of Iraq because of breakdown of United Nations sanctions and intelligence indicating programs to rebuild or develop new weapons of mass destruction. Bush had near-unanimous Republican support in Congress plus support from many Democratic leaders.

The Republican Party fared well in the 2002 midterm elections, solidifying its hold on the House and regaining control of the Senate in the run-up to the war in Iraq. This marked the first time since 1934 that the party in control of the White House gained seats in a midterm election in both houses of Congress (previous occasions were in 1902 and following the Civil War). Bush was renominated without opposition as the Republican candidate in the 2004 election and titled his political platform "A Safer World and a More Hopeful America". [102]

It expressed Bush's optimism towards winning the War on Terrorism, ushering in an ownership society and building an innovative economy to compete in the world. Bush was re-elected by a larger margin than in 2000, but won the smallest share ever of the popular vote for a reelected incumbent president. However, he was the first Republican candidate since 1988 to win an outright majority. In the same election that year, the Republicans gained seats in both houses of Congress and Bush told reporters: "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style".

Bush announced his agenda in January 2005, but his popularity in the polls waned and his troubles mounted. Continuing troubles in Iraq as well as the disastrous government response to Hurricane Katrina led to declining popular support for Bush's policies. His campaign to add personal savings accounts to the Social Security system and make major revisions in the tax code were postponed. He succeeded in selecting conservatives to head four of the most important agencies, Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States and Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Bush failed to win conservative approval for Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, replacing her with Samuel Alito, whom the Senate confirmed in January 2006. Bush and McCain secured additional tax cuts and blocked moves to raise taxes. Through 2006, they strongly defended his policy in Iraq, saying the Coalition was winning. They secured the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act.

In the November 2005 off-year elections, New York City, Republican mayoral candidate Michael Bloomberg won a landslide re-election, the fourth straight Republican victory in what is otherwise a Democratic stronghold. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger failed in his effort to use the ballot initiative to enact laws the Democrats blocked in the state legislature. Scandals prompted the resignations of Congressional Republicans House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley and Bob Ney. In the 2006 midterm elections, the Republicans lost control of both the House of Representatives and Senate to the Democrats in what was widely interpreted as a repudiation of the administration's war policies. Exit polling suggested that corruption was a key issue for many voters. [103] Soon after the elections, Donald Rumsfeld resigned as secretary of defense to be replaced by Bob Gates.

In the Republican leadership elections that followed the general election, Speaker Hastert did not run and Republicans chose John Boehner of Ohio for House Minority Leader. Senators chose whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for Senate Minority Leader and chose their former leader Trent Lott as Senate Minority Whip by one vote over Lamar Alexander, who assumed their roles in January 2007. In the October and November gubernatorial elections of 2007, Republican Bobby Jindal won election for governor of Louisiana, Republican incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky lost and Republican incumbent Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi won re-election.

With President Bush ineligible for a third term and Vice President Dick Cheney not pursuing the party's nomination, Arizona Senator John McCain quickly emerged as the Republican Party's presidential nominee, receiving President Bush's endorsement on March 6, six months before official ratification at the 2008 Republican National Convention. On August 29, Senator McCain announced Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running-mate, making her the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket. McCain surged ahead of Obama in the national polls following the nomination but amid a financial crisis and a serious economic downturn, McCain and Palin went on to lose the 2008 presidential election to Democrats Barack Obama and running mate Joe Biden.

Following the 2008 elections, the Republican Party, reeling from the loss of the presidency, Congress and key state governorships, was fractured and leaderless. [104] Michael Steele became the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee, but was a poor fundraiser and was replaced after numerous gaffes and missteps. [105] Republicans suffered an additional loss in the Senate in April 2009, when Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party, depriving the GOP of a critical 41st vote to block legislation in the Senate. The seating of Al Franken several months later effectively handed the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority, but it was short-lived as the GOP took back its 41st vote when Scott Brown won a special election in Massachusetts in early 2010.

Republicans strongly opposed Obama's 2009 economic stimulus package and 2010 health care reform bill. The Tea Party movement, formed in early 2009, provided a groundswell of conservative grassroots activism to oppose policies of the Obama administration. With an expected economic recovery being criticized as sluggish, the GOP was expected to make big gains in the 2010 midterm elections. However, establishment Republicans began to see themselves at odds with Tea Party activists, who sought to run conservative candidates in primary elections to defeat the more moderate establishment-based candidates. Incumbent senators such as Bob Bennett in Utah and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska lost primary contests in their respective states.

Republicans won back control of the House of Representatives in the November general election, with a net gain of 63 seats, the largest gain for either party since 1948. The GOP also picked up six seats in the Senate, falling short of retaking control in that chamber, and posted additional gains in state governor and legislative races. Boehner became Speaker of the House while McConnell remained as the Senate Minority Leader. In an interview with National Journal magazine about congressional Republican priorities, McConnell explained that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for (Barack) Obama to be a one-term president". [106]

After 2009, the voter base of the GOP changed in directions opposite from national trends. It became older and less Hispanic or Asian than the general population. In 2013, Jackie Calmes of The New York Times reported a dramatic shift in the power base of the party as it moved away from the Northeast and the West Coast and toward small-town America in the South and West. During the 2016 presidential election, the Republicans also gained significant support in the Midwest. [107]

In a shift over a half-century, the party base has been transplanted from the industrial Northeast and urban centers to become rooted in the South and West, in towns and rural areas. In turn, Republicans are electing more populist, antitax and antigovernment conservatives who are less supportive — and even suspicious — of appeals from big business.

Big business, many Republicans believe, is often complicit with big government on taxes, spending and even regulations, to protect industry tax breaks and subsidies — "corporate welfare," in their view. [107]

In February 2011, several freshmen Republican governors began proposing legislation that would diminish the power of public employee labor unions by removing or negatively affecting their right to collective bargaining, claiming that these changes were needed to cut state spending and balance the states' budgets. These actions sparked public-employee protests across the country. In Wisconsin, the veritable epicenter of the controversy, Governor Scott Walker fought off a labor-fueled recall election, becoming the first state governor in U.S. history to defeat a recall against him.

After leading a pack of minor candidates for much of 2010 and 2011, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, despite outmatching his opponents in both money and organization, struggled to hold on to his lead for the 2012 GOP nomination. As the presidential campaign season headed toward the voting stage in January 2012, one candidate after another surged past Romney, held the lead for a few weeks, then fell back. According to the RealClearPolitics 2012 polling index, five candidates at one time or another were the top choice of GOP voters: Texas Governor Rick Perry, motivational speaker Herman Cain, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Senator Rick Santorum and Romney himself. [108]

After losing to Santorum in Iowa and Gingrich in South Carolina, Romney racked up a number of wins in later contests, emerging as the eventual frontrunner after taking the lion's share of states and delegates in the crucial Super Tuesday contests, despite an embarrassing loss in the Colorado caucuses and near-upsets in the Michigan and Ohio primaries. Romney was nominated in August and chose Congressman Paul Ryan, a young advocate of drastic budget cuts, as his running mate. Throughout the summer polls showed a close race and Romney had a good first debate, but otherwise had trouble reaching out to ordinary voters. He lost to Obama 51% to 47% and instead of gaining in the Senate as expected, Republicans lost seats.

The party mood was glum in 2013 and one conservative analyst concluded:

It would be no exaggeration to say that the Republican Party has been in a state of panic since the defeat of Mitt Romney, not least because the election highlighted American demographic shifts and, relatedly, the party's failure to appeal to Hispanics, Asians, single women and young voters. Hence the Republican leadership's new willingness to pursue immigration reform, even if it angers the conservative base. [109]

In March 2013, National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gave a stinging postmortem on the GOP's failures in 2012, calling on the party to reinvent itself and to endorse immigration reform and said: "There's no one reason we lost. Our message was weak our ground game was insufficient we weren't inclusive we were behind in both data and digital and our primary and debate process needed improvement". Priebus proposed 219 reforms, including a $10 million marketing campaign to reach women, minorities and gays a shorter, more controlled primary season and better data collection and research facilities. [110]

The party's official opposition to same-sex marriage came under attack. [111] [112] Meanwhile, social conservatives such as Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee remained opposed to same-sex marriage and warned that evangelicals would desert if the GOP dropped the issue. [113] Many leaders from different factions spoke out in 2013 on the need for a new immigration policy in the wake of election results showing a sharp move away from the GOP among Hispanics and Asians, but the Republicans in Congress could not agree on a program and nothing was done. [114] Republicans in Congress forced a government shutdown in late 2013 after narrowly averting similar fiscal crises in 2011 and 2012.

The Tea Party fielded a number of anti-establishment candidates in the 2014 Republican primaries, but scored very few notable wins. However, they managed to unseat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his Virginia primary race. GOP attacks on Obama's unpopular administration resonated with voters and the party posted major gains around the country. They regained control of the Senate and increased their majorities in the House to the highest total since 1929. They took control of governorships, state legislatures and Senate seats in nearly all Southern states, except Florida and Virginia. [115]

Great divisions in the House GOP conference were apparent after the 2014 midterm elections, with conservative members, many of them from the right-leaning Freedom Caucus, expressing dissatisfaction with congressional leadership. John Boehner's surprise announcement in September 2015 that he would step down as Speaker sent shockwaves through the House. After Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy bowed out of the race to replace Boehner due to a lack of support, House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan announced he would run, with the Freedom Caucus' support. Ryan was elected Speaker on October 29.

Businessman Donald Trump won the 2016 Republican primaries, representing a dramatic policy shift from traditional conservatism to an aggressively populist ideology with overtones of cultural identity politics. Numerous high-profile Republicans, including past presidential nominees like Mitt Romney, announced their opposition to Trump some even did so after he received the GOP nomination. Much of the Republican opposition to Trump stemmed from concerns that his disdain for political correctness, his support from the ethno-nationalist alt-right, his virulent criticism of the mainstream news media, and his expressions of approval for political violence would result in the GOP losing the presidential election and lead to significant GOP losses in other races. In one of the largest upsets in American political history, [116] [117] [118] [119] Trump went on to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

In addition to electing Donald Trump as president, Republicans maintained a majority in the Senate, in the House, and amongst state governors in the 2016 elections. The Republican Party was slated to control 69 of 99 state legislative chambers in 2017 (the most it had held in history) [120] and at least 33 governorships (the most it had held since 1922). [121] The party took total control of the government (legislative chambers and governorships) in 25 states following the 2016 elections [122] this was the most states it had controlled since 1952. [123]

In 2017 Donald Trump promised to use protective tariffs as a weapon to restore greatness to the economy. [124]

Sources differ over the extent Trump dominated and "remade" [125] the Republican Party. [126] Some have called his control "complete", noting that the few dissenting "Never Trump" Republican elected officials retired or were defeated in primaries, [125] that conservative media strongly supported him, and that his approval rating among self-identified Republican voters was extraordinarily high. [127] [128] [129] While approval among national voters was low. [130]

According to Trump and others, his policies differed from those of his Republican predecessors (such as Reagan) in being more oriented towards the working class, more skeptical of free trade agreements, and more isolationist and confrontational with foreign allies. [131]

Others suggested that Trump's popularity among the Republican base did not translate into as much GOP candidate loyalty as expected. [132] Still others opined that Republican legislation and policies during the Trump administration continued to reflect the traditional priorities of Republican donors, appointees and congressional leaders. [133] Jeet Heer of New Republic suggested that Trump's ascendancy was the "natural evolutionary product of Republican platforms and strategies that stretch back to the very origins of modern conservatism" [134]

Donald Trump is the first president in US history to be impeached twice. The first impeachment was in December 2019 but he was acquitted by the Senate in February 2020. The second impeachment was in January 2021 where he again was acquitted after he left office.

In the 2018 United States elections, the Republican Party lost the House of Representatives for the first time since 2011 but increased their majority in the Senate. In the 2020 United States elections, the Republican Party lost the Presidency and the Senate. [135] Despite the loss, Donald Trump initially refused to concede and attempted to overturn the election. This culminated in the storming of the United States Capitol in 2021 as Trump and his supporters tried to disrupt the Electoral College vote count. After the storming, Donald Trump conceded the election in the following day. [136] Motivated by false claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election, Republicans initiated an effort to make voting laws more restrictive. [137]

The Republican Party had a progressive element, typified in the early 20th century by Theodore Roosevelt in the 1907–1912 period (Roosevelt was more conservative at other points), Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr. and his sons in Wisconsin (from about 1900 to 1946) and western leaders such as Senator Hiram Johnson in California, Senator George W. Norris in Nebraska, Senator Bronson M. Cutting in New Mexico, Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin in Montana and Senator William Borah in Idaho. They were generally progressive in domestic policy, supported unions [138] and supported much of the New Deal, but were isolationist in foreign policy. [139] This element died out by the 1940s. Outside Congress, of the leaders who supported Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, most opposed the New Deal. [140]

Starting in the 1930s, a number of Northeastern Republicans took liberal positions regarding labor unions, spending and New Deal policies. They included Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in New York City, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, [76] Governor Earl Warren of California, Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota, Senator Clifford P. Case of New Jersey, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. of Massachusetts, Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut (father and grandfather of the two Bush Presidents), Senator Jacob K. Javits of New York, Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, Senator George Aiken of Vermont, Governor and later Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon, Governor William Scranton of Pennsylvania and Governor George W. Romney of Michigan. [141] The most notable of them all was Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York. [142] They generally advocated a free-market, but with some level of regulation. Rockefeller required employable welfare recipients to take available jobs or job training. [143]

While the media sometimes called them "Rockefeller Republicans", the liberal Republicans never formed an organized movement or caucus and lacked a recognized leader. They promoted economic growth and high state and federal spending while accepting high taxes and much liberal legislation, with the provision they could administer it more efficiently. They opposed the Democratic big city machines while welcoming support from labor unions and big business alike. Religion was not high on their agenda, but they were strong believers in civil rights for African Americans and women's rights and most liberals were pro-choice. They were also strong environmentalists and supporters of higher education. In foreign policy they were internationalists, throwing their support to Dwight D. Eisenhower over the conservative leader Robert A. Taft in 1952. They were often called the "Eastern Establishment" by conservatives such as Barry Goldwater. [144]

The Goldwater conservatives fought this establishment from 1960, [145] defeated it in 1964 and eventually retired most of its members, although some became Democrats like Senator Charles Goodell, Mayor John Lindsay in New York and Chief Justice Earl Warren. [146] President Richard Nixon adopted many of their positions, especially regarding health care, welfare spending, environmentalism and support for the arts and humanities. [147] After Congressman John B. Anderson of Illinois bolted the party in 1980 and ran as an independent against Reagan, the liberal GOP element faded away. Their old strongholds in the Northeast are now mostly held by Democrats. [144] [148]

The term "Rockefeller Republican" was used 1960–1980 to designate a faction of the party holding "moderate" views similar to those of Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New York from 1959 to 1974 and Vice President under President Gerald Ford in 1974–1977. Before Rockefeller, Thomas E. Dewey, governor of New York (1942–1954) and GOP presidential nominee in 1944 and 1948 was the leader. Dwight Eisenhower and his aide Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. reflected many of their views.

An important moderate leader in the 1950s was Connecticut Republican Senator Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, respectively. After Rockefeller left the national stage in 1976, this faction of the party was more often called "moderate Republicans", in contrast to the conservatives who rallied to Ronald Reagan.

Historically, Rockefeller Republicans were moderate or liberal on domestic and social policies. They favored New Deal programs, including regulation and welfare. They were supporters of civil rights. They were supported by big business on Wall Street (New York City). In fiscal policy they favored balanced budgets and relatively high tax levels to keep the budget balanced. They sought long-term economic growth through entrepreneurship, not tax cuts.

In state politics, they were strong supporters of state colleges and universities, low tuition and large research budgets. They favored infrastructure improvements, such as highway projects. In foreign policy they were internationalists and anti-communists. They felt the best way to counter communism was sponsoring economic growth (through foreign aid), maintaining a strong military and keeping close ties to NATO. Geographically their base was the Northeast, from Maine to Pennsylvania, where they had the support of major corporations and banks and worked well with labor unions.

The moderate Republicans were top-heavy, with a surplus of high visibility national leaders and a shortage of grass roots workers. Most of all they lacked the numbers, the enthusiasm and excitement the conservatives could mobilize—the moderates decided it must be an un-American level of fanaticism that drove their opponents. Doug Bailey, a senior Rockefeller aide recalled, "there was a mentality in [Rockefeller's] campaign staff that, 'Look, we have got all this money. We should be able to buy the people necessary to get this done. And you buy from the top down'". Bailey discovered that the Rockefeller team never understood that effective political organizations are empowered from the bottom up, not the top down. [149]

Barry Goldwater crusaded against the Rockefeller Republicans, beating Rockefeller narrowly in the California primary of 1964 giving the Arizona senator, all of the California delegates and a majority at the presidential nominating convention. The election was a disaster for the conservatives, but the Goldwater activists now controlled large swaths of the GOP and they had no intention of retreating. The stage was set for a conservative takeover, based in the South and West, in opposition to the Northeast. Ronald Reagan continued in the same theme. George H. W. Bush was more closely associated with the moderates, but his son George W. Bush was firmly allied with the conservatives. [150]

From its inception in 1854 to 1964, when Senate Republicans pushed hard for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against a filibuster by Senate Democrats, the GOP had a reputation for supporting blacks and minorities. In 1869, the Republican-controlled legislature in Wyoming Territory and its Republican governor John Allen Campbell made it the first jurisdiction to grant voting rights to women. In 1875, California swore in the first Hispanic governor, Republican Romualdo Pacheco. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman in Congress—and indeed the first woman in any high level government position. In 1928, New Mexico elected the first Hispanic U.S. Senator, Republican Octaviano Larrazolo. In 1898, the first Jewish U.S. Senator elected from outside of the former Confederacy was Republican Joseph Simon of Oregon. In 1924, the first Jewish woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives was Republican Florence Kahn of California. In 1928, the Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Charles Curtis of Kansas, who grew up on the Kaw Indian reservation, became the first person of significant non-European ancestry to be elected to national office, as Vice President of the United States for Herbert Hoover. [151]

Blacks generally identified with the GOP until the 1930s. Every African American who served in the U.S. House of Representatives before 1935 and all of the African Americans who served in the Senate before 1979, were Republicans. Frederick Douglass after the Civil War and Booker T. Washington in the early 20th century were prominent Republican spokesmen. In 1966, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts became the first African American popularly elected to the United States Senate. [Note 12] [152] [153]

Some critics, most notably Dan Carter, have alleged that the rapid growth in Republican strength in the South came from a secretly coded message to Wallacites and segregationists that the GOP was a racist anti-black party seeking their votes. [154] Political scientists and historians point out that the timing does not fit the Southern strategy model. Nixon carried 49 states in 1972, so he operated a successful national rather than regional strategy, but the Republican Party remained quite weak at the local and state level across the entire South for decades. Matthew Lassiter argues that Nixon's appeal was not to the Wallacites or segregationists, but rather to the rapidly emerging suburban middle-class. Many had Northern antecedents and they wanted rapid economic growth and saw the need to put backlash politics to rest. Lassiter says the Southern strategy was a "failure" for the GOP and that the Southern base of the Republican Party "always depended more on the middle-class corporate economy and on the top-down politics of racial backlash". Furthermore, "realignment in the South quote came primarily from the suburban ethos of New South metropolises such as Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, not to the exportation of the working-class racial politics of the Black Belt". [155]

The South's transition to a Republican stronghold took decades and happened incrementally, with national politics gradually influencing state and local politics. [156] First the states started voting Republican in presidential elections—the Democrats countered that by nominating Southerners who could carry some states in the region, such as Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. However, the strategy narrowly failed with Al Gore in 2000. The states began electing Republican senators to fill open seats caused by retirements and finally governors and state legislatures changed sides. [157] Georgia was the last state to shift to the GOP, with Republican Sonny Perdue taking the governorship in 2002. [ citation needed ] Republicans aided the process with redistricting that protected the African-American and Hispanic vote (as required by the Civil Rights laws), but split up the remaining white Democrats so that Republicans mostly would win. [157] [ dubious – discuss ]

In addition to its white middle class base, Republicans attracted strong majorities from the evangelical Christian community and from Southern pockets of traditionalist Roman Catholics in South Louisiana. [158] The national Democratic Party's support for liberal social stances such as abortion drove many white Southerners into a Republican Party that was embracing the conservative views on these issues. Conversely, liberal voters in the northeast began to join the Democratic Party. [ citation needed ]

In 1969, Kevin Phillips argued in The Emerging Republican Majority that support from Southern whites and growth in the South, among other factors, was driving an enduring Republican electoral realignment. In the early 21st century, the South was generally solidly Republican in state elections and mostly solidly Republican in presidential contests. [ citation needed ] In 2005, political scientists Nicholas A. Valentino and David O. Sears argued that partisanship at that time was driven by disagreements on the size of government, national security and moral issues, while racial issues played a smaller role. [159]

Why the Republican Party wants to destroy labor unions

We are enmeshed in several "existential crises" that Trump and the Republicans have exacerbated – climate change threat of nuclear war US democracy and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there is at least one other "existential crisis" that is most often overlooked – the very existence of unions as an effective representative of working-class interests is at risk. Trump and the Republicans have launched a broad offensive involving all three branches of government to undermine the legal and civil foundation of organized labor: the right to be represented by a union and to collectively bargain for wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Four more years of Trump could result in the utter demise of the labor movement and the immiseration of a large portion of workers while furthering the concentration of income, wealth and power among a corporate and billionaire elite. This is not to say that Biden and the Democratic Party are the second coming of FDR and the New Deal. However, Biden and the Democrats are not out to destroy unions and, at the very least, will blunt the corporate/Republican anti-union crusade. And, at best, Biden and the Democrats will enact pro-worker legislation to the degree that unions and progressive groups are mobilized and activated. While the Democrats represent the possibility of pro-worker legislation especially if pushed by mass mobilization, Trump and the Republicans are out to destroy unions no matter what we do.

In a series of three articles, I will examine the anti-worker offensive launched by the Republican Party and President Trump as well as the alternative offered by the Democratic Party and Biden. This first article will analyze the reasons why the Republican party has declared a war against unions. The second article will examine the two-pronged offensive launched by President Trump and the Republican Party against unions namely, stacking the deck by appointing proven anti-union ideologues to key positions and rigging the rules by enacting anti-union/pro-corporate policies. The final article will describe Biden's stated policy positions in relation to labor and propose a number of recommendations for union supporters to mobilize not only to defeat the anti-union Trump led Republican Party but also to ensure that a Biden administration follows through on his pro-worker promises.

While these articles focus on the attack on workers' rights and the promotion of corporate power, they are in no way meant to take away from the importance of the other crises and issues we face – the struggle for workers' rights is inextricably linked to the struggle for civil, human and economic rights a clean and healthy environment an equitable distribution of income, wealth and power and the creation of an effective and functioning democracy.

The GOP Wants to Destroy Unions

The Republican Party has historically been a bitter opponent of labor unions. Since the New Deal, Republicans have consistently supported efforts to weaken unions by eliminating or eroding statutory protections for the right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. Most famously, Republicans initiated and overwhelmingly supported the Taft Hartley Act which weakened unions by prohibiting many of the tactics that made unions formidable during the 1930s and 1940s. President Reagan launched another attack against unions when he broke the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) during his first term and legitimized the use of non-union "permanent replacements" for striking union workers. As will be examined in the next article, President Trump and the current Republican Party have taken this anti-union crusade to new heights.

Big Business funds – and therefore controls - the Republican party. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, big business invested $20.1 billion in federal campaign contributions from 1990 through the first half of 2020. Republicans received 57% while Democrats received 43%. Business trade associations including the powerful US Chamber of Commerce gave 84% of their campaign contributions to Republicans and just 16% to Democrats. A 2019 report examining the donations of the CEOs of the top 1,500 publicly traded companies from 2000-2017 found a strong bias in favor of Republicans: 57.7% donated to Republicans, 18.6% to Democrats, with the rest leaning toward neither party. Even though big business does give billions of dollars to Democrats and thus has a lot of power within the Democratic Party, big business gives many billions more dollars to the Republican Party which it dominates. Meanwhile, unions invested just $1.6 billion in total campaign contributions from 1990 to 2020 – 91% of which went to Democrats.

Big Business Wants to Destroy Unions – therefore, the Republican Party Acts to Destroy Unions. Big business does not overwhelmingly fund the Republican party for altruistic reasons – there is a quid pro quo. And part of the deal is that the Republican party must follow the lead of big business in opposing unions

  • Unions form the largest civil institution that serves the interests of working people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unions represented 16.4 million workers or 11.6% of the employed workforce in 2019. While this percentage is far lower than 1983 when unions represented 23.3% of the workforce, it is still a very large block of voting age Americans with shared interests and organizational connections. Union households represent an even larger share of the national electorate: according to CNN exit polls, union households represented 18% of the national electorate in 2016 – and much larger shares of voters in key swing states such as 28% of Michigan voters in 2016
  • Unions advocate policies opposed by Big Business and oppose policies advocated by Big Business. Unions have initiated and/or provided critical support – while Big Business and Republicans generally opposed - the eight-hour day, the five-day workweek, overtime, minimum wages, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, occupational safety and health regulations, paid family leave, the expansion of governmental programs aiding lower income workers and much more. Unions also have strongly opposed many of the policies advocated by big business including tax cuts that disproportionately favor corporations and the wealthy the elimination or erosion of worker, environmental and consumer protections the elimination of limits on the amount of legal campaign contributions by corporations and wealthy individuals the privatization of crucial government services and agencies such as social security, the post office, public education and much more
  • Unions force corporations to share some of their gains and power with workers. Union-represented workers on average have higher wages and better benefits than non-union workers. According to the BLS, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median weekly earnings of $1,095 in 2019, while those who were not represented by unions had median weekly earnings of $892. Thus, union workers make almost $10,600 more a year than non-union workers. Moreover, according to another BLS report, union represented workers have substantially greater access to health, pension, paid time off, and other benefits. Corporations do not appreciate the higher wages and benefits obtained by union represented workers because they cut into profits, even though union workers are more productive than non-union workers. But corporations really do not like unions because they reduce management power over the workplace. For example, union represented workers obtain the contractual obligation of due process and just cause for discipline and firing. Union workers have representation throughout a contractual process to determine whether an employer has just cause for discipline or firing. Non-represented workers are "at will" and do not have such protections: they can be fired for basically any reason except those few instances protected by law such as race, gender, disability and religion
  • Unions reduce income inequality. A recent study by three Princeton University economists found that unions reduced income inequality in the United States, not just for union members but for the entire distribution of workers and wages. An earlier study by sociologists Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld had a similar finding, that "unions not only equalize union members' wages, they also equalize the nonunion wage distribution by threatening union organization and buttressing norms for fair pay. We found strong evidence that unionization rates in detailed industries for geographic regions are positively associated with wage equality among nonunion workers."

The Republican Party also opposes unions in order to weaken the Democratic Party. Obviously, the Republican Party competes with the Democrats for votes and thus positions of political power. Consequently, Republicans will do all they can to weaken the Democrats which makes unions a prime target

  • Unions are a core constituency of the Democratic Party. As previously mentioned, unions directed 91% of their campaign contributions to Democrats from 1990 through the first half of 2020. In presidential elections, 60-66% of union households have historically supported Democratic presidential candidates – except for 2016 when just 53% voted for Clinton while 42% voted for Trump (as compared to non-union households which voted 46% for Clinton and 48% for Trump). Unions also supply thousands of volunteers to canvass neighborhoods and get out the vote. These on-the-ground efforts are probably more important than labor's direct cash contributions
  • Unions are a more powerful force for progressive policies than the Democratic Party. A Nation article details research that shows the critical impact of unions on policy and the Democratic Party.

  • By weakening unions through "Right to Work" laws, the Republican Party weakens the Democratic Party. The Republican Party has championed Right to Work laws as a means to weaken labor unions. Unions are required by law to collectively bargain for and represent all workers in their bargaining units whether they are members or not. However, right to work laws prohibit unions from collecting payments from all these workers to help pay for the cost of bargaining and contract administration. In other words, workers represented by unions can refuse to help pay for the costs the union incurs to represent them. Union supporters call such workers "free riders." The clear intent of such laws is to reduce union revenue, the number of members and, thus, to weaken unions. And that is exactly what happened. For example, from 2012 (the year before Right to Work was adopted in Michigan) to 2019, the 14 major public and private sector unions lost 130,000 members (16% of their membership) and $20 million in revenue. Wisconsin adopted a bill that significantly curtailed the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers in 2011 and adopted a right to work law in 2015. The combined impact of these laws has been significant: from 2010 to 2019, Wisconsin union membership declined by 137,000 or 39%.

But the impact was not just felt by unions. A major study examined the impact of Right to Work laws not only on unions but also on the Democratic party:

  • Right-to-work laws reduce Democratic presidential vote shares by 3.5 percentage points.
  • There are similar effects in US Senate, US House, and Gubernatorial races, as well as on state legislative control
  • Turnout of union members is 2 to 3 percentage points lower in right-to-work counties after those laws pass
  • The share of blue-collar workers reporting a get-out-the-vote contact declines by 11 percent following the passage of right-to-work laws
  • Total campaign contributions from all unions falls by 2.5 to 3 points

The 3.5% reduction of union presidential votes probably cost Hillary Clinton the presidency: she lost Michigan by just 10,704 votes, a margin of just 0.23% and lost Wisconsin by just 22,748 votes or a margin of just 0.7%.

Republican party voters are primarily located in states with an anti-union history. The strength of the Republican party is centered in states that have adopted anti-union policies such as the "right to work" laws described above. It is no surprise that the Republican Party launched, and corporate donors funded a major effort to extend right to work laws to "fair share" states. Since 2010, six additional states controlled by Republicans passed Right to Work laws for a total of 27 states altogether. These 27 states accounted for 83% of the current crop of Republican senators 82% of Trump's total 2016 electoral college votes and almost 70% of the total number of Republican representatives.

The Democratic Party Is Much Better on Labor Issues Than the Republican Party

The Democratic Party is not a labor party. Unions form an important constituency of the Democratic Party in terms of funding, voting and providing the volunteers needed for canvassing, phone banking and getting out the vote. Ironically, the Republican Party recognizes the importance of unions to the Democratic Party more than the Democratic Party. And, Big Business provides billions of dollars in support to corporate Democrats – a significant source of Democratic funding though much less than the contributions to Republicans. The importance of corporate money and influence has pushed many Democrats toward policies that aid corporations and hurt workers. Two examples illustrate the power of corporations in the Democratic Party. First, Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama failed to prioritize labor law reforms that would have assisted unions in their fight with corporations and would have strengthened the Democratic Party. These bills failed because they were not prioritized by the Presidents and the Senate filibuster rule that gave outsized importance to Senators from anti-union, especially southern states. Second, President Clinton pushed through NAFTA and the China trade deals that led to the combined loss of 4 million jobs – many of which were good union jobs. Clinton was able to push these policies through Congress with the support of most Republicans and despite the opposition of most Democrats. President Obama attempted to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, called NAFTA on steroids. However, he was thwarted by opposition from labor, environmental, consumer, civil rights and religious groups – and most Democratic members of Congress.

However, despite all of that, a higher percentage of congressional Democrats are now more pro-union than ever. This is the result of the extinction of anti-union/pro-segregation Southern Democrats who have now become Republicans and the expansion of voting rights to Black and Latinx citizens who are more pro-union. Conversely, Democrats strengthened their hold in pro-union states as pro-union Republicans disappeared. Consequently, Democratic support for labor law reform has steadily increased among Congressional Democrats over time. For example, Obama – despite the issues noted above – appointed very pro-union individuals to the NLRB who issued many pro-union rules. Not one congressional Democrat supported the Republican led drive to roll back many of the new NLRB rules in 2015 when the Republicans controlled both the House and Senate. This pro-union solidarity among Democrats prevented a Republican override of Obama's veto of the legislation. And when Republicans did roll back a number of Obama era pro-labor rules when they controlled both houses of Congress, not one Democrat supported the effort. This entire trajectory was described in an interesting article by Nathan Newman who concluded, "There is [Democratic] unity in defense of labor interests in the modern Democratic Party that was nowhere to be seen during the New Deal era."

Democrats, despite Republican opposition, were responsible for passage of civil rights, age discrimination, disability rights, pregnancy discrimination, occupational safety and health, and the Family and Medical Leave acts. State laws in Democratic states are much more labor-friendly than those in Republican controlled states.

The point here is not that the Democratic Party is a labor party – it is not. And it is clear that our entire political system is dominated by corporate money. However, it is also clear that Democrats are much more pro-worker than the Republican Party. Indeed, as the next article will show – the Republican Party has launched an offensive to debilitate unions – an offensive led by President Trump, Republican majorities in the Senate and the federal judiciary and officials in Republican controlled states.

The Bottom Line

The Republican Party sees unions and their supporters as enemies to be politically and economically destroyed. The Democratic Party will not destroy unions and actually provides the possibility to assist unions in representing the interests of working people. Note to union supporters: act and vote accordingly.

Kenneth R. Peres retired as chief economist of the Communications Workers of America. Formerly, he served as economist for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Montana House Select Committee on Economic Development, and the Montana Alliance for Progressive Policy. Ken has held teaching positions at the University of Montana, St. John's University, Chief Dull Knife College, and the City University of New York. He obtained a PhD in economics from the New School in New York City.


The National Union Party was created just before the general election of November 1864, when the Civil War was still in progress. A faction of anti-Lincoln Radical Republicans believed that Lincoln was incompetent and could not be reelected. A number of Radical Republicans formed a party called the Radical Democracy Party and a few hundred delegates met in Cleveland starting on May 31, 1864, eventually nominating John C. Frémont, who had also been the Republicans' first presidential standard-bearer during the 1856 presidential election.

Baltimore Convention Edit

Republicans loyal to Lincoln created a new name for their party in convention at Baltimore, Maryland during the first week in June 1864 in order to accommodate the War Democrats who supported the war and wished to separate themselves from the Copperheads. This is the main reason why War Democrat Andrew Johnson was selected to be the vice presidential nominee as then-current Vice President Hannibal Hamlin was not nominated. The National Unionists supporting the Lincoln–Johnson ticket also hoped that the new party would stress the national character of the war.

The convention's temporary chairman, Robert Jefferson Breckinridge of Kentucky, explained that he could support Lincoln on this new ticket for the following reason:

As a Union party I will follow you to the ends of the earth, and to the gates of death. But as an Abolition party, as a Republican party, as a Whig party, as a Democratic party, as an American [Know-Nothing] party, I will not follow you one foot.

The National Union Party adopted the following goals as its platform:

[P]ursuit of the war until the Confederacy surrendered unconditionally a constitutional amendment for the abolition of slavery aid to disabled Union veterans continued European neutrality enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine encouragement of immigration and construction of a transcontinental railroad. It also praised the use of black troops and Lincoln's management of the war.

1864 National Union Party presidential nominee, Abraham Lincoln

1864 National Union Party vice presidential nominee, Andrew Johnson

News of his nomination at the 1864 National Union Convention elicited Lincoln's famous response on June 9, 1864:

I am very grateful for the renewed confidence which has been accorded to me, both by the convention and by the National [Union] League. I am not insensible at all to the personal compliment there is in this yet I do not allow myself to believe that any but a small portion of it is to be appropriated as a personal compliment. The convention and the nation, I am assured, are alike animated by a higher view of the interests of the country for the present and the great future, and that part I am entitled to appropriate as a compliment is only that part which I may lay hold of as being the opinion of the convention and of the League, that I am not entirely unworthy to be entrusted with the place I have occupied for the last three years. I have not permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best man in the country but I am reminded, in this connection, of a story of an old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion once that 'it was not best to swap horses when crossing streams.'

In August 1864, Lincoln wrote and signed a pledge that should he lose the election, he would nonetheless defeat the Confederacy by an all-out military effort before turning over the White House:

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterward.

Lincoln did not show the pledge to his cabinet, but asked them to sign the sealed envelope.

The complexion of the war changed as the election approached. Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee's last victory in battle occurred June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor. Union General Ulysses S. Grant's aggressive tactics trapped Lee in the trenches defending Richmond. Admiral David Farragut successfully shut down Mobile Bay as a Confederate resource in the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 3–23, 1864. Most decisive of all, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman captured Atlanta on September 1, 1864, convincing even the pessimists that the Confederacy was collapsing.

Frémont and his fellow Republicans hated their former ally Postmaster General Montgomery Blair. Frémont, aware that his candidacy could result in victory for the Democrats, made a deal to drop out of the presidential race in exchange for Blair's removal from office. On September 22, 1864, Frémont dropped out of the race. On September 23, Lincoln asked for and received Blair's resignation. The National Union ticket went on to win handily in the election of 1864, defeating the Democratic ticket of General George B. McClellan (whom Lincoln had previously relieved of his command) and George H. Pendleton.

The Republican Party called itself the Union Party in 1864 and gave out this ballot for supporters to vote for Lincoln In the 1864 congressional elections, the party won 42 Senate seats (out of 54 senators seated, not including vacancies due to the secession of Confederate states) and 149 seats (out of 193) in the House of Representatives. These candidates ran under various party names, including National Union, Republican and Unconditional Union, but were part of the overall Republican/National Union effort.

Upon Lincoln's death in 1865, Andrew Johnson became the only other National Union President.

After the bitter break with the Republicans in Congress over Reconstruction policies, Johnson used federal patronage to build up a party of loyalists, but it proved to be unsuccessful. Johnson's friends sponsored the 1866 National Union Convention in August 1866 in Philadelphia as part of his attempt at maintaining a coalition of supporters. The convention sought to bring together moderate and conservative Republicans and defecting Democrats and forge an unbeatable coalition behind President Johnson and his Reconstruction policy.

In the fall of 1866, Johnson embarked upon a speaking tour (known as the "Swing Around the Circle") before the 1866 Congressional elections to attempt to garner support for his policies. His swing was heavily ridiculed and proved ineffective as more of his opponents were elected. Republican National Committee chairman Henry Jarvis Raymond (1864–1866) lost the regard of the Republicans for his participation in the convention. The National Union movement became little more than the Democratic Party in a new form as Republicans left the movement and returned to the old party fold by the fall. Ulysses S. Grant/Schuyler Colfax 1868 National Union Republican campaign poster The last congressman to represent the National Union Party ended his affiliation with the party in March 1867. Johnson was impeached by the Republican-led House of Representatives in 1868 and was acquitted in the Senate by one vote. Upon the 1869 expiration of Johnson's only term as President, the National Union Party came to an end. The platform adopted at the 1868 Republican National Convention strongly repudiated President Johnson while the platform adopted by the 1868 Democratic National Convention thanked Johnson. Johnson received dozens of votes on the first ballot of the Democratic convention, but the party ultimately nominated Horatio Seymour. Meanwhile, the mainline Republicans decided at their 1868 national convention to use the term the National Union Republican Convention. The 1868 National Union Republican delegates nominated Ulysses S. Grant for President and his running mate Schuyler Colfax for Vice President. In 1872, all reference to Union had disappeared. Historians regard the initial National Union coalition assembled in 1864 as part of the Republican Party lineage and heritage.

In 2014, the National Union Party would be revived, albeit in an unofficial way by Washington State perennial candidate Mike The Mover (born Michael Patrick Shanks). Mike is not a member of the Republicans or any other political party. Despite this, during the 2014 congressional election for Washington's 1st congressional district, he ran as a candidate for the National Union Party, taking advantage of an election law in the state where candidates can declare themselves a member of any party, even if that party doesn't exist. Mike is a fan of Civil War history and this interest probably influenced his choice

History of the Democratic and Republican Parties

For more than a century, the United States of America’s political landscape has been dominated and represented by two political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties. It’s a feud that may seem as old as time itself, blue against red, the Democratic symbol of the donkey versus the Republican symbol of the elephant, liberal against conservative. They divide our government or more accurately, our entire nation in a way comparable only to sports teams or religious or ethnic backgrounds. Now more than ever, they couldn’t seem more different, with all the debate, the back and forth, and the fact that both of them occupy the majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. Surely it wasn’t always this way? What led to this radical difference in ideology, these glaring differences in perspective? How did we get here? Well, the story doesn’t go like one might think.

To begin, the two parties we most often think of now were not even the same parties that existed at the dawn of the two-party political system. Instead, it was the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The year was 1787, eleven years into America’s existence as an independent, self-governing nation. The Articles of Confederation, the country’s first attempt at a governmental constitution, was deemed a failure by the 13 original states for various reasons, and thus a new constitution (Known as the US Constitution) was drafted. Two factions emerged and disagreed with how the government should operate in the best interest of the people. The Federalists, led by President George Washington, treasurer Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams, believed in a strong centralized government that featured a system with a national bank, of Hamilton’s design. They also believed that the Constitution was malleable and up to interpretation. The majority of their support would come from bankers and manufacturers from the urban North. The Anti-Federalists, while less organized, were led by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. They believed in a less powerful federal government, with more power given to state governments. By 1792, they organized themselves into the Democratic-Republican Party under Jefferson to oppose the Federalists. When the century turned to the 1800s, the Federalists began to lose ground, specifically after the War of 1812, and as a result, the Democratic-Republicans dominated the early elections.

After Democratic-Republican candidate Andrew Jackson lost a controversial Presidential Election to John Quincy Adams in 1824, a new party, the Democratic Party, was formed in support of him for the 1828 election, which he won easily. This Democratic Party would be opposed by the Whig Party, formed by opponents of Jackson and led by Kentucky’s Henry Clay. The Democrats and the Whigs became the country’s dominant political parties, with supporters from every region. The Republican Party wouldn’t be formed until 1854, from the northern remnants of the collapsed Whig party which broke off from the southern Whigs, after a schism over the issue of slavery. The Republicans were characterized by their anti-slavery beliefs and focus on industrialization, and as such, they were primarily concentrated in the North. These beliefs were considered “progressive” for the time, as they advocated for social reforms, such as full rights and citizenship for African-Americans, and for a greater focus on industry than the South’s method of agriculture, as well as a more active, powerful federal government. By contrast, the Democrats were prevalent in the South and held “conservative” viewpoints, meaning they sought to uphold tradition and the current status quo of slavery remaining an institution and the federal government having little interference with the state governments. Prior to the Election of 1860, many Southern states threatened secession if the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln won, fearing he would abolish slavery. Eventually Lincoln emerged victorious and the states of South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina all officially broke away from the United States to form the Confederate States of America, kickstarting the Civil War. After the Union’s eventual victory in 1865, the period of Reconstruction was enacted in the South, as the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were ratified, abolishing slavery and granting African-Americans full rights and citizenship. Such a radical departure from what had been the Southern way of life, which coupled with the economic devastation they faced due to the war, gave rise to a lot of anger in Southern whites and the democrats seized control of the South by 1876. Many Southern states began to enforce the practice of segregation by passing Jim Crow laws the following year.

This continued for quite some time Republicans ruled the North, while Democrats controlled the South. It wasn’t until the Progressive Era of the early 20th century when things began to change. In 1896, William Jennings Bryant ran as the Democratic candidate for President. Though he ended up losing, his ideas of a stronger federal government ensuring the rights and civil liberties of the people would go on to be the defining ideals of the modern Democratic party. The more Progressive Democrats, swayed by this way of thinking, began to oppose their staunchly conservative counterparts. Through all this, the Republican Party maintained dominance. But as the prosperous era of the 1920s came to a close at the start of the Great Depression in 1929, the Republicans began to fall out of favor with the people. As a result, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) became the first Democrat to win the election in almost twenty years in 1932. Within his first 100 days in office, his administration signed the New Deal into law, an effort to get America out of the depression through federal programs and heavy intervention. This marked a period of dominance for the Democratic Party that would last almost six decades. During the same period, the Republican Party began to change its approach. Conservative Democrats had always dominated the South, so the Republicans began to champion some of their beliefs, in state’s rights, opposition to civil rights for African-Americans, opposition to expanded labor unions, beliefs against abortion and evangelical, “traditional” values. This became known by historians as “The Southern Strategy”, the Republicans appealing to racism and other traditional southern values through thinly veiled rhetoric to try and get the southern vote. Lee Atwater, a former consultant to president Richard Nixon, admitted this in a controversial interview in 1981. Meanwhile, Democrats began to champion civil rights, advocating for a strong federal government, and overall more progressive ideas, which many white southerners saw as a war on traditional American culture. While white southerners flocked to the Republican Party, many African-American and minority voters who had traditionally voted Republican, dating back to the Lincoln Administration, had begun to vote Democrat following World War II. This was due, in part, to their handling of the Depression and support of the civil rights movement with Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, effectively ending the Jim Crow Era. And so, by the 1970s, America’s political landscape had completely flipped. The Democratic Party was now progressive (or liberal, to use a more modern term) and held the majority of the northern vote, while the Republican Party was now conservative and held the vast majority of the southern vote when the opposite was true just a hundred years earlier. The parties essentially switched perspectives and ideals. This is how both parties can be identified in their current forms today.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans at their core is the same difference as the difference was between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists in 1787, with a few more (admittedly large) issues thrown into the mix. The argument hasn’t changed, only evolved as our country has. Who should hold more power, the federal government or the states? Should we preserve the status quo, our tradition, or keep moving forward, with new ideals that challenge the old, in pursuit of a better country? How much work do we have to do before our country can truly be considered great? Are we already there? Were we there and lost our way? Or do we still have work to do? That is the fundamental difference. Both Democrats and Republicans seek what’s best for the people and for the country, but it’s the path, the way to get there, that they disagree on and likely always will.

History of the Republican Party

The Republican Party was the result of a movement against the Kansas Nebraska Act, which extended slavery further across the United States. The first meeting against this Act, and where the term ‘Republican’ was suggested as the name for the new party, was conducted in Ripon, Wisconsin, on March 20, 1854. From thereon in, the Republican Party rapidly rose on the back of its radical beliefs and anti-slavery position.

The American Midwest saw the most number of Republican Party tickets, followed by the Eastern states. Within six years, every Northern state had a Republican governor. The South saw very few efforts in organizing the Republican Party, apart from a few areas that were close to the Free states.

The party came into the foray as a major political force with the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. The American Civil War soon followed as pro-slavery southern Democrats objected to the anti-slavery views of Lincoln. In the years during and after the Civil War, the Republican Party headed by Lincoln went on to pass a number of laws and make significant constitutional amendments that banned slavery and attempted to give more rights to the blacks. This was also the era of the Radical Republicans, a faction of the Republican Party that demanded harsh measures against the Confederates and slavery. Lincoln was able to hold them off, but this changed with his death and the arrival of Andrew Johnson as President.

Although Johnson seemed favorable to the Radicals at first, he soon took the path of moderation and formed an alliance between Democrats and Republicans. By 1866, the Radical Republicans won a sweeping victory and took over the Reconstruction era, which included a number of key laws being passed and the impeachment of Johnson.

Two years later, Ulysses S. Grant became President and the Congress was under the control of the Radicals. This era was marked by aggressive attempts by the party to build their base in the South with the help of the United States Army detachments. There were clashes between local Republican groups, called Union Leagues, and Ku Klux Klan members, leading to the death of thousands.

For the next century or so, the South continued to be dominated by Democrats. In fact, the entire South was called the Solid South in reference to the strength of the Democratic Party in the region. In contrast, the Republican Party only controlled small parts of the Appalachian Mountains and occasionally competed for office in Border States. The status quo, however, changed in 1948 when the Democrats alienated its Southern base in two ways.

The first was the adoption of civil rights by the Democratic National Convention and the second was the signing of the Executive Order 9981, signifying the racial integration of the U.S. armed forces. The Deep South formed a regional party with J. Strom Thurmond at the head, but the outer South remained with the Democrats and President Truman.

The Civil Rights movement, in fact, was the turning point for the Democrats and the Republican Party. As hardcore Democratic governors like Lester Maddox (Georgia), George Wallace (Alabama), and Ross Barnett (Mississippi) resisted integration in their states, an increasing number of Democrats began to go against their policies of racial separation and embraced integration. The Civil Rights Acts was passed in 1964 and 1965, freeing the South from centuries-old barriers that prevented them from joining the Republican Party and liberating them from old racial issues. Nevertheless, the South did not immediately transition to the Republican Party. It took decades, starting from voting Republican during presidential elections and moving on to voting for Republican senators for seats in the Congress.

After 1980, the Republican Party began to attract a majority of the Evangelical Christians, who had been political neutral until then. This was due to the increasingly liberal stance of the Democratic Party, especially on controversial issues like abortion. As more conservatives went from the Democrats to the Republics, the Republican Party became more conservative and liberal Republicans joined the Democratic Party.

Founding Principles

The National Union Party was established by members of the Republican Party, Southern Unionist, War Democrats, Unconditional Unionist, and Unionists with most of its support coming from the people of the border states such as West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Minnesota. As such, the ideas of those parties and people of those regions shaped what the party would become. At the party's first national convention in 1864 it adopted these 11 resolutions as its guiding principles [3]:

1. Resolved, That it is the highest duty of every American citizen to maintain against all their enemies the integrity of the Union and the paramount authority of the Constitution and laws of the United States and that, laying aside all differences of political opinion, we pledge ourselves, as Union men, animated by a common sentiment and aiming at a common object, to do everything in our power to aid the government in quelling by force of arms the Rebellion now raging against its authority, and in bringing to the punishment due to their crimes the Rebels and traitors arrayed against it.

2. Resolved, That we approve the determination of the Government of the United States not to compromise with Rebels, or to offer them any terms of peace, except such as may be based upon an unconditional surrender of their hostility and a return to their just allegiance to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and that we call upon the government to maintain this position, and to prosecute the war with the utmost possible vigor to the complete suppression of the Rebellion, in full reliance upon the self-sacrificing patriotism, the heroic valor and the undying devotion of the American people to their country and its free institutions.

3. Resolved, That as Slavery was the cause, and now constitutes the strength, of this Rebellion, and as it must be, always and everywhere, hostile to the principles of Republican Government, justice and the National safety demand its utter and complete extirpation from the soil of the Republic: - and that, while we uphold and maintain the acts and proclamations by which the government, in its own defense, has aimed a death-blow at this gigantic evil, we are in favor, furthermore, of such an amendment to the Constitution, to be made by the people in conformity with its provisions, as shall terminate and forever prohibit the existence of Slavery within the limits or the jurisdiction of the United States.

4. Resolved, That the thanks of the American people are due to the soldiers and sailors of the Army and Navy [applause], who have periled their lives in defense of their country and in vindication of the honor of its flag that the nation owes to them some permanent recognition of their patriotism and their valor, and ample and permanent provision for those of their survivors who have received disabling and honorable wounds in the service of the country and that the memories of those who have fallen in its defense shall be held in grateful and everlasting remembrance.

5. Resolved, That we approve and applaud the practical wisdom, the unselfish patriotism and the unswerving fidelity to the Constitution and the principles of American liberty, with which Abraham Lincoln has discharged, under circumstances of unparalleled difficulty, the great duties and responsibilities of the Presidential office that we approve and endorse, as demanded by the emergency and essential to the preservation of the nation and as within the provisions of the Constitution, the measures and acts which he has adopted to defend the nation against its open and secret foes: that we approve, especially, the Proclamation of Emancipation, and the employment as Union soldiers of men heretofore held in slavery and that we have full confidence in his determination to carry these and all other Constitutional measures, essential to the salvation of the country into full and complete effect.

6. Resolved, That we deem it essential to the general welfare that harmony should prevail in the National Councils, and we regard as worthy of public confidence and official trust those only who cordially endorse the principles proclaimed in these resolutions, and which should characterize the administration of the government.

7. Resolved, That the government owes to all men employed in its armies, without regard to distinction of color, the full protection of the laws of war - and that any violation of these laws, or of the usages of civilized nations in time of war, by the Rebels now in arms, should be made the subject of prompt and full redress.

8. Resolved, That foreign immigration, which in the past has added so much to the wealth, development of resources and increase of power to this nation, the asylum of the oppressed of all nations, should be fostered and encouraged by a liberal and just policy.

9. Resolved, That we are in favor of the speedy construction of the Railroad to the Pacific Coast.

10. Resolved, That the National faith, pledged for the redemption of the public debt, must be kept inviolate, and that for this purpose we recommend economy and rigid responsibility in the public expenditures, and a vigorous and just system of taxation and that it is the duty of every loyal State to sustain the credit and promote the use of the National currency.

11. Resolved, That we approve the position taken by the government that the people of the United States can never regard with indifference the attempt of any European Power to overthrow by force or to supplant by fraud the institutions of any Republican Government on the Western Continent - and that they will view with extreme jealousy, as menacing to the peace and independence of their own country, the efforts of any such power to obtain new footholds for monarchical governments, sustained by foreign military force, in near proximity to the United States.

Union Party

The Union Party was formed in Ohio during the American Civil War. It consisted of many members of the Republican Party and of pro-war members of the Democratic Party. These two groups put aside their political differences to unite together behind the North's war effort. During the Civil War, a majority of Ohioans supported the war, but there was a sizable number of people opposed to the conflict.

Pro-war Democrats united with Ohio's Republicans in support of the war. Republicans welcomed the support of these Democrats and hoped to unite Union citizens together behind the war effort. Of the three Ohio governors elected during and immediately after the war, all were members of the Union Party. David Tod and John Brough were both pre-war Democrats. Republican members of the Union Party endorsed these two men to reach out to Democrats who were unhappy with the Democratic Party. Jacob Cox, elected after the war's conclusion, was a staunch supporter of the Republican Party's principles but ran under the Union Party's banner for political reasons.

By 1868, the Union Party had ceased to exist as the Republican Party and the Democratic Party were realigned. The Union Party had become divided over the details of Reconstruction and whether rights should be granted to African Americans.


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