How Broderism Led To the Rise Of A Third Party; By Destroying An Existing Party
Matt Yglesias has a great post on how historically ignorant Broderism and its drive for a compromise, issueless pragmatism is. As Yglesais shows, Whiggery led to to the rise of an ideological partisan Third Party - the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln:
I feel like it's worth mentioning here how little time third party enthusiasts ever seem to spend thinking about the rise of the Republican Party -- the only actual precedent for anything of the sort. They often seem to talk as if Abraham Lincoln was just some kind of somewhat disaffected dude sitting around somewhere with this really insightful speech about a how divided against itself, threw his hat in the ring, and -- bam! -- tired old Whig and Democrat ideologies are shunted aside in favor of a bold new era of pragmatism and bloody civil war. One can't do justice to the actual origins of the Republican Party in a blog post, but suffice it to say that it didn't work like that. The history of meaningful third party anti-slavery politics goes back to the abolitionists' Liberty Party in 1840. They later moderated their agenda somewhat, added the support of many breakaway anti-slavery Democrats, and became the Free Soil Party starting in 1848. This party had some very substantial adherents, but still didn't do very well. Then, as the national debate over slavery grew ever-more-intense, breakaway anti-slavery Whigs joined the movement that was now further reconfigured as the Republican Party. This new party did well enough to become a "second party," polling 33 percent while the Whigs got just 21.5 percent.
Matt has written a great concise post that does not, obviously, delve into the complete history of the rise of the Republican Party and the demise of the Whig Party, but I want to explore how Broderism was at the heart of the demise of the Whig Party. To wit, Broder has it backwards - his approach killed a dominant political party and led to an NON-Unity, partisan third party. I'll explore this history on the flip.
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