posted on Dec, 19 2011 @ 01:56 PM
Many people believe that the two parties have dramatically changed ideologically over the last half century. The Democrats are not who they used to
be, same as the Republicans. Now, of course different times call for different approaches but the ideological undercurrent that carries a party has
changed. This is something I have tried to understand and something others have as well.
One of the best explanations is the party system which was invented in the 1960s by political scientists to break down America’s political history
into five distinct party systems. The first was between the Federalists and Democratic – Republicans, second was between the Whigs and Democrats,
third was between the Republicans and Democrats (Civil War + Reconstruction + Guilded Age), fourth was between the Republicans and Democrats
(Progressive Era), and fifth was between the Republicans and Democrats (New Deal coalition). There is debate on whether a sixth party system arose
either at the end of the New Deal coalition (1968), rise of the Moral Majority (1980), Republican Revolution (1994), or it just never occurred.
But while I was researching into this I found something quite interesting; to those who are politics geeks like me. The Democratic Party had last
selected a Democrat for leader of their party in the House of Representatives from any northern state (north of Mason – Dixon line) in 1880 with the
selection of Samuel Randall from Pennsylvania. Between 1880 and 1962 there was only one northern Democrat selected for leader of the party in the
House, Henry Rainey from Illinois, and he only lasted 2 years (1832 – 1833). However in 1962, John McCormarck of Massachusetts was selected party
leader and around this same time the party was changing into a more Liberal form.
The Republican Party had never selected any leader in the House of Representatives from south of the Mason – Dixon line from their founding in 1854
until 1994 with rise of Newt Gingrich from Georgia. Around this same time the party also solidified itself as very Conservative, at least in rhetoric,
and the current form of the two parties was created.
One theory I have is that parties change after landslide elections. This is because as a party reaches a certain height from a wave and they will
eventually come back down, but instead of all the per se Republicans from usually solid Democratic districts falling many stay and the swing districts
go to the Democrats. What this does is leave many Republicans in control from old Democratic districts while Democrats pick up seats from largely
swing districts and often times, more Republican districts. That changes the character of the two parties and geographic distribution.
Anyway, what do you think?