Is it a strange paradox; or original sin? A Selective History
The world changing ideas of our founding “fathers” must always exist in juxtaposition with “the big compromise”; an acceptance of slavery. (My apologies to the American Aboriginal cultures who also have a right to the claim of original sin.) Slavery was in many ways also our original ideological divide. Was slavery necessary for the south? It can be debated, but it had become an instutition in the south and it is hard to debate with an institution. Slavery destroyed the Wig political party and an anti-slavery Republican Party grew from its ashes. The compromise ended in the horrors of the Civil War, but unfortunately the effects of this original sin did not end with those horrors.
The northern state spent largely to defeat the southern states and created a wealthy industrialist class in its wake. This wealth came to dominate the politics of the Republican Party and because it saw resistance to southern segregationist as bad for business there was little support to resist the development of Jim Crow as the new institution of the south. Slavery was replaced by both segregation and the political involvement of the business elites. “Sin” continued.
Following the Long Depression of the 1870s a progressive wing developed in the Republican Party that was to become the Rockefeller Republicans of the northeast. They were pro-business, but did not want an ideology that would eat the goose that laid their golden eggs. This was Herbert Hoover’s ideology and it led to Democratic dominance after the Great Depression ate their goose. This also set up a division in the Rupblican Party between the pragmatic northeast Rockefellerites and the Ideologically pure western Goldwater Wing.
LBJ was a crude man by all accounts, but he recognized that we would eventually have to address this original sin and at least make an attempt to exorcize it from politics. He said he was giving the Republicans the south for a generation (it’s been two so far) and Lee Atwater actualized it in Nixon’s southern strategy. It led not only to a Republican Dixie, but eventually the exorcising of the Rockefeller wing and a purifying of ideology.
So the “sin” of this “big compromise” is still with us. The industrial elites, birthed in the wake of the Civil War, are still here funding the Tea Party and making sure Hillery needs them, even though in 2008 they almost ate the goose again. A progressive movement is stiring in educated and high tech cultures, but will it be strong enough to overcome the ideologues? Slavery / Jim Crow is illegal, but the backlash, founded in percieved privilege lost; it is still here. They know they are losing the debate and the demographics and are responding by coming out from the shadows.
Where will it end? Can we finally exorcise this “sin” or will it morph again?