America Starts Whigging Out

Harbingers of political third parties.

We've been warning that the Republican party's inability to effectively fight for what it claims to believe will  lead to its demise.  We've also worried about conservative anger and cautioned that it takes a lot of effort and time to stand up an effective third party, time America no longer has.

Yet there comes a time when one has to face facts no matter how unpleasant: the outrageous cave that ended the government shutdown shows that the Republican Party is finished, once and for all, and we might as well come to terms with that.

It never occurred to us, though, that the "coming to terms" would be so fast!  Not one month after we wrote that last article, an enterprising fellow in Philadelphia made history by becoming the first elected Whig since the Civil War:

Voters in Philadelphia have elected a Whig to public office for what the victor believes may be the first time in nearly 160 years.

Robert "Heshy" Bucholz, a member of the Modern Whig party, campaigned door-to-door and won 36 votes to his Democratic opponent's 24 on Tuesday to become an election judge in the city's Rhawnhurst section...

Previously an independent, Bucholz said he joined the Whigs three years ago because of their fiscally conservative but socially liberal views. They represent a sensible "middle path" between Democrats and Republicans, especially in light of the recent government shutdown, he said.

As the proud possessor of a not-very-exalted office, Mr. Bucholz's detailed policy views aren't worth the bother of the mainstream media to report.  That's a pity; from the minimal detail given, it sounds like he's something resembling a Libertarian, believing that government should stay out of both your wallet and your bedroom.

The actual Whigs from the first half of the 18th century would certainly have agreed with the idea that government should, in general, be small.  Not a single American politician of that era could possibly have imagined that our Federal government would grow to such a gargantuan size, or that the states would tolerate the almost total loss of authority over their own affairs.

At the time, the word "Whig" meant someone opposed to tyranny; it first cropped up in American politics in reference to patriots opposing King George's "tyrannical" rule that led to the revolution.  Whigs also felt that Congress should be more powerful than the president, a question which our recent government shutdown shows has never been fully resolved to this day.

But, is slavery tyranny which ought to be opposed, or would the Federal government be tyrannical in trying to eliminate it over the objections of the states?  It was over just that question that the Whig party broke up and collapsed: they couldn't make up their minds, and the individual members went their separate ways into other parties.

The name of "Whig" as a reference for what today would be mainstream Republicanism lived on for many decades even after the party itself became irrelevant.  It would seem that at least some people believe that name still has power and is a banner worth marching under.  At least for Mr. Bucholz, that turned out to be right.

By the old journalistic standard of "Two makes a trend", we can't help but also note that the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate in Virginia reached a record high of 6.5% - though to be fair, he did it with millions of dollars from rich Democrats executing their customary dirty tricks.  We'll never know whether the Sarvis campaign cost Cuccinelli the governorship, but it can't have helped.

The true test will come next November.  The Tea Party has announced the list of centrist Republicans they intend to target in the primaries; in something of a first, center-left Republican groups are returning the favor against solid conservatives.

A house divided against itself cannot stand, and that's exactly what the Republican party has become.  How long will it be before the Tea Party decides to go it alone, and people like Bucholz with "fiscally conservative but socially liberal views" re-don the once-proud name of Whig?

Meanwhile, the Democrats laugh on as we plummet off the cliff.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

The Republicans and Democrats, the Whigs and Tories, the Libertarians and Independents are bringing America to the edge of Anarchy.
None of them seem to realize that all we have to do is learn our rights and assume the power to exercise those rights.
If we refused to ask the government for permission to travel in our own automobiles, on the streets and highways our money built, we would be far down the road to freedom.
If churches refused to give the IRS the power to tell them whether or not they conform to the IRS's idea of a church, we could practice our religions freely. Peace Robert Walker

November 14, 2013 6:46 PM

Let's see now, the Republican party's power base resides in the Northeast. How many congressmen and senators do they elect from that area? Precious few. None have even tried to be a conservative in their campaigns and tell the voting public what conservatism is. The description of democrat light is spot on, very little difference. Why conservatives bother to cede the power to these losers is beyond me. What have we to lose if we lost those leaders? Reagan had to fight those Rinos tooth and nail to get elected and they grimaced every inch of the way at his speeches for after all, their cocktail parties would demean them for his less than sophisticated remarks. They hide their continually losing policies by citing all of their degrees from the Ivy League as if they, the Ivy League, gives them the right to make policy without consequences. The Ivy League has proven how inept they are with the state our union finds itself. It's time to elect a president from east Idaho and require that all congressmen be from a business background.

November 15, 2013 1:51 AM
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