At a time when we have come close to losing our republic and with it our freedom, it is important to remember why it has lasted as long as it has. This is because the American two party system is in close concord with the way the founding fathers designed the government.

Our Constitution requires constant negotiation, even when a single party controls the entire government. There are balances in place that mean that the minority party never entirely loses its voice. This is very different from parliamentary systems, where the minority party has no voice until the majority party loses its majority.

The two-party system that has evolved through the centuries since the republic was founded is now divided between one party that centers its policies on liberty and the other that centers its policies on community.

There is nothing wrong with either of these approaches. In fact, they both have great merit and an important role to play in our lives. When the country is prosperous, the part of liberty will and should prevail. When it is experiencing a crisis, the party of community will and should prevail.

An example of this is what happened after World War I. Once the great influenza had receded, the United States began to experience a dramatic increase in prosperity. This was brought on by mass production and new technologies, such as the automobile. The Republican Party, as the party of liberty, prevailed. Then, in 1929, demand began to falter and there was an economic collapse. Millions of people who had been living prosperous lives now had nothing to eat.

This was not the fault of the Republican party. It was part of a natural economic cycle that is inherent to capitalism. Now, however, people needed community more than liberty, and therefore they voted the Democratic Party into power. The need for community extended into World War II, and so the Democrats remained in power. They created many institutions that are now essential to our lives.

After the war, prosperity returned, and the party of liberty was again voted into power, and we had the Eisenhower years, a time of prosperity enhanced by the policies of the party of liberty, the Republicans.

Since then, there has been an almost continuous expansion of prosperity. When the economy faltered under George H.W. Bush and again under George W. Bush, the result was that the country turned to Democrats, who, both times, restored prosperity and were rewarded by the voters by returning the party of liberty, the Republicans, to power.

However, during the years after the end of the Federal Communications Commission’s Fairness Doctrine, something began to go wrong. Specifically, a republic depends upon an educated electorate, and a group of mostly very wealthy people started propagandizing the population with false and distorted ideas that made it sound as if the balance of authority that had been established by the natural needs of the people was somehow wrong. They began to say that the Democrats should never be allowed power because of “socialism.” Ironically, elderly people, living on Social Security and Medicare, were among the most active and vociferous supporters of these propagandists. Worse, a huge segment of the middle class, mostly white, saw things like Affirmative Action and relatively unrestricted immigration as a direct assault on their welfare. To some extent, they were right to take this view, but they were also weaned away from their own best interests, which lie with the party of community, by a false message that their interests would somehow be served by the super-wealthy. In fact, the less prosperous a person is, the more their needs are served by the party of community, except in times of the greatest prosperity. However, the United States is so wealthy that people with constricted incomes are generally in the minority, except when the economic cycle is at nadir, which is why the party of liberty retains a strong following, as it should, even among the less prosperous. These are also the people who will most readily change allegiance as their need dictates, as happened in the recent election.

The extremes of both parties have forgotten all about the inner balance between the different approaches of the Democrats and the Republicans that makes our republic work. The far left and the far right want to stamp each other out. Either it’s “no socialism” or “all socialism,” and I very much doubt that either side has any idea what socialism really is. Neither American political party is particularly socialist, using the correct definition of that term.

It is my belief that all of us who love our freedom and respect our republic must band together to preserve both by demanding that both parties always navigate toward the center and away from the extremes. This system is what made our republic so strong, and the more we enhance and perfect it, the stronger and more resilient the republic will become.

11 Comments

  1. It will take an extraordinary effort to re-balance the system where it truly reflects the will of the people versus serving the interests of a select few who are incredibly wealthy and powerful. It will take an enormous grassroots effort to rise up and demand the change that is necessary to meet the challenges that are rapidly coming down upon us. Sudden climate change will continue to destabilize all the institutions that we have built up over the centuries. I’m afraid we are in a race against time. The longer it takes for the masses to mobilize — the ordinary folks who just want a fair chance to have a decent life and to pass on a better world to their children — the harder it will be to wrest control from the power-mad authoritarians who would rather see civilization burn to the ground then cede control.

  2. Boy, I have to hand it to you, Whitley, you are very restrained! What happened on Wednesday was absolutely terrifying. Now the whole internet is filled with stuff about it actually being Antifa. In other words, Trump world is also horrified and wants it to be something other than them. We’ll soon know who all of the instigators are. Not only is the FBI investigating, so are ordinary people, so the Trumpers are not going to be able to say that the “deep state” is lying.

    As to your ideas about the party of liberty and the party of community, I have never heard that anywhere before, but it is SO TRUE, and it makes it possible to see past all the rhetoric to the real value of the system that we have. Let’s hope that you’re wrong Tomkowt, and cooler heads prevail soon!

  3. I have to say I respectfully disagree, but that is what being in a free country is all about.

  4. This was an enlightening essay. Thank you for your insights. I guess my big question is….where are the true members of the party of liberty? Let’s see….there’s Mitt Romney,…..and I don’t know of any others. All the other Republicans you can name who are currently in power were willing to play along with Trump for these four years. After Jan. 6 a few of them seem to be changing their tune, but I cannot believe the words coming out of their mouths. They still sound self-serving. Only Kelly Loeffler actually sounded contrite when she spoke to the Senate, but of course she is now out of office.

  5. God! I almost died from terminal boredom when I read this journal.

    I think Whitley, in his typical Neo-Liberal Elitism, is oblivious to the real struggles that Americans now face during this pandemic. If you reduce income inequality, you get your center and you will maintain it. Just hoping for people to steer away from the extremes is not going to cut it when you have people worrying about deciding whether to pay their utility bills or to pay for food on the table and god forbid if one of their family members has to go to the doctor or have an operation, even with insurance! And don’t forget the funeral costs! Oh wait, we have GoFundMe for that…

    If our politicians stop the infighting and work to get the American economy fixed, you will have less Americans finding themselves under the control of a despot who feeds them lies and promises of a ‘better future’.

    The violence at the Capitol was not created out of a vacuum. It was created out of a desperation by the working and middle classes who have been abandoned and betrayed by both political parties since 2008. Other nations, with less money than the United States, have given their citizens thousands of dollars during this pandemic in lieu of their lost wages. Americans have received only $1,200 so far, assuming that wasn’t garnished by the IRS. And on top of that, millions who have lost their jobs in the U.S. in 2020, WILL NOT GET THEM BACK. They are gone, permanently. And our food banks have a limited supply of food.

    You give people employment and an income to live on, you stop the violence and the unrest. If not, the people who control our society will have violence upon their doorstep and nooses around their necks. The violence has already started and they almost had lynchings on the 6th.

    1. I’m not sure about all that. Certainly we can look to the past to see similar conditions. The missing ingredient, I think, was the hidden evil sparked by social media. You can now link up with others who share your viewpoint, no matter how twisted. Trump flourished by embracing the fringe. They are now his army. Proud Boys, Q Anon, Neo Nazis, and others that are to obscure to be known by name. I wonder if things would be different if Twitter and Facebook dropped Trump right after the election.

      Hillary Clinton caught a lot of crap for uttering the term deplorables in respect to some Trump supporters. I think most rational people would now agree that the people who rioted were that. In my opinion a starting point was that horrible show Duck Dynasty. It made it acceptable to be gross, crude and frankly act like a bigoted redneck. It was supposed to be entertaining but others started to see it as an identity. Then Donald Trump comes along!

  6. Sorry bearingthedark that wasn’t meant as a comment on your response. It meant to reply to the journal.

  7. The world is in a flux, we have a perfect storm of Climate change, Political division, A.I, the information age is ramping up. I se the problem at the catalyst:
    Ronald Regan busting up the ATC union, bringing Ralph Murdoc over to start Fox, and 40 years of trickle down BS. The eversion of the American middle class. Now we have Dumpfers voting against their own interests: free tuition, healthcare etc.. because of Disinformation and alliance with an angry tribe. I hold no regrets in stating: We need to make America like Northern Europe and the Commonwealth. And further, seeing all those congressmen on the ground scrambling in fear of gunfire, makes me think: I wonder if they thought of how the children of Sandy Hook felt before they were killed.

  8. Author

    In writing Jesus: A New Vision, I took a deep dive into what happened to the Roman Empire, and was shocked to find how similar it was to what is happening now.

    Beginning around 150 AD, climate change started. It wasn’t a rise in carbon dioxide like ours, but a slow decline in solar output. This caused drought in the Mediterranean Basin and across the Steppes of Central Asia, and in many other places.

    The densely populated Roman Empire began to suffer from chronic malnutrition and one pandemic after another followed because people’s immune systems were weakened by starvation.

    Having no idea about the way nature works, they gave up on their traditional gods and turned Jesus into Christ and started worshiping him. The pandemics continued, and now the Germans, pressed by the Hungarians who were being pressed by the Huns who were looking for better pasture for their horses, began pushing their way into the empire.

    The population now decided that the old gods were not just ineffective but hostile. They went mad with fear, burning the books, smashing the statues, pulling down the temples, in a paroxysm of fanatical destruction that almost destroyed the entire store of knowledge of the ancient world, crushed its religions and transformed the west into a cultural wasteland.

    Startlingly familiar. But it doesn’t need to be that way now. We understand climate change. We understand disease. We CAN help ourselves. But not if a gigantic and terrible machinery of lies continues to be allowed to churn out superstitious nonsense that is calculated to deny the truth at every level, all in the interest of one thing: so that the companies that stand to lose money if we address climate change be allowed to continue to function and make profits, going on and on until we end up just like the Romans. And then the billionaires will say from their bunkers and their redoubts in Paraguay and New Zealand and many other out-of-the-way places: SUCKERS!

  9. Long established institutions will continue to crumble but I believe the core teachings of Jesus will not only survive but bloom as the collective reorganizes their value systems.

  10. Author

    That is exactly why I wrote the book. Hopefully it will be read and will help.

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