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  When did the conservative/liberal alignment take place?
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Author Topic: When did the conservative/liberal alignment take place?  (Read 520 times)
coolface1572
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« on: November 11, 2019, 07:58:00 pm »

When did it become fully recognized that democrats were the liberal party and republicans were the conservative party? It had to have happened before 1976 as the exit polls shows liberals largely voted for Carter and conservatives largely voted for Ford.
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RINO Tom
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2019, 09:33:35 pm »

Lol, of course before 1976 ... and 1964 ... and 1932...
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Judy Baar Topinka
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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2019, 09:51:32 pm »

2016.  Democrats are now the conservative party.
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darklordoftech
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2019, 09:51:53 pm »

Depends on your definition of “liberal” and “conservative”.
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Old School Republican
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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2019, 11:17:47 pm »

Lol, of course before 1976 ... and 1964 ... and 1932...


The answer is 1896
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Orser67
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2019, 02:12:23 am »
« Edited: November 12, 2019, 11:14:19 am by Orser67 »

One could make a reasonable case for a few different years, beginning in 1896.

It's complicated by the fact that 20th century Democrats essentially had two "wings": a liberal presidential wing and a conservative congressional wing. This resulted from the fact that Northern Democrats tended to be more liberal than their Republican counterparts, but Southern Democrats were generally more conservative than either group (at least after they turned against the New Deal in the mid-1930s). These Southern Democrats often dominated Congress due to their ability to win uncontested elections in the one-party South, thereby gaining seniority and committee chairmanships, but Northern Democrats elected more presidential delegates and generally nominated one of their own for president (except in the last quarter of the 20th century).

In presidential elections, the Democrats nominated the more left-wing candidate in pretty much every election after 1896, with the major exception of 1904 (there also wasn't a huge amount of ideological difference in 1924, 1928, and 1976). However, conservative congressional Democrats remained quite important until at least the 1994 elections (or they may even still be important today, depending on how broad you define the term "conservative").
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Statilius the Epicurean
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2019, 07:30:00 am »

Liberals took over the Democratic Party in 1896 with the absorption of the Populist Party and conservatives permanently gained the upper hand in the Republican Party when Taft beat Roosevelt to the nomination in 1912. But each party becoming ideologically uniform was a long, long, long process which slowly happened over the entire next century: at the federal level Lincoln Chafee was probably the last liberal Republican and only lost in 2006, and Dan Lipinski is a conservative Democrat in the House and survived a primary challenge last year.
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Wazza
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2019, 09:23:23 am »

The Democratic Party has always been a party rooted in liberalism, the perceived ideological differences between Andrew Jackson and FDR are more a result of the adaption of Liberal philosophy over time more so than a distinction in core philosophy. Its the same reason why the UK Liberal Party went from advocating laissez-faire capitalism under Gladstone to passing the "People's Budget" under Lloyd George.

As for the GOP, the 1870s when the Liberal Republicans revolted, reconstruction and the Radical Republican faction had ended and the issue of slavery was when the GOP began moving towards being a more (19th century) conservative party rather than a big-tent anti-slavery party. Though the GOP in its initial stages was still dominated by ex-whigs.
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RINO Tom
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2019, 02:01:06 pm »

My actual answer is that throwing any date around here is absolutely ridiculous. 

We didn't have a coherent and widespread definition of what being economically "liberal" and "conservative" meant until we could frame it in terms of support for and opposition to the New Deal, respectively.  That gave us our impression that "liberals" favor government intervention into the economy to help the poor and create a better society, and "conservatives" oppose this and want the market a bit more left alone.

I'd argue we didn't get our "coherent" and widely used definition of being socially "liberal" or "conservative" until Roe v. Wade.  Before that, social issues often weren't neatly framed in a left/right manner, with things like civil rights, women's suffrage, immigration, prohibition, etc. gaining support and attracting opposition from wide ranges of people, with otherwise "liberal" or "conservative" people on economics being all over the board here.

To those who insist on putting foreign policy on a left/right scale with liberals being more anti-war than conservatives, we DEFINITELY didn't get any type of "liberal" vs. "conservative" divide there until the mid-Cold War at the absolute earliest.

It is so easy (and lazy) to make a Facebook-comments-style conclusion based on some cherry-picked wedge issue or event that we can now apply revisionist history to in order to fit some "realignment" or whatever.  Green Line perfectly summed up (hilariously) how some Atlas poster, or equivalent, 100 years from now could look at how Orange County, CA votes and isolate free trade as an issue and conclude that the parties "switched" in 2016, haha.  At the end of the day, that could end up looking no more stupid than someone saying they switched in 1992 because of Bill Clinton, 1980 when Southern Whites officially abandoned the Democratic Presidential ticket, 1964 because look at how the South voted!, 1948 because Truman supported civil rights, 1932 because FDR likes big government, 1928 because Al Smith faced bigotry, 1912 because third parties, 1896 because William Jennings Bryan, etc.

My opinion is that the terms "liberal" and "conservative" cannot appropriately be applied to ANYONE pre-New Deal Era politics UNLESS you are talking about more "timeless" concepts like support for business interests vs. working class interests or support for immigration restriction vs. support for a more open immigration policy.  If we actually did the latter, we'd obviously need to account for state-specific parties (it's hard to argue that a Democratic Party in 1870s South Carolina that opposes newly enfranchised poor voters isn't a "right-wing" party compared to that iteration of the SC GOP, for example) ... but overall, there is a reason that historians have ALWAYS traced a lineage from the Federalists to the Whigs to the Republicans, and from the Jeffersonian Republicans to the Democrats.  That is not to say the parties haven't changed drastically, and it's definitely not to say that either party today is a coherent "heir" to EITHER party's long history ... but it IS to say that a basic spirit of left-leaning thinking, for a given time period, has always been present in the Democratic Party, and a spirit of right-leaning thinking, for a given time period, has always been present in the Republican Party.  In geographic areas that were one-party rule (like the South with Democrats or upper New England with Republicans), you are obviously going to get exceptions, as all ideologies are going to fall in that party.  There were obviously very "liberal" Republicans and very "conservative" Democrats.

I have yet to hear a coherent argument from anyone anywhere that there was a time when the Democratic Party was clearly more conservative than the Republican Party, on average.  Period.  The arguments ALWAYS lie on lazily founded shortcuts like "the GOP used to win the Black vote, and look at how Southern Whites and Blacks flipped" ... okay, you're telling me NOTHING could have contributed to that besides two parties completely flipping ideologies (I really don't think people stop enough to appreciate how RIDICULOUS of an idea that is)?  Or "the Democrats used to support states' rights, and now the GOP does!"  So?  Lol, seriously, that is not an argument whatsoever.  Or, "the GOP employed the Southern Strategy to win racist Whites!"  Uh, yeah, DUH ... so what?  A conservative party tried to get more voters, and they were voters that used to vote for the other party ... that does not, in and of itself, imply that 1) the GOP wasn't just as conservative before incorporating these new voters or 2) that these new voters weren't less conservative than before joining the GOP; we have all seen how well voters chameleon themselves to fit their new tribe.  RE: any 1960s arguments, Mad Men ironically does a very good job of showing how a switch in voters does NOT mean a switch in ideology.

If you go back and read actual primary sources or look closely at what individual candidates were running on even back to the 1850s and 1860s, you will find Democrats accusing Republicans of being in the pockets of big business.  You will find Republicans accusing Democrats of being godless.  You will find Democrats calling Republicans intolerant, while supporting SLAVERY, because the social framing of the time was different and they meant explicitly that the GOP was bigoted toward new European immigrants.  You'll find Republicans calling Democrats unpatriotic.  Anyone with half a brain can see how drastically things have changed ... it's alarming how few people seem to notice the things that have remained the same.  The parties never switched.  They changed.  And they're constantly changing, and they'll continue to change.  There are people alive now that would have been in the opposite party 100 years ago, yes ... and that proves a lot less than most people think.

Alright, I gotta go study Stats.  Peace out.
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Orser67
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« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2019, 10:48:37 pm »

I have yet to hear a coherent argument from anyone anywhere that there was a time when the Democratic Party was clearly more conservative than the Republican Party, on average.  Period.  The arguments ALWAYS lie on lazily founded shortcuts like "the GOP used to win the Black vote, and look at how Southern Whites and Blacks flipped" ... okay, you're telling me NOTHING could have contributed to that besides two parties completely flipping ideologies (I really don't think people stop enough to appreciate how RIDICULOUS of an idea that is)?  Or "the Democrats used to support states' rights, and now the GOP does!"  So?  Lol, seriously, that is not an argument whatsoever.  Or, "the GOP employed the Southern Strategy to win racist Whites!"  Uh, yeah, DUH ... so what?  A conservative party tried to get more voters, and they were voters that used to vote for the other party ... that does not, in and of itself, imply that 1) the GOP wasn't just as conservative before incorporating these new voters or 2) that these new voters weren't less conservative than before joining the GOP; we have all seen how well voters chameleon themselves to fit their new tribe.  RE: any 1960s arguments, Mad Men ironically does a very good job of showing how a switch in voters does NOT mean a switch in ideology.

I'm wary of conflating 19th century liberalism with 20th century liberalism, but it's certainly true that historians generally consider Jefferson and Jackson to be on the left of their rivals in the Federalist and Whig parties.

However, in the late 19th century, I would argue that both parties were fairly right wing. After the Democrats rejected "soft money" in the 1860s, there was very little difference between the two parties on policy other than the tariff and support for the protection of African American civil rights (which was still favored by many in the Republican Party until the late 1890s). The parties essentially became ethnocultural alliances competing for government patronage. The conservativism of the two major parties helped give rise to the Populist Party, which called for an inflationary monetary policy, progressive taxation, federal regulation of railroad rates, and various other interventionist measures designed to help the working class. The Democratic Party's nomination of Bryan for president signaled an endorsement of populist policies, as well as a total repudiation of Cleveland's conservative policies.
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Statilius the Epicurean
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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2019, 12:58:29 am »
« Edited: November 13, 2019, 01:11:27 am by Statilius the Epicurean »

Grover Cleveland was probably to the right of Benjamin Harrison in 1892. Harrison was moderately pro-silver, passed anti-trust legislation and tried to advance civil rights.

I'm sure there's an alternate universe where free silver Populists are absorbed into the Republican Party instead of the Democrats as historically and the GOP becomes the progressive party of popular economic reform.
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Cory Booker
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2019, 09:08:12 am »

Whigs were the Free Soil Party and the Dixiecrats, who used the Donkey to show they were the Christian party, due to Jeaus riding on the Donkey, were the Slave party.  

Due to the Industrial Revolution and Labor unions created the Secular Dem and Traditional Parties and the Income tax, which was put in place further moved the GOP party, rightward.

You dont have to use labels or colors to know that Lincoln, Grant and Hughes were compassionate conservative or Jefferson was a Dixiecrat,  but due to Labor Unions, the Democratic party is what it is today
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Georg Ebner
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« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2019, 07:41:41 pm »
« Edited: November 15, 2019, 08:21:22 pm by Georg Ebner »

The Fed./Whigs/Rep. were always the party of the trendy ("progressive-conservative") WASP-establishment in the SubUrbs. Really cons. the GOP became only, as soon as the students moved sharply to the left (1968) and the cons. GOPpers' Southern Strategy began to work (initially in the South's SubUrbs).
It has also been a shift from an exBritish snobism&humanism to the strict ideological differences of continental Europe.
But finally it has been caused by the decline & death of the more ritualistic denominations.
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Cath
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2019, 11:34:30 am »

Democrats were liberals going back to the 1830s, but the term had substantially different connotations and policy implications.
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Southern Senator North Carolina Yankee
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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2019, 02:06:21 pm »

Grover Cleveland was probably to the right of Benjamin Harrison in 1892. Harrison was moderately pro-silver, passed anti-trust legislation and tried to advance civil rights.

I'm sure there's an alternate universe where free silver Populists are absorbed into the Republican Party instead of the Democrats as historically and the GOP becomes the progressive party of popular economic reform.

It kind of happened in North Carolina for a short time.
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Southern Senator North Carolina Yankee
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« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2019, 02:15:12 pm »

Grover Cleveland was probably to the right of Benjamin Harrison in 1892. Harrison was moderately pro-silver, passed anti-trust legislation and tried to advance civil rights.

There is great irony in that William Henry Harrison was the first Whig President and his grandson was arguably the last one. Benjamin Harrison was a Whig in his early years before becoming a Republican just like Lincoln in that sense.

Being for loose money was not uncommon among Whigs as that was part of the Clay Economic Agenda, they wanted loose money, tariffs and internal improvements together to spur domestic growth and development. While the protectionism would continue, the 1890s is when the support for soft money among Republicans would end. However I don't consider this the start of "conservatism" or the end of "liberalism". TR was for hard money after all. This notion that the magic flip date happened just 68 years earlier (instead of 1964), fails to account for the evolution the ideologies underwent in reaction to each other during the mid to late 19th century.
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Old School Republican
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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2019, 02:38:42 pm »
« Edited: November 16, 2019, 02:45:11 pm by Old School Republican »

Democrats were liberals going back to the 1830s, but the term had substantially different connotations and policy implications.

True but the Democratic party changed a lot from in the 40 years after that to where it no longer was a liberal party. The GOP wasnt liberal either but neither were the Dems, the only liberal party left in the late 1800 was the populist party and it stayed that way until the populists took over the Democratic party in 1896.


I would say the Democratic party has changed a lot more than the Republican party, as the GOP was always really the industrial party and from 1856-1876 that put them to the left of the Democratic party as the goals of industry at them time were to the left of Agrarians. That didnt make the GOP liberal though, just its interests temporarily put them to the left of the Democrats.

The William Jennings Bryan takeover of the Democratic Party was basically a US version of the Labour Party replacing the liberal party as the main left wing party in the UK and it happened ever earlier
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Southern Senator North Carolina Yankee
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« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2019, 03:12:46 pm »

I would say the Democratic party has changed a lot more than the Republican party, as the GOP was always really the industrial party and from 1856-1876 that put them to the left of the Democratic party as the goals of industry at them time were to the left of Agrarians. That didnt make the GOP liberal though, just its interests temporarily put them to the left of the Democrats.


Better but you still defining ideology based on present day issue positions.

It is my contention that issue positions held by ideologies is relative to the context in which they operate, not hard coded. Trade Protectionism isn't a left or right issue. If it works to protect business profits, it is a conservative position. If it works to protect societal stability, it is a conservative position. If it is used to preserve union interest and wages, it operates as a liberal one.

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Southern Senator North Carolina Yankee
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« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2019, 03:30:44 pm »

Also WJB's is more like the evolution of the Liberal Party itself then the rise of the UK Labor Party.

The likewise equivalent here to UK Labor would have been if the Demorats collapsed after Wilson and the Socialist or Progressive Parties replaced the Democrats. That didn't happen of course because of the hard wired Democratic lean of the South after Wilson's administration. The UK Liberals had no such rotten borough of considerable size to lean on.

The UK Liberals had already evolved to represent the economic interests of the left substantially, as was already mentioned, "The People's Budget". Also Keynes himself was a Liberal, not a Laborite. What destroyed them was the war.


For all of the changes that Bryan had wrought, remember he ran as the populist crusader against NE Big business on a base of farmers in the South and West. You know who also did this? Andrew Jackson?

Bryan was the Democratic Party getting back to its roots, not a radical transformation of it. Just as Jackson was an attempt to get back to Jeffersonian Roots after a lot of Federalists, Nationalists and elites had corrupted the Jefferson Republican Party.

Cleveland's approach also not a departure from the Democratic traditions in terms of issues, and Cleveland also supported anti-trust legislation if memory serves me. Anti-Monopoly and anti-business interest has been a uniting theme for the Democrats and their antecedents going back to Jeffersonian opposition to Hamilton.

Cleveland also shared Jackson's love of hard money. But when push comes to shove and the base wants "novel" approaches, whereas the elites have grown used to the former radical position (hard money), the base tends to shake off the "corrupting influences" who find themselves bewildered as a result because after all they were just pushing the standard Democratic line on money handed down from Jackson.

What changed was the economics and while business interests had come to prefer hard money, debtors began to prefer soft money because it was easier to repay loans. In the 1830's, this was different because soft money and speculation was blamed for several commodity price crashes, and hard money was seen as stable and honest. The base position evolves and the establishment suddenly becomes the traitors.

This is the exact same position that many Reaganites found themselves in back in 2016 GOP primaries.
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coolface1572
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« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2019, 05:06:51 pm »

2016.  Democrats are now the conservative party.

Are you trolling?, or just stupid?
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Judy Baar Topinka
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« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2019, 06:12:23 pm »

2016.  Democrats are now the conservative party.

Are you trolling?, or just stupid?


DOn't be rude.
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darklordoftech
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« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2019, 07:35:13 pm »

If John Locke and Karl Marx lived at the same time, I wonder what views each would have.
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coolface1572
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« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2019, 08:14:31 pm »


I just don't know how one can think that.
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Cath
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« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2019, 08:46:16 pm »

Democrats were liberals going back to the 1830s, but the term had substantially different connotations and policy implications.

True but the Democratic party changed a lot from in the 40 years after that to where it no longer was a liberal party. The GOP wasnt liberal either but neither were the Dems, the only liberal party left in the late 1800 was the populist party and it stayed that way until the populists took over the Democratic party in 1896.


I would say the Democratic party has changed a lot more than the Republican party, as the GOP was always really the industrial party and from 1856-1876 that put them to the left of the Democratic party as the goals of industry at them time were to the left of Agrarians. That didnt make the GOP liberal though, just its interests temporarily put them to the left of the Democrats.

The William Jennings Bryan takeover of the Democratic Party was basically a US version of the Labour Party replacing the liberal party as the main left wing party in the UK and it happened ever earlier

“...substantially different connotations and policy implications.”
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Cory Booker
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« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2019, 04:28:48 pm »

Red and Blue Secular has been used since the Cold War. Reagan and GOP party has been closely aligned with the Baltic states and the KGB-when Hoover didnt properly use his law enforcement agencies to prevent 4 Civil Rights leaders from being assassinated and Trump with Russia; subsequently, Secular Blue represents Democrats. That's exactly why Dems are Blue and GOP are Red. Taft Rs before the Cold War used Blue and Wilson Dems used Red
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