REFLECTION: Political parties – chaos and gridlock

reeseHeadshotWebby Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR

When I was a young political science student in the 1960s and early 1970s, a frequent criticism of American political parties was that they did not really stand for anything. The Republicans and Democrats were Tweedledee and Tweedledum. There was a longing for European-style political parties that were ideologically driven.

seo-political-party-1357059243Political parties were also condemned for being run by political bosses, like Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago. Reformers wanted to take power away from the bosses and give it to the people.

Beware what you wish for!

First some background.

Prior to the civil rights movement and television, American political parties were rooted in the history of the Civil War and Great Depression. The Civil War and Reconstruction made Republicans extinct in the South. Meanwhile in the Northeast, immigrants turned to the Democratic Party when they met discrimination and exploitation from the Republican WASP establishment. The 1928 anti-Catholic campaign against Al Smith cemented Catholics to the Democratic Party and much of America followed in 1932 after the Hoover depression...

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