(LibertySociety.com) – The two-party political system in the US is one of the most hotly-disputed issues in the country. Many people believe there should be more than two parties because they think the current system allows Democrats and Republicans to have too much power.
What they may not realize is the country has been this way since the Federalists and Anti-Federalists were going at one another before the Constitution was even signed. But what about the modern parties? When did they get their start?
The Development of the Current Parties
As mentioned, the political factions can be dated back to before the Founders even put their names on the Constitution. In fact, it is the division in ideologies that led to the Bill of Rights. The Federalists wanted a strong central government, while the Anti-Federalists wanted a limited government, and instead, the states and people would retain the most power. Does that sound familiar?
The Anti-Federalists became known as the Democratic-Republicans. Thomas Jefferson was one of the strongest supporters of this group. Meanwhile, the Federalists, including George Washington, had a pretty strong grip on the country until the early 1800s.
In 1824, two Democratic-Republican candidates ran against one another and in response to the fight between the candidates, the Democratic Party was formed in 1828.
The Democratic Party of the 1800s is not the party of today. In modern times, many members of the Left march for Civil Rights, but 200 years ago that would have never happened. It was the party of slavery and the Ku Klux Klan.
The Democratic Party was so fractured that in 1860, the Southern and the Northern members of the party elected two different candidates. That allowed a bearded man who fancied top hats and belonged to the newly-formed Republican Party to be elected. That man, Abraham Lincoln, went on to end slavery.
The Republican Party was formed in 1854. Their original goal was to stop the spread of slavery and when Lincoln was elected, the Grand Old Party (GOP) fought hard to protect African-Americans from Democrats.
After the Civil War, the GOP passed the Civil Rights Amendments. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments ended slavery, established the Equal Protection Clause, and gave Black people the right to vote. The Republican Party was responsible for passing the first bill in history dealing with civil rights: the aptly named Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Modern Day Parties
These days, the Republican Party is the political group that believes in limited government and a strict adherence to the Constitution. The Democratic Party favors a strong central government.
The two factions are a lot like the Federalists and Anti-Federalists who built this country. And just like the parties of the past, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have no problem fighting the other side when they feel they have an idea that will make America great.
It must be working because nearly 250 years later, the United States is still a force to be reckoned with.
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