The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The (partial) reversal of the parties

When I was a child, the South was the most solidly Democratic part of the country. In fact, one State, Georgia, had never voted Republican in a Presidential election, and most of the Southern States were solidly in the Democratic column at least since the end of Reconstruction. The most solidly Republican part of the country was New England, and in fact Vermont had been solidly Republican as long as Georgia had been Democratic. Vermont was also one of the only two States that had voted Republican in the 1936 Roosevelt landslide (the other, Maine, was also in New England).

How different the electoral map looks today. New England is heavily Democratic, perhaps the most solidly Democratic part of the country, though it elects some Republicans (like Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins to the Senate, and a string of Republicans to the Massachusetts Governorship — though Massachusetts currently has a Democratic Governor, Deval Patrick.) And the South is the most reliably Republican part of the nation, except possibly for the Mountain West.

It would seem that the end of segregation is partly responsible for the South's transformation — without the racism that characterized Southern Democratic politics, the South, more conservative than the rest of the country, found its proper home in the GOP. And Barry Goldwater, though his vote against civil rights legislation was due to libertarian principles rather than racism, attracted some of the Southern racists — it is clear from the fact that, except for his home State of Arizona, Goldwater's only State victories in 1964 were in the South.

It is harder to see why New England has moved the other way. But in the mid-20th century, New England Republicans were more libertarian than conservative, and the influx of Southerners into the Republican party, and the persistence of Westerners there (both being very conservative socially), has made the Republican party less attractive to New Englanders whose Republicanism meant something less conservative. (I would say that the Democratic Party was not really a great fit for them, but in an electoral system in which only two parties can compete, perhaps that did it.)

A great example of what has happened is in the State of Virginia. In the mid-1960s, I was in that State for educational reasons, and I saw a Governorship election in which the two candidates were Democrat Mills Godwin and Republican A. Linwood Holton. Godwin won, but four years later Holton became the first Republican Governor since Reconstruction. A number of years later, Godwin had become a Republican, and won the Governorship again for that party. (He is the only person in U. S. history to win Governorships under both the Democratic and Republican label!) In another election, I was working for the election of Richard Nixon against Hubert Humphrey, and calling people for the Republican Party; most of the people who answered were happy to support Nixon but we could not get them to abandon the local Democratic Congressman, John O. Marsh. Like Godwin, Marsh also became a Republican, serving in a sub-cabinet position in the Noxon administration.

I do not know of many New England Republicans who have become Democrats in the same way — they have generally become Independents supporting Democratic candidates instead (examples are James Jeffords, Lowell Weicker, and Lincoln Chafee).

But the parties have not totally reversed. Organized labor is still heavily Democratic, and (despite such Democratic supporters as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates) businessmen are mostly Republican. That is part of what keeps me in the GOP — I am still repelled by the influence of organized labor in the Democratic Party, as I stated in an earlier post. But I have to admit, I'm not very happy with what the GOP is now; I felt a lot more comfortable in the party of Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller then I do now in the party of Mike Huckabbee and Rick Santorum.

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