Which Party Would You Support?
rjlipkin at aol.com
rjlipkin at aol.com
Fri Jun 16 06:51:14 PDT 2006
The question of which party to support seems to encompass two different kinds of questions: The first is a descriptive question seeking to enumerate the historical defects (and virtues) of the Federalists and the Republicans. Several posts indicate some of the more glaring defects--especially slavery, utopian agrarianism, and tyrannical practices to mention only three. However, there's also a normative question of political philosophy which though unable to eschew the descriptive completely seeks answers to the following questions. Does each party--as well as factions of each party--have a core political philosophical paradigm that correlates in any significant way with current political philosophical paradigms? Can we distill such paradigms from the historical data available? Did Wilson, Hamilton, Adams, Paine, Jefferson, Madison and so forth leave us sufficient writings to discern a sufficiently coherent political philosophy? My interest now is the descriptive. But u!
ltimately I need to know whether the normative has sufficient integrity to enable me to understand which party, if either, I would support in my thought experiment of being transported back to th period of 1800-1812.
One confession and statement. I do not pretend to be a historian and so I would welcome remarks from those list members who are. But I think some of the remarks demonizing Jefferson and canonizing Hamilton are misplaced. In early college, my own view was that Hamilton was a god and Jefferson was the devil. But now I think that view sophomoric. Admittedly, I have studied neither to the extent required for me to support this last claim. That's why I would welcome others with the historical expertise I lack to weigh into this discussion. Were Jefferson's conceptions of equality and democracy so tied to slavery and agrarianism as to be virtually incomprehensible without them? Was Hamilton's disdain for the ordinary person--and valorization of elite government--inessential feature of his political philosophy?
One final remakr. Would a contmeporary conservative, liberal, or progressive find natural allies with the existing political perspectives of that era were he or she transported back in time. Or would they face only one chocie: repudiiate their political philosophies or attempt to construct new ones.
Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law
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