New Castle News


November 8, 2013

Our Opinion: Whigs are attempting a comeback in America

NEW CASTLE — The two-party system has dominated American politics ever since — well — the beginning.

Although George Washington avoided party labels as the first president, even during his tenure in office, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists parties were taking shape.

Ever since, America has been home to a two-party political system — at least for the most part. Every now and then a new party would surface. But it either faded away in a brief period of time, or it would succeed in squeezing one of the other two parties out of existence.

This doesn’t mean third-party movements in America are inherent failures. In many instances, they advocate popular proposals that are perceived as threats by the two major parties. Often, this has resulted in one or both of the dominant parties adopting the positions of the third party.

This may cause the third-party movement to wither away, but its impact lingers

Perhaps the most recent example of this has its roots in Ross Perot’s presidential bid in 1992. While not a third-party effort in a traditional sense, Perot’s candidacy — and the 19 percent of the popular vote it garnered — brought attention to the problem of fiscal accountability in Washington. It’s an issue that continues to reverberate throughout the nation’s politics.

We bring all of this up in part because recent public opinion polls reflect widespread disgust with the Republican and Democratic parties. For many Americans, the two parties have become little more than special-interest havens, more concerned with waging partisan warfare than working effectively to address the issues facing the nation.

One consequence of this is a decline in the number of Americans who identify with one of the major parties. The percentage of citizens who declare themselves as independents is continually growing.

It’s the sort of situation that provides a breeding ground for another third-party movement. And there may be the spark of one as the result of this week’s elections in Philadelphia.

Robert Bucholz was victorious in his campaign for judge of elections in his home precinct. Nothing odd there, except that Bucholz is a member of the Modern Whig Party. His election is believed to mark the first time in about 160 years that a Whig has won office in Philadelphia.

The Whigs were once a major party in America, until the issue of slavery expansion split it. Eventually, remnants of the northern Whig Party evolved into the Republicans.

Modern Whigs tout themselves as political centrists, calling for fiscal conservatism and liberal social views. They claim to be an alternative for voters tired of the nation’s ongoing political nonsense.

A judge of elections victory in Philadelphia for Whigs won’t change the tide of history. But it’s another warning for Democrats and Republicans that their hold on politics isn’t absolute.

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