Saturday, September 15, 2012

The GOP According To Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson had a lot to say about political parties, and it is interesting to note how he identified the Party of The Rich as an entity that mirrors today's GOP:

"Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all." --Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824.

"Men have differed in opinion and been divided into parties by these opinions from the first origin of societies, and in all governments where they have been permitted freely to think and to speak. The same political parties which now agitate the U.S. have existed through all time. Whether the power of the people or that of the [aristocracy] should prevail were questions which kept the states of Greece and Rome in eternal convulsions, as they now schismatize every people whose minds and mouths are not shut up by the gag of a despot. And in fact the terms of Whig and Tory belong to natural as well as to civil history. They denote the temper and constitution of mind of different individuals." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1813.

"The division into Whig and Tory is founded in the nature of man; the weakly and nerveless, the rich and the corrupt, seeing more safety and accessibility in a strong executive; the healthy, firm, and virtuous, feeling confidence in their physical and moral resources, and willing to part with only so much power as is necessary for their good government; and, therefore, to retain the rest in the hands of the many, the division will substantially be into Whig and Tory." --Thomas Jefferson to Joel Barlow, 1802.

"The parties of Whig and Tory are those of nature. They exist in all countries, whether called by these names or by those of Aristocrats and Democrats, Cote Droite and Cote Gauche, Ultras and Radicals, Serviles and Liberals. The sickly, weakly, timid man fears the people, and is a Tory by nature. The healthy, strong and bold cherishes them, and is formed a Whig by nature." --Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.

"Nature has made some men monarchists and tories by their constitution, and some, of course, there always will be." --Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1817.

Where the brilliant and prescient Jefferson erred was in believing that the party of the rich should always be a presence in a democratic society.  In a simpler era, Jefferson addressed a country new to political parties and history also showed a division in societies of just two major factions.  In today's world, multiple interests - and therefore multiple political parties are prevalent.  A worldwide list of political parties by United Nations geoscheme reveals a mind-boggling array of parties, and even in the United States, dominated by two parties, there are thirty three political parties - not counting parties limited to individual states.  And after this these, Wikipedia list seventy two parties in the U.S. now defunct, and twenty nine organizations who "do not nominate candidates for election but otherwise function similarly to political parties (and) some of them have nominated candidates in the past."

And he was unable to foresee that the party of the greediest of the wealthy class would continuously and systematically try to tear down the democratic basis of our society through whatever means they could find - including criminal means.

Non-Conservative political factions today battle each other on many issues - labor against environmental, for example, are still arguing about the construction of an oil pipeline that is fully endorsed by the GOP.  A society can thrive without the interference of criminal political organizations.

Hesitating to Criminalize Conservatism because of the supposed merits of a political system dominated by left and right is a mistake.   And the evils of that kind of system can be resisted under a multi-party system, anyway.  (See

Criminalize Conservatism Now!


“I too have known joy and sadness, and, on the whole, I prefer joy”

Ashleigh Brilliant (English Author and Cartoonist, b.1933)