Saturday, May 30, 2009

Did the demise of the Whigs look like this?

Watching Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich define ever increasing numbers of Americans out of the Republican Party (Rush and Newt are now declaring racist the idea that having grown up non-white might give someone some special insight on racial discrimination) got me to wondering what the demise of the Whig Party looked like. I did a Google search on 'Demise of the Whig Party.' Wikipedia had this:

The Whigs were unable to deal with the slavery issue after 1850. Their southern leaders nearly all owned slaves. The northeastern Whigs, led by Daniel Webster, represented businessmen who loved the national flag and a national market, but cared little about slavery one way or another. However many Whig voters in the North felt that slavery was incompatible with a free labor-free market economy, and supported the Wilmot Proviso that did not pass Congress but would have stopped the expansion of slavery. No one discovered a compromise that would keep the party united. Furthermore the burgeoning economy made full-time careers in business or law much more attractive than politics for ambitious young Whigs. Thus the party leader in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, simply abandoned politics after 1849. When new issues of nativism, prohibition and anti-slavery burst on the scene in the mid 1850s, no one looked to the fast- disintegrating Whig party for answers

It sounds like at the end the Whigs were pursuing their own self interests rather than what was good for the party. Sort of like what Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are doing, don't you think?

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