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Old December 17th, 2017, 12:20 AM   #1
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Challenge: US Republican Party liberal, Democratic Party conservative


As we know, until, well, 1964, each party has its own liberal and conservative wings. After that, the Dems became the liberal party and the GOP became the conservative one.

Your challenge is to have this reversed; or at least, have the GOP socially liberal and fiscally conservative (an equivalent of Dutch VVD) and the Dems being some kind of a Christian Democratic Party (socially conservative but economically centre-left).

You can take a POD (point of divergence) from the 19th century if necessary.

I can think of some PODs:

1) Grover Cleveland and the Bourbon Dems prevail over Bryan and the Bimetallists. This was possible if a Gold Republican (maybe McKinley) instead becoming a President between 1892 and 1896 and hence blamed for the Panic.

2) Theodore Roosevelt winning the 1912 Nomination and enabling the Progressives to take over the GOP.

3) Charles Evans Hughes winning in 1916, and then a conservative Dem kicks the GOP in 1920, leading to a (Conservative) Democrat dominated 1902s. Then, a Progressive GOP candidate winning in 1932 and champions the New Deal.

4) Dewey/Stassen winning in 1948 or 1952. Unlike Ike, they were politicians and more intrapartisan and thus and would try to ensure the dominance of their liberal wing. It would be better if this happens after LaFollette narrowly defeated McCarthy, thus butterflying away a major Conservative firebrand. Also, a Dewey/Stassen victory could have butterfly away Nixon or Goldwater (a closer 1952 election could have butterflied away Barry).
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Old December 17th, 2017, 05:21 AM   #2
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Most political positions are neither inherently liberal nor inherently conservative and the allignment of the various positions with the different parties is somewhat random and arbitrary. For instance:

On abortion - it's usually conservatives who argue that the government should not tell people what to do, therefore conservatives should be pro-choice. It's usually liberals who want to protect those who can't advocate for themselves, so protecting the unborn should be a liberal position.

On gun control - conservatives usually come down on the side of law and order so conservatives should be arguing for strong gun control. It's usually liberals who want to trust everyone and give them more freedom, so liberals should be advocating for more gun rights.

On the death penalty - conservatives love it as part of their law and order agenda, but the death penalty does not deter crime therefore it is a failed government program that should be eliminated. The death penalty is more expensive than life in prison therefore it is fiscally irresponsible. That's two conservative reasons to oppose the death penalty.

On prison reform - conservatives love putting people in jail as a law and order measure, but at some point feeding and guarding all of those prisoners gets too expensive, and every person in jail is a non-productive member of society - two conservative reasons to reform our crime and punishment policies.

On immigration - conservatives like immigrants because they are a cheap source of labor, but hate immigrants because they're not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Liberals like immigrants because they will eventually become liberal voters but hate immigrants because they threaten union workers, a traditional liberal voting block. Conservatives have also taken anti-immigrant stances as a way to win over working-class voters.

My point being that there are few rational reasons to explain why the Republicans and Democrats are the way that they are. The history of our two parties was driven by their lust for power, not any more rational reasons.
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Old December 17th, 2017, 11:31 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlodio View Post
Most political positions are neither inherently liberal nor inherently conservative and the allignment of the various positions with the different parties is somewhat random and arbitrary. For instance:

On abortion - it's usually conservatives who argue that the government should not tell people what to do, therefore conservatives should be pro-choice. It's usually liberals who want to protect those who can't advocate for themselves, so protecting the unborn should be a liberal position.

On gun control - conservatives usually come down on the side of law and order so conservatives should be arguing for strong gun control. It's usually liberals who want to trust everyone and give them more freedom, so liberals should be advocating for more gun rights.

On the death penalty - conservatives love it as part of their law and order agenda, but the death penalty does not deter crime therefore it is a failed government program that should be eliminated. The death penalty is more expensive than life in prison therefore it is fiscally irresponsible. That's two conservative reasons to oppose the death penalty.

On prison reform - conservatives love putting people in jail as a law and order measure, but at some point feeding and guarding all of those prisoners gets too expensive, and every person in jail is a non-productive member of society - two conservative reasons to reform our crime and punishment policies.

On immigration - conservatives like immigrants because they are a cheap source of labor, but hate immigrants because they're not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Liberals like immigrants because they will eventually become liberal voters but hate immigrants because they threaten union workers, a traditional liberal voting block. Conservatives have also taken anti-immigrant stances as a way to win over working-class voters.

My point being that there are few rational reasons to explain why the Republicans and Democrats are the way that they are. The history of our two parties was driven by their lust for power, not any more rational reasons.

Your mistake is those are all social issues rather than economic or power based issues. Political parties don't have to abscribe to a certain ideology especially in a two party system and they didn't until a few decades ago when people tired of seeing political parties as pan ideology identity's.Liberal and conservatives now basically mean Democratic or Republican but in the past those names were more like ethnic identity. For example if your family had been Democrat for generations you were Democrat didn't matter if you were a black person or a white supremacist(yes those two groups co existed in the same party for decades) or a Socialist or a big capitalist. The biggest political fights happened at the convention level rather than the general election level for this reason as the nominee was going to naturally alienate a ton of people. Look at political conventions prior to the 60s or so, there were two wings competing in both parties that had as little as common as today's Democrats or Republicans. Today that ideological difference has been transferred to the parties themselves.



This is why big landslides were possible because most Americans could conceivably vote for people in both parties not because they were any less ideologues but because it was entirely conceivable the nominee of either party could share their values regardless of affiliation more than their party's nominee did and in large numbers.

For example
Today a candidate getting 53% of the popular vote is a landslide typically in a general election.
In the past that would be true at the convention level because both then and now the conservative and liberal populations of the country were split and it's hard to get a majority for a candidate of one ideology because so few voters are up for grabs.

In terms of conservative and liberal these terms mean preserving the existing order and changing the existing order. If previously the death penalty was seen as good and that is changing then supporting the death penalty becomes a conservative position and opposing it becomes liberal. In a society where putting people to death has been always seen as insane and it starts to become popular the opposite is true. Conservative and Liberal are words that do mean something although it's not a set meaning.

Economic issues it's much easier to tell the difference because in most places supporting the moneyed interests is conservative while supporting different degrees of change from progressive reforms all the way to Communism is liberal or left. Back when conservatives were all monarchists and anyone wanting to challenge land based aristocrats to make money and have power, those same conservatives would be liberals hence the term classical liberal.

I wrote my political science thesis on this exact issue and how parties change and reflect ideology's is the most interesting part of politics IMO. Well political positions are not set in stone but they also aren't arbitrary and are based on a society.

Last edited by Emperor of Wurttemburg 43; December 17th, 2017 at 11:40 AM.
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Old December 17th, 2017, 12:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmperoroftheBavarians43 View Post
Your mistake is those are all social issues rather than economic or power based issues.
The OP asks us to reverse the two parties' social positions but keep their fiscal policies the same. And I'm saying that's not very hard because social positions are not inherently liberal or conservative.

Reversing the two parties' fiscal policies would be more difficult. The Republicans have been pro-business ever since the Civil War. The Democrats have been pro-labor and pro-middle class ever since the Great Depression, or possible as early as Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech. I suppose if you could remove the Civil War from the mix and leave the Democrats as the governmental minimalists and the Republicans as the governmental activists then you might get fiscally conservative Democrats and fiscally liberal Republicans, but even that is not guaranteed.

Last edited by Chlodio; December 17th, 2017 at 12:31 PM.
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Old December 17th, 2017, 12:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlodio View Post
The OP asks us to reverse the two parties' social positions but keep their fiscal policies the same. And I'm saying that's not very hard because social positions are not inherently liberal or conservative.
Fair enough. Guess I got lazy missed it lol.
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Old December 17th, 2017, 04:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlodio View Post
The OP asks us to reverse the two parties' social positions but keep their fiscal policies the same. And I'm saying that's not very hard because social positions are not inherently liberal or conservative.

Reversing the two parties' fiscal policies would be more difficult. The Republicans have been pro-business ever since the Civil War. The Democrats have been pro-labor and pro-middle class ever since the Great Depression, or possible as early as Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech. I suppose if you could remove the Civil War from the mix and leave the Democrats as the governmental minimalists and the Republicans as the governmental activists then you might get fiscally conservative Democrats and fiscally liberal Republicans, but even that is not guaranteed.
I mean at least reversing social positions, but reversing fiscal position is also welcome.

There are several ways to make GOP both fiscally and socially liberal (in American meaning):
Fiscally, the GOP was a big spender during the 19th century. Keep Lincoln alive then we can have them championing "greenback" policy rather than a Gold Standard - Lincoln wold have sufficient political capital to pull it off.

A Gold Republican, let's say McKinley, winning in 1888 and 1892 and getting blame for the Panic instead of Grover Cleveland. Grover Cleveland then pull a McKinley in 1896, cementing the Democrats' position as a pro-Gold, pro-Business party. Meanwhile, instead of gaining ground in 1888 and just sidelined after that like IOTL, the Silver Republicans now would be able to neutralize the Gold faction.

Theodore Roosevelt winning in 1912, leading to a progressive Republican winning in 1916, following by a Conservative Democrat victory in 1920 (the Progressivism would have burnt out and even become unpopular by then). Or more simply, have Charles Evans Hughes winning in 1916. A Conservative Democrat victory means a Democrat-dominated 1920s. Then, in 1932, a Progressive Republican (Irvine Lenroot/Robert LaFollette Jr/Hiram Johnson...) wins the election and launches the ATL New Deal.
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Old December 17th, 2017, 05:09 PM   #7

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IIRC...
both democrats and Republicans wanted Dwight Eisenhower to be their Presidential candidates in 1952.
suppose Ike had gone democrat. the Republicans would have probably countered with Robert Taft and lost. Ike would have had huge support among Southern conservatives and blue-collar workers everywhere. and he would have made sure the democrats would not be 'soft on communism'.
with the center/right firmly in democrat hands the Republicans would have had no choice but to go left. possibly Romney in 1960 and/or Nelson Rockefeller in 1964.
without the welfare state, cities might well have trended Republican in the 1960s/70s. JFK and RFK could have continued as moderate/conservative leaders (neither was as liberal as Ted would be).
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Old December 17th, 2017, 09:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorsam View Post
IIRC...
both democrats and Republicans wanted Dwight Eisenhower to be their Presidential candidates in 1952.
suppose Ike had gone democrat. the Republicans would have probably countered with Robert Taft and lost. Ike would have had huge support among Southern conservatives and blue-collar workers everywhere. and he would have made sure the democrats would not be 'soft on communism'.
with the center/right firmly in democrat hands the Republicans would have had no choice but to go left. possibly Romney in 1960 and/or Nelson Rockefeller in 1964.
without the welfare state, cities might well have trended Republican in the 1960s/70s. JFK and RFK could have continued as moderate/conservative leaders (neither was as liberal as Ted would be).
Well, Ike was essentially a Rockefeller Republican and he hated the Democrats.

Another problem is that the New Deal had already cemented the Democrat's left-wing economic position forever.

With a postwar POD, I am thinking about 4 chains of events:
1) LaFollette Jr beating McCarthy, who then fades away. Then, LaFollette somehow filled the role of McCarthy, form a "LaFollette Comittee'' to investigate communism but finding nothing new. Such actions would give him a reputation as the party's "Mr. Anti-Communism" and hence would cause a lot of the Republicans to lose their hostility to La Follette despite his still generally liberal record on domestic issues. Then, in 1948, Dewey won the election with LaFollette as running mate instead of Earl Warren, who then would go to the Supreme Court. Anyway, Richard Nixon, McCarthy and Goldwater and Co would be neutralized by Dewey.

2) Robert Taft picking Henry Cabot Lodge as running mate, then won in 1952. Then he died in office and was succeeded by Cabot Lodge, who managed to get re-elected in 1956. A two-term Cabot Lodge presidency would anger every single Southerner. Meanwhile, the 1952 election being closer could prevent Goldwater from being elected.

3) Nixon winning in 1960 and somehow still getting assassinated in 1964 like JFK, succeeded by Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, who then managed to anger the whole Solid South during his two terms.

4) Eisenhower choosing Cabot Lodge as VP instead of Nixon, who then fades away. Cabot Lodge manages to win the 1960 election.

Last edited by Thomson1190; December 17th, 2017 at 09:29 PM.
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Old December 26th, 2017, 02:03 PM   #9
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Of course back around 1850 to 1870 the Republican party was much more what could be called "liberal" and the Democratic Party was much more what could be called "conservative".

Since then two parties have changed and rearranged their stances on various issues until their present alignment became more or less permanent a few decades ago, though their positions are likely to change at some future times in ways that can't be predicted now.
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