Sunday, April 23, 2006

Democrats Embracing Economic Fascism?

So here we find out that there’s a new constituency forming within the Democratic Party. They call themselves the “Hamilton Project” . Anyone knowledgeable of early American history cannot fail to laugh at the irony here.

Broadly put, upon our nation’s founding, there were two distinct factions contending to set the course for our young nation’s political-economic structure: the “Jeffersonians”, those who favored small government, free-trade, and laissez faire economics; and the “Hamiltonians”, who came from a mercantilist background, and favored more active government involvement in the economy – tariffs, subsidies, trade restrictions, and so forth. By the time our third president took office, it was clear that the Jeffersonian faction had won the day.

However, Big Government ideas don’t die easily. While Jefferson’s party, the “Democratic Republicans” (later shortened to “Democrats”), went on as a continuing force in American politics, the mercantilist ideas that marked the Hamiltonian agenda found new life in the Whig party, and later, in the new Republican Party. (Few people remember that the Party of Lincoln was party founded to advance the anti-free market principles of protectionism and corporatism.) By the time the War Between the States rolled around, the south, dominated by Democrats and favoring free trade, was in direct opposition to northern industrial interests that pursued an agenda of restriction in trade. Our first Republican Party president, Abe Lincoln, campaigned to continue an economic blockade of southern economic interests, and not surprisingly, was elected without carrying a single southern state. Democrats, before and after the War Between the States, were largely recognized as the party of limited government, and Republicans, the party of special interests.

Fast forward 150 years. Now, we have the Party of Jefferson, doing an about face and attempting to embrace the ideas of Jefferson’s ideological foe, Alexander Hamilton. Granted, Democrats haven’t actually been the Party of Jefferson for at least 80 years, so this is nothing new. But like I said, it’s funny to see, particularly because every now and then, you do hear Democrats name-drop our third President. (Bill Clinton did it a number of times, I think.)

Personally, I think what both parties need is to start a “Jefferson Project”. Now THAT might get my vote.

Perhaps these “Hamiltonian Democrats” need to read Thomas DiLorenzo’s book, How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present


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