Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Representeatives of more third parties than any show in Indianapolis: Saturday, Feb 11, 11 am. Be there. Aloha!

   At the time of the Constitutional Convention, the issue of whether to continue the institution of slavery was critical. The States of Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and, in particular, South Carolina, were greatly reliant for slave labor on their plantations. It was feared the delegates of those States would walk out of the convention were slavery to be abolished. At least 20 of the 53 delegates who attended the convention claimed ownership in other human beings as chattel—i.e., slaves.

   Deals at the convention were cut and compromises were reached. Sentiment amongst some of the more pivotal delegates was that slavery would soon come to an end of its own accord. The labor—comprised as it was of slaves—was cheap. Other costs, however, were great. Slave uprisings (How could those slaves be so ungrateful? Kidnaped from their homelands, placed in shackles, forced to work, broken up (by sales) from any family they might form while in bondage, denied education, but given free room, board, and clothes—free room, board, and clothes, I tell you!) Against plantation owners were a constant threat, particularly in South Carolina, where, in some parts of the State, persons in bondage with African lineage outnumbered free persons of European extraction. The threat of armed rebellion meant arms had to be maintained. The labor was not all that cheap, compared to the return on crops planted and harvested by the hands of those in bondage.

   Then along came the cotton gin. Cotton became King and its profits fed by the now-cost-effective Evil Institution of slavery.

   Why this aside on slavery in a blog about third parties?  

   The last time we had a massive change in the system of political parties occurred 1840-60. Zachary Taylor was the last Whig elected president. His vice president, Millard Fillmore, was the last Whig president. (Fillmore later led the Know-Nothing Party.) Because of the issues surrounding slavery in the country, there was a bitter divide—within the country and within the Whig Party itself.

   Henry Clay helped found the Whig Party. He owned slaves, although he believed in a form of "emancipation"—freeing those held in bondage and sailing them back to Africa. That was an "enlightened"view [undertone of sarcasm]. Imagine if circumstances were such that Congress decided to send all people of European descent "back to where they came from." That would make no sense. My ancestors have been in North America since the 1650s. I have fewer ties to Wales than I have to Illinois. What if I simply were cast ashore in France? After all, my skin is white, therefore it should not matter the place to which I would be repatriated. That was the enlightened view of many people in the 1840s.

   Daniel Webster, United States Senator from Massachusetts and also a Whig, felt the issue of slavery was best decided by the individual States. I guess those principles of "life, libery, and property" advanced by John Locke and cobbed together as "life, liberty and happiness" in the Declaration of Independence were rights born by all people, but marked by an asterisk.    The party divided. The political landscape was one of chaos. The presidential campaign of 1860 featured four prominent national candidates: Abraham Lincoln of the relatively new Republican Party; John C. Breckenridge of the Southern Democratic Party; John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party; and Stephen A. Douglas of he Democratic Party.

   It is important to note that none of the candidates advocated abolition of slavery. The Republican Party platform simply advocated slavery not be allowed to spread to new States. Elements of the Democratic Party called "Fire Eaters" (reminiscent of "You-Know-Who’s" Death Eaters) walked out of the party’s convention and formed the Southern Democratic Party to vehemently defend the institution of slavery.

   Lincoln, of course, won, with a plurality of 39.8 percent of the popular vote. Southern States seceded and the Civil War was begun. Was it over the issue of slavery? Only in a backward way. The Northern States wanted to preserve the Union. In a letter to Horace Greeley written during the War, Lincoln said if he could save the Union by freeing all slaves, freeing some slaves, or freeing no slaves, he would take whatever course saved the Union. The Southern States wanted to preserve States’ rights—but only one States’ "right": the "right to be slave States. That is clear from the secession resolutions.

   By the end of the Civil War, radicals in the Republican Party, intent now on abolition, took control. Although later they would cooperate and coordinate with their Democratic colleagues in suppression and oppression of former slaves, the Republicans in Congress pushed for the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Thus was born the last major party. The Democrats survived from remnants of the South. The Solid South only was shattered when Lyndon Johnson pushed for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other programs of the Great Society. (And if he had not pushed so hard for escalation of the Vietnam War, he might, today, be considered one of our greatest presidents.)

   The economy and other major issues have caused greater fractures in our society than some of us have seen in our lifetimes. This is a fertile environment for the rise of other parties to positions of significance.

   This Saturday, February 11, "Civil Discourse Now" will host representatives of parties some would call "third parties"active in the 2012 elections. Joseph O. Henzler is the state chair of the Constitution Party of Indiana. John Strinka is with Greater Indianapolis Socialist Party-USA. Timothy C. Platt of the Socialist Party Central Committe will join us.  Also Jay Parks of the Green Party has accepted our invitation. I will post website information for their parties and bios for them in the next couple of days.

   I think this is the single largest gathering of representatives of parties other than the Republican and Democratic parties on an Indianapolis show—at least in my memory.

   Certainly we shall discuss issues in the context of our guests’ respective parties’ platforms, but the focus of the discourse will be the efficacy of third parties today in American politics.

   We shoot at 11 a.m. on Saturdays at Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell Avenue, Indianapolis. Anyone who wishes to come to the Show is welcome. 

Views: 43


You need to be a member of Civil Discourse Now to add comments!

Join Civil Discourse Now


  • Add Videos
  • View All

© 2024   Created by Mark Small.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

My Great Web page