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Conservatives and Liberals haven't really changed much through time.

Reader comment on item: Conservatism's Hidden History
in response to reader comment: Patriot (American Revolution) [Whigs & Tories]

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Oct 3, 2018 at 03:24

Hi, Robert. You said,

"...So the Patriots (for the Revolution) were the Whigs (Liberals). And the Loyalists/Royalists were the Tories (against the Revolution). If the distinction holds throughout historical time, you get the unacceptable conclusion that Conservatives what the Queen of England to Reign over us. Whereas it is the Liberals who support the Rebels cand the Constitution."

The supporters of the Crown were indeed called "Tories", connecting them with the party in the UK that has come down to us as the "Conservative" Party. However, all the Patriots/ Rebels (depending on whether you are American or, say, Canadian) were not all called "Whigs". John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams were Federalists; but they were opposed by Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Jackson, who were first called "Republicans, then "Democratic Republicans, then "Democrats". Only WH Harrison and John Tyler were "Whigs", a party with identity problems (Tyler was expelled from the Whigs while he was President).

I noticed some time ago, that the southern Democrats were the main party of the Southern LANDED aristocracy, while the Tories were the party of the landed aristocracy in the UK. The Republican Party, on the other hand, which derived from northern Democrats and Whigs, became the party of the northern Industrialists (which I suppose could be compared, loosely, to the British Liberals). Immigrants, who largely became subjects of the Industrial class, were recruited by the Democrats and politically held an adversarial relationship with them. In the 1960sm during the Goldwater Revolution, Southern conservatives began joining the Republican and American Independent parties, leaving the Democrats to the Immigrant class and other wage slaves, such as the Blacks. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Labor Party rose as the claimed champion of the British laboring class. You went on,

"My point is that the distinction between C & L isn't ideological, but shifts in meaning as we move forward in history."

Actually, it hasn't: The "Conservative" Party in the UK supported the monarch in 1776, and does so today. The "LIberal" Party in the UK "in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[2] It arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s." (Wikipedia).

"The Peelites were a breakaway dissident faction of the British Conservative Party from 1846 to 1859 who joined with the Whigs and Radicals to form the Liberal Party." (Wikipedia) "The son of wealthy textile-manufacturer and politician Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet, making Robert the first future prime minister from an industrial business background". In the UK, therefore, the Whigs merged with some Conservatives in a similar manner to the way Whigs in the US merged with Northern Industrialists.. In more recent years, the British Liberal Party merged with the Social Democratic Party. Whatever that means ideologically doesn't matter much, because the Lib-SDs have never been a leading party.

In the US, as I have noted, the Democratic Party historically (from, say, 1850 to 1960) was a coalition of a very conservative, southern wing and a northern wing. That northern wing has been a hodgepodge of groups with only one thing in common: opposition to the Republicans. Over the years, the parties have been crystalizing into two radically opposing camps which indeed are becoming closely aligned, respectively, with "conservative" and "liberal" thinkers.

American and British political PARTIES, over the years, have thus gone through fruit-basket upsets; but those following conservative, liberal and radical IDEOLOGIES have not changed their stripes. Here are some examples, all from US Presidential politics.

Mississippi Whites: voted States Rights Democrat in 1948, Democrat in 1952 and 1956, Byrd Democrat in 1960, Republican in 1964, American Independent in 1968, Republican in 1972 and in every election since. The fact that they voted against Nixon in 1960 and 1968, but for him in 1972, did not reflect a "flip" from being "conservative" to being "liberal": They were conservative before 1964, conservative during 1964 (when they supported Goldwater against Johnson) and conservative after 1964. What changed was the parties; the people didn't change.

Mississippi Whites represent archetypal conservatives. In 1840, they abandoned Democrats, because Jackson and Van Buren had become "liberal", expanding Federal power at the expense of States Rights. This led to a confusion of political parties from 1840 to 1860; but Mississippi continued to plod along in its conservatism.

On the other side of the spectrum, the District of Columbia has voted Democrat in every election since it got electors in 1964. The voters there might be called "Liberal", though they are better identified as "Blacks", who have a historical animosity toward Mississippi Whites. Among White Americans, Finnish-Americans take the prize as radicals, making Minnesota the bluest state in the Union. This has never changed; they were radicals in Europe, and they are radicals here. If American Jews had a state of their own, they would doubtless be a bluer state than Minnesota.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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