A Whig Party Revival

Neely Young

Studies show that Americans in general are disappointed with both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Someone recently suggested that if the old Whig Party put up a candidate they might win.

Why? Moderates in both parties feel their voice has been taken away by extremists on both the left and right of the political spectrum. Our president has become a strong chief executive, in that Congress has passed almost every bill he has presented since he has been in office.

The Whig Party operated in the United States during the era of President Andrew Jackson, from 1832 to 1856. Like our current president, Jackson was a strong chief executive, and the Whig Party was formed to oppose his strong-arm policies.

Its members favored the supremacy of Congress over the executive branch, believing in a program of modernization and economic development. They counted among their ranks many political luminaries including Daniel Webster and Henry Clay; and they elected several presidents including William Henry Harrison and Millard Fillmore.

Fillmore was the last president to serve under the Whig Party; he faced up to the responsibilities of his office by doing – as far as anyone can tell – nothing at all.

The Whig Party was ultimately destroyed by its leadership’s timid response to the explosive question of slavery. In 1856, many Whigs, including Abraham Lincoln, left the party and formed the new Republican Party, which is still alive and well today.

If not the Whigs, perhaps a typical platform for a new third party in Georgia would embrace the following tenets:

For the chief executive: The power and strength of our country rests in the hands of not the few, but the many. “No one of us is as smart as all of us.” – Warren Bettis.

Our three-in-one system – made up of executive, legislative and judicial branches – ensures that each component remains tolerant and open and keeps within the law.

The new party would hold a person who expresses ignorance to be useless. Therefore, education of our youth is of primary importance to all citizens.

The party could propose that all children be required to finish school or stay in school until they are 18. In Georgia almost 50 percent of the school population drops out at 16; many, out of idleness, turn to crime. This action should bring up the state’s SAT average, better educate our children and reduce the teenage crime rate.

Another platform plank would say that winning elections should be accomplished via ideas, not by accepting favors and political contributions from those who would demand favors in return. Therefore, this new party would eliminate all political contributions, replacing them with frequent, open political debates that would be covered freely by newspapers, magazines, radio stations, Internet blogs and television outlets.

This form of government would protect those who excel and achieve as well as others of lesser abilities. The new party would note that this applies to U.S. citizens as well as those who come to our country both legally and illegally. Why don’t we just enforce the laws already on the books?

The main safeguard of our democracy is still our great free press. Two years ago our legislature tried to close down and make secret all economic development negotiations involving tax incentives made between companies and state government. This isn’t right. One man’s tax incentive is another’s tax increase. Open records should be paramount and the party could propose a constitutional amendment on open government to be voted on by the citizens of Georgia.

The new party would advocate abundant financing and other kinds of help to those in trouble, asking that recipients make an honest effort to overcome their poverty. We would, therefore, ask the state of Georgia – not the federal government – to provide health care to all citizens who cannot afford it.

Free clinics, similar to the Good Samaritan Health Center of Cobb County, should be established throughout the state to help the working poor; they should be staffed by volunteer doctors and paid for via state and local fund raising efforts.

Preventive measures could also fund the program and should include restricting teenagers from receiving drivers’ licenses until they are 18, which should greatly reduce health expenses from accidents on our highways. It would be nice to make insurance companies pay what they originally promised and do away with the gatekeeper concept.

The party would welcome all people to the table, all races and creeds. It would believe all policy is doomed to failure when not debated and discussed with vigor. And no person should be personally attacked or humiliated because of beliefs expressed in open forum.

It would denounce political correctness as a method of silencing those with honest opinions who share their thoughts with stories that may sound racial, but in fact are not used to promote racism. As the author and historian Will Durant said, “We should not condemn those of the past by using moral and political standards of today.”

The above is a partial platform, but we don’t have a name for the new party. Whig sounds good, but is out of date.

On second thought, why don’t we apply the “M” word – as in “moderate” – to both the Republican and Democratic Parties? Moderates of both persuasions need to take their parties back.

Categories: Neely Young