A Brief post 2014 Midterm Election History of the Republican Party

Ebola Quarantine sign held by medical healh care worker wearing protective gown, glowes, mask and goggles.

Ebola Quarantine sign held by medical healh care worker wearing protective gown, glowes, mask and goggles.

With the 2014 Midterm election victory by Republicans, there has been a great deal of talk that a new powerful Republican coalition will be forming. It would perhaps be advantageous for a brief history in the political coalitions that have been formed by the Republican Party, and their relevance in today’s politics.

In 1854, the Republican Party was formed as an anti-slavery party by Northern abolitionist. Eventually, the Republican Party would include a variety of Northerners to its base due to the increasing pressures of secession by the South. However, after the Civil War, the Republican Party started to make inroads into the South due to Northern carpetbaggers. It was at this time that the Republican Party had a diverse coalition of farmers, small business owners, urban factory workers and African Americans. Indeed this wide coalition of minorities, workers, and small business owners continued until the Great Depression, caused by economic mismanagement by both parties. Another grand coalition of Republicans formed during the Reagan years, this time under the principles of neo-conservatism. This group was made of people who believed that government had become too big under the Johnson and Carter administrations, and thus wanted less government in their lives. It also included those who were against birth control and were on a whole usually white Protestants and Catholics.

While in recent years Democrats have seemed to hold the sway over minorities, the midterm election seem to prove otherwise. The first African American Senator in South Carolina, Tim Scott, is a member of the Republican Party. Perhaps if one looks in a historical context of party support for African Americans, this is no surprise. The early anti-slavery stance of the Republican Party aside, Republicans have supported some of the most crucial developments in Civil rights. Under Eisenhower, a Republican president, the schools were desegregated following the 1954 court decision Brown v. Board of Education stating that the separate but equal decision was unconstitutional. President Eisenhower’s vice president and later 37th President, Richard Nixon, was a known supporter of civil rights, and was a close friend of Martin Luther King.

When it comes to women voters, the Republican Party has had a history of supporting them as well. The Republican Party helped in the suffrage movement for women, and women would eventually gain the vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment. The Republican Party was the first party to give women a large role within the organization of campaigns and the inner workings of the party. With this history it should be no surprise that the youngest women to be elected to Congress, Elise Stefanik, is a Republican.

Farmers have always to some extent been supported by the Republican Party. The 1996 FAIR Act alleviated many of the pressures that farmers faced economically, and helped to streamline the subsidizing of farms. Speaker of the House at the time, Newt Gingrich, did much of the work in constructing this reform act.

The bottom line is, Republicans have a rich history of creating visible change in society for African Americans, women, and farmers. This is a history that shouldn’t be ignored or forgotten by the voter or the Republican Party itself. Indeed, there is power in invoking the rhetoric of historical success, historical success the Republican Party most certainly has.