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A Whig party revival!?

By Philip Anselmo

We often receive press releases from distant sources or from businesses that kind-of-sort-of have a tenuous at best connection with our region. For the most part, they end up in my trash bin, because they just don't have anything in them that would appeal to our readers.

Not so today.

We received a news release from a fellow from Buffalo, representing another fellow from Washington, D.C. They wrote to us to inform us of the up-and-coming modern Whig party.

From the release:

Founded by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Modern Whig Party has quickly attracted 20,000 members to go along with 25 state chapters. On the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, this grassroots political movement will announce the official modern revival of the historic Whig Party. Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, with Presidents' Day officially celebrated February 16, 2009.

The Whig Party is intimately intertwined with Lincoln's legacy. This vaunted president helped build the Whigs into a mainstream, common-sense movement and in fact served as a Whig legislator. While Lincoln joined the newly formed Republican Party after the demise of the Whigs, he always maintained the rational mentality of his longtime party.
Through the hard work and motivation of recently deployed service members, the Modern Whig Party was organized to be a home for those voters who place common-sense, rational thought ahead of ideology. Like the original party of Lincoln, the Modern Whigs cater to those who subscribe to mainstream values across the political spectrum.

During the organization phase of this movement, the Modern Whig Party already is recognized as the fastest-growing mainstream political movement in the country. Thousands of moderate Republicans and Democrats have signed on. With an executive committee and national headquarters in Washington, DC, the Modern Whig Party is recapturing the longtime ideals of Lincoln as they build toward being a true party for the rest of us.

Contact: Mike Lebowitz — 571-251-1490, [email protected]

The Modern Whig Party
2141 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite C-2
Washington, DC 20191

For a little bit of background, here's a nugget of info from Wikipedia on the original Whig party:

Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from 1833 to 1856, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party. In particular, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the executive branch and favored a program of modernization and economic protectionism. This name was chosen to echo the American Whigs of 1776, who fought for independence, and because "Whig" was then a widely recognized label of choice for people who saw themselves as opposing autocratic rule.

My dictionary tells me that the word "Whig" is likely a truncation of the Scottish term: "Whiggamore," which was the nickname given to a band of 17th century Scottish rebels who fought against British hegemony. Cool.

Russ Stresing

Reading the "Issues" portion of their website, its apparent that they're not advocating any radical nor even particularly bold positions. Centrist positions on a myriad of issues isn't a formula for success in a burgeoning party. While they may attract disenfranchised voters from either party, those people are unlikely to be the activists a new party needs to sustain momentum. While centrists and/or moderate candidates may win elections, those aren't the types who do the bulk of the campaign work in most cases.

Most new parties experience early exponential growth, as do a lot of new endeavors. But counting on exasperation isn't a long range strategy for success. There's a very real possibility that if either major party enjoys a modicum of success in furthering their agenda, people who feel like they've been deserted will drift back to the fold.

Their biggest obstacle may be that they are hoping for support from people who are allowed to claim a political description without knowing where they really fall. Ask 100 self-described 'moderate Democrats' what positions they take and you're not likely to get even a common majority on all the issues, just as you probably wouldn't if you polled 'moderate Republicans'. Simply giving yourself an ill-defined label like 'centrist' doesn't necessarily mean that you share a political philosophy with a large number of people. It more probably means that you believe your ideas and philosophy are correct and so it must follow that anyone with any common sense or a modicum of intelligence must feel the same, which would include most people. I've talked to people who wholeheartedly believed that most Americans smoke cigarettes simply because everybody they knew and talked to smoked.

Even some of their press release seems vague. "the Modern Whig Party was organized to be a home for those voters who place common-sense, rational thought ahead of ideology. Like the original party of Lincoln, the Modern Whigs cater to those who subscribe to mainstream values across the political spectrum." Its unlikely that the bulk of either major party truly feels that their own 'ideology' is other than 'common-sense, rational thought", so to tell people that the Whig party is the only place you can find such is sort of presumptuous. And presumptuous only begins to describe appropriating Lincoln and his image as a symbol for your party. If not over-reaching, at the least, its a stretch.

Its likely they'll have some early successes to trumpet, but I'll be curious to see their growth rate as time passes.

Feb 12, 2009, 8:18pm Permalink
Gene Chaas

Indeed, the two corporate parties have done an exceptional job of providing representation to our citizens, with approval ratings near 100%.

I respectufully disagree with Mr. Stresing. The two corporates have had a monpoly for so long, that citizens like Russ frame everything in the red team/blue team mentality, and see third parties as only ideologically based. That's precendent, and yes, we Whigs must overcome those "rose colored glasses" that have been handed out to voters like 3D specs at a horror show.

What do Whigs represent? Solutions. Practical, common sense solutions with ONLY the citizens, and in New York we can say the TAXPAYER, as the beneficiary.

How many times have you heard a fellow citizens say, "yeah but they're all the same once they get in office"? Differentiation point #2. We posit a novel approach to governance, a mission-based candidate with self imposed term limits.

Sound familiar? No, of course it shouldn't. Maybe we seem naiive in that no union or corporate interest will touch us, much unlike the typical corporate candidate. We hold ourselves, and will hold our eventual candidates to a higher standard than even the law and regulations dictate.

Does that broaden , or narrow our appeal? Good question, Here Russ is spot on; time will tell. We aren't looking for moralists, or for voters who beleive government is the solution. We were formed by Veterans and right now the core of your New York Whig Party Committee are veterans, but this is not a Veterans party. We simply understand service above self implicitly, and felt the need to continue to give back to our Republic. Current leadership, and I use that term very loosely, has done a poor job of governing both our great State, and our Great Country.

The Whig Party represents an answer. Not mired in philosophy, and false promise, but in practial solutions-based advocacy for our citizens looking for true representation and true leadership where what you see is EXACTLY what you get.

Gene Chaas
New York Whig Party

Apr 28, 2009, 7:18am Permalink

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