Who should represent the Conservative Party?


by Elisa Meisel (intern)

When Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States in 1860, he was the first from the ranks of the then newly formed Republican Party. As some of the history lessons may still be aware of, shortly after Lincoln took office, the then states of the USA started a civil war over the abolition of slavery. Lincoln and his Northern Republicans advocated that Abolitionismwhereas the southern states, where the Democratic Party prevailed, opposed it. Although it was for this reason that African-Americans primarily voted for the Republicans in elections until the middle of the 20th century, nothing of that can be seen today: The Grand Old Party, especially President Trump as its figurehead, is much more conservative and nationalistic than the liberal democrats. So over the past 150 years there has been a change of opinion and attitude in both parties. How did Lincoln's party come to be Donald Trumps?

The beginnings of the Republican Party

So let us consider the socio-political situation of the 19th century. The economy of the rural southern states was based on the labor of slaves, whereas the northern states were more industrial - structurally speaking, the differences between the south and the north of the USA can still be seen today. In the 19th century the territory of the United States expanded steadily, and with each newly integrated US state the debate arose repeatedly as to whether slavery should be permitted or prohibited there. The practically slave-free northern states, however, soon worried that the southern states, and thus synonymously the states of the USA, in which slavery was allowed, would gain the upper hand and thus be too powerful economically and too strongly represented in federal politics. Politicians in the northern states saw it as an intervention in the free market and the disadvantage of white workers.

When the two states of Nebraska and Kansas joined the union in the 1850s, the former collapsed WhigParty, the forerunner of the Republicans, participated in the discussion of the slavery issue. In 1854 the Republican Party was founded, which from today's perspective did not represent non-racist opinions, but vehemently spoke out against the expansion of slavery. In order to avoid national conflicts, the newly elected president Abraham Lincoln promised not to interfere in the slavery affairs of the southern states, so to grant them a certain autonomy in this area. However, slavery should be banned in the future states of the growing USA. This was not enough for the south - in 1861 11 states declared their exit from the Union and founded the Conferderate States. The civil war began and ended in 1865 with the victory of the northern states and the national ban on slavery. Even after the war, some of the Republicans fought hard for more Civil Rights for African Americans, which resulted in the 14th and 15th amendments; However, these interests were soon replaced by purely economic interests, which meant that the southern states, which were still mentally anchored in slavery, themselves monitored compliance with applicable law - they had to secretly Amendments therefore not adhered to in the south.

But now back to the changes in the Republican Party. At the end of the 19th century, some rich strongholds of white industrialists emerged in the north of the USA, who soon became the strongest representatives within the Republican Party, having become wealthy through government spending in the civil war. The party slowly became an economic and business party that represented the interests of companies and the better-off and which - to this day - was against the (strong) state influence in the economy.

The times of economic change

Fast Forward to the 1930s: Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) is elected President, and tries with his New DealProgram to get the US out of the economic crisis. Increasingly, African-American citizens are now voting for the Democrats, on the one hand because the economically weak minority also comes from FDRs program benefits, partly because President Roosevelt's wife - Eleanor - is a well-known civil rights activist who speaks primarily for the rights of black Americans. The program is of course countered by the Republicans, who want to prevent government intervention in the economy.

The Republicans and the Civil Rights Act

1964: Democratic President L. B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, which made the racial segregation that had prevailed until then in the USA illegal. Regardless of party affiliation, there are many supporters and opponents on both sides of the political spectrum. A crucial point, however, is that the Republican presidential candidate of the same year - Barry Goldwater - as Senator against the Civil Rights Act is true and this is also defended with the argument that the power of the state is being expanded too much. After these words, many white voters in the southern states feel drawn to Goldwater and the GOP, which opens the Republican Party to extremely nationalist, almost racist ideologies. As a result, the majority of voters in the southern United States are converting to Republicans, while many African Americans now feel they are represented by the Democratic Party - the actual main change of voters Switch of Sentiments, happens. About 15 years later, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the new president as an example of a typical Republican to this day, who focuses primarily on the economy and conservative lifestyles.

Current Events and Donald Trump

In the 2000s, the USA reached a larger wave of (illegal) immigration, especially through Hispanicswhich drives the two parties further apart: the Democrats are in favor of reform and thus in favor of immigration, while supporters of the Republican Party are clearly against it. As a result, a large number of minorities in the United States are voting for Democrats, which in turn means that the GOP is largely elected by white Americans. In 2013, in response to Mitt Romney's 2012 election defeat by Barack Obama and in an attempt to counteract a persistent loss of votes, Republican officials such as Marco Rubio met with Democratic Party officials to work out non-partisan immigration reform. Many conservative, white anti-immigration voters of the Republican Party feel betrayed by this cooperation and lose confidence in their political representatives.

And that leads us in the end to one person: Donald J. Trump, who takes advantage of the feeling of betrayal and loss of trust by opposing it Establishment expresses and wants to fight illegal immigration with a wall. There have been some changes in the relatively young history of the GOP Sentiments and voters - how the party will change through, and especially after, President Trump remains to be seen.