It is a little known fact in American History (thanks to our great educational system…), that today’s political parties were not always the dominant forces they are currently. In fact, the Republican Party we know today was the result of another reigning political party’s fall from power. From the birth of the United States to the American Civil War, the Whig party operated on a platform similar to that of present day conservatives. To give you an idea of their significance, the Whigs placed four presidents in the White House, including Abraham Lincoln (a self-professed Whig until running for presidency on the Democratic platform). Its only opposition then: today’s Democratic Party, the oldest political party in America.
The looming outbreak of the Civil War forced states, politicians, and political parties to choose sides or risk irrelevancy. With the Whig Party unwilling to fully back either the North or the South, disfranchised politicians left in droves, joining either the Democrats or the fledgling Republican Party. Within a decade, the Whigs were almost non-existent. And a few years from that, gone.
Jump forward in time to 2008, where American Soldiers upon return from the forefronts of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, soon felt abandoned by their political parties (their politicians were more interested in finger pointing and blaming than solving issues of substance). Many of the troops during their deployment, witnessed first-hand the trickle effect of a non-working government. Resources and personnel were frequently cut drastically or came in inundating waves, as Republican and Democratic leadership battled over how to support war efforts. Unwilling to support either party any further, these servicemen devised a separate platform to meet American’s needs. Modernizing the tenants of the previous Whig party, this group of individuals re-lit the beacon of the original party, calling on other disfranchised citizens to join them. The new Whig Party or, the “Modern Whigs” avowed not to follow a specific platform, instead advocating that not every solution to a social/political issue has a right and wrong answer. Instead, the Whigs promised to seek solutions that benefit the majority, a more centrist approach, or as they claimed, “the party for the rest of us.”
The grassroots movement of the Modern Whig Party gained immediate popularity. In less than a year’s time, membership rosters included more than 30,000 citizens dedicated to their cause. Chapters formed in 38 states with new volunteers joining daily. Their first electoral victory was almost immediate, won by Ken Belcher for County Constable, in Alabama. In 2010, Time magazine listed the Modern Whigs as one of the fastest growing political movements in the United States. With an official charter, bylaws in place and a newly elected national committee headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Modern Whigs were unstoppable.
In the next electoral hurdle, the Modern Whigs backed Gene L. Baldassari, seeking a seat in the New Jersey Assembly, 14th district. Baldassari earned a measly 738 votes, or 0.6% of the vote. Unfazed, the Whigs went even higher in the political spectrum, choosing to back Jeff Vanke, who was running as an independent for Virginia’s 6th electoral district against Republican incumbent, Bob Goodlatte. Vanke too, failed. The Modern Whig movement ground to a halt. After two losses, members of the party began leaving the Whigs to rejoin the two larger parties. Even former leaders of the party, disheartened and seeing a losing battle, began to throw in the towel. It seemed that within a three year time period, the Modern Whigs had climbed from oblivion, to an unstoppable, national force, to a small, doomed cluster of die-hards.
Whatever happened during the time period between Jeff Vanke’s loss and now, not a lot is known. Forums and websites, once teeming with activity, were either closed or ghostly empty. News coverage of the party, which was normally mentioned on a once, daily basis, was silent. State chapters that had maintained thousands of political activists, shuttered their doors, unable to continue due to lack of funding. What had happened to the Modern Whigs? They regrouped, refocused, and are now fighting back with a vengeance!
Just this month, the Modern Whigs have launched a full scale public relations assault to reinvigorate the populace. Targeting key seats of political stature to win in several states, the Whig leadership is dead set on earning America’s respect. Media and advertising for meetings, teleconferences, and town halls, have been blanketing the nation, convincing some that the Whigs are hardly out of the game. I, for one, am eager to see the phoenix rise from the ashes!
The Modern Whig Party follows a six-tenet philosophy:
- Fiscal responsibility – “The Modern Whig philosophy is to empower the states with the resources to handle their unique affairs.”
- Energy independence – “Reduce dependence on foreign oil by developing practical sources of alternative energy. This will have the simultaneous effect of changing the national security dynamic.”
- Education/Scientific advancement – “Increased public and private emphasis on fields such as space, oceanic, medical and nanotechnology. Also, providing common-sense solutions to enhance our educational system from pre-school to university-level studies.”
- States’ rights – “Each state can determine its course of action based on local values and unique needs.”Social progression – “Government should refrain from legislating morality.”
- Veterans’ affairs – “Vigilant advocacy relating to the medical, financial, and overall well-being of our military families and veterans.”
There are also self-described “General Principles” of Modern Whig philosophy that are included along with the tenets: “general principles of fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and bold social progression.”
The Modern Whig Party logo is an owl, the symbol of the original Whig Party. Using red, white, and blue as the Republican and Democratic parties do, the Modern Whig’s primary color is white. White represents the middle, or centrist view, between the Republican red and Democratic blue.