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Old 01-16-2010, 11:27 AM   #1
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"Bring Back the Mugwumps"

In this rather dissatisfying political climate (and I'll be the first to admit that my disgust for the two U.S. political parties also extends to a disdain for the three/four [or so] political parties in Canada), there's been plenty of reference to the time of George Washington. But perhaps a better comparison would be to 1880s, which was equally mired in partisan squabbles and both parties' platforms left less than to be desired, considering the enormous problems they faced and flat-out ignored.

Read the entire article:

Bring Back the Mugwumps - The Atlantic (January/February 2010)

They say history is written by the winners, but in the United States, at least, that is not true. Losers like the Confederacy, the 1930s Communists, and the 1960s New Left have received good press. Winners like the great industrialists of the 19th century and the American conservative movement of the 1970s? Not so much.

Of all American history’s unloved winners, however, few have attained the unpopularity achieved by the 19th-century political reformers disfigured by the ludicrous label “Mugwumps.” So it may seem more than a little strange for me to suggest that they are exactly the group to whom American conservatives should turn for inspiration in the age of Obama.

The justification for my seemingly bizarre suggestion will take us pretty deep into many students’ least favorite chapter of American history: the four decades between the Civil War and the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt. Stick with me. The lights of contemporary relevance will switch on, one by one.

If you could visit a big political rally or convention in the 1880s, you’d discover a party system unexpectedly reminiscent of today’s. Then as now, partisanship was intense. Then as now, partisans lived in closed worlds. They read only the newspapers that confirmed their respective prejudices, lived in towns and neighborhoods that tilted overwhelmingly to one party or another, celebrated different sets of heroes, and disdained different villains.

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Old 01-16-2010, 08:23 PM   #2
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Thank you for posting this. My AP US History students just studied the Mugwumps. Guess what we'll be discussing in class next week?
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