Saturday, August 16, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: the Republican Party

In 1854, a group of people met in a little white schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. They were members of political parties such as the Whigs and the Free Soil Party, as well as some disaffected Democrats. These people were united in their opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and thus would have allowed for the possibility of new states joining the United States to do so with legalized slavery.

The people meeting there in Ripon, Wisconsin decided to dissolve the Whig and Free Soil Parties in order to band together in a new party, which they termed the Republican Party. 

Anti-Slavery remained one of its primary causes as the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, was elected in 1860. 

The Republican Party today is equated with Conservatism, but that wasn't always so. Indeed,  abolitionism was the "liberal" position, while continuing to allow slavery was the "conservative" position.

The Republican Party historically had a strong current within it of Progressivism, emblematic of which was the
Wisconsin native Robert La Follette, Governor of Wisconsin and then Senator from 1906 to 1925. La Follette was a champion of Women's Suffrage, Labor Unions, progressive taxation, and a minimum wage. He has been called one of the ten greatest senators in the history of the Senate. 

The current Republican governor of my home state of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, is, according to my research, the first Wisconsin governor ever elected to not have a college degree. He undid the collective bargaining rights of unions,  something La Follette supported. 

Wisconsin has every right to be proud that something as historically and politically significant as the Republican Party was founded on her soil. And Wisconsinites of various political persuasions have every right to continue working, within that party or others, to further the progressive ideals that have set Wisconsin apart.

Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.

Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 

Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.