How an Outsider President Killed a Party

Source: Politico | June 2, 2016 | Gil Troy

The Whigs chose power over principles when they nominated Zachary Taylor in 1848. The party never recovered.

t was summer, and a major U.S. political party had just chosen an inexperienced, unqualified, loutish, wealthy outsider with ambiguous party loyalties to be its presidential nominee. Some party luminaries thought he would help them win the general election. But many of the faithful were furious and mystified: How could their party compromise its ideals to such a degree?

Sound like 2016? This happened a century and a half ago.

Many have called Donald Trump’s unexpected takeover of a major political party unprecedented; but it’s not. A similar scenario unfolded in 1848, when General Zachary Taylor, a roughhewn career soldier who had never even voted in a presidential election, conquered the Whig Party.

A look back at what happened that year is eye-opening—and offers warnings for those on both sides of the aisle. Democrats quick to dismiss Trump should beware: Taylor parlayed his outsider appeal to defeat Lewis Cass, an experienced former Cabinet secretary and senator. But Republicans should beware, too: Taylor is often ranked as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history—and, more seriously, the Whig Party never recovered from his victory. In fact, just a few years after Taylor was elected under the Whig banner, the party dissolved—undermined by the divisions that caused Taylor’s nomination in the first place, and also by the loss of faith that followed it.


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  • Consistent #6698

    slhancock1948 #6701

    What goes around comes around. We are witnessing first hand the destruction of the republican party and to be honest, there is no way to redeem it. Look at the leaders. Those who continue to insist that we change it from the inside are totally deluded. It has not been working over the past century since Calvin Coolidge, really. Reagan was a great president, but his hands were tied by this very party of power-seeking, unprincipled men. We are not going to change them and they are in power, so we need to win by forming a conservative party and offering ONLY conservative candidates, who are principled and disciplined to stay that way. They have to be able to act without the constraints of the powerful people in the party who try to destroy them. It’s long overdue. This is the time to stand on our own and form a better way, with God’s help!

    Pray for righteousness to be restored and for the peace of Jerusalem

    ConstitutionalConservative #6706

    I think the only saving grace the republican party had going for it was the Tea Party and that has been all but decimated, you rarely hear about it anymore except in context of the past when referencing how someone got elected to office. It was already floundering when Trump came along he further divided it. Anyway I believe a new party will emerge from the ashes of the GOP but it must do so very quickly and absent any GOPe control or influence; there is no time to ponder.

    As for the Tea Party it “could have been a contender” but it opted to retreat from the street where it was getting much needed attention (despite media efforts to temper the excitement) and went into stealth mode working behind the scene to repair the GOP, it was victimized by out of sight out of mind. There were many other reasons as well like it was wide open to sabotage and had no real leadership lending itself to uncontested abuse by some political profiteers and usurpers.

    A successful party doesn’t need a big tent it only needs a solid foundation. Perhaps it could still be resurrected as it does have a workable sturdy blueprint but the framework materials were haphazard, cheap, lacking direction and singularity of purpose with varied factions.

    That’s just what I think, an opinion not based on direct knowledge but purely on observation; if some would call it mostly non-sense then so be it. I would still like to hear why these conclusions are all wet so I might be motivated to reflect and refocus my perspective.

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