How did the Dems become the liberal party?
April 25, 2006 8:10 PM Subscribe
[AmericanHistoryFilter] How did the Democratic Party go from being the conservative party to being the liberal party?
posted by alidarbac to Law & Government (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I just finished reading Robert Caro's Master of the Senate, the third volume of his biography on LBJ (IMHO, a bit of a let-down compared to the first two volumes), and one of the things I was struck by was how the Democratic Party in the 1950s seemed to be composed of people from both the far-left and far-right. What was a fire-breathing, civil-rights-supporting, bleeding-heart liberal like Hubert Humphrey doing in the same party as a deeply reactionary segregationist like Strom Thurmond?
From what I can recall from high school American history, around the period of the Civil War, the Republicans were the "liberal" party and the Democrats were the "conservative" party. Moreover, it was misgivings over the Civil War that kept conservative southerners in the Democratic party until the Reagan presidency.
So when did liberals start switching over from the GOP to the Dems? And, more importantly, why? Why didn't liberals just stay in the GOP? What was the point of joining the Democratic Party in the early 20th century, if the values of half of the members were completely different from yours?