Letter: Column doesn't reflect changing times

Posted

Editor of the Reformer,

In her commentary of Sept. 30 ("Telling it like it is"), (Vermont GOP chairwoman) Deb Billado misrepresents history. The ongoing trope of equating the Republican Party with Abraham Lincoln fails to recognize how the party evolved over these 150 or so years.

From its inception, the Republican Party was always the party of industry. In the 1860s this positioned the party to be the anti-slavery party, as the Democrats were more representative of southern agriculture, which depended on slaves. By the early 1900s, however, industry had become corporatized, and the party of industry became the party of corporations, monopolies, and robber barons. In the election of 1910 the Republican Party split, as Teddy Roosevelt challenged Taft with a progressive agenda that put the rights of workers above the rights of corporations. Roosevelt was forced out of the Republican Party and the Republicans became more entrenched than ever in the conservation of corporate power.

The Democratic Party also evolved with time, and its 1960s embrace of the civil rights movement changed the identity of the Democrats, as many classic Southern Democrats became Republicans. So at several times in history, these parties have evolved, far from the historical identities that are sometimes touted. What matters is who these parties are today, not their origins that are barely recognizable. Times change.

Eric Bass

Putney, Oct. 1

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