In 1787, when our Constitution was debated and written by the delegates of the thirteen original states, and subsequently ratified by the state legislatures, it was agreed that The United States would be a Federation of sovereign states, with a [Republic] Republican form of Government.
At the time when The Constitution was being debated, there were two primary groups: One was The Federalists, who, at the time, were more like Nationalists, who believed in a powerful top down sort of Central Government, and The Anti-Federalists, who, had several reservations to the new Constitution, and strongly believed in the sovereignty of the states. In fact, it was the anti-Federalists who we can thank for our treasured Bill of Rights; as the anti-Federalists would not sign onto the new Constitution unless a Bill of Rights was guaranteed.
Sadly, after only a few short years of The U.S. Constitution being ratified, factions were already forming, as The Federalists, despite entering into a (Constitutional) contract with the rest of the states, began putting forth legislation that was an obvious abridgment to the sovereignty of the states, and well exceeded the Limited Powers given to The Federal Government.
Thomas Jefferson (anti-Federalist), who was George Washington’s Secretary of State, was often at odds with Alexander Hamilton (Federalist), Washington’s Treasury Secretary, in regards to many of Hamilton’s proposals. Most notably, The First National Bank of The United States.
Hamilton, eventually, made the first move, and formed the first national party, in post Constitutional America, called The Federalist Party. And, a year later, Jefferson and Madison formed The Democrat-Republican Party.
In fact, in Jefferson’s later years, in the early 1820’s, he wrote these very insightful words, after The Federalist Party had gone extinct during The War of 1812:
“An opinion prevails that there is no longer any distinction, that The Republicans and Federalists are completely amalgamated but it is not so. The amalgamation is of name only, not of principle. All indeed call themselves by the name of Republicans, because that of Federalists was extinguished in the battle of New Orleans. But the truth is that finding that monarchy is a desperate wish in this country, they rally to the point which they think next best, a consolidated government. Their aim is now therefore to break down the rights reserved by the constitution to the states as a bulwark against that consolidation, the fear of which produced the whole of the opposition to the constitution at its birth. Hence new Republicans in Congress, preaching the doctrines of the old Federalists, and the new nick-names of Ultras and Radicals. But I trust they will fail under the new, as the old name, and that the friends of the real constitution and union will prevail against consolidation, as they have done against monarchism. I scarcely know myself which is most to be deprecated, a consolidation, or dissolution of the states. The horrors of both are beyond the reach of human foresight.”
Certainly, over the years, there has been certain Presidents or Parties, who have been more friendly to Federalism and our Tenth Amendment; but, for the most part, and especially over the last few decades, we have seen an enormous growth in our Federal Government, and a shrinking sovereignty of our respective states. This is why I say, it is no longer about Republicans versus Democrats, but, rather, Federalism versus Nationalism – a battle that has been going on since the days of our Founding, and continues today.
In fact, not only was the amalgamation of Republicans, in the early 1820’s, in ‘Name Only,’ as Jefferson pointed out, but, I also believe that is the same for this modern Conservative amalgamation. Sure, we may call ourselves by the name of Conservatives and Republicans, but, in the end, it comes down to BIG GOVERNMENT versus Limited Government; and, Federalism versus Nationalism.
Not only did the 13 original states agree on a Limited Federal Government, to which Congress was given explicit Enumerated Powers, but, in my humble opinion, and with the unbelievable failures of our modern Federal Government – states’ rights, and a return to our original Federalist system, under our original Constitution, is becoming more imperative by the day!
Political parties are a smoke screen