1854 & 2016 – Déjà vu all over again?

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There is no way for America’s economy to perform optimally without policy changes in Washington.  Until we create good-paying jobs again voters will remain frustrated and angry.

With the current gridlock and distrust in DC, changes are very unlikely.  Since America can only be governed by a consensus of the people, it is imperative that we break the gridlock in DC for the sake of our economy, job creation and international standing.

In 1854, Whigs and Democrats were gridlocked much as our political process is today and the needs of the nation went untended. This opened the way for a grassroots, original third party that quickly attracted national attention. These Republicans’ platform addressed the unmet needs of the citizens and they went on to victory, dominating for decades.

At the time the U.S. was still recovering from the panic of 1846/47. The economy was in shambles. The average life span of a bank was five years; there was no uniform national currency; American industrialists were being driven out of business by the British; land speculation was rife, resulting in unaffordable prices, while immigrants piled up in East Coast slums; farmers lacked transportation to get their crops to market; and the West – today’s Midwest – was short of technical infrastructure. A political party able to address these woes would gain a huge electoral base.

The new Republican’s platform included the Homestead Act, Morill Act (land-grant colleges), support for transcontinental railroad, financial reform, creation of the “greenback” and, significantly, tariffs.  These were the basis of America’s extraordinary economic growth over the next half century. By 1913 the United States was the world’s foremost economic power, the source of many key inventions, and the creator of entirely new industries. It had welcomed over thirty million immigrants, providing them with land, jobs and education.

Lincoln made good on a campaign promise when he signed the 1861 Tariff Act which stopped an overreliance on imports.  This unleashed 50 years of innovation, jobs and economic expansion never seen before.  Today Trump and Sanders are suggesting that we balance our trade with foreign nations for the very same reasons.

The rise of the Republican Party in 1854 was really political realignment on the “right.”  The Whigs, like today’s “Washington Cartel,” were focused on the financial elites and the banks and failed to address the needs of everyday Americans. This caused an uprising from the center which resulted in the birth of the Republican Party.  Like-minded people of all political stripes were invited to join a new party with a platform focused on the needs of ordinary citizens.

Could it be that we are about to experience another political realignment?  Today’s phenomenon of “The Donald” and “The Bernie” looks familiar and promises to address current needs of main street Americans.  Americans are supporting two gentlemen who share only one thing – they both believe America is adrift economically and our trade policy is the reason.  Neither one misses an opportunity to remind people that bad trade deals have devastated the American middle class and shipped millions of good-paying jobs to foreign nations eager to have them.

We can be sure that voter discontent and disdain for the “Washington Cartel” will continue until our economy performs better and manufacturing jobs return to America.  The Republicans of 1854 succeeded because they focused on the interests of the general population rather than those of financial elites and influential power brokers. They were, in that respect, a truly representative government of all people at a critical time for the nation.

Will the 2016 election bring about another political realignment resulting in another American renaissance?    If you add up the support for political outsiders: Carson, Fiorina, Sanders and Trump they lead by a huge margin. So far, “Washington Cartel” candidates are trailing badly in the polls. It promises to get very interesting.

Will Washington change and become a representative of all the people or will the voters fire them one by one starting with the Presidency?  Remember how the people fired Eric Cantor because of his close ties to Wall Street while ignoring his constituency?  That was the shot across the bow.

The 2016 election could be the beginning of another political realignment.

Frank ShannonFrank Shannon served in the U.S. Army, was an engineering/operations manager for AT&T for 27 years, was the owner of a small manufacturing business for 23 years, served as Colorado Chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and moved to Mesquite in 2013.

Born in Poland, Jacek Popiel was educated in Africa, Canada, and Botanic Garden_Jacekthe United States. He speaks five languages. His career spans military and international business development in the Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Europe, North America, and Japan. He is currently a freelance writer and political consultant. His book “Viable Energy Now,” grew out of his military and international business experience and his professional involvement with energy issues.

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