In response to Annette Summers’ letter (Getting Facts Straight), I want to point out that I never once referred to a political party by name. My use of the terms “conservative” and “liberal” were in reference to political viewpoints or practices that guided the actions of one party or another throughout our history, regardless of the name adopted by a particular party at the time.
I appreciate the fact that Ms. Summers took the time to do some research. However, if she had read beyond the name of the specific political party and looked at the philosophy or guiding principles behind it, she would have realized that Lincoln’s Republican Party was the liberal party at the time. The Democratic Party in the South (aka the Dixiecrats) was a very conservative wing of the Democratic Party and remained so until they switched their allegiance to the Republican Party, which had grown more and more conservative over time. As for Teddy Roosevelt, he was a progressive, and the party he represented significantly expanded the role of government in protecting the rights and health of the nation.
Regardless of the party’s name, Republican, Democratic, Federalist or Whig, the point I was making is that there is a significant difference in philosophy between conservatives and liberals, and throughout our history, the philosophy of each has impelled them toward very different ends. So, in the overall scheme of things, a party’s name does not have great significance, but the beliefs that propel it in one direction or another certainly do.