Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Returning to the GOP's Roots in "Free Labor" Ideology

My impression is that most people think that the Republican party's "radical" ideology from around the time of the Civil War was ultimately lost as the party became more conservative.

I don't think that's the case, though. The GOP's anti-slavery stance came out of a more general commitment to a "free labor" ideology.

Now, "free labor" doesn't mean costless labor. It means instead that workers should be free to keep the fruits of their own work. The GOP's "free labor" ideology is the exact opposite of "slavery," because slaves are people who have no right to keep any part of the fruit of their labor.

But, of course, "free labor" doesn't stand only against slavery. It stands for the proposition that there should be a presumption that workers should get to keep the fruit of their labor unless there is a solid public-policy rationale for the government to tax it away to provide for the general welfare, or to regulate it for the same purpose.

I think this kernel of GOP ideology still resonates with Americans, and can serve as a source for renewal of the GOP today if recovered by the party.


Post a Comment

<< Home