I had just made this point on Facebook about a day before they eliminated the Discussion Boards. I thought I would post it here since it got deleted there. Besides I think I will get a much better response here. A frequent thing that seems to come up in political debates and discussions is the political views of the founding fathers: would they be Democrats or Republicans in the modern era? It seems that the answer to this question lends credibility to the argument that anyone tends to make. I would like to address this in detail. The first thing we must do is to define the founding fathers. Historians have different definitions of this term. Some include anyone who did something that dramatically and irrevocably altered the path of the United States. By this definition one might include Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, or even Franklin Roosevelt. I tend to view this as far too broad as those people had nothing to do with the actual founding of the nation. Other historians include any signatory of the Constitution (USC) or Declaration of Independence (DI) and those who did something significant in order to gain independence or structure the nation. According to this definition (which is what I generally endorse) you see people like Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, or Abigail Adams. Still others only accept those who signed the USC or DI or participated in the Continental Congresses or Constitutional Conventions. Even with this narrower definition we are still looking at the monumental task of getting inside the heads of well over 250 men who lived 250 years ago. Fortunately, we can narrow it down even further. This is because those men had a strong tendency to coalesce behind a very few individuals whose opinions, insights, and leadership were really the driving force behind achieving the goals of independence and establishing the structure and philosophy by which the United States would operate. We will call them the super eight. Those men are: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, and James Monroe. Now the first seven stand without debate, but the inclusion of Monroe would require some justification. Doing so thoroughly would take several pages of arguments which I will skip except to say that I have included him because he was a contributing member of both the Constitutional Convention, Virginia House of Delegates which was crucial in regards to the ratification of the USC, and as the 5th POTUS he was instrumental in establishing the course of the nation after the first four presidents dealt more with ensuring the survival of the new republic. Now that we have them defined we need to define the political spectrum of their times. While there was no right or left in the 1700s there was most certainly some extreme partisanship between what would eventually be called the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans (DR). Note that the term Democratic-Republican is a modern term historians use to distinguish between the Democratic Party that would eventually arise from a vicious dispute between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and the Republican Party that arose around Lincoln. At the time, they referred to themselves as Republicans but have no direct line of descendancy to the modern Republican Party. Like today these men did not always agree on everything even within a given political label. There were those that were very hardcore and those that were far more moderate. The following is where each of those men stood in terms of political extremity from Federalist to DR: Hamilton* Jay Adams Washington Franklin Monroe Madison - Jefferson Now we have two questions to ask: 1) Where was the political center in the 1700s? and 2) what is the direction on the spectrum from left to right in regards to Federalists and DRs? The answer to the first question is very easily answered. Washington was the political center .the exact center may be JUST SLIGHTLY to the right of Washington as he tended to favor the Federalists more than the DRs but not by much. Indeed, Washington was an Independent who refused to affiliate himself with either side and he spoke strongly against the formal development of ANY political party. His policies and views on government; however, had a SLIGHT Federalist lean. The answer to the second question gets a little trickier. What would be Jefferson or Jays position on abortion, for example? To some degree it could be argued that the answer would depend on the time frame. If abortion (as we know it today) was a common institution in 1770 one can see Jefferson opposing it because in those days people needed large families. They relied on their sons to help work the farm or operate their business. They relied on their daughters to help maintain the home and do light gardening. Children were absolutely vital in regard to maintaining property and in turn contributing to the community. As such Jefferson would likely see abortion as an economic disaster that hindered societys ability to survive and thrive. As such he would probably oppose it. Now if Jefferson was alive in 2011, he would likely notice that a large family is not vital in maintaining property and prosperity and in fact can be an economic hindrance. Given Jeffersons staunch belief in states rights, a strong argument could be made that today he would say that abortion should be left to the states to determine for themselves. So in regards to questions like abortion, just as an example, we have to concede that we really cant say WHAT they would think with any overwhelming degree of certainty, and again it also depends on the context of time (1770 vs. 2011). We CAN; however, look at their positions on other moral issues to gain some insight. If we consider slavery, for example, and limit it to a moral question (ignoring the economic arguments for or against slavery) we begin to realize that ALL of these men were opposed to slavery strictly on moral grounds. While many of them owned slaves, their support of slavery was economic in nature. Jefferson described it as holding a snake by the head. Its the last thing you want to do but you dont dare let it go. If we equate the moral question of slavery to the moral question of abortion, the evidence would suggest that all of them would likely be pro-life and the Federalist side (which was tenaciously against slavery) would be HEAVILY pro-life. Now again this is just one example of a multitude of social issues that didnt exist at the time and upon which I am simply relying on their other views to well take an educated guess. The reality is we really dont know how they would feel. What we CAN look at and draw a very specific alignment from; however, is each sides positions on taxation, the size of government, the scope of government, and the power balance between the federal government and the states. The Federalists, as their name would imply, favored a larger and stronger central government, heavier levels of taxation, higher levels of federal control over a greater number of issues, and the balance of power to favor the federal government over the states. The DRs were just the opposite in every degree. Given this we can very safely set the modern day left to coincide with the Federalists, and the modern day right to coincide with the Democratic-Republicans. This alignment is further backed up by each partys positions on free trade, the foreign relations, the role of the military, interstate commerce, etc. As such we can VERY confidently put the DRs cleanly in the camp of modern day Republicans. But we have one further question to answer: has the political center shifted since the 18th century? Just because Adams, for example, was a Federalist back then and we have established that Federalists were on the left in the 18th century, has the political center shifted to such a degree that Adams would be a Republican today, regardless of his disagreements with the DRs? The short answer is theres absolutely no question about it. The political center has shifted left to the degree that the spectrum I posted above would go from Washington as the political center to Jay as the political center and he would land just SLIGHTLY right of center in todays climate. The reason why is a question of degrees. While its true that the Federalists favored stronger central government, a more expansive central government, higher levels of taxation, etc, never in a million years did they intend for the federal government to have THIS MUCH power and influence on the lives of the citizens. Indeed Jay and Adams flipped a bitch when they were asked if they favored extending voting rights to those who didnt pay taxes or own property. They were against taxation without representation but they were equally against representation without taxation. Dealing with the poor was, in their opinion, an issue for the state and the church and for the DRs, an issue for the individual communities to worry about. In fact Adams commented next you will want voting rights for the town drunk. The entitlement culture regarding social security, welfare, Obamacare, etc .the Federalists would have an absolute conniption fit and the DRs would flat out have a coronary and drop dead. In regards to tax money going to assist illegal immigrants even the Federalists would have an absolute, 100% heart attack. They favored a larger and more powerful government ONLY to the degree that was necessary to maintain the security of the nation, enhance foreign trade, and moderate disputes between the states. That was ALL. By contrast, the DRs felt that, with the exception of national security, it was all up to the states to figure out for themselves. When one understands this they begin to see VERY clearly that in todays climate, the Federalists have far more in common with the Republican Party, while the Democratic-Republicans have far more in common with the Tea Party. Now I have to explain the asterisk in regards to Alexander Hamilton. All the other men may have disagreed upon the best way for the United States to be structured, how power should be balanced, etc but ALL of them had the desire for the nation to grow, firmly establish itself, and proceed as a republic. Initially, Hamilton may have had the same motivation as well but very quickly his motivation changed. He really wanted some extreme levels of taxation and federal power, even the degrees of which we see today, NOT because he necessarily thought it was best for the people but because it was best for HIM. It was Hamiltons intention to build an economy that was highly subservient to the federal government and backed up by a powerful military that would protect our trading ships AND enforce taxation and policy within the United States. Now why this is important is because HE was the Secretary of the Treasury and he fully intended to be the top commander in the military. In such a scenario the office of the presidency and congress would become dependent upon HIM (they would essentially be his puppets) and HE would control government. His failure to accomplish that, because Adams had the audacity to actually think he was in charge, is precisely why Adams only served one term. When it became clear that Adams was not going to allow Hamilton to take over, Hamilton launched a VICIOUS political attack (strongly supplemented by Jefferson) that destroyed Adams. Adams was essentially getting hammered by both sides. So while Hamilton endorsed a government system that is most in line with todays Democratic Party, its not because he felt that was the best thing for America. Its because that was his key to dominating and controlling government and through it becoming, essentially a dictator who operated a figurehead government. Suggestions that the founding fathers would be modern day Democrats can only be explained by ignorance of history, misunderstanding of the views of the founders, or propaganda from the left. And we see this propaganda all the time. On the Jefferson Memorial, for example, the quotes inscribed are misquotes or partial quotes, or taken out of context. They are inscribed that way because it was an effort to suggest that Jefferson would have supported the New Deal. Pfft good bloody luck. Jefferson just might have organized another rebellion had he been alive to see THAT one. But while there may be an occasional issue here or there that the founders might have looked at and said yeah on this one we would agree with the Democrats, as a whole, considering the collective political philosophy of each party, theres simply ZERO CHANCE that they would endorse a modern liberal view of government.