It's always been a big gov'ment party. It's only when paleo conservatives, libertarians, etc wriggle in that we find interest in liberty of any sort.
Originally Posted by georgiaboy
Even mainstream economist Jeffrey Frankel has recently noted (in the Milken Institute Review) that the "Republicans have become the party of fiscal irresponsibility, trade restriction, big government, and failing-grade microeconomics."However, there has not been a sudden sea change in party platforms and the rampant fiscal irresponsibility of the Republicans is not a mystery; they are merely returning to their historical roots. The Republican Party was established as a party of big government and economic intervention. Their reputation as a party of limited government is of more recent vintage and stands on a flimsy foundation.
The Republican Party that emerged in the 1850s was an amalgamation of historical influences, third parties, and interest groups. One group that entered the Republican Party was the Free Soil Party, whose primary platform was free land and subsidies for farmers. In contrast, most Democrats favored selling off the public lands to finance government expenditures, keep tariff rates low, and prevent deficit spending.Also joining the Republican Party in the 1850s were supporters of the Know Nothing Party. The Know Nothings were most concerned about immigrants coming into the country, competing against labor, and suppressing wages. They favored restrictive immigration and protective tariffs to keep wages high, while Democrats supported both immigration and free trade.The Whig Party formed the core of the Republican Party with its economic platform consisting of protectionism for industry, a national bank and currency, a large national debt, and a larger federal government engaged in extensive public works.Also joining the Republican ranks were the Prohibitionists and the Abolitionists. Members of the Republican Party generally shared an opposition to slavery and advocated policies of containment and colonization.The ambitious economic agenda of the Republican Party had its roots in the economic platforms of Federalist icon Alexander Hamilton and Whig leader Henry Clay. They advocated protective tariffs for industry, a national bank, and plenty of public works and patronage. The flurry of new laws, regulations, and bureaucracies created by Lincoln and the Republican Party during the early 1860s foreshadowed Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" for the volume, scope and questionable constitutionality of its legislative output.