Gilded Age Politics GILDED AGE POLITICS Gilded Age- a time period in American history marked by rampant greed, corruption, exploitation, and inequality in American society, business, and government.
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On questions of the currency, regulation of big business, farm problems, civil service reform, internal improvements, and immigration, the parties differed very little.
The parties themselves comprised vast coalitions. In a country so large and diverse, James Madison had long ago argued in The Federalist No. 10, no one group, no one region, no one idea, no one interest could hope to constitute a majority.
Such a situation would preserve liberty, he asserted.
Any party with an expectation of governing had to include a variety of groups, interests, and ideas. The process was not unknown to European parliaments.
No president between Lincoln and TR could be described as a “strong” president.
None seriously challenged the prevailing view that the formulation of policy belonged to Congress.
The function of the Presidency according to these presidents was simply to administer the government.
The ideal presidential candidate displayed an affable personality, a willingness to cooperate with the bosses, and an ability to win votes from various factions; resided in a pivotal state; and boasted a good war record. He had no views that might alienate powerful voting blocs, and few or no political enemies.
The VP candidate was chosen to balance the ticket, improve the parties chances in a key state, or to placate a disappointed faction.
An alliance between big business and politics characterized the period. This alliance was not necessarily corrupt since many a politician favored the interests of business out of conviction. Nor was the public so sensitive to conflicts of interest as it would be later.
In a time of political futility in which the parties refused to confront “real issues” as the growth of an unregulated economy and its attendant social injustices, it was nonetheless clear that the voters at the time thought more was at stake.