The Democratic Party and the endeavor of writing American history have a problem in common.
In a recent article, "Reconsidering Bush's Ancestors," published in the New York Times Magazine, [Sean] Wilentz makes explicit the implicit politics of his historical interpretation. Reading history backward, he defines today's Republicans as the direct descendants of the now long-forgotten Whig Party of the 1830s and 1840s. The alternative to the Democrats in the years before the Civil War and the creation of the Republican Party, the Whigs—like today's GOP—clashed sharply with the Democrats on both the size of government and the shape of American foreign policy. For Wilentz, "the blend of businessmen's aversion to government regulation, down-home cultural populism and Christian moralism that sustains today's" Bush Republicans is but a continuation of the political formulas first laid out by the Whigs.