This set of observations doesn’t seem to match anybody else’s thinking. While change happens every day, we seem to undergo a major shift at very broad intervals. The interval, in terms of our Federal government seems to be every 72 years. This is just long enough that almost all direct memory of the previous shift has gone to the grave. What I propose here is to briefly outline these shifts as noted by presidential elections, then describe the resulting governments.
Seventy-two years is also 14 presidential elections. For us this means 1788 (Washington), 1860 (Lincoln), 1932 (Franklin Roosevelt), then 2008 (Obama). The last one seems four years late, which I attribute to the unsettling effect of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Nature of the Shifts
Before looking at each shift, I want to point out that each shift also resulted in a change in terminology. We went from a Federation to a Republic, to a Democracy, then to the Progressives. Strangely enough each referred to itself as an example of the earlier stage and governed under principals of the next,
1788 -1860 was the Federal Era. People spoke of a federation, and referred to ‘these states are’. But during much of the period we were evolving from a federation to a national republic.
1860-1932 might be spoken of as the Republican Era. But once again we sent most of the era evolving from a national republic into a democracy. By the time of FDR the transition was completed.
1932-2008 is usually spoken of as the Democratic Era, but we spent much of it evolving from a Democracy into the ‘Nanny State’ of the progressives.
2008-? So far is called the progressive era, at least by many congress critters. We don’t know yet how it will turn out, but most features so far seem to be communistic. What this really means is subject matter for many more discussions….