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Echos from the past: today's "Know Nothing Party"

The recent vitriolic editorials by Joe Schembri and David Felker clearly reflect the distorted views of today’s Trumpian Republican Party. Their diatribes remind me of the outcries of the fear mongering ideological nativist party of the mid-1850s, the “Know Nothings.”

The Know Nothing Party was a nativist political movement which emerged in this country in the early 1850s. Officially it was first known as the Nativist American Party before 1855 and later became known as the “American Party” – echoes of the Trumpian slogan “Make America Great.”

The ideological foundation of this party was based on: American nativism, anti-immigration sentiment, populism, Protestantism and Republicanism. In the South, the party served as an effective vehicle for politicians who opposed Democrats.In the 1856 election, the party supported the re-election of the former President Millard Fillmore, who subsequently lost to James Buchanan.

To quote a news article from that time: “The recent election has developed in an aggravated form every evil against which the American Party has protested. Foreign allies have decided the government of the country-men naturalized in thousands on the eve of the election…” (Echoes of the unsupported claims of “election fraud” by Trump and his cohorts following the 2020 election loss.)

The Know Nothings scapegoated foreigners and Catholics as evil intruders in America’s political affairs. These echoes from the past reverberate in the fear mongering, nativist rhetorical misinformation of today’s Trumpian Republican party minions.

In Schembri’s article, he similarly attacks Democrats as “supporting a party that shows every allegiance to Communist and Muslim terrorists…” He continues to cite the unfounded trope of “blatant election fraud” and blames the “Antifa thugs” and “FBI Operatives” for fomenting the violent Capital insurrection of Jan. 6. This begs the question: what planet does Schembri reside on?

Meanwhile, David Felker recites a litany of falsehoods against Democrats, such as: “Democrats believe society is responsible for crime, rather than holding criminals responsible; Democrats believe that living on increasing amounts of debt is desirable and sustainable.”

Felker seems to forget that the federal government, under the Trump administration, raised the nation’s deficit by over 8 trillion dollars. The highest increase of any single administration in the entire history of our country. One could go on and on, ad nauseam, citing the distorted misinformation spewed by Felker and Schembril.

In closing, it should be noted that the Know Nothing Party lasted only a couple of years and ultimately merged into the Republican Party. Today’s Trumpian Republicans echo the nativist, populist, fear mongering roots of their ancestors.

It appears that the current Republican party has become today’s “Know Nothing Party.” To date they haven’t the ability to effectively manage the federal government, or even their own party.

Michael Popovich


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