Virtually extinct since the Civil War, the Modern Whig Party of America is planning a comeback to American politics and a Macomb Township man is leading the charge in Michigan.
On May 25, the Modern Whig Party appointed Gregory Schlitt, a 37-year-old Macomb Township resident, to serve as acting chairman of the party’s Michigan Chapter. This appointment makes Schlitt only the third chairman in the state committee’s history.
A member of the Modern Whig Party for just over a year, Schlitt said it was the party’s “very balanced approach” to issues that convinced him to take an active role in reviving the party that once counted Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay and William Henry Harrison among its members.
“Republicans and Democrats in and of themselves are not bad people, but it’s their inability to work together to find that common ground that is the problem,” Schlitt said. “We’re starting to get to a point where there are two extremes getting further away instead of closer together. The Whigs are trying to fill that gap.”
As the state party chairman, Schlitt said his short-term goal is simply to inform others that this third party, resigned to the history books for more than a century, is once again a viable political alternative.
'The What?' Spreading the word about Whigs
“We’re looking at basically trying to get active,” he said. “We want people out in the community being vocal, discussing these issues in every single county in the state. There are 83 counties. If I can get one person in each county to voice our position as the proper approach to governing here in the state, we can have a successful campaign and push it past November until the end of the year.”
With a few hundred people on the Modern Whig Michigan mailing list and many more showing interest, Schlitt said he believes he is on track to achieve his short-term goals.
Looking forward to the gubernatorial and legislative elections two years from now, Schlitt said he hopes to have at least a few Whig candidates in the running.
“In between there, I’d like to get a few people into local government,” he said. “We really need to focus on those entry-level positions. No one knows who we are and that’s our biggest struggle. We have a big history and kind of a weird name, but we have great principals and a platform that can be successful.”
Filling the partisan gap with common sense
For Schlitt, this winning platform is the Whig’s “common sense” approach to each and every issue and the party’s willingness to hear a variety of opinions and discuss them until the best solution comes to light.
“Instead of an ideology, we’re looking at what’s going to work,” Schlitt said. “If lowering taxes and cutting social programs is what it’s going to take to get the country straightened out, so be it, but those decisions need to be based on actual data, not just a theory.”
Be it the Modern Whigs, or another party, Schlitt said he firmly believes the fate of the country rests on the ability of some third party to fill the gap between Democrats and Republicans.
“If we don’t succeed, the government is going to continue to split further and further apart and we’ll go downhill faster than before. Even 20, 30 years ago the major parties could work together, but there is such a great divide driven by outside influences. The Tea Party, which isn’t a party but an advocacy group, is directing Republicans one direction. Occupy Wall Street is pulling the Democrats on the other side and there is nobody to fill the gap, so we drift apart and the ship sinks.”
For more information on the Modern Whig Party, Schlitt invites residents to visit the national website and explore the party's stance on issues such as health care, Second Amendment rights and job creation. Residents can also email him directly at Michigan@modernwhig.com.
“If you’re sitting watching TV, getting angry and turning the channel, that’s not helping anybody. Step up and do something. I think there are enough people who are disgusted with what’s going on that they will take a few hours once a week, maybe once a month, to start a conversation and get people thinking.”