Why does Zinn assert that despite party differences among Federalist and Democratic Republicans they were both fundamentally similar?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For Zinn, the differences between both the Federalist and the Democratic- Republicans were cosmetic.  Both parties were not actively involved in the enlargement of wealth to more people or increasing voices of previously silenced groups into the American narrative.  The emergence of the political parties was something that Zinn perceived to be a condition in which there was more entrenchment of political, economic, and social interests.  Both parties were committed to keeping "outsiders" out and "insiders" in. It is in this regard where Zinn argues that the formation of America was done through a "kind of revolution."  "Strict class hierarchies" still existed and neither party did much to change such a notion.

For Zinn, the discussion of a national bank or strict vs. loose interpretation of the Constitution failed to embrace any real notion of change.  Regardless of who won office, class hierarchies were going to exist, people were going to be locked out of substantive change, and the party that ended up ruling was going to be enhance their own notion of power through patronage and exclusion.  Zinn recognizes the establishment of political parties as nothing more than putting a mask on the exclusive reality that helped to develop American identity.

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