Unit 3 US Political Parties Revision

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Political Parties
Difference between republicans and democrats
US parties are very decentralised and regional, therefore each party can vary enormously from state to state
Candidate­centred politics means that each candidate for election is fairly free to create their own political programme based on their own personal
views, who is financing them, and what pressures/issues are coming from constituents.
Parties are not united, they are made up of a range of different factions or groups.
Democrats Ideology:
· Support for full equal civil rights for all
· An acceptance of federal intervention (big government) in order to exercise economic control
· General sympathy for positive federal government measures to improve health, welfare, and housing provision to help the disadvantaged (e.g., reforming
healthcare for the 40 million Americans who do not have health insurance, and as many again who have insufficient insurance to cover the cost of
treatment for serious illness).
· Concern for the environment and an acceptance that government intervention is needed to curb climate change.
· Opposition to protectionism and an acceptance of the benefits of free trade (although Obama did say some protectionist measures might be required).
· Immigration reform (e.g., DREAM Act).
· Support for stiffer gun control laws but a general belief that the crime problem needs social as well as legal remedies.
· A stress on education as a key element in social order and prosperity
· A generally tolerant liberal attitude on moral issues (right to choose on abortion/gay marriage/support for stem cell research).
· In foreign policy an emphasis on co-operation with others (coalition-building) and diplomacy rather than military solutions, e.g., Obama was reluctant to
intervene in Libya.
· There is a battle within the Democrats between the Blue Dog Democrats ­ conservative independents and moderates (e.g., Bob Carey and Jim Webb), i.e.,
socially and morally conservative - and Liberals or internet left (e.g., MoveOn.org) who believe that only by presenting a clear alternative to the right will
the party galvanise supporters and attract floundering voters disillusioned with the Republicans.
· Note the fact that in recent years the trend has been towards increasingly ideological cohesion within each party.
Republicans Ideology:
Suspicion of federal power, preference for greater independence for the states (small government is best)
Opposition to high levels of taxation and public expenditure (support tax reductions), e.g., hostile to Obama's stimulus package and budget proposals.
Support for policies favourable to business and commerce and hostile to trade union rights.
Dislike of government-organised welfare, housing and health schemes, e.g., hostile to `Obamacare'.
Belief that individuals should be helped to support themselves rather than rely on the state
Strong defence of those parts of the Constitution that guarantee individual liberty, e.g., 2nd Amendment (right to bear arms). Hostile to Obama's attempts
at gun control.
Stress on firm policies on law and order

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Traditionally opposed to American involvement in foreign affairs outside the immediate vicinity of North America. However, 9/11 changed that and
there is now a strong emphasis on the War on Terror (and intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq). Interests of US must always come before coalition-building
with allies.
A conservative view on moral issues (majority are anti-abortion on demand, and opposed to gay marriage, e.g., opposed repeal of `don't ask, don't tell''
in the military) ­ `Conservatives of the heart'.
Most are opposed to affirmative action.…read more

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White working class men and white southerners have been defecting to the Republican Party in growing numbers since the `white backlash' of the
1970s, which followed the Civil Rights movement. However, Union members voted Democrat 58% in 2012.
Women. Voted Democrat 55% (44% Republican) in 2012. Typically women are attracted to Democrats because of activist (interventionist) government,
e..g, health and education, and opposed to use of force (less pro-gun than men and more for diplomatic rather than military solutions abroad).
Sexual minority voters.…read more

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­ however, this isn't the case. A
50-party system is consequence of federalism and where much of the party organisation and elections are state based, run under state laws by state officials
Reasons for the two party system:
1.The electoral system. First past the post, through the Electoral College, as in the UK, strengthens 2 main parties, discourages 3rd parties. Winner takes all.
Every President since 1856 has been a Republican or Democrat. Ross Perot gained 19% but no electoral college votes in 1992
2.…read more

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Temporary or transient. These spring up because of the differences of the 2 main parties and are often reabsorbed (e.g. 1968 American Independence Party).
These are often built around one charismatic individual (e.g. Ross Perot) and are often protest votes against the two big parties.…read more

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Parties have greater ideological cohesion, e.g., conservative white Democrats (especially in South) have now defected to the Republicans since Civil Rights
movement. Also there was a high level of unity and unprecedented levels of fundraising in the Democratic Party in 2008. You can argue that parties have
rediscovered their ideological identity and cohesion in recent years, i.e., there are clearer differences of opinion between the parties.
j) Various sections of the media (e.g., Fox News) have become very party-political.…read more

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Six for 06' agenda for the 2006 mid-terms.
The history so far of the Obama presidency ­ stimulus package, health care reform, increased regulation of the finance industry, support for gay rights and
women's rights.
The core of the party remains on the left, represented through the current congressional leadership, and through the `blogosphere', e.g.…read more

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