Factions in the Republican Party (United States)

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Like most major parties within two-party systems, the Republican Party of the United States includes diversity on social and political-economic ideology, being composed of several factions.[1] This article describes the current situation as regards Republican Party factions. For information on historical factions, see History of the Republican Party (United States).

Conservative wing[edit]

The conservative[2] tradition in the Republican Party features opposition to labor unions, high taxes, and government regulation.

In economic policy, conservatives call for a large reduction in government spending, personalized accounts for Social Security, free trade, and less regulation of the economy. Supporters of supply-side economics predominate; but there are deficit hawks within the faction as well. Before 1930, the Northeastern pro-manufacturing faction of the GOP was strongly committed to high tariffs, but since 1945 it has been more supportive of free-market principles and treaties for open trade.[3] The Conservative wing supports social conservatism (often termed family values) and pro-life positions.[4]

Conservatives generally oppose affirmative action, arguing that it too often turns into quotas. They tend to support a strong military and are opposed to gun control. They oppose illegal immigration and support stronger law enforcement, often disagreeing with strict libertarians. On the issue of school vouchers, conservative Republicans split between supporters, who believe that "big government education" is a failure, and opponents, who fear greater government control over private and church schools. Parts of the conservative wing have been criticized for being anti-environmentalist[5][6][7] and promoting climate change denial[8][9][10] in opposition to the general scientific consensus, making them unique even among other worldwide conservative parties.[10] These environmental positions have become more extreme since 2008, according to the New York Times.[11]

Christian right[edit]

The Republicans with religious right or Christian right ideals are strong conservatives on social policy. The National Federation of Republican Assemblies is a religious right organization that operates as a faction of the Republican Party. The Christian Coalition is a religious right activist organization considered allied with the party.

Traditionalists/paleoconservatives[edit]

The members of the traditionalist or paleoconservative wing generally hold views favorable to business and a strong national defense. They favor cultural traditions and old-fashioned teaching methods, to inculcate values, and show little love for big government or big business.[12]

Paleoconservatives tend towards both social and cultural conservatism, favoring gun rights, states' rights and constitutionalism, while opposing abortion, affirmative action, and same-sex marriage. They tend towards mistrust of modern political ideologies and statecraft, which they call the managerial state,[13] and tend to be critical of multiculturalism, generally favoring tight restrictions on legal immigration. They tend to be economically nationalist, favoring a protectionist policy on international trade.

In foreign affairs they are usually non-interventionist. Paleoconservatives have criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and neoconservatism, which many paleoconservatives believe has damaged the GOP.

Paleoconservatives are not strongly represented in the political sphere, with the possible exception of 45th President Donald Trump, but are most visible in publications, including Modern Age, Humanitas, the University Bookman, The Intercollegiate Review, and Touchstone Magazine.

Neoconservatives[edit]

Neoconservatives differ from paleoconservatives in that they promote an interventionist foreign policy to promote democracy and are more moderate on fiscal issues. They were the strongest supporters of the Iraq War. Many 'neocons' were in earlier days identified as liberals or were affiliated with the Democrats. Neoconservatives have been credited with importing into the Republican party a more active international policy. Neoconservatives are willing to act unilaterally when they believe it serves a moral position to do so, such as the spread of democracy.[14][15]

Moderate wing[edit]

Moderates within the GOP, historically referred to as "Rockefeller Republicans", now often called "Main Street Republicans" or "Business Conservatives",[1] and by their conservative Republican critics, "Republican In Name Only," or "RINO,"[16] tend towards being conservative to moderate on fiscal issues, and moderate to liberal on social issues.

While they sometimes share the economic views of other Republicans – e.g., balanced budgets, lower taxes, free trade, deregulation, welfare reform – moderate Republicans differ in that some are for affirmative action,[17] same-sex marriage and gay adoption, legal access to and even funding for abortion, gun control laws, more environmental regulation and anti-climate change measures, fewer restrictions on legal immigration, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and more relaxed enforcement of illegal immigration and support for "sanctuary cities", and for some, abolition of the death penalty, civil rights laws, embryonic stem cell research, in a few cases anti-war policies, supporting access to medical cannabis or any of the above.

Concerning foreign policy, some moderates may be less interventionist than neoconservatives and place greater value on multilateral institutions. Moderate Republicans can overlap with the neoconservative wing more often than the other wings of the party.

Libertarian wing[edit]

The libertarian wing of the Republican Party, a relatively small faction,[1][18] emphasizes free markets, minimal social controls, and a constitutional republic for government structure. They seek to reduce government social spending, regulation, and taxes. They favor gay rights, and are split on abortion. They oppose gun control as counter-productive and favor free speech.

Libertarians are fiscal conservatives, seeking to reduce taxes, spending, regulation, and the national debt. They favor privatization of government activities such as toll roads and airports. Many support a flat tax (one rate for all) or the Fair Tax. They also support free international trade, and they tend to support reforms to make legal immigration easier. They tend to be more critical of the Federal Reserve and of military spending than any other faction.

On social issues they typically are not opposed to same sex-marriage but would prefer to deregulate marriage. They are usually split over abortion. They oppose gun control and increasingly are opposed to the war on drugs.

On foreign policy, libertarians tend to favor non-interventionism,[19][20] avoiding conflicts and wars unless directly related to self-defense. Rand Paul[21][22] and Justin Amash[23][24], two of the most libertarian-leaning members of Congress, are outspoken supporters of non-interventionism.

Historical factions[edit]

Radical Republicans[edit]

The Radical Republicans were a major factor of the party from its inception in 1854 until the end of the Reconstruction Era in 1877. The Radicals strongly opposed slavery, and later advocated equal rights for the freedmen and women. They were often at odds with the moderate and conservative factions of the party. During the American Civil War, Radical Republicans pressed for abolition as a major war aim, and they opposed the moderate Reconstruction plans of Abraham Lincoln as too lenient on the Confederates. After the war's end and Lincoln's assassination, the Radicals clashed with Andrew Johnson over Reconstruction policy. After winning major victories in the 1866 congressional elections, the Radicals took over Reconstruction, pushing through new legislation protecting the civil rights of African-Americans. They supported Ulysses S. Grant for president in 1868 and 1872. However, their influence waned as Democrats retook control in the South and enthusiasm for continued Reconstruction declined.[25]

Stalwarts[edit]

The Stalwarts were a traditionalist faction that existed from the 1860s through the 1880s. They represented "traditional" Republicans who favored machine politics and opposed the civil service reforms of Rutherford B. Hayes and the more progressive Half-Breeds.[26] They declined following the elections of Hayes and James A. Garfield. After Garfield's assassination, his Stalwart vice president Chester A. Arthur assumed the presidency; rather than pursuing Stalwart goals he took up the reformist cause, which curbed the faction's influence.[27]

Half-Breeds[edit]

The Half-Breeds were a reformist faction of the 1870s and 1880s. The name, which originated with rivals claiming they were only "half" Republicans, came to encompass a wide array of figures who did not all get along with each other. Generally speaking, politicians labeled Half-Breeds were moderates or progressives who opposed the machine politics of the Stalwarts and advanced civil services reforms.[27]

Progressive wing[edit]

Historically, the Republican Party included a progressive wing that advocated using government to improve the problems of modern society. Before 1932 leading progressive Republicans included Theodore Roosevelt, Robert M. La Follette Sr., Charles Evan Hughes, Hiram Johnson, William Borah, George W. Norris, Hiram Johnson, and Fiorello La Guardia.[28] Prominent liberal Republicans, 1936 to the 1970s, included Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Earl Warren, Thomas Dewey, Prescott Bush, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., George W. Romney, William Scranton, Charles Mathias, Lowell Weicker, and Jacob Javits. Since 1976, liberalism has virtually faded out of the Republican Party, apart from a few Northeastern holdouts.[29]

Reagan Coalition[edit]

The "Reagan Coalition" in the Republican Party, according to historian George H. Nash, originally consisted of five factions: the libertarians, the traditionalists, the anti-communists, neoconservatives, and the religious right.[2][30] After Reagan left office the coalition shattered, with the deepest divisions seen between the libertarians and traditionalists on one side, and the neoconservatives and the religious right on the other. This was most evident as the neoconservatives and the religious right became the dominant force in the Republican Party.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Pew Research Center. "Beyond Red vs Blue:The Political Typology". 
  2. ^ a b Donald T. Critchlow, The conservative ascendancy: how the GOP right made political history (2nd ed. 2011)
  3. ^ Joel D. Aberbach; Gillian Peele (2011). Crisis of Conservatism?:The Republican Party, the Conservative Movement, and American Politics After Bush. Oxford University Press. p. 105. 
  4. ^ William Martin, With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America (1996)
  5. ^ Shabecoff, Philip (2000). Earth Rising: American Environmentalism in the 21st Century. Island Press. p. 125. ISBN 9781597263351. Retrieved 9 November 2017. 
  6. ^ Hayes, Samuel P. (2000). A History of Environmental Politics Since 1945. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 119. ISBN 9780822972242. Retrieved 9 November 2017. 
  7. ^ Sellers, Christopher (7 June 2017). "How Republicans came to embrace anti-environmentalism". Vox. Retrieved 9 November 2017. 
  8. ^ Dunlap, Riley E.; McCright, Araon M. (7 August 2010). "A Widening Gap: Republican and Democratic Views on Climate Change". Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development. 50 (5): 26–35. doi:10.3200/ENVT.50.5.26-35. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Båtstrand, Sondre (2015). "More than Markets: A Comparative Study of Nine Conservative Parties on Climate Change". Politics and Policy. 43 (4): 538–561. doi:10.1111/polp.12122. ISSN 1747-1346. The U.S. Republican Party is an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change. 
  10. ^ a b Chait, Jonathan (September 27, 2015). "Why Are Republicans the Only Climate-Science-Denying Party in the World?". New York. Retrieved September 20, 2017. Of all the major conservative parties in the democratic world, the Republican Party stands alone in its denial of the legitimacy of climate science. Indeed, the Republican Party stands alone in its conviction that no national or international response to climate change is needed. To the extent that the party is divided on the issue, the gap separates candidates who openly dismiss climate science as a hoax, and those who, shying away from the political risks of blatant ignorance, instead couch their stance in the alleged impossibility of international action. 
  11. ^ Davenport, Coral; Lipton, Eric (June 3, 2017). "How G.O.P. Leaders Came to View Climate Change as Fake Science". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 22, 2017. The Republican Party’s fast journey from debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist is a story of big political money, Democratic hubris in the Obama years and a partisan chasm that grew over nine years like a crack in the Antarctic shelf, favoring extreme positions and uncompromising rhetoric over cooperation and conciliation. 
  12. ^ Gregory Schneider (2003). Conservatism in America since 1930: A Reader. NYU Press. pp. 169–75. 
  13. ^ Joseph Scotchie, The Paleoconservatives: New Voices of the Old Right (1999)
  14. ^ John Ehrman, The Rise of Neoconservatism: Intellectual and Foreign Affairs 1945–1994 (2005)
  15. ^ Justin Vaïsse, Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement (2010)
  16. ^ Nicol C. Rae, The Decline and Fall of the Liberal Republicans: From 1952 to the Present (1989)
  17. ^ "Losing Its Preference: Affirmative Action Fades as Issue". The Washington Post. 1996. 
  18. ^ Nate Silver. "There are Few Libertarians But Many Americans Have Libertarian Views". 
  19. ^ https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB118463507387568429
  20. ^ https://www.cato.org/policy-report/julyaugust-2015/toward-libertarian-foreign-policy
  21. ^ http://nationalinterest.org/feature/rand-paul-found-his-voice-can-he-find-non-interventionist-13866
  22. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-two-non-interventionists_us_594f1cdde4b0326c0a8d0918
  23. ^ https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/president-trumps-syria-strike-was-unconstitutional-and-unwise/522228/
  24. ^ http://www.yaliberty.org/pac/candidates/amash
  25. ^ https://www.britannica.com/topic/Radical-Republican
  26. ^ https://www.britannica.com/topic/Stalwart
  27. ^ a b Peskin, Allan (1984–85). "Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age". Political Science Quarterly. 99 (4): 703–716. doi:10.2307/2150708. JSTOR 2150708. 
  28. ^ Michael Wolraich, Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics (2014)
  29. ^ Nicol C. Rae, The Decline and Fall of the Liberal Republicans: From 1952 to the Present (1989)
  30. ^ Adrian Wooldridge and John Micklethwait, The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America (2004)

Further reading[edit]

  • Barone, Michael, and Richard E. Cohen. The Almanac of American Politics, 2010 (2009) 1900 pages of minute, nonpartisan detail on every state and district and member of Congress.
  • Dyche, John David. Republican Leader: A Political Biography of Senator Mitch McConnell (2009)
  • Edsall, Thomas Byrne. Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive For Permanent Power (2006) sophisticated analysis by liberal
  • Crane, Michael. The Political Junkie Handbook: The Definitive Reference Book on Politics (2004), nonpartisan
  • Frank, Thomas. What's the Matter with Kansas (2005) attack by a liberal.
  • Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffery O. Nelson, eds. American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia (2006) 980 pages of articles by 200 conservative scholars
  • Hamburger, Tom, and Peter Wallsten. One Party Country: The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century (2006), hostile
  • Hewitt, Hugh. GOP 5.0: Republican Renewal Under President Obama (2009)
  • Ross, Brian "The Republican Un-Civil War – The Neocons and the Tea Party Fight for Control of the GOP", Truth-2-Power, August 9, 2012.
  • Wooldridge, Adrian, and John Micklethwait. The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America (2004), sophisticated nonpartisan analysis

External links[edit]