There is no “Republican” position on any issue.
There is no “Democrat” position on any issue.
This is because the two major political parties in the USA are not coherent wholes, but are coalitions made up of disparate, often conflicting, groups which each have their own particular position on particular issues. What you end up with, at best, is a general compromise from within the group on some issue, like Republicans being, in general, for free markets and Democrats, in general, being for welfare benefits. I line those two up because what you quickly find is that there is rarely any direct opposition to the coalesced standards of the party.
Republicans are for free markets, but Democrats are not necessarily opposed to them. Democrats are for abortion on demand, but Republicans are not necessarily against it. Yes, large portions of the party are against abortion, but there are plenty of Republicans who are just fine with the status quo on abortion remaining intact – they might be persuaded to vote against it, if banning is popular enough, but otherwise they don’t care.
This state of a two-party system is the result of our very basic electoral system, which uses “first past the post” to determine winners. Things like run-off elections happen through the party system prior to the general election. In reality, the general election is already a kind of run-off to determine a final winner.
This is also why third parties are generally doomed to failure on a national scale, relegated to very small wins in specific districts where the party machinery is weaker. You won’t ever see a Libertarian Party president or a Communist Party president. Third parties are ultimately at best a local rebellion against the standard that has evolved to match our election style. They will always be impotent at larger scales.
Each of the two parties, therefore, also represent a kind of coalition of the kind you see in parliamentary governments where a single party fails to capture the majority and must essentially rule in a compromised position with another party. It’s just that the coalition happens before the general election.
Republicans have adopted a strategy of ideological coalition. The “Big Tent” of Reagan was a direct appeal to that idea. Republicans have lots of ideologies under their umbrella: free-market advocates, guns-rights advocates, highly religious Protestants and Catholics, “big business,” farmers, truckers, etc. etc.
The party assembles these disparate groups in order to gather enough voters to win elections. The further you get from the local stage (where a single ideology dominates), the more the coalition comes into play.
Democrats, by contrast, use a strategy of Ethnic coalition. Their big tent is not the ideologies the right focuses on (such as socialism), but is instead a bunch of group identities (including non-ethnic ones, such as the LGBTetc group). Democrats, who were once the party of slavery, are socialist mainly because socialistic policies are popular with a number of ethnic groups whose votes they want.
The party is for whatever “Rights” the gay section wants because they will capture all of the gay votes by having that position. They’ll pay lip service to Islam (which is ideologically opposed to homosexuality) at the same time to gain their votes. They are for as much immigration as possible, but only from the ethnic groups that will vote for them. They are for abortion because lots of women care about being able to abort their babies – it’s as simple as that.
Thus you have an interesting contest of strategies. If you were running for office, you might be inclined to disregard the gay vote because it isn’t a significant demographic, but the Democrat party knows that if you pull together enough minorities, you can achieve at least a plurality, and once you have control, you have the means to increase the size of many of the groups you have brought together. It’s easy to grow a demographic, it’s much harder to grow an ideology.
The poll at the beginning of this article was interesting to me – most of my followers seem to think that the ideological coalition is the stronger of the two, but one of the reasons Donald Trump won in 2016, and why he is likely to win again, is that he adopted portions of the Democrats strategy – appealing to specific groups with policy promises that really mattered to them, rather than running on a general set of “conservative” principles, most of which amount to nothing of substance anyway.
“Bring back jobs!” is much more powerful to those whites and blacks who have been left behind in the rust belt than “Let the market do its magic, trust me!” Republicans object to how Trump plays the game because they are trying to play by a different set of rules.
So my vote is actually for the ethnic strategy, which I would expand to call “Identity groups.” Republicans aren’t used to assembling identity groups, but the future may require it.
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