|Chairman||Reince Priebus (WI)|
|Senate Leader||Mitch McConnell (Minority Leader) (KY)
John Cornyn (Minority Whip) (TX)
|House Leader||John Boehner (Speaker) (OH)
Eric Cantor (Majority Leader) (VA)
Kevin McCarthy (Majority Whip) (CA)
|Chair of Governors Association||Bobby Jindal (LA)|
|Founded||March 20, 1854|
|Preceded by||Whig Party
Free Soil Party
|Headquarters||310 First Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
|Student wing||College Republicans|
|Youth wing||Young Republicans Teenage Republicans|
• Traditionalist conservatism
• Fiscal conservatism
• Social conservatism
• Compassionate conservatism
• Liberal conservatism
|International affiliation||International Democrat Union|
|Seats in the Senate|
|Seats in the House|
|State Upper House Seats|
|State Lower House Seats|
The Republican Party, also commonly called the GOP (for "Grand Old Party"), is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, the other being the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery activists in 1854, it dominated politics nationally for most of the period from 1860 to 1932. There have been 18 Republican presidents, the first being Abraham Lincoln, serving from 1861 to 1865, and the most recent being George W. Bush, serving from 2001 to 2009. The most recent Republican presidential nominee was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Currently the party's platform is generally based upon American conservatism, in contrast to the Democratic Party, who endorse more liberal policies. American conservatism of the Republican Party is not wholly based upon rejection of the political ideology of liberalism, as some principles of American conservatism are based upon classical liberalism. Rather, the Republican Party's conservatism is largely based upon its support of classical principles against the modern liberalism of the Democratic Party that is considered American liberalism in contemporary American political discourse.
In the 113th Congress, elected in 2012, the Republican Party holds a majority of seats in the United States House of Representatives and a minority of seats in the federal Senate. The party currently holds the majority of governorships as well as the majority of state legislatures.
Founded in the Northern states in 1854 by anti-slavery activists, modernizers, ex-Whigs and ex-Free Soilers, the Republican Party quickly became the principal opposition to the dominant Southern Democratic Party and the briefly popular Know Nothing Party. The main cause was opposition to the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise by which slavery was kept out of Kansas. The Northern Republicans saw the expansion of slavery as a great evil. The first public meeting where the name "Republican" was suggested for a new anti-slavery party was held on March 20, 1854 in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin.
The first official party convention was held on July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan. By 1858, the Republicans dominated nearly all Northern states. The Republican Party first came to power in 1860 with the election of Lincoln to the Presidency and Republicans in control of Congress and again, the Northern states. It oversaw the saving of the union, the end of slavery, and the provision of equal rights to all men in the American Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877.
The Republicans' initial base was in the Northeast and the upper Midwest. With the realignment of parties and voters in the Third Party System, the strong run of John C. Fremont in the 1856 Presidential election demonstrated it dominated most northern states.
Early Republican ideology was reflected in the 1856 slogan "free labor, free land, free men", which had been coined by Salmon P. Chase, a Senator from Ohio (and future Secretary of the Treasury and Chief Justice of the United States). "Free labor" referred to the Republican opposition to slave labor and belief in independent artisans and businessmen. "Free land" referred to Republican opposition to plantation system whereby slaveowners could buy up all the good farm land, leaving the yeoman independent farmers the leftovers. The Party strived to contain the expansion of slavery, which would cause the collapse of the slave power and the expansion of freedom.
Lincoln, representing the fast-growing western states, won the Republican nomination in 1860 and subsequently won the presidency. The party took on the mission of saving the Union and destroying slavery during the American Civil War and over Reconstruction. In the election of 1864, it united with War Democrats to nominate Lincoln on the National Union Party ticket.
The party's success created factionalism within the party in the 1870s. Those who felt that Reconstruction had been accomplished and was continued mostly to promote the large-scale corruption tolerated by President Ulysses S. Grant ran Horace Greeley for the presidency. The Stalwarts defended Grant and the spoils system; the Half-Breeds pushed for reform of the civil service.
The GOP supported business generally, hard money (i.e., the gold standard), high tariffs to promote economic growth, high wages and high profits, generous pensions for Union veterans, and (after 1893) the annexation of Hawaii. The Republicans supported the pietistic Protestants who demanded Prohibition. As the northern post-bellum economy boomed with heavy and light industry, railroads, mines, fast-growing cities and prosperous agriculture, the Republicans took credit and promoted policies to sustain the fast growth.
Nevertheless, by 1890 the Republicans had agreed to the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Interstate Commerce Commission in response to complaints from owners of small businesses and farmers. The high McKinley Tariff of 1890 hurt the party and the Democrats swept to a landslide in the off-year elections, even defeating McKinley himself.
After the two terms of Democrat Grover Cleveland, the election of William McKinley in 1896 is widely seen as a resurgence of Republican dominance and is sometimes cited as a realigning election. McKinley promised that high tariffs would end the severe hardship caused by the Panic of 1893, and that the GOP would guarantee a sort of pluralism in which all groups would benefit.
The Republicans were cemented as the party of business, though mitigated by the succession of Theodore Roosevelt who embraced trust busting. He later ran on a third party ticket of the Progressive Party and challenged his previous successor William Howard Taft. The party controlled the presidency throughout the 1920s, running on a platform of opposition to the League of Nations, high tariffs, and promotion of business interests.
Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were resoundingly elected in 1920, 1924, and 1928 respectively. The Teapot Dome scandal threatened to hurt the party but Harding died and Coolidge blamed everything on him, as the opposition splintered in 1924. The pro-business policies of the decade seemed to produce an unprecedented prosperity until the Wall Street Crash of 1929 heralded the Great Depression.
The New Deal coalition of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt controlled American politics for most of the next three decades, excepting the two-term presidency of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. African Americans moved into the Democratic Party during Roosevelt's time. After Roosevelt took office in 1933, New Deal legislation sailed through Congress at lightning speed. In the 1934 midterm elections, 10 Republican senators went down to defeat, leaving them with only 25 against 71 Democrats. The House of Representatives was split in a similar ratio.
Republicans in Congress heavily criticized the "Second New Deal" and likened it to class warfare and socialism. The volume of legislation, and the inability of the Republicans to block it, soon elevated the level of opposition to Roosevelt. Conservative Democrats, mostly from the South, joined with Republicans led by Senator Robert Taft to create the conservative coalition, which dominated domestic issues in Congress until 1964. The Republicans recaptured Congress in 1946 after gaining 13 seats in the Senate and 55 seats in the House.
The second half of the 20th century saw election or succession of Republican presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Today, Reagan remains one of the nation's most popular presidents, according to opinion polling. The Republican Party, led by House Republican Minority Whip Newt Gingrich campaigning on the Contract with America, was elected to majorities to both houses of Congress in the Republican Revolution of 1994.
The Senate majority lasted until 2001, when the Senate became split evenly but was regained in the 2002 elections. Both Republican majorities in the House and Senate were held until the Democrats regained control in the mid-term elections of 2006.The Republican Party has since been defined by social conservatism, a preemptive war foreign policy intended to defeat terrorism and promote global democracy, a more powerful executive branch, supply-side economics, support for gun ownership, and deregulation.
In the Presidential election of 2008, the party's nominees were Senator John McCain, of Arizona, for President and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President. They were defeated by Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. In 2009, Republicans Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell were elected to the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia.
2010 was a year of political success for the Republicans, starting with the upset win of Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special Senate election for the seat held for many decades by the Democratic Kennedy brothers. In the November elections, Republicans recaptured control of the House, increased their number of seats in the Senate, and gained a majority of governorships. Additionally, Republicans took control of at least 19 Democratic-controlled state legislatures.
In the Presidential election of 2012, the Republican nominees were former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts for President, and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for Vice President. The Democrats nominated incumbent President Barack Obama of Illinois, and incumbent Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware. The campaign focused largely on Obama's stewardship of the economy, with the country facing high unemployment numbers and a rising national debt four years after his first election. Romney and Ryan were defeated by Obama and Biden. In addition, in the November congressional elections, while Republicans lost 7 seats in the House, they retained control. However, Republicans were not able to gain control of the Senate, continuing their minority status with a net loss of 2 seats.
The party's founding members chose the name "Republican Party" in the mid-1850s as homage to the values of republicanism promoted by Thomas Jefferson's Republican party. The idea for the name came from an editorial by the party's leading publicist Horace Greeley, who called for, "some simple name like 'Republican' [that] would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery." The name reflects the 1776 republican values of civic virtue and opposition to aristocracy and corruption.
The term "Grand Old Party" is a traditional nickname for the Republican Party, and the abbreviation "GOP" is a commonly used designation. The term originated in 1875 in the Congressional Record, referring to the party associated with the successful military defense of the Union as "this gallant old party"; the following year in an article in the Cincinnati Commercial, the term was modified to "grand old party". The first use of the abbreviation is dated 1884.
The traditional mascot of the party is the elephant. A political cartoon by Thomas Nast, published in Harper's Weekly on November 7, 1874, is considered the first important use of the symbol. In the early 20th century, the usual symbol of the Republican Party in Midwestern states such as Indiana and Ohio was the bald eagle, as opposed to the Democratic rooster.
After the 2000 election, the color red became associated with the GOP, although the party has not officially adopted it. That election night, for the first time, all of the major broadcast networks used the same color scheme for the electoral map: states won by Republican nominee George W. Bush were colored red, and states won by Democratic nominee Al Gore were colored blue. Although the assignment of colors to political parties is unofficial and informal, they have come to be widely recognized by the media to represent the respective political parties.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) is responsible for promoting Republican campaign activities. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. Its current chairman is Reince Priebus. The chairman of the RNC is chosen by the President when the Republicans have the White House or otherwise by the Party's state committees.
The RNC, under the direction of the party's presidential candidate, supervises the Republican National Convention, raises funds, and coordinates campaign strategy. On the local level, there are similar state committees in every state and most large cities, counties and legislative districts, but they have far less money and influence than the national body.
The Republican House and Senate caucuses have separate fundraising and strategy committees. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) assists in House races, whilst the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) does so in Senate races. They each raise over $100 million per election cycle, and play important roles in recruiting strong state candidates, while the Republican Governors Association (RGA) assists in state gubernatorial races; it is currently chaired by Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
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The Republican Party includes fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, neoconservatives, moderates, and libertarians. Prior to the formation of the conservative coalition, which helped realign the Democratic and Republican party ideologies in the mid-1960s, the party historically advocated classical liberalism, paleoconservatism, and progressivism.
Republicans strongly believe that free markets and individual achievement are the primary factors behind economic prosperity. To this end, they advocate in favour of laissez-faire economics, fiscal conservatism, and the elimination of government run welfare programs in favor of private sector nonprofits and encouraging personal responsibility.
A leading economic theory advocated by modern Republicans is supply-side economics. Some fiscal policies influenced by this theory were popularly known as Reaganomics, a term popularized during the Presidential administrations of Ronald Reagan. This theory holds that reduced income tax rates increase GDP growth and thereby generate the same or more revenue for the government from the smaller tax on the extra growth. This belief is reflected, in part, by the party's long-term advocacy of tax cuts. Many Republicans consider the income tax system to be inherently inefficient and oppose graduated tax rates, which they believe are unfairly targeted at those who create jobs and wealth. They believe private spending is usually more efficient than government spending. Republicans oppose the estate tax.
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Most Republicans agree there should be a "safety net" to assist the less fortunate; however, they tend to believe the private sector is more effective in helping the poor than government is; as a result, Republicans support giving government grants to faith-based and other private charitable organizations to supplant welfare spending. Members of the GOP also believe that limits on eligibility and benefits must be in place to ensure the safety net is not abused. Republicans introduced and strongly supported the welfare reform of 1996, which was signed into law by Democratic President Clinton, and which limited eligibility for welfare, successfully leading to many former welfare recipients finding jobs.
The party opposes a government-run single-payer health care system, believing such a system constitutes socialized medicine, and is in favor of a personal or employer-based system of insurance, supplemented by Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid, which covers approximately 40% of the poor.[dead link] The GOP has a mixed record of supporting the historically popular Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs. Congressional Republicans and the Bush administration supported a reduction in Medicaid's growth rate; however, congressional Republicans expanded Medicare, supporting a new drug plan for seniors starting in 2006.
In 2011, House Republicans overwhelmingly voted for a proposal named The Path to Prosperity and for major changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and the 2010 Health Care Legislation. Many Republicans support increased health insurance portability, laws promoting coverage of pre-existing medical conditions, a cap on malpractice lawsuits, the implementation of a streamlined electronic medical records system, an emphasis on preventative care rather than emergency room care, and tax benefits aimed at making health insurance more affordable for the uninsured and targeted to promote universal access. They generally oppose government funding for elective abortions.
Republicans are generally opposed by labor union management and members, and have supported various legislation on the state and federal levels, including right to work legislation and the Taft-Hartley Act, which gives workers the right not to participate in unions, as opposed to a closed shop, which prohibits workers from choosing not to join unions in workplaces. Some Republicans are opposed to increases in the minimum wage, believing that such increases hurt many businesses by forcing them to cut jobs and services, export jobs overseas, and raise the prices of goods to compensate for the decrease in profit.
Many contemporary Republicans voice support of strict constructionism, the judicial philosophy that the Constitution should be interpreted narrowly and as close to the original intent as is practicable rather than a more flexible "living Constitution" model. Most Republicans point to Roe v. Wade as a case of judicial activism, where the court overturned most laws restricting abortion on the basis of a right to privacy inferred from the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Some Republicans have actively sought to block judges whom they see as being activist judges and have sought the appointment of judges who claim to practice judicial restraint. The issue of judicial deference to the legislature is a matter of some debate—like the Democrats, most Republicans criticize court decisions that overturn their own (conservative) legislation as overstepping bounds and support decisions that overturn opposing legislation. Some commentators have advocated that the Republicans take a more aggressive approach and support legislative supremacy more firmly.
The Republican Party has supported various bills within the last decade to strip some or all federal courts of the ability to hear certain types of cases, in an attempt to limit judicial review. These jurisdiction stripping laws have included removing federal review of the recognition of same-sex marriage with the Marriage Protection Act, the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance with the Pledge Protection Act, and the rights of detainees in Guantanamo Bay in the Detainee Treatment Act. The Supreme Court overruled the last of these limitations in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
Compared to Democrats, many Republicans believe in a more robust version of federalism with greater limitations placed upon federal authorities and a larger role reserved for those of the individual States. Following this view on federalism, Republicans often take a less expansive reading of congressional power under the Commerce Clause, such as in the opinion of William Rehnquist in United States v. Lopez. Many Republicans on the more libertarian wing wish for a more dramatic narrowing of Commerce Clause power by revisiting, among other cases, Wickard v. Filburn, a case that held that growing wheat on a farm for consumption on the same farm fell under congressional power to "regulate commerce ... among the several States".
President George W. Bush was a proponent of the unitary executive theory and cited it within his Signing statements about legislation passed by Congress. The administration's interpretation of the unitary executive theory was called seriously into question by Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, where the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that the President does not have sweeping powers to override or ignore laws through his power as commander in chief, stating "the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails". Following the ruling, the Bush administration has sought Congressional authorization for programs started only on executive mandate, as was the case with the Military Commissions Act, or abandoned programs it had previously asserted executive authority to enact, in the case of the National Security Agency domestic wiretapping program.
The Republican Party had long supported the protection of the environment. For example, Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was a prominent conservationist whose policies eventually led to the creation of the modern National Park Service. Republican President Richard Nixon was responsible for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. More recently, California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the support of 16 other states, sued the Federal Government and the United States Environmental Protection Agency for the right to set vehicle emission standards higher than the Federal Standard, a right to which California is entitled under the Clean Air Act.
This association however has shifted as the Democratic Party came to also support environmentalism. For example, Democratic President Bill Clinton did not send the Kyoto Protocol to the U.S. Senate for ratification, as he thought it unfair to the United States. President George W. Bush also publicly opposed ratification of the Kyoto Protocols on the grounds that they unfairly targeted Western industrialized nations such as the United States while favoring developing Global South polluters such as China and India.
In 2000, the Republican Party adopted as part of its platform support for the development of market-based solutions to environmental problems. According to the platform, "economic prosperity and environmental protection must advance together, environmental regulations should be based on science, the government’s role should be to provide market-based incentives to develop the technologies to meet environmental standards, we should ensure that environmental policy meets the needs of localities, and environmental policy should focus on achieving results processes."
The Bush administration, along with several of the candidates that sought the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008, supported increased Federal investment into the development of clean alternative fuels, increased nuclear power, as well as fuels such as ethanol, as a way of helping the U.S. achieve energy independence, as opposed to supporting less use of carbon dioxide-producing methods of generating energy. McCain supports the cap-and-trade policy, a policy that is quite popular among Democrats but much less so among other Republicans. Some Republicans support increased oil drilling in currently protected areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a position that has drawn sharp criticism from some activists.
A majority of the GOP's national and state candidates are pro-life and oppose elective abortion on religious or moral grounds. However many hold exceptions in the case of incest, rape or the mother's life being at risk. When Congress voted on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003, Congressional Republicans voted overwhelmingly to support the ban.
Although the GOP has voted for increases in government funding of scientific research, some members actively oppose the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research beyond the original lines because it involves the destruction of human embryos, while arguing for applying research money into adult stem cell or amniotic stem cell research. The stem cell issue has garnered two once-rare vetoes on research funding bills from President Bush, who said the research "crossed a moral boundary".
In August 2012, the party approved a platform advocating banning abortions, without exceptions for the cases of rape or incest. The text specifically stated that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed." It also opposed using public revenues to promote abortions, to perform them, or to fund organizations that do either such things.
Republicans are generally against affirmative action for women and some minorities, often describing it as a quota system, believing that it is not meritocratic and that it is counter-productive socially by only further promoting discrimination. Many Republicans support race-neutral admissions policies in universities, but support taking into account the socioeconomic status of the student.
Republicans generally support gun ownership rights and oppose laws regulating guns, although some Republicans in urban areas sometimes favor limited restrictions on the grounds that they are necessary to protect safety in large cities.
Republicans generally support the War on Drugs, and oppose the Legalization of drugs, believing that smoking and drugs are immoral and wrong, and the country should do its best to protect people from illegal drugs, and support the use Just Say No.
Most Republicans support school choice through charter schools and school vouchers for private schools; many have denounced the performance of the public school system and the teachers' unions. The party has insisted on a system of greater accountability for public schools, most prominently in recent years with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Many Republicans, however, opposed the creation of the United States Department of Education when it was initially created in 1979.
The 2004 Republican platform expressed support for the Federal Marriage Amendment to the United States Constitution to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. However, a 2012 poll showed that only 37% of Republicans supported a federal amendment to ban gay marriage nationwide. In August 2012, the party approved a platform that would ban same-sex marriage. The Republican Congressional leadership in power since the 2010 midterm elections, lead by House Speaker John Boehner, staunchly have taken stances against same sex marriage.
Generally speaking, most Republicans have opposed government recognition of same-sex unions such as with same-sex marriage. This opposition formed a key method of energizing conservative voters, the Republican base, in the 2004 election. Historically, most Republicans have opposed permitting LGBT people to serve openly in the military and supported the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. However, majorities of 52% and 58% among Republicans in both 2004 and 2009 opposed the policy and supported open enlistment, according to Gallup polling.
Groups advocating for LGBT issues inside the party include the Log Cabin Republicans, GOProud, Young Conservatives For The Freedom To Marry, and twelve chapters and one state federation of the College Republicans. Notable Republicans who support same-sex marriage include former Vice President Dick Cheney, former first lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former GOP national chairman Ken Mehlman as well as party figures such as Jon Huntsman, Jr., Rob Portman, Meg Whitman, Tom Ridge, William Weld, Jane Swift, Paul Cellucci, Christine Todd Whitman, and Theodore Olson. The last figure has co-led the legal campaign against Californian anti-gay marriage measure Proposition 8. More than one hundred former Republican lawmakers, leaders and governors signed an amicus brief calling for California's ban on same-sex marriage to be overturned.
A poll in March 2013 found that 34% of Republicans supported same-sex marriage, with 52% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents between the age of 18–49 years old supporting same-sex marriage. Another March 2013 study, this one by the Pew Research Center, found that Republicans were divided over the specific question of whether or not "same-sex couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexuals". Compared with 48% that disagreed, 49% of Republicans agreed (with 74% of both Democrats and independents agreeing). A 2012 Gallup poll showed 46% of Republicans support adoption for same-sex couples. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan both support adoption for same-sex couples. A 2011 poll showed that 66% of Republicans supported workplace nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people. A 2007 Gallup poll showed 60% of Republicans supported expanding federal hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Although the Republican Party has always advocated a strong national defense, historically they disapproved of interventionist foreign policy actions. Republicans opposed Woodrow Wilson's intervention in World War I and his subsequent attempt to create the League of Nations. They were also staunchly opposed to intervention in World War II until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
In 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower was drafted by the Republican Party to counter the candidacy of non-interventionist Senator Robert Taft. Eisenhower's campaign was a crusade against the Truman administration's policies regarding "Korea, Communism and Corruption."
On October 25, 1983, at the request of the regional governments, Reagan ordered Operation Urgent Fury, a military invasion of the small, Caribbean island of Grenada, where over a thousand American students and their families were in residence. A Marxist coup d'état had overthrown the established government and shot its leader Maurice Bishop. This was the first actual rollback that destroyed a Communist regime and marked the continued escalation of tensions with the Soviet Union known as the Second Cold War. Democrats had been highly critical of Reagan's anti-Communism in Latin America, but this time Reagan had strong support from the voters and leading Democrats said the invasion was justified. It built the President's image of decisive strong action a year before the 1984 election, when Mondale said he too would have ordered the invasion. Indeed Mondale attacked Senator Gary Hart, his chief opponent for the Democratic nomination, as isolationist and weak on fighting dictatorships.
President Reagan escalated the Cold War by accelerating a reversal from the policy of détente, which began in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Reagan then ordered a massive buildup of the United States Armed Forces.
Under a policy that came to be known as the Reagan Doctrine, Reagan and his administration also provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist resistance movements in an effort to "rollback" Soviet-backed communist governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The policy was politically controversial, with liberal Democrats especially angry with Reagan's operations in Latin America. Covert operations elsewhere, especially in Afghanistan against the Soviets, however, usually won bipartisan support.
On August 1, 1990, Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait. President Bush formed an international coalition and secured UN approval to expel Iraq. On January 12, 1991, Congress voted approval for a military attack, Operation Desert Storm, by a narrow margin, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. The vote in the House was 250–183, and in the Senate 52–47. In the Senate 42 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted yes to war, while 45 Democrats and two Republicans voted no. In the House 164 Republicans and 86 Democrats voted yes, and 179 Democrats, three Republicans and one Independent voted no. The war was short and successful, but Hussein was allowed to remain in power. Arab countries repaid all the American military costs.
In the 1990s, Republicans in Congress split over U.S. military intervention in the Yugoslav wars under Democratic President Bill Clinton. Examples of interventionist-minded Republicans are then Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Senator John McCain and examples of opposing figures are later Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, the latter of which who called Kosovo deployment "poorly considered and unlikely to achieve our desired ends." In 2000, successful Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush ran on a platform that generally opposed U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts, saying that the U.S. didn't have the responsibly of "nation building". As such, he advocated U.S. military withdrawal from the Balkan NATO peacekeeping mission.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001 in New York, Bush launched the War on Terrorism, in which the United States led an international coalition invaded Afghanistan, the base of terrorist Osama bin Laden. This invasion led to the toppling of the Taliban regime. After a surprise raid on bin Laden's compound on May 2, 2011, ordered by Barack Obama, bin Laden was killed and his body disposed of in the sea. There was bipartisan support for this action, with notable Republican and Democratic figures speaking out in support of the raid.
In 2003, following the bipartisan Iraq war resolution and the perceived issues regarding UN weapons inspectors, President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, in conjunction with coalition partners, most notably, the United Kingdom. The invasion was described by Bush as being part of the general 'War on Terrorism'. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured and executed, but his supporters and other opposing forces staged an insurgency that dragged on for years. It was a major election issue in 2004 (when Bush was reelected) and in 2006 and 2008 (when President Obama was first elected to the Presidency, and Democrats increased their numbers in both Houses of Congress).
Significant public support for the war effort existed in the early days among both parties and others, but opinions changed course soon with about half of Americans surveyed in November 2003 judging the end result as not worth it. The lack of expected stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and the failures of the military occupation of Iraq altered voters' views. Polling done by CBS News on the ten-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion found that Republicans, by a margin of 61%, believed that the military action was the right thing to do, with majorities of Democrats and independents disagreeing. However, that same poll found that Republicans were divided on 46% to 45% lines on the question of if U.S. forces succeeded in their overall objectives.
As a result, some in the Republican Party support unilateralism on issues of national security, believing in the ability and right of the United States to act without external support in matters of its national defense. In general, Republican thinking on defense and international relations is heavily influenced by the theories of neorealism and realism, characterizing conflicts between nations as struggles between faceless forces of international structure, as opposed to being the result of the ideas and actions of individual leaders. The realist school's influence shows in Reagan's Evil Empire stance on the Soviet Union and George W. Bush's Axis of evil.
Republicans secured gains in the 2002 and 2004 elections, with the War on Terror being one of the top issues favoring them. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, some in the party support neoconservative policies with regard to the War on Terror, including the 2001 war in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The doctrine of preemptive war, wars to disarm and destroy potential military foes based on speculation of future attacks rather than in defense against actual attack, has been advocated by prominent members of the Bush administration, but the war within Iraq has undercut the influence of this doctrine within the Republican Party. Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, has stated his support for that policy, saying America must keep itself "on the offensive" against terrorists.
The George W. Bush administration took the position that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to unlawful combatants, saying they apply to soldiers serving in the armies of nation states and not terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. The Supreme Court overruled this position in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that the Geneva Conventions were legally binding and must be followed in regards to all enemy combatants. Prominent Republicans such as John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul strongly oppose the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which they view as torture.
The Republican Party claims the U.S. should promote friendship not only between the United States and Russia, but also between Russia and its neighbors. With Russia, the U.S. needs patience, consistency, and a principled reliance on democratic forces. Russia must stop encouraging the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The party stress the common interests of the two countries which includes ending terrorism, combating nuclear proliferation, promoting bilateral trade.
The party, through former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, has advocated reforms in the United Nations to halt corruption such as that which afflicted the Oil-for-Food Program. Most Republicans oppose the Kyoto Protocol. The party promotes free trade agreements, most notably North American Free Trade Agreement, Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement and an effort to go further south to Brazil, Peru and Colombia, although some have a protectionist view of trade.
Republicans are divided on how to confront illegal immigration between a platform that allows for migrant workers and easing citizenship guidelines, and border enforcement-first approach. In general, pro-growth advocates within the Republican Party support more immigration, and traditional or populist conservatives oppose it. In 2006, the White House supported and Republican-led Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform that would eventually allow millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens, but the House, also led by Republicans, took an enforcement-first approach, and the bill failed to pass the conference committee.
Lately, after the defeat in the 2012 presidential elections, and considering the low percent of Latinos that voted Republican, several Republicans are advocating a friendlier approach to immigrants. Former US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez is promoting the creation of a SuperPAC for immigration reform.
The Republican Party has expressed its support for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico to exercise their right to determine a future permanent non-territorial political status with government by consent, full enfranchisement and to be admitted to the union as a fully sovereign U.S. state. Puerto Rico has been under U.S. sovereignty for over a century and Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917; but the island’s ultimate status still has not been determined and its 3.9 million residents still do not have voting representation in their national government. The following is a section from the 2012 party platform (slightly changed on the last sentence from the 2008, 2004 and 2000 platforms).
We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state if they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
In general terms, the number of Americans self-identifying as Republicans has been around 30% over the past twenty years. According to Gallup polling, 29% of Americans identified as Republicans versus 31% doing so as Democrats and 38% as independents in 2010, which represented a slight drop from the 31% identified as Republicans in 1988.
Historically speaking, the Republican base initially consisted of northern white Protestants and African-Americans nationwide, with the first Presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, receiving almost no votes in the South. This trend continued into the 20th century, with 1944 Republican presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey having only 10% of his popular votes in the South. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the core base shifted considerably. Currently, the Party's base consists of groups such as white, married Protestants, rural and suburban citizens, and non-union workers without college degrees, with urban residents, ethnic minorities, the unmarried, and union workers having shifted to the Democratic Party.
The GOP is usually seen as the traditionally pro-business party and it garners major support from a wide variety of industries from the financial sector to small businesses. Republicans are about 50 percent more likely to be self-employed, and are more likely to work in management.
A survey cited by the Washington Post in 2012 stated that 61 percent of small business owners planned to vote for then-Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Small business became a major theme of the 2012 Republican National Convention. For example, South Dakota Senator John Thune discussed his grandfather’s hardware store and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte referred to her husband’s landscaping company.
In recent elections, Republicans have found their greatest support among whites from married couples with children living at home. Unmarried and divorced women were far more likely to vote for Kerry in 2004. Since 1980, a "gender gap" has seen slightly stronger support for the GOP among men than among women. In the 2006 House races, 43% of women voted for GOP, while 47% of men did so. In the 2010 midterms, the "gender gap" was reduced with women supporting GOP and Democratic candidates equally 49% to 49%. The Democrats do better among younger Americans and Republicans among older Americans. In 2006, the GOP won 38% of the voters aged 18–29.
Low-income voters tend to favor the Democratic Party while high-income voters tend to support the Republican Party. President George W. Bush won 41% of the poorest 20% of voters in 2004, 55% of the richest twenty percent, and 53% of those in between. In the 2006 House races, the voters with incomes over $50,000 were 49% Republican, while those under were 38%.
Republicans hold a large majority in the armed services, with 57% of active military personnel and 66% of officers identified as Republican in 2003.
Exit polls conducted in 2000, 2004, and 2006 indicate that about one quarter of gay and lesbian Americans voted for the GOP. In recent years, many in the party have opposed same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples, inclusion of sexual orientation in federal hate crimes laws, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, while supporting the use of the don't ask, don't tell policy within the military. Some members of the party, particularly in the Northeast and Pacific coast, support civil unions and adoption rights for same-sex couples. The opposition to gay rights largely comes from the socially conservative wing of the party.
In 2012, the Pew Research Center conducted a study of registered voters with a 35-28, Democrat-to-Republican gap. They found that self-described Democrats had a +8 advantage over Republicans among college graduates, +14 of all post-graduates polled. Republicans were +11 among white men with college degrees, Democrats +10 among women with degrees. Democrats accounted for 36% of all respondents with an education of high school or less, Republicans were 28%. When isolating just white registered voters polled, Republicans had a +6 advantage overall and were +9 of those with a high school education or less.
Currently, most of the Republican voter base is Caucasian. While historically the party had been supporters of rights for African Americans since the 1860s, it lost its leadership position; the GOP has been winning under 15% of the black vote in recent national elections (1980 to 2008). The party has recently nominated African American candidates for senator or governor in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, though none were successful. In the 2010 elections, two African American Republicans were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Republican Party abolished slavery under Abraham Lincoln, defeated the Slave Power, and gave blacks the vote during Reconstruction in the late 1860s. Until the New Deal of the 1930s, blacks supported the GOP by large margins. Most black voters switched to the Democratic Party in the 1930s when the New Deal offered them employment opportunities, and major figures, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, began to support civil rights. They became one of the core components of the New Deal Coalition. In the South, blacks were able to vote in large numbers after 1965, when a bipartisan coalition passed the Voting Rights Act, and ever since have formed a significant portion (20-50%) of the Democratic vote in that region.
In recent decades, the party has been moderately successful in gaining support from Hispanic and Asian American voters. George W. Bush, who campaigned energetically for Hispanic votes, received 35% of their vote in 2000 and 44% in 2004. The party's strong anti-communist stance has made it popular among some minority groups from current and former Communist states, in particular Cuban Americans, Korean Americans, Chinese Americans, and Vietnamese Americans. The election of Bobby Jindal as Governor of Louisiana has been hailed as pathbreaking. He is the first elected minority governor in Louisiana and the first state governor of Indian descent. In the 2008 presidential election, John McCain won 55% of white votes, 35% of Asian votes, 31% of Hispanic votes, and 4% of African American votes. In the 2010 House election, the GOP won 60% of the white votes, 38% of Hispanic votes, and 9% of the African American vote. According to John Avlon in 2013, the Republican party is more diverse at the statewide elected official level than the Democratic Party, including Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
For decades, a greater percentage of white voters identified themselves as Democrats, rather than Republicans. However, since the mid-1990s whites have been more likely to self-identify as Republicans than Democrats.
In the 1996 presidential election, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole won 23% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters. In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush won 25% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters. In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush won 23% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters. In the 2006 mid-term election, Republicans won 24% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican presidential candidate John McCain won 27% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters, while only 19% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters voted for other Republicans. In the 2010 mid-term election, Republicans won 24% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters. In the 2010 mid-term election, Republicans won 29% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters, doubling their vote from 2008 and the highest Republicans ever won the gay vote from exist polling. This is manly due to the Tea Party movement, and their concentration on focusing mostly on fiscal issues. In the 2012 presidential election, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 22% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters, the lowest any Republican candidate for president has ever received in the gay vote from exist polling.
Religion has always played a major role for both parties but, in the course of a century, the parties' religious compositions have changed. Religion was a major dividing line between the parties before 1960, with Catholics, Jews, and Southern Protestants heavily Democratic, and Northeastern Protestants heavily Republican. Most of the old differences faded away after the realignment of the 1970s and 80s that undercut the New Deal coalition. Voters who attend church weekly gave 61% of their votes to Bush in 2004; those who attend occasionally gave him only 47%, while those who never attend gave him 36%. Fifty-nine percent of Protestants voted for Bush, along with 52% of Catholics (even though John Kerry was Catholic). Since 1980, large majorities of evangelicals have voted Republican; 70–80% voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, and 70% for GOP House candidates in 2006. Jews continue to vote 70–80% Democratic. Democrats have close links with the African American churches, especially the National Baptists, while their historic dominance among Catholic voters has eroded to 54-46 in the 2010 midterms. The main line traditional Protestants (Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Disciples) have dropped to about 55% Republican (in contrast to 75% before 1968). The mainline denominations are rapidly shrinking in size. Mormons in Utah and neighboring states voted 75% or more for Bush in 2000.
Since 1980, geographically the Republican "base" ("red states") is strongest in the South, the Midwest, and Mountain West. While it is currently weakest on the West Coast and Northeast, this has not always been the case; historically the northeast was a bastion of the Republican Party with Vermont and Maine being the only two states to vote against Franklin Roosevelt all four times. The Midwest has been roughly balanced since 1854, with Illinois becoming more Democratic and liberal because of the city of Chicago (see below) and Minnesota and Wisconsin more Republican since 1990. Ohio and Indiana both trend Republican. Since the 1930s, the Democrats have dominated most central cities, while the Republicans now dominate rural areas and the majority of suburbs.
The South has become solidly Republican in national elections since 1980, and has been trending Republican at the state level since then at a slower pace. In 2004, Bush led Kerry by 70%-30% among Southern whites, who made up 71% of the Southern electorate. Kerry had a 70-30 lead among the 29% of the voters who were black or Hispanic. One-third of these Southern voters said they were white evangelicals; they voted for Bush by 80-20; but were only 72% Republican in 2006.
The Republican Party's strongest focus of political influence lies in the Great Plains states, particularly Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, and in the Mountain states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah (Utah gave George W. Bush more than 70% of the popular vote in 2004). These states are sparsely populated with few major urban centers, and have majority white populations, making it extremely difficult for Democrats to create a sustainable voter base there. While still remaining notably Republican, Montana is the only state in the region with a more moderate lean. Unlike the South, these areas have been strongly Republican since before the party realignments of the 1960s. The Great Plains states were one of the few areas of the country where Republicans had any significant support during the Great Depression.
Republican conservatives are strongest in the South, Mountain West and Midwest, where they draw support from social conservatives. The moderates tend to dominate the party in New England, and used to be well represented in all states. From the 1940s to the 1970s under such leaders as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, they usually dominated the presidential wing of the party. Since the 1970s, they have been less powerful, though they are always represented in the cabinets of Republican presidents. In Vermont, Jim Jeffords, a Republican Senator became an independent in 2001 due to growing disagreement with President Bush and the party leadership. In addition, moderate Republicans have recently held the governorships in several New England States, while Lincoln Chafee, a former moderate Republican senator is currently the independent governor of Rhode Island. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts are notable moderate Republicans from New England. From 1991 to 2007, moderate Republicans served as governors of Massachusetts. Prominent Republican moderates since the party's foundation in 1854 have included Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, George Bush Jr., George Bush Sr., Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, Rudolph Giuliani, and Richard Riordan.
Some well-known conservative radio hosts, including national figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Michael Reagan, Howie Carr, and Michael Savage, as well as many local commentators, support Republican causes, while vocally opposing those of the Democrats.
Traditionally, the Republican Party has included a liberal wing made up of individuals who, like members of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, believe in the power of government to improve people’s lives. During the Progressive Era, many of the leading liberal reformers were Republicans, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Evan Hughes, George W. Norris, Hiram Johnson, and Fiorello La Guardia. In contemporary politics, however, liberalism is no longer as strong a force as it once was within the Republican Party. Prominent liberal Republicans of the Twentieth Century included Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay, Jacob Javits, Thomas Dewey, Wendell Willkie, Alf Landon, Robert McNamara, and Robert La Follette.
Some long time Republicans have spoken out for more steeply progressive taxation than mainstream GOP leaders have supported. These include Bruce Bartlett, Paul O'Neill, David Stockman, and Sheila Bair. Similarly, Republican Wall Street Journal opinion columnist Peggy Noonan has called for a renewed focus on jobs instead of debt and deficit.
As of 2004[update], the Republican Party had remained fairly cohesive, as both strong economic libertarians and social conservatives opposed the Democrats, whom they saw as the party of bloated[by whom?] and more secular, liberal government. Yet, some libertarians have argued that the GOP's policies have grown increasingly restrictive of personal liberties, and has contributed to increasing corporate welfare and national debt. Some social conservatives have expressed dissatisfaction with the party's support for economic policies that they see as sometimes in conflict with their moral values.
In January 2013, the Republican Party's favorability ratings reached an all-time low of 33% as measured by Pew Research Center, and only 25% approved of the GOP leadership. In February 2013, a follow-up poll showed that 62% of Americans polled and 65% percent of independent voters viewed Republicans as "out of touch with the American people."
In March 2013, National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gave a stinging report on the GOP’s failures in 2012, calling on the party to reinvent itself and officially endorse immigration reform. He said, "There’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; and our primary and debate process needed improvement." He proposed 219 reforms that including a $10 million marketing campaign to reach women, minorities and gays; a shorter, more controlled primary season; and better data collection and research facilities.
With a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents under the age of 49 supporting legal recognition of same-sex marriages versus the opposition from those over 50, the issue remains a particular divide within the Party. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has remarked that the "Party is going to be torn on this issue" with some constituents "going to flake off."
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