Thursday, November 12, 2009

Republican Party factions

Former U.S. Congressman Bill Bradley describes the factions of the Republican Party in his book, A New American Story:

corporatists – seek control of government to enhance their profits and pockets. Had favored protective tariffs in the early 1900s. Now seek to reduce their taxes. Support government programs that give them money. Oppose government regulation. Tend to favor free trade now.

fundamentalists – Christians who believe in the literal truth of the Bible. The world is good and evil. Suspicious of science. (Creationism vs. evolution) Anyone who disagrees with them is ignorant or evil. Reluctant to negotiate or cooperate. Want to control government to impose their morality on society. Culture is coarse. The media have a liberal bias.

libertarians – want to abolish government interference in private lives. Pro-choice. Legalize drugs. Against military interventions. Favor lower taxes, free trade, free speech. Worried about privacy. (Oppose large government databases.) Free market advocates. (Example: Ron Paul)

supply-siders – believe tax cuts solve everything from urban decay and economic downturns to third-world development. Deficits are unimportant. Think tax cuts promote economic growth. Repeat JFK´s “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Little interest in defense policy or foreign affairs.

subsidists – primarily westerners (where the federal government owns up to 90% of the area´s land). Want to end most regulation and oversight of public resources. But want to increase federal subsidies to timber, mining, grazing, and agriculture.

Main Streeters – small-town virtures. Church-goers, but don´t impose their values on others. Support local civic organizations, give to the United Way, serve on the school board. Do not seek federal subsidies. Favor less government spending and a balanced budget.

messianists (also called neoconservatives or neocons) – believe in U.S. destiny. Seek to liberate the world for democracy. Believe the U.S. government is the world´s best and our economy the most important. Little to be learned from other nations. Want to impose our systems and thinking on other countries. Favor a strong military and use it to pursue our goals.

realists – combine post World War II optimism with post-Vietnam pessimism. Hesitant to commit troops abroad. Oppose nation-building. (Doubt it is doable.) Insist on an exit strategy before going to war.

crime busters – believe the death penalty is the all-purpose answer to violence and pathology. Favor giving more authority to police. Question the validity of the right to legal counsel before questioning. Favor the war on drugs.

liberals – Believe in government regulation and helping the poor. Seek bipartisan solutions. Favor civil rights and protection of the environment. (Example: Barry Goldwater)

racemongers – maintain prejudice. Oppose affirmative action. Want to reduce or cut funding for programs that benefit blacks and Hispanics. Oppose immigration.

The corporatists seem to be the most dominant faction of the current Republican Party. The supply-siders have successfully made tax cuts a Republican mantra, to the dismay of the Main Streeters who favor personal responsibility and balanced budgets. The fundamentalists are much more influential than the libertarians and convince many middle and lower-income Americans to advocate policies that hurt them economically. The messianists (neocons) now dominate foreign policy discussions and drown out realist voices. Liberals have almost disappeared from the party.

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