The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP ("Grand Old Party"), is one of the two major political parties in the United States. It was founded in 1854 by opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed for the potential expansion of chattel slavery into the western territories. The party supported economic reform and classical liberalism while opposing the expansion of slavery. After 1912, the Republican Party began to undergo an ideological shift to the right. Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the party's core base shifted, with Southern states became more Republican in politics. The election of Republican Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016 marked a populist shift in the Republican Party.
Around 100 years ago, Democrats and Republicans switched their political stances. During the 1860s, Republicans, who dominated northern states, committed to an ambitious expansion of federal power, funding the transcontinental railroad, the state university system, settlement of the West, and instating a national currency and protective tariff. Democrats, who dominated the South, opposed those measures.
Sound like an alternate universe? Fast forward to 1936.
An influential Democrat named William Jennings Bryan blurred party lines by emphasizing the government's role in ensuring social justice through expansions of federal power--up until that point, a Republican stance. But Republicans didn't adopt the opposite position of favoring limited government. For a couple of decades, both parties promising an augmented federal government devoted in various ways to the cause of social justice. Only gradually did Republican rhetoric drift to the counterarguments. The party's small-government platform cemented in the 1930s with its opposition to the New Deal. Both parties tried to exploit the discontent this generated, by promising the little guy of the federal help that had previously gone to the business sector. From this point on, Democrats stuck with this stance - favoring federally funded social programs and benefits - while Republicans were gradually driven to the opposite view of hands-off government. Although the rhetoric and to a degree the policies of the parties did switch, their core supporters didn't. The Republicans remain the party of bigger businesses; it's just that before they wanted want bigger government and later they didn't. In other words, earlier on, businesses needed things that only a bigger government could provide, such as infrastructure development, a currency and tariffs. Once these things were in place, a small, hands-off government became better for business.
When Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the presidency, the Republican Party turned against many of his progressive reforms, which they believe expanded government's power too far. When Republicans regained power and held it throughout the '20s, they became the party of business. They thought prosperity for business alone was good for America.
That worked out well for them throughout most of the 1920s, but then the economy crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression began, because of how they governed, with the mind set of businesses first.
Republicans believe that free markets and individual achievement are the primary factors behind prosperity. Republicans advocate in favor of fiscal conservatism during Democratic administrations; however, they have shown themselves wantonly increasing federal debt when they are in charge (the implementation of the Bush tax cuts, Medicare Part D and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 are examples of this willingness). Modern Republicans advocate the theory of supply-side economics, which holds that lower tax rates on the wealthy increase economic growth.
Historically, leaders in the Republican Party supported environmental protection. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was a conservationist whose policies eventually led to the creation of the National Park Service. Republican President Richard Nixon was not an environmentalist, he signed legislation to create the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and had a comprehensive environmental program. Since then, Republicans have increasingly taken positions against environmental regulation, with some Republicans rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change. From 2008 to 2017, the Republicans changed from "debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist", according to The New York Times.
In the Civil War, the Republicans grew more supportive of immigration, as it represented manufacturers in the Northeast (who wanted additional labor) whereas the Democratic Party came to be seen as the party of labor (which wanted fewer laborers to compete with). In the 1970s, the parties switched places again, as the Democrats grew more supportive of immigration than Republicans.
Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, many in the party have supported neoconservative policies with regard to the War on Terror, including the war in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The George W. Bush administration took the position that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to unlawful combatants.
There were not highly polarized differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party prior to the Roe v. Wade 1973 Supreme Court ruling (which made prohibitions on abortion rights unconstitutional), but after the Supreme Court ruling, opposition to abortion became an increasingly key national platform for the Republican Party. Again, ignoring personal liberty and science, for votes.
Virtually all restrictions on voting have in recent years been implemented by Republicans. Republicans, mainly at state level, argue that the restrictions (purging voter rolls, limiting voting locations, and prosecuting double voting) are vital to prevent voter fraud despite peer-reviewed research that has indicated that voter fraud is very uncommon. Many of these restrictions enacted by Republicans have been successfully challenged in court, with court rulings striking down such regulations and accusing Republicans of establishing them with partisan purpose.
Rarely has there been a large and significant transformation than that of the Republican Party, from a moderately conservative party to something it was never intended to be.
The idea that the Republican Party would be a force for ethnic and anti-immigrant animus and racial division would appall original Republicans, even as far back as the '60s, because they cared about integrity in governance and personal rectitude. They believed in the independence of Congress. Its need to provide a check and balance against corruption in the executive branch, whether the president was from their own or the opposite party. They were unable to transfer those values to succeeding generations however, or to the rise of manipulative leaders, and the influence of extremist media. The Republican Party's fall from those values came before Donald Trump. In recent years, the GOP has thrown away its values and embraced its darkest impulses. It has destroyed long-standing norms in the Senate; sat idly by allowing rank corruption in the White House; accepted the politicization of the DOJ and lies from the attorney general; avoided any oversight of misconduct; and failed to curb attacks on the independence of inspectors general and whistleblowers.
It has the last administration separate children from their parents at the border (and stick them in cages), mistreated asylum seekers, didn't even try a meaningful response to a hurricane in Puerto Rico, attacked science, and opened new avenues for waste materials in our air and water. It did nothing about Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and is actively blocked efforts to combat it happening in 2020. It has refused to pass a new Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder eviscerated the legislation, which had passed the House unanimously (including the GOP min you). It refused to deal in any fashion with climate change, immigration, global competition, hunger, medical catastrophe, and poverty. It confirmed nominees who lied to the Senate, who inflated resumes, and who failed to meet minimum qualifications for a job. It confirmed judges who were unanimously rated unqualified by the American Bar Association.
The party jammed through a tax cut (without much support from the people) at a time of low unemployment and low economic growth, leaving little flexibility to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. It slashed the budget of the CDC, delivering an 80 percent cut to global-health programs designed to fight pandemics, and leaving the agency without the resources necessary to battle COVID-19. It has said nothing about the reckless responses of Trump to the pandemic, which has resulted in half a million deaths that should never have happened. Remained silent when we learned that Russia offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers.
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