Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Factions Of The GOP

I was surfing the internet, reading about political parties and came across this excellent Wikipedia article outlining the various factions within the Republican Party.  I thought this article was excellent and would provide some interesting reading and some background on the current political environment.  The post is rather lengthy, so I have implemented a jump break to allow for continued reading.

Business interests

Although business interests lobby and contribute to both parties, the GOP has been more favorable since the Civil War. There are two components. Main street refers to locally owned businesses. Wall Street refers to national corporations. They share an interest in lower taxes, less regulation and opposition to labor unions. Spending is another matter, and depends on the particular issue. For example, defense spending is favored. Main Street has an interest in opposing the inheritance tax (the so-called "death tax"), which affects entrepreneurs[2]; Wall Street wants low taxes on capital gains. Both generally support free trade, since the old high tariff faction has faded along with the industries (like textiles) it once tried to protect.[3] The farm sector is generally conservative on most issues—except it wants higher spending on farm programs.

Fiscal conservatives

Fiscal conservatives call for a large reduction in government spending (particularly in entitlement and other social programs), lower taxes, balanced budgets, deficit reduction, paying off national debt, personalized accounts for Social Security, free trade, and less regulation of the economy. Many current fiscal conservatives are backers of supply-side economics; however, there are also some deficit hawks within the faction as well. Before 1930 the Northeastern pro-manufacturing factions 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.
Prominent fiscal conservatives include former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (Oklahoma) and activist Grover Norquist. The Club for Growth is a pro-Republican organization that endorses fiscal conservatives in primaries against more moderate Republicans.
Fiscal conservatives may be seen as a challenge to moderate Republicans in the 2010 Elections.[4]

Libertarian conservatives

The libertarian faction of the Republican Party emphasizes free markets and minimal social controls. They oppose government social spending, regulation and taxes. They are generally opposed to social Conservatives with regard to gay rights, stem-cell research, and abortion.

Similar to the fiscal conservative faction, libertarian Republicans seek to reduce taxes, spending and regulation. They look for ways to outsource or privatize activities run by the government (such as toll roads and airports). Many support a flat tax (one rate for all). They support free international trade.
The libertarian faction is represented in the party by the Republican Liberty Caucus, which also actively courts members of the United States Libertarian Party to seek office as Republicans in order to increase the voice of libertarianism within the party. U.S. Representative Ron Paul (Texas), the most visible member of the caucus, ran for U.S. President in 1988 on the ticket of the Libertarian Party and sought the Republican Party nomination for U.S. President in 2008.
Libertarian intellectuals in the tradition of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics advocate laissez-faire regarding economic and social issues. Friedman, for example, led the opposition to the draft, which was suspended by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1973, Alan Greenspan is a representative leader. In contrast with traditional conservatives, they strongly support personal freedoms.

National Security-oriented

Republicans who emphasize the priority of a strong national defense (with appropriate high spending) and an aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East fall under this category. Although this opinion is held by others outside the Republican Party, within the GOP it has retained many vocal proponents. This faction had been satisfied with President Bush's policies, but has also criticized him regarding his inactivity on the issue of illegal immigration. More recently this faction has supported continuation of OEF-Afghanistan under the Obama Administration, but have voiced opposition to the projected cuts in military spending and reduction of missile defense programs. Politicians of this nature include former Massassusetts Governors, Mitt Romney, former Senator John Warner, former Representative Duncan Hunter, Congressman Peter Hoekstra, Representative Joe Wilson, Representative John Kline, and Representative Duncan D. Hunter.[5]


Neoconservatives promote an interventionist foreign policy, including pre-emptive military action against designated enemy nations under certain circumstances. They were the strongest supporters of the Iraq War; many of these 'neocons' were originally considered to be liberals or were affiliated with the Democratic Party in earlier days. 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.

Neoconservative publications include The Weekly Standard, Commentary, City Journal, National Affairs, and The New Criterion. Neoconservative organizations include the Project for the New American Century, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and the Hudson Institute. Prominent neoconservatives include former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and pundits Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, David Brooks, and David Frum.


The paleoconservatives are not strongly represented in the political sphere, but are most visible in publications (e.g. The American Conservative and Chronicles) and organizations such as the Rockford Institute and the American Cause. They are traditionalist with a strong distrust of a modern political ideologies and statecraft, which they call the managerial state.

The paleoconservative worldview is generally conservative on social issues (e.g. support for gun rights, the war on drugs, criticism of multiculturalism, and opposition to illegal immigration) but favor a protectionist policy on international trade and isolationist foreign policy. Prominent paleoconservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, have criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and neoconservativism, which many paleoconservatives believe has damaged the GOP. Buchanan left the Republican Party after his presidential primary races in 1992 and 1996, and ran as a third-party candidate in the 2000 election. Other prominent paleoconservatives include Chronicles editor Thomas Fleming, journalist Joe Sobran, and Scott P. Richert.

Traditionalist conservatives

Traditionalists belong to one of the oldest branches of conservatism, extending back to the New Humanism of Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More, the Southern Agrarians, T. S. Eliot, the British Distributists, and the original New Conservatives (Russell Kirk, Richard M. Weaver, and Robert Nisbet). Traditionalists favor cultural and educational renewal, localism, civic communitarianism, the natural family, natural law and transcendent faith, and organic society.

Most traditionalists are academics and write for such publications as Modern Age (periodical), Humanitas (journal), The University Bookman, The Intercollegiate Review, and Touchstone Magazine. Traditionalist organizations include the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the National Humanities Institute, the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, the Center for the American Idea, the McConnell Center, and the Trinity Forum.
Prominent traditionalists include former Michigan Governor John Engler, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, former Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, Michigan Congressmen Thaddeus McCotter and Dave Camp as well as Intercollegiate Studies Institute president T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr. journalist Rod Dreher, Catholic University of America Professor Claes G. Ryn, Kansas statesman Caleb Stegall, and author and Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society president Allan C. Carlson.

Religious Right/Theoconservatives

The term "religious right" is often used synonymously with Christian right because most of its members are fundamentalist Protestants, Evangelicals, traditionalist Catholics, conservative Roman Catholics (while moral values are conservative and are very religious they are far more ecumenical and place less of an emphasis on tradition than traditionalists) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although some members are Orthodox Jews. These religions do not necessarily endorse any political ideas. The Religious Right has become a powerful force within the GOP. This faction is socially conservative. Its major legislative issues in recent years include efforts to criminalize abortion, opposition to legalized same-sex marriage, and discouraging taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research. They have supported a greater role of religious organizations in delivering welfare programs.

Prominent Religious Right Republicans include TV personality Pat Robertson, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (Kansas), former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and activist Gary Bauer. 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.
Theoconservatives are intellectual religious conservatives such as Michael Novak, George Weigel, and the late Father Richard John Neuhaus. Centered at the Institute on Religion and Public Life's First Things magazine and the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the theoconservatives (popularly called "theocons") meld a Judeo-Christian worldview with the "democratic capitalism" of neoconservatism. Contributors and editorial board members of First Things include Midge Decter and Robert P. George.

Social conservatives

Social conservatives believe in promoting traditional moral values and social mores to preserve and improve American society. They have been especially active in taking traditionalist positions on issues involving sexual standards and gender roles. Social conservatives oppose abortion and gay marriage. They are doubtful about affirmative action, arguing it too often turns into quotas. They tend to support a strong military and are opposed to gun control. Most social conservatives oppose illegal immigration, which puts them in opposition to the business community. Social conservatives support stronger law enforcement and often disagree with the libertarians. On the issue of school vouchers the group is split between those who support the concept (believing that "big government" education is a failure) and those who oppose the concept (believing that "big government" would gain the right to dictate schools' or sponsoring churches' positions on controversial social issues.) Social conservatives included Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Trent Lott, Jack Kemp, Sarah Palin, and Dane Kashersky, among others.

States' rights

When liberals are in power the GOP usually supported smaller federal government. Typically this translated into keeping power in the hands of powerful state governments, as in civil rights, abortion laws, regulations on marriage, and mapping of voting districts.[6] However conservatives in recent years have demanded federal intervention to oppose state laws with respect to the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Terri Schiavo case, the Kelo case regarding eminent domain, and in cases involving assisted suicide laws and medical marijuana.


Moderates within the GOP tend to be, to varying degrees, fiscally conservative and socially liberal. While they often share the economic views of other Republicans - e.g., balanced budgets, lower taxes, free trade, deregulation, welfare reform - moderate Republicans differ in that they may be for some gay rights, abortion rights, gun control, environmental regulation, federal funding of education, fewer restrictions on legal immigration and illegal immigration, abolition of the death penalty, civil rights laws, legalization of drugs, stem cell research, anti-war policies, or any of the above. Deficit spending is a highly contentious issue, within this faction as well as outside of it. Some moderate Republicans criticize what they see as the Bush administration's military extravagance in foreign policy, or criticize its tax cuts. Others may support deficit spending, but feel it ought to be more directed towards social projects. Concerning foreign policy, moderates may be less interventionist than neoconservatives, or place greater value on multilateral institutions. Moderate Republicans have seen their influence in the Republican party diminish significantly since the 1990s. Once commonplace throughout the country, today moderate Republicans tend to be found in elected office primarily in the Northeast and the West.

Examples of moderate Republicans include California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg (now an independent), former New York Governor George Pataki, former Massassusetts Governors William Weld and Paul Celluci, Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Members of some of the other factions sometimes characterize moderates as "Republican In Name Only". The Republican Main Street Partnership is a network supporting moderate Republicans for office, while the Republican Leadership Council is similar in direction. Former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman founded the Republican Leadership Council PAC in order to promote moderate Republicans for office. The Republican Majority for Choice is a PAC of and for pro-choice Republicans, and is often allied with the moderate branch of the party. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and 1996 Presidential nominee Bob Dole has supported the "Main Street" Republicans. John McCain has been considered a moderate Republican for much of his Congressional career; however, he moved considerably to the right on many issues during his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign.
I had decided to keep the hyperlinks because I find they can be very informative and help those in further understanding what conservatism is.  Some people don't comprehend the divisions, and may belong to one of the above while dismissing all others.  Take, for example, conservative activist and religious fundamentalist John Smithson - he believes moderates are really Marxist-socialists, which is far from the truth.  That would be the equivalent of calling Libertarians anarchists.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the above reading.  I found it interesting and was surprised to stumble across an entire Wiki article devoted to the divisions of the "big tent."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your thoughts and experiences in relation to this post. Remember to be respectful in your posting. Comments that that are deemed inappropriate will be deleted.