Since Donald Trump announced presidential
candidacy in June of 2015, his unprecedented rise has shocked most of the political world.
Despite members of the Republican establishment predicting the collapse of his campaign, he
has thus far polled ahead of any other candidate. This support points to a split within the
Republican Party, and a lack of cohesion. So, why is the Republican Party so fractured? Well, today there is a clear divide between
both ideology and representation within the Republican Party. On one side are established
moderate career politicians. Their primary focus over the past few decades has been on
limited government, a strong national defense, and the traditional family. However, in recent
years, a huge portion of the Republican base has complained that they do not feel accurately
represented by who they call “Washington insiders”. This base is more predominantly
focused on social issues, like gay marriage and abortion, as well as religious rights. During the election and presidency of George
W. Bush, these two bases were still able to work together. Bush ideologically appealed
to far right voters, while passing policy decisions influenced by political insiders
like Dick Cheney. But that changed in 2008. The Republican nominee, John McCain, was a
decidedly moderate Republican. Some say that his inability to address the far right contributed
to President Barack Obama’s victory. Following the election, a faction of the Republican
Party broke away, and with the financial support of the Koch Brothers, formed the Tea Party. Unlike the moderates, the Tea Party appeals
to its members on a populist and nativist platform. The divide between moderate conservatives
and far right Tea Partiers is clear in polling. While candidates like Jeb Bush have called
for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, there is a larger proportion of
Republicans who want them deported. This divide has led to chaos in Congress.
In 2013, the government shut down after far right members of Congress refused to pass
a substantial funding bill as it did not defund Obamacare. There are even divisions on key
Republican issues like taxation, with considerably higher rates of Tea Partiers opposing taxes
on the wealthy. And the situation has gotten even more complicated.
In 2015, over 30 Republican members in the House branched off to create the Freedom Caucus.
The group allegedly forced the former Speaker of the House after John Boehner to resign.
And after an extended appointment period, new Speaker, Paul Ryan, only agreed to fill
the role with the cooperation of the Freedom Caucus. The success of Washington outsiders like Trump,
and to a lesser extent Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina makes sense. It points to a new direction
for the Republican Party, away from establishment politicians. With calls for the Tea Party
to officially break away from the GOP, the future for fractured Republicans seems uncertain.
What’s clear is that the two sides no longer see eye to eye. But there are issues that both moderate and
far right Republicans can agree on. Check out this video at the top to find out what
Republicans believe. And if you want to learn more about the candidates in the race for
the White House, we’ve put together a playlist for you at the bottom. Thanks for watching
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