Don't Atrophy Movement - Political Parties Page

The Republican Party

...find out who you identify with...


Founded in 1854 by anti-slavery expansion activists and modernizers, the Republican Party quickly surpassed the Whig Party as the principal opposition to the Democratic Party. In 1860, it came to power with the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. The party presided over the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

Separation and Balance of Powers

The Republican Party believes that making law is the province of the legislature and that judges, especially the Supreme Court, should not "legislate from the bench." Some Republicans have actively sought to block judges who they see as being activist judges and they have sought the appointment of judges who claim to practice judicial restraint. Other Republicans, though, argue that it is the right of judges to extend the interpretation of the Constitution and judge actions by the legislative or executive branches as legal or unconstitutional on previously unarticulated grounds.

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.


Republicans emphasize the role of corporate and personal decision making in fostering economic prosperity. They support the idea of individuals being economically responsible for their own actions and decisions. They favor a free-market, policies supporting business, economic liberalism, and fiscal conservatism but with higher spending on the military. A leading economic theory advocated by modern Republicans is supply-side economics. This theory holds that reduced income tax rates increase Gross Domestic Product (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, a major Republican theme since the 1920s. Republicans believe that a series of income tax cuts since 2001 have bolstered the economy. 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.

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 Republican Party 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.

Health Care

The party opposes a single-payer universal 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 for the poor. The Republican Party has a mixed record of supporting the historically popular Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs, all of which Republicans initially opposed. On the one hand, congressional Republicans supported a reduction in Medicaid's growth rate. On the other hand, congressional Republicans expanded Medicare, supporting a new drug plan for seniors starting in 2006.

Unions and Minimum Wage

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. Republicans generally oppose increases in the minimum wage, believing that minimum wage increases hurt many businesses by forcing them to cut jobs and services as well as raise the prices of goods to compensate for the decrease in profit. This hits the poor the hardest, who have the least number of options when prices rise, and/or when jobs and services are cut.


Most Republicans believe that strict environmental standards hurt businesses and therefore support reductions in environmental regulations based on the principle of laissez-faire economics. A considerable percentage of Republicans are skeptical of anthropogenic global warming and doubt scientific studies that demonstrate the impact human activity has on climate change, instead asserting that global warming is part of natural cyclical phenomenon.

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.” Although this platform was created for the Republican National Convention, emphasis on these issues within the Republican Party has diminished in the past few years.
Currently the Republicans support increased Federal investment into the development of clean alternative fuels such as ethanol as a way of helping the U.S. achieve energy independence. Most Republicans support increased oil drilling in currently protected areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a position which has drawn sharp criticism from many environmental activists.


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. A majority of the Republican Party’s national and state candidates are pro-life and oppose abortion on religious or moral grounds, and favor faith-based initiatives. There are some exceptions, though, especially in the Northeast and Pacific Coast states. They are generally against affirmative action for women and minorities often describing it as a quota system, believing that it is not meritocracy and that is counter-productive socially by only further promoting discrimination. Most of the Republican Party's membership favors capital punishment and stricter punishments as a means to prevent crime. Republicans generally strongly support constitutionally protected gun ownership rights.
Most Republicans support school choice through charter schools and education 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 religious wing of the party tends to support organized prayer in public schools and the inclusion of teaching creationism or intelligent design alongside evolution. Although the Republican Party has voted for increases in government funding of scientific research, some members actively oppose the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research because it involves the harvesting and destruction of human embryos (which many consider ethically equivalent to abortion), 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."

National Defense

The Republican Party has always advocated a strong national defense; however, up until recently they tended to disapprove of interventionist foreign policy actions. Republicans opposed intervention in World War I and the subsequent attempt to create the League of Nations. Many Republicans opposed the creation of NATO. Even in the 1990s, although George H.W. Bush orchestrated the Gulf War, Republicans opposed the intervention of the United States in Somalia and the Balkans. However, in 2000, George W. Bush ran on a platform that opposed these types of involvement in foreign conflicts.

Today, the Republican Party supports unilateralism in issues of national security, believing in the ability and right of the United States to act without external or international support in its own self-interest. In general, Republican defense and international thinking is heavily influenced by the theories of neorealism and realism, characterizing the conflicts between nations as great struggles between faceless forces of international structure, as opposed to the result of individual leaders, their ideas, and their actions. 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, the party supports neoconservative policies with regard to the War on Terror, including the 2001 war in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

*all information from Wikipedia