The Republican Party (1854- ) is the largest right-wing political party in America. The Republicans and Democrats have been the two chief parties in the country since the 1860s. In pictures the party is represented by an elephant.
The party is also known as the GOP, short for “Grand Old Party.”
The Republican Party is similar to the Tories in Britain and the Christian Democrats in Europe, but more to the right.
Famous Republican presidents include Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and the current president, George W. Bush.
The Republican Party represents business interests and the religious right. It is favoured by white people who are either well-to-do or go to church regularly.
They might seem like strange bedfellows, but most Americans do not envy the rich. They do not want to tear down the rich: they want to become rich themselves!
In general, Republicans believe in lower taxes, smaller government and slow to no social change. Things are fine the way they are. The 1950s were even better. Not to mention the 1880s.
More government is not the answer to the nation’s troubles, except in times of war. The government has too many rules and its taxes are too high.
Republicans favour a strong military — not to change the world or to rule it, but to defend the country’s interests when necessary. They do not trust the United Nations.
The neoconservatives (neocons), who ran foreign affairs in the years after 9/11, are the exception rather than the rule in Republican circles. Neocons want to use American power to bring freedom and democracy to the world. The ongoing disaster in Iraq has discredited them.
Another exception: even though Republicans are generally against social change, they freed the slaves in the 1860s – the greatest social change the country has ever known. But even then their original aim was not to free slaves but simply to keep the number of slave states from growing. But once a Republican became president, it led to war and things spun out of control.
The money for the Republican Party comes from business, the votes from the religious right.
These days almost any white person who goes to church regularly is a Republican. Yet it is only in the last 30 years that Jesus has become a Republican, as they say.
Since the 1980s the Democrats have openly favoured laws many Christians see as immoral, like the right to kill unborn babies and the right to same-sex marriage (or something very close to it). Democrats may see this as social progress, but to most serious Christians it is just plain wrong.
This is how Democrats lost the South, a place where most people still take religion seriously. In the 1970s the South was a Democratic stronghold, but now it is a Republican one.
It is also part of why the Republicans have gained so much ground over the past 12 years.