REPUBLICANS: Unpacking the Misconception Trunk
What do Republicans believe? How can a Republican support Democrat issues? And, most importantly, why doesn't Republican leadership fall in line with what average Republicans believe or vice-versa?
It's an interesting topic given the current division between the two major parties.
Let's take a stab at defining Republican basics. My personal perspective as a Republican may not align with yours, and I tend to swing to the left on some issues, ergo it's natural that we all won't agree.
To begin with, just because a conclusion appears true, it does not mean the argument is valid. Association fallacy runs rampant online and in real life.
- Premise: A is a B
- Premise: A is also a C
- Conclusion: Therefore, all Bs are Cs
Let's do away with association fallacy for a while. All Republicans are not alike.
Many Republicans share the same sentiments on the core beliefs, though our opinions can vary once we examine our stances in depth. There are plenty of sites that explain these beliefs. RepublicanViews.org outlines them rather well.
The core beliefs of the Republican Party are centered on the idea that each person is responsible for their own place within society. The party believes that the government’s role is to enable the people to secure the benefits of society for themselves, their families, and for those who are unable to do so for themselves. Republicans believe in limiting the Government’s intervention in the work of the individual towards prosperity. The government should only intervene when society cannot function at the level of the individual. This also means that the party believes in keeping the government as close to the individual as possible, and should be focused mainly on the state and community level, not centered at a federal level.
The Republican Party’s most important core beliefs, as outlined on their national committee website, are as follows:
- The best government for the people is one that is closest to the people, and therefore the government should not interfere unless they are needed.
- The strength of the nation lies within the individuals who live in the country, and therefore feel that the individual’s freedom, dignity, and responsibility must come first and foremost in our government.
- Free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative are what has brought the country economic prosperity in the past, and what will continue to bring it prosperity today.
- The government must practice fiscal responsibility, and allow its people to keep the money that they work for.
- America should work to protect national freedom first, while working to spread peace, freedom, and human rights in the world.1
The issues divide us. These are further blurred due to the rise of "Trumpism"* in our party.
Let's glance at the ten major issues driving Republican thought as we near 2020. These are the ones dividing the party itself. I'll add my personal perspective as well. The quoted information comes directly from RepublicanViews.org. The links provide deeper analysis for those interested in reading the full publication.
"The Republican Party believes in immigration laws and immigration reform that address the needs of national security. The party has always been divided on to exactly what extent immigration laws should be tightened, but as a whole the party believes that a system needs to be in place to ensure that immigrants who enter this country illegally are not provided with the same benefits that legal citizens are. They believe in warmly welcoming those who enter the country through legal methods, while devoting extra resources to keep out those who try to enter via illegal methods, as well as keeping track of those who enter and when they leave. The party believes that amnesty towards those who have broken immigration laws only encourages future immigrants to enter the country illegally rather than legally. While Republicans recognize that the number of foreign immigrants travelling here has enriched our country, they also believe that requiring them to do so legally is vital to the safety of Americans." (Learn more about Immigration)
I agree with this. My family legally immigrated to the US shortly before WWII as well as shortly after it. As with all immigrant stories, some family members were left behind because they couldn't pass the litmus tests, meaning they lacked the criteria necessary to become citizens. It could have been a lack of funds, or a sponsor that only recently gained citizenship. Perhaps that person was an undesirable (Romani, Jew, or other unwelcome ethnicity).
Those that did arrive were not given any help by the US government. Immigrant families found themselves stuffed into quasi-ghettos. There wasn't any system in place to help anyone. Bigoted people would not employ them. Thank God we now live in a country that allows all citizens to receive medical care and food when life lands a hard blow on them, and one that legally protects them from discriminatory practices.
Why would any immigrant back then jump through all these hoops, deal with all these hardships, and conform to America's social demands? Because this was AMERICA. These immigrants had landed in a place that provided opportunities and freedoms they didn't have back home. Becoming a citizen, for them, was a priority. More so, it was a matter of pride.
Legal immigrants enrich our communities. I wholly support those seeking asylum, also. I draw the line at coddling. Give these people a chance to thrive but don't cripple them by taking away what motivates them to achieve their dream of citizenship. Allow them to contribute and help them integrate into your community. Accept that their ethnic culture does not have to conform to yours.
Trump plays his hand well when it comes to illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. His base embraces his bigotry too enthusiastically. "Illegals take our jobs. They bring diseases. They are criminals. They carry drugs in with them. They harbor Islamic terrorists. They are rapists. They don't have American values. They traffic children. Asylum is an excuse. All X are Y!"
Admittedly, our current immigration policies suck. This is an issue that requires input from both sides of the aisle. And, above all else, we need to take proper care of those we currently detain. This mistreatment of humanity draws more Republicans towards the blue wave every day.
"The Republican Party supports and works to uphold the right of the individual to both keep and bear arms. This is a right that is guaranteed to us in the Constitution, and that is further confirmed by the Second Amendment, and which should not be imposed upon by the government..." (Expanded views: Gun Control)
I agree with this but I add some caveats: Background checks are essential. Waiting periods are not an attempt to deprive anyone of a weapon. Registering a weapon allows for recovery if stolen, and exonerates if the weapon is then used during a crime. Get off your ass and obtain a Class III license in you want fully automatic. Guns don't kill kids. Irresponsibility kills kids. Firearm ownership means taking ownership of grief caused by irresponsible people. We need to find a solution, and that means reaching across the aisle.
There are a myriad of views circulating among Republicans. The problem is lobbyist groups like the NRA. They rile the base and, in return, Trumpists insist on painting all liberals as unpatriotic snowflakes intent on taking firearms away. The majority of my Republican friends ascribe to the same caveats as I do.
"The Republican Party believes in a patient-centered health care system, which is based in free markets, fostering competition and driving health care costs down. They believe that a health care system that is run by the government will reduce both the efficiency and the standard of care, as well as compromise the patient-physician relationship, and increase waiting periods within the health care system, as evidenced by health care systems throughout the world..." (Expanded views: Health Care)
I disagree. Competition does not drive health care costs down. In addition, insurance companies are in it to make money, not to provide care. They will drop people with preexisting conditions, remove expensive medication from their formularies, deny necessary services, and slap people with a lifetime benefit cap.
Do you know what does work? The Veterans Administration system. It's not perfect. You do have to wait a bit longer when referred to specific clinics. Sometimes prescriptions arrive in the mail a day or two after you run out. Likewise, Medicaid has new programs in place. They, too, will limit you on certain medications.
Both these systems provide the services most Americans would use during their life. The costs are low because the government regulates how much a health care provider or medical facility can charge. If not for these current systems, many of our veterans, disabled people, and elderly would not be able to afford treatment or prescriptions.
These systems do NOT provide things that are considered elective unless it meets specific criteria. This is why a personal insurance policy is beneficial at times. This will provide coverage for elective treatment such as sexual reassignment surgery (and all the medical costs that come with a gender change).
My opinion is based on my experience with the VA (better half is a disabled vet) as well as with my own time on Medicaid (it saved my life when I had cancer). I'm snarling at the GOP at the moment; my husband and I are covering my parents' mortgage because they can't afford to pay it and their medical expenses. It's bankrupting us.
Some of my Republican inner circle agrees that health care should be a right provided by a government-controlled system. Most want to keep things the way they are, however.
The following will not work: "Obama Care needs to go! I don't know what will replace it. Trump has a plan. It's a marvelous plan. He can't reveal it yet." Stop buying the snake oil, Trumpists.
"The Republican Party stands behind a traditional definition of marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. This belief does not come from a hatred of homosexuals, as many people try to color it, but from a belief that the institution of marriage was set up as such by our founding fathers, and has been defined this way throughout history, and that changing it compromises the sanctity of the institution. It also stems from a belief that, in terms of raising a family, having a male and female authority figure is a healthier and more balanced way for a child to grow up." (Expanded views: Gay Marriage)
People had issues with biracial marriage not too many decades ago. They, too, used "sanctity" as an excuse.
I have no problem with gay marriage. I draw the line at forcing various Christian denominations to perform the ceremony. The Catholics and Baptists are expected to cling to their tenets. There are denominations that will happily conduct the ceremony. Likewise, you wouldn't demand that a Hindu cook beef for you, so why demand that a Christian bake you a cake? Don't come crying to me because someone balks. Take your business elsewhere.
That said, I have friends that were raised by same-sex couples during a generation where norabid liberals. They did learn tolerance and the value of a committed relationship.
In our modern society, gender roles hold no real value anymore. A stay-at-home dad isn't less of a man, nor is a mother who happens to be a dock worker any less woman. Kids raised by single parents or adoptive parents of a different ethnicity also turn out fine.
The views held by most of my Republican friends do not align with mine. Many of them want to abolish gay marriage. Most would like to see the return of strong gender roles.
"Republican views on abortion are rooted firmly in the belief that an unborn child, like any individual in this country, has an individual right to life that should not be infringed upon by others. The party adamantly believes that the rights guaranteed to all Americans in the Fourteenth Amendment apply to unborn children as well. They support a constitutional amendment which states this, and which will end abortion entirely. Republicans oppose using public revenues to promote or carry out abortions, and also oppose any health care options that include the coverage of abortion. Instead, republicans support tax incentives for those who choose adoption over abortion..." (Expanded views: Abortion)
I support everyone's right to life, including unborn children. I draw the exception in cases of rape and incest. As a woman that was never able to have children of her own, I do believe that adoption is the best option. The Republicans in my inner circle hold the same stance.
I will NOT take away a woman's right to choose. I have seen too many circumstances where the family insists that the young girl carrying the baby to term; those babies are often resented, neglected, and fostered onto whoever will take them. They end up in the system, broken human beings deprived of the chance to thrive in their early years.
I also support clinics that provide free health care to low income women, regardless of whether or not they provide abortions in the same facility. Clinics such as Planned Parenthood have saved lives by detecting cervical and breast cancer in women of all ages and backgrounds. They screen for STDs. They provide medication, even if it's just a high blood pressure prescription.
We will disagree on the new hotbed topic: cervical exams prior to treatment. My feminist sisters do young women a great disservice by likening the exam to sexual violation or rape. We should be empowering them, educating them on the necessity, and then supporting them if that exam reveals cancer or other medical issues that will compromise their health.
"The Republican Party believes that the government needs to focus on getting those who receive welfare into jobs, and therefore out of the welfare program. This can best be done by reforming the welfare program, as well as by tax reform. The Republican Congress of 1996 overhauled the welfare program, and the party wishes to build upon these reforms to further improve the system." (Expanded views: Welfare)
I support the government's desire to get recipients into jobs. However, most of these jobs pay too little to thrive on. If we insist on removing people from these programs, do as several states have done: provide education and training.
I don't support long-term, broad spectrum welfare to anyone that doesn't have a valid excuse for needing more than a year on the system. An excuse can be as straightforward as welfare assistance due to health issues. It can also be complex, such as using the system to support the family while the laid off wage-earner takes courses to become certified for a new career.
Taxes and Spending
Republican views on taxes include the belief that tax reduction is important, but must be done the right way. The party believes that budget surpluses have caused Americans to be overtaxed-a condition that is not only threatening their financial prosperity, but is also hindering (and possibly even reversing) growth to the country’s economy. They also want to limit the top marginal rate, believing it punishes those who have worked hard and invested well.(Expanded views: Taxes and Spending)
I'm all for raising taxes slightly if it benefits Americans. Taxes allow our military to function, supports our education systems, keeps our infrastructure solid. Taxes keep American strong. Too much taxation drags the population down, especially if they see their money spent on things that don't benefit them as individuals.
ALL of the Republicans in my circle are bitterly angry about Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy. Most are riled up by big business finding loopholes to avoid paying any taxes. When corporations do that, the citizens are left shouldering the burden.
I feel that some of the far left liberals don't understand the tax/benefit quandary. Socialism is costly because it does raise taxes to provide free education and health care.
"Republicans support conservation efforts, as long as they are balanced with the economy. The economy needs to be able to expand and grow, and there are times where this will clash with conservation efforts. Republicans believe in balancing the two. They support public access to public lands for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. They support a reduction in power plant emissions, and programs that demand it such as former President Bush’s Clear Skies proposal. They believe that the government should provide market-based incentive to develop technologies that will meet environmental standards, allowing us to better the environment while simultaneously creating jobs, saving businesses money, and overall improving the economy."(Expanded views: Environment)
This is how the party operated in my younger days. I don't know what has happened to the Republican party overall, but it seems to me that anything with Obama's name on it was revoked, pissed on, or stripped from environmental issues. Trump is pandering to lobbyists (Corn Refiners Association comes to mind) instead of listening to farmers. He has pulled us out of international accords designed to allow countries to prosper while reducing our impact on our ecosystems and climate. Trump denies climate change, confusing it with "weather". Trump thinks we can stop wildfires by raking the forests.
My Republican friends, especially those with Ph.Ds, see this issue as the one that determines their vote.
Science is our friend. Climate change is real. We are impacting our environment in irreversible ways. We can see the effects via observation and research conducted over the last five decades. That brings me to...
"Republicans believe in pursuing American gas and oil resources, both on and offshore. Not doing so is hindering American job opportunities. They believe in opening the Outer Coastal Shelf for energy exploration and development, as well as opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for exploration and production of oil and natural gas. They also support initiatives to allow more exploration and development of energy resources on federal land. They believe in reducing emissions..." (Expanded views: Energy)
My party has slowly shifted this way over several decades. I do not agree with its stance on energy. At all. In any way, shape, or form.
We pander to lobbyists in the gas and oil industries. These groups are out to make money. They really don't give a shit about the areas affected by their drilling or mining efforts. The rest of us have to live here and suffer those effects.
"When it comes to education, the party’s beliefs involve a variety of overarching ideas. First, republicans believe in a restructuring of higher education, which would leave more students equipped for their desired fields and less working minimum wage jobs that are irrelevant to their education. Next, they believe in limiting the federal government in education. This includes getting rid of federal student loans, and having only private loans. Republicans also support school choice and home schooling programs. Overall, Republicans believe strongly in an educational system that will provide higher education to those whose achievements deserve it, and that will give students the environment they want and need to succeed both in and beyond higher education." (Expanded views: Education)
I disagree with some of this. For example, federal student loans help low income students thrive. Many of these students would not qualify for a private loan, or their credit is too poor to allow for a low interest loan.
Out of respect for Republicans that disagree with me, I won't launch into a prolonged diatribe regarding Besty DuVos' efforts to dismantle education. Most of you know where I stand on this issue.
Like the Democratic party, Republicans do not all adhere to the same beliefs. We do not have a truly egalitarian party in our nation, unfortunately. But, if anything, perhaps we can all make an effort to stop ourselves from clinging to association fallacy. We can also make an effort to research candidates. Don't vote a party line. Vote for those that align with your personal stance on the issues.
1 RepublicanViews.org (2014, Apr 11) What Is a Republican? Republican Definition
Retrieved from https://www.republicanviews.org/ Jun 29, 2019
2 Roger Griffin, "Nationalism" in Cyprian Blamires, ed., World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2006), pp. 451–53.
*Footnote on 'Trumpism' and 'Trumpists':
To clarify, a Trumpist is not viewed someone that voted for Trump. Plenty of people voted for him because he implied he had solutions for their concerns. He promised a national rebirth whereby we would be as strong as we were before the Obama or Clinton years; a return to the noble Reagan era. Trumpism is a political theory, not a party.
The individual Republican or Trump supporter may be uncomfortable with Trump's friendly overtures to Putin and Kim Jong-un, or his environmental polices and stance on other issues. They look to their Representatives and to the conservative media for guidance. The Trumpists in power don't lift a finger to correct him. Instead, they spin his lies and insecurities into a warped reality whereby the Dems are out to get him. The Teflon Don can do no wrong; if he was doing wrong, the government would stop him, right?
"Ultranationalism combined with the myth of national rebirth is a key foundation of fascism."2 Though this quote pertains to fascism in Italy, it does have some bearing on the present.
When these individuals fall prey to rhetoric and golden promises, they slowly embrace ideals that do not reflect democracy. They buy into the theory.
The Trumpist stance swings far right, an erosion and re-structuring of our core beliefs that filter issues through a scratched lens. It still sounds like your father's political party. Flag-waving, apple pie-eating American Core Values! All those core beliefs actually are still there. The issues, however, are being used to swing the party to fit one man's agenda.
I can somewhat grasp what motivates some Trumpists. Some people seem to use Trump's platform as an excuse to bring their own bigotry, negative prejudices, or inner turmoil to light.
From some perspectives, the most loathed thing in America seems to be the white, heterosexual male. They've grown tired of being grouped into a faceless entity based upon race, but they can't speak up without being told they're cowards, broken, racists, misogynists, ignorant of their white privilege, homophobes, and more. A quick search for "What's wrong with white people" brings up scathing articles from major media outlets. Where the tables turned, these bigoted opinions would be barred for the level of animosity leveled at an ethnicity. They are tired of being the whipping post when people fail. Trumpism offers them an excuse to behave just as badly as those attacking them.