Republicans believe decision-making should occur as locally as possible, not based in federal agencies that are far removed from the people. The party believes in America’s free-market economy and that manufacturers and consumers only need governmental support to the extent that encourages or stimulates business.
Republicans also support health care reforms that will lower costs but that are consistent with their belief in local government; choices should be made by the people.
“The Republican Party continues to believe in those core values that identify with the voters,” stated Knox County Clerk of Courts Mary Jo Hawkins. “We are an advocate for conservative ideas that build and foster lifelong allegiance with the party and connect with the voters.”
“More taxation, regulation and litigation will not create more jobs,” she added.
Christopher Devine, Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s political science professor stated, “Individualism is what most defines the Republican brand.”
Though Republicans generally hold core beliefs, he said, they are most likely to view and speak about issues in terms of their effect on specific, often minority, groups within society.
“In other words, Republicans generally believe that policies should be directed toward helping society as a whole and not toward favoring specific target groups,” he stated.
John Elliott, a professor teaching American politics at Kenyon College, described the role of the individual and the government further.
“Republicans know that the nation needs a strong national government for a number of vital constitutional functions, but they fear its growth and are skeptical about its wisdom and competence. Republicans know that a well-functioning economy requires some role for the national government, but they see regulations as often causing more harm than good,” stated Elliott.
“Republicans unify in support of stories of individual success, rags-to-riches stories, economic mobility; they stress the virtue of individual initiative and they value the free enterprise system as most conducive to producing these accomplishments.”
Knox County Republican chairman Chip McConville said, “Most Republicans identify themselves as either ‘moderate’ or ‘conservative,’ meaning the party represents views from the center to the right. However, most self-identified moderates hold conservative views on certain topics.”
“Perhaps the most useful labels for voters, McConville continued, “are ‘economic conservatives,’ who believe in lower taxes, less government spending, fewer government regulations and limits on organized labor, and ‘social conservatives’ who believe in strong gun rights, being tough on crime, and limiting immigration and abortion.”
Diane Holley, who manages the Republican Party election headquarters, said she thinks there are two types of Republicans.
“There are Country Club, or establishment, Republicans or there are Tea Party Republicans,” she said. Holley considers herself a Tea Party Republican.
“Tea Party conservatives really believe in controlling spending and limited government,” Holley stated, “Government that works best is the least intrusive in our lives.”
As an example, she cited the Indiana primary contest in which Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock defeated incumbant Senator Richard Lugar.
Mourdock supporters portrayed Lugar as too moderate and out of touch. Mourdock, Indiana’s state treasurer, Holley said, is more fiscally responsible than Lugar. “We need to send a lot more conservative Republicans to Washington.” she said. “The Country Club Republicans are the ones everyone likes to make fun of.”
Politicians of both parties are often described as being “right,” or conservative or “left,” liberal, but Elliott prefers to describe Republicans in terms of their conservative emphasis.
“The Republicans are today, and long have been, the more conservative party, the more rural party, the more affluent party, and the more pro-business party,” stated Elliott. “For a century the Republicans were the more Protestant party, outside of the South, but that has weakened or changed so that now the Republicans are the more religiously observant party, Catholic as well as Protestant.”
“It isn’t easy to define what the more conservative party believes or stands for, partially because there are many strands of conservatism,” he continued, “most obviously economic conservatism, foreign policy conservatism and social conservatism.
“Many Republicans care mostly about economic conservatism while others care more about social conservatism and still others want to emphasize foreign policy or national security issues.”
Responding to how, if at all, the party has changed, Devine said that politics have changed more than the Republican Party has changed.
“The federal government is a lot larger and there are more federal programs and the federal government has more power than the states,” Elliott said. “That originated with the Republican Party, but today the Republican Party would limit the power of the federal government.”
Elliott noted that the American victory in the Cold War reduced the importance of foreign policy and national security to most Americans. He added, “Another big change was the long slow process of conservative Southerners gradually leaving the Democratic Party and becoming Republicans, making the Republicans more conservative and the Democrats more consistently liberal.”
Editor’s Note: On Saturday, the News will examine what it means to be an independent; Democrats were examined on Thursday.
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