The Republican and the Democrat parties are at the very heart of American politics. For decades, presidents have been either Republican or Democrat and both parties dominate Congress. Therefore the beliefs and views of both parties have to impact the whole of American politics.
The following is taken from the 1995 Republican Party’s history of the party as presented by the Republican Party’s National Committee.
Historically, the party has supportedThe abolition of slavery The right of free speech Support of women’s suffrage The reduction of the power of Federal government The reduction of Federal bureaucracy The return of power to state governments The support of the idea of the primacy of the individual To fight for the right of individuals in opposition to large "bloated" government In 1866, a Republican government passed the 1866 Civil Rights Act – a law which restricted the right of states (though this was aimed at the Southern states in particular) to restrict the right of Black Americans to testify in a court of law and to restrict the right of Black Americans to own property The Republicans proposed the 14th Amendment which became part of the Constitution.
Jeanette Rankin - a Republican - became the first woman to serve in the House of Representatives, for the state of Montana. The Republicans claim that they were the first party to officially push for women’s suffrage.
The Republicans claim to be the first party to favour environmental issues when President Nixon pushed for a Clean Air Act which was duly passed by Congress.
The Republicans claim to be the party of tax cuts. The Ford Administration cut taxes significantly while under the Republican president George W Bush, all registered tax payers received a cheque for $300 in tax rebate in July 2001 as promised by Bush in the run-up to the 2000 election.
Ronald Reagan promised to make federal government smaller – known as "New Federalism". Reagan believed that local governments knew what their community wanted more than Washington and he pushed for a development in the powers of local government.
Reagan’s first term as president saw a marked increase in the number of women in powerful positions – Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed the first female Supreme Court judge in America while Jean Kirkpatrick was the first female US representative to the United Nations.
In 1993, Hayley Barbour was elected as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He emphasisedThe importance of individual freedom The importance of personal responsibility The reduction in the powers of Federal government
The 104th Congress was dominated by Republicans and
Commissioned the first independent audit of Congress in its history
Cut the budget of Congress by 10% - $200 million
Imposed term limits on committee chairs
Planned for a balanced budget reducing the deficit to zero in 7 years without raising taxes
The approach of the Republicans is best summarised in its oath:
"I believe that the proper function of government is to do for the people those things that have to be done but cannot be done, or cannot be done as well by individuals, and that the most effective government is government closest to the people.
I believe that good government is based on the individual and that each person’s ability, dignity, freedom and responsibility must be honoured and recognised.
I believe that free enterprise and encouragement of individual initiative and incentive have given this nation an economic system second to none.
I believe that sound money policy should be our goal.
I believe in equal rights and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, age, sex or national origin. I believe that persons with disabilities should be afforded equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunities as well.
I believe we must retain those principles worth retaining, yet always be receptive to new ideas with an outlook broad enough to accommodate thoughtful change and varying points of view.
I believe that Americans value and should preserve their feeling of national strength and pride, and at the same time share with people everywhere a desire for peace and freedom and the extension of human rights throughout the world.
Finally, I believe that the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government."