Democrats Vs. Republicans
Democrats Vs. Republicans
Matthew Jones (Political Science Instructor) gives expert video advice on: Are the two parties really that different from each other?; How are the Democrats and Republicans dependent on one another?; When do Democrats and Republicans compromise? and more...
Are the two parties really that different from each other?
Yes! They are different but also it is true that they are very similar in many ways. And the reason for that is because, if you put everybody in America, all the voters in the very least. On an ideological spectrum, from left to right, or vice versa in a camera angle. From extreme left to extreme right and someone in the middle, and parties want to win the majority or they want to win elections they are going to position themselves as close to the middle as they can. So both parties are going to put themselves as close to the middle as they can to appeal to the most people. Yet if they are both exactly the same there is no reason why one person will vote for a party oppose to the other. So they difference themselves on the left or the right to be different. So the party on the right which should be the Republican Party can say, ”To everybody who is further right then it is, that you know, is going to vote for us because you are not going to vote for these guys because they are more left than we are and vice versa. So, yes they tend to take some similar positions or more middle positions, not extreme positions. But at the same time, because they want to win elections, they will always try to be different then the other party on major issues. They'll take an opposite stance, but not an extreme opposite stance, enough to be different or opposite or oppose an opposition but not, not too far so that they can try at capturing people at possible.
How are the Democrats and Republicans dependent on one another?
How are the Democrats and Republicans dependent on one another? They play off of each other, so the Republicans can always point to the Democrats and say "they're going to raise your taxes" and all of that sort of thing. And "that's why you should vote for us instead of the other guys." So its kind of the old science fiction thing that you can't have evil without good or good without evil. That sort of thing. Without the Democratic party, the Republican party doesn't have anybody to point to and to say "hey, we're not them" and vice versa. And I think that's the main way they are dependent upon each other, especially in a two party system because they keep pointing to each other and not to any of the other parties. And they can guarantee its one of them two who is going to gain into office.
When do Democrats and Republicans compromise?
The situations in which Democrats and Republicans are more likely to compromise are ones in which there's an issue that comes up that is not a priority for the party. It's not one of their big platform priorities. It's not one of the things that they don't have a choice about because their constituency for the party says, "Don't mess with this," like abortion or something like that, which in the 80's and 90's was one of the key issues. If it's not a priority, the Democrats and Republicans are more likely to compromise because it's not going to hurt them as much with the electorate. So they compromise for policy reasons because they think, I'd rather get this policy forward, get what we can. The phrase in politics is, "I'd rather take half a loaf than try and go for a whole loaf and end up getting nothing because we tried for too much." So the idea is, I'll get some of what I want in there, and you'll get some of what you want in there, and because this isn't some big ideological controversy we can kind of compromise on these issues and get something of what we want in there. That's one of the main reasons why the parties tend to compromise. Another reason is because if they continued to get nothing done, that looks bad. So sometimes being able to claim an accomplishment on a particular issue that people are worried about, like social security or something else like that, they'll compromise even to the point of getting something that they don't really like just to be able to claim action on something. Then they can say, "Hey, you sent us up here, you're paying us, and we're actually doing something on these issues."
How do Democrats and Republicans change their stances before elections?
One aspect of that question would be looking at the primary process versus the general election. The primary is when different candidates- different Republican candidates, different Democratic candidates, we'll stick with those two parties for now- they run against each other to see who is going to be the nominee, kind of the flag carrier for the general election. So, who amongst the Republicans are going to be the guy who goes against the Democrats, and who amongst the Democrats are going to be the guy that goes against the Republicans. In that sense, the primary voters tend to be more ideologically or politically committed, so they tend to be more ideologically positioned, or in the Republican Party tend to be more Right, Democratic Party tend to be more Left. So you have to kind of move to the Right and move to the Left in the primary process. But then when you get to the general election, obviously you want to kind of move to the middle because now you're trying to capture as many of those people who are kind of center Right or in the middle as possible.
Will the Democrats and Republicans always rule the country?
Will they always rule this country in the political system as it's currently constituted? I say there's a good chance. I mean 'always' is a word that academics don't like to use and neither do I. I mean the truth is that they didn't always rule this country. George Washington was a Federalist and Thomas Jefferson created the Democratic-Republican party, and those parties evolved into what we have today. And so it is possible that different fractions or factions or coalitions within these parties could break off and start a new party that becomes dominant. But in general the history and tradition of these two parties is such that they've got a lot of momentum going into the future, so for at least the forseeable future, I think that yes, they will probably be the ones ruling this country.