Republican Party

Fact Box

Republican Party
Founded in 1854
Chairperson of the Republican National Committee (RNC)- Reince Priebus
Speaker of the House- John Boehner
House Majority Leader- Kevin McCarthy
Senate Minority Leader- Harry Reid
Registered Republicans (2015)- 30,700,000
Seats in the House- 247/435
Seats in the Senate- 54/100
Governorships- 31/50
State Upper Houses- 1134/1972
State Lower Houses- 3044/5411

The Republican Party, also commonly called the GOP (for "Grand Old Party"), is the second oldest existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous modernization of the economy. The Party had almost no presence in the South, but by 1858 in the North it had enlisted former Whigs and former Free Soil Democrats to form majorities in nearly every Northern state.

With its election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and its success in guiding the Union to victory and abolishing slavery, the party came to dominate the national political scene until 1932. The Republican Party was based on northern white Protestants, businessmen, small business owners, professionals, factory workers, farmers, and African-Americans. It was pro-business, supporting banks, the gold standard, railroads, and high tariffs to protect factory workers and grow industry faster.

Under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, it emphasized an expansive foreign policy. The GOP lost its majorities during the Great Depression (1929–40). Instead, the Democrats under Franklin D. Roosevelt formed a winning "New Deal" coalition, which was dominant from 1932 through 1964. That coalition collapsed in the mid-1960s, partly because of white Southern Democrats' disaffection with passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Republicans resurged, winning five of the six presidential elections 1968 to 1988, with Ronald Reagan as the party's iconic conservative hero. In recent times though, from 1992 to 2012, the Republican candidate has been elected to the White House in only two of the six presidential elections—and only in one out of those six elections, in 2004, did he win the popular vote.

The GOP expanded its base throughout the South after 1968 (excepting 1976), largely due to its strength among socially conservative white Evangelical Protestants and traditionalist Roman Catholics. As white Democrats in the South lost dominance of the Democratic Party once U.S. courts declared the Democratic White Primary elections unconstitutional, the region began more taking on the two-party apparatus which characterized most of the nation. The Republican Party's central leader by 1980 was Ronald Reagan, whose conservative policies called for reduced government spending and regulation, lower taxes, and a strong anti-Soviet foreign policy. His iconic status in the party persists into the 21st century, as practically all GOP leaders acknowledge his stature. Social scientists Theodore Caplow et al. argue, "The Republican party, nationally, moved from right-center toward the center in 1940s and 1950s, then moved right again in the 1970s and 1980s."

Major Political Parties on the Issues

 Issue Democratic Stance Republican Stance
Economy and Tax PolicySupports minimum wages and progressive taxation. Favors government regulation of the economy. Generally favors tax cuts for lower and middle income families, but supports tax increases for the wealthy.Believes wages should be set by the free market. Supports deregulation of the economy and across the board tax cuts on everyone, including the wealthy. 
EnvironmentSupports strong environmental laws, even if they could hurt business interests. Opposes opening new areas to oil drilling and supports government promotion of renewable energy sources.Favors the interests of business over the environment and generally supports removing environmental regulations to create a more business-friendly economic environment. Opposes government renewable energy subsidies and supports an expansion of oil drilling activities.
Social IssuesFavors legalizing same-sex marriage and opposes making abortions illegal ("safe, legal, rare"). Generally supports increased gun control, although to varying degrees. Favors strict adherence to the separation of church and state and promotes a more secular nation.Opposes making abortion legal and believes that the practice should be restricted in most cases (with some Republicans believing abortion should be illegal in all cases).