Democrats should not confuse the GOP as being a gigantic monolith that is stereotyped by those in the progressive media as being against Medicare, against minorities, extremely nationalist, against social values, and as a bunch of neoconservatives (liberal Republicans who have broad reaching foreign policy goals). There are Republicans who have conservative social beliefs, economic beliefs, religious beliefs and there are even liberal Republicans! So, that being said, how should we look at the GOP today?
One should first look at the tea-party–a movement that is fiscally conservative, for states’ rights and happens to be strict constitutionalists. Ron Paul is considered by many to be the godfather of this movement as he has been advocating many of these same positions for 30 years that he’s been in office, and the GOP debates are only now turning their attention to issues like the federal reserve (the organization that controls our nation’s money supply), the TSA (about airport security) and whether certain programs are constitutional or not.
Candidates like Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are borrowing Ron Paul’s anti-Federal Reserve rhetoric; even some candidates who aren’t really against it are attacking the Federal Reserve because it’s so disliked right now. The Federal Reserve has gotten rather unpopular among conservatives and certain progressive elements because of the 2008 bailout where Obama bailed out Wall-Street banks.
If you’re a tea-party Republican, you need to come out against government programs like the department of education, favor flat tax (like Herman Cain), favor a balancing of the budget (like Gary Johnson and Newt Gingrich) and go against “Obamacare”.
Mitt Romney has come under fire for supporting a health care plan similar to Obama’s on a state level. Rick Perry has come under fire for having supported “HilaryCare” when that was introduced.
If you don’t support conservative economic positions you run the risk of getting called out as a RINO (someone who acts like a Republican but is believed to actually be a Democrat) like John Hunstman.
Foreign policy wise, the GOP is split between interventionists on one side and non-interventionists on the other like Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and Michelle Bachman. These Presidential candidates believe that the United States is stretching itself too far and that it shouldn’t try to overextend its foreign policy. They aren’t anti-military. They just have more of a defensive minded approach to foreign policy.
The neoconservative wing of the Republican Party has more of an offensive approach to foreign policy. Today it includes Mitt Romney who wants to increase military spending and Rick Perry who believes in challenging nations that are perceived existential threats like North Korea and Iran (http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/08/05/whats_rick_perrys_foreign_policy).
Rick Perry has often criticized Obama for not meeting with our traditional allies and alienating Israel in the Middle-East. Rick Santorum is even more extreme with calling for a war with China (http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-12/politics/30269418_1_trade-war-china-governor-huntsman) and for believing we have been at war with Iran since 1979.
This wing of the GOP party is where Bush came from; these people believe that we should fight Iran, North Korea and other countries that it believes are evil or threatening. There are also people who want to analyze foreign policy analytically such as Herman Cain that would like to have their foreign policy ran by experts (http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/1011/Cain_foreign_policy_would_lean_on_experts.html).
Most Republicans, except for the libertarian wings of the GOP, favor the Patriot Act and tolerate violations of privacy because they believe that it’s necessary to fight terrorism. The Patriot Act was passed after the attacks on the Twin Towers gave the government the ultimate authority in fighting crime and terrorism at home. It has created controversy over giving the government access to your online records, library records and employment records.
The current Republican rhetoric regarding “freedoms” and “individual liberty” should not be misconstrued as to portray that Republicans are suddenly in favor of getting rid of the Patriot Act. Most Republicans are not. That’s something libertarians would be against.
While many other Republican views have been changing, their social views are still the same. The most recent congress just voted on a major bill on 13 October, 2011 (http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-12/politics/30269418_1_trade-war-china-governor-huntsman) that would bar federal funding for abortions. This is not just one bill but a symbolic action that shows Republicans are still unified on social issues. So while all of these other dynamics are changing in the Republican Party–it is important know that one keeps this in mind as the election cycle approaches.
Some elements remain constant.