Political Cleavages: Republican and Democrat Fissures
Political differences exist, whether under the same political group or from the competing political parties. These differences can either bring forth a new perception on certain political and oftentimes national issues or catapult the party or parties into political disaster where reconciliation may be hardly met. ‘Fissures’ in specific political beliefs or ideologies exist not only among rival political parties such as Republicans and Democrats but also from within the ranks of these parties as well.
A ‘political cleavage’, in essence, refers to a ‘fissure’ among political parties either from within or from without largely caused by divisions in terms of political standpoints. In more recent times, the Democratic Party has been experiencing political cleavages. A number of these political cleavages have no certainties of mending within at least a year or so.
As the national presidential election draws nearer, it is believed that the fissures among the Democrats will continue to break them apart primarily because the race for the spot as the top presidential bet of the party has been gaining momentum since it began, fueling specific political differences all the more. As the height of the political race in America continues to surge, political standpoints concerning specific issues and policies also continue to rake the apparent political competition—and heaps of rivalry—among the top presidential candidates of the Democrats.
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For example, issues regarding gender and race have been a recent issue between Obama and Clinton—a predictable scenario between a woman and a black American, both eyeing the top executive seat in the White House. Another issue which creates a political cleavage among the Democrats is the fact that they “are often cowed in the arena of tax policy (p. 377)”. While Republicans are inclined to support tax cuts, Democrats are more inclined to promote increase in taxes in order to have leverage for the national budget.
The ‘cleavage’ begins to crack the Democrats when they are asked specifically how much the increase will be. Of course, it is all too apparent that at the end of the day a consensus for the Democrats is expected and highly hoped for by its members and supporters. Yet it can hardly be denied that whether or not such a consensus is achieved, cleavages in terms of the specific increase in tax rates are most likely to manifest. Lastly, political cleavages also arise among Democrats in cases where they are faced with issues pertaining to family policies such as abortion.
For the most part, there is the sharp distinction between the belief that abortion should be condemned and, hence, be given due sanctions and the belief that abortion, in certain cases, can be acceptable and should not be always looked upon as a hindrance to the welfare of the family. While the former stands for the Republican belief and the latter for the other, Democrats are oftentimes caught-up in political traffic when considering what counts as acceptable and what counts as not.
In considering these three political cleavages on the part of the Democrats, a political candidate from the Republican side can use these cleavages and use them to anchor the candidate’s chances of, say, winning the presidential elections to the top. With a little bit of focus on the critical weak aspects of the cleavages and with sufficient support from the Republican Party, a Republican politician can do at least a couple of things which can gain the party a huge advantage.
First, the Republican politician can raise the matter of the political cleavage on race and gender between the political candidates of the Democrats to a larger playing field. That is, one can widen the scope of the issue, making it ‘leak’ as household news in order to let the people become more aware of the political cleavage. Popular support towards the Democratic Party is more than likely to diminish once Democrats become entangled and divided in an issue of national concern especially during the heat of the elections.
There is, however, a certain limitation to such an approach. The Republican candidate should master the art of channeling the division of the Democrats into the attention of the people with extra ‘care’. That is, the Republican candidate should expect retaliation from the other side or at least expect preventive measures from the Democrats especially at the formative stage of the political cleavage. Otherwise, the Republican candidate may face the risk of being blamed for either the ‘overgrowth’ of the issue or of not taking action with issues of national concern.
Second, the Republican candidate can exploit the issue of tax policies in cases when there is an economic recession or when prices of commodities are swelling. Because Democrats principally approve tax increases in order to have a larger sum of national budget for national spending and other national projects, proposing such measure during ‘poor’ times would be rarely seen. Or if such measure takes place, Democrats are expected to face a significant number of the tax-paying population raising their eyebrows in discontent and disbelief.
During inflation where “ordinary taxpayers” are pushed “into ever higher brackets”, Republicans can choose to “sell a flatter tax code without having to challenge progressivity directly (p. 373). ” The Republican candidate can all the more pursue the proposal of lowering tax rates which is inherent to the Republican vision for the nation. This move can earn the Republican candidate heaps of public support especially from the ranks and files of the tax-paying members of the middle-class population.
Known for “a political climate” which exposes “the equation between tax cuts for the wealthy and benefit cuts for the middle class” (p. 373), Republicans can indeed obtain the support they need in order to catapult their candidate or candidates to the crucial positions in the political arena of the nation. Also known for their conservative ideologies, Republicans are inclined to support policies which give premium weight to the preservation of families against the abrasive changes in national policies and regulations with an “identification and dependence” on the “conservative movement” (p.374).
With respect to the issue of abortion, the Republican candidate can tackle down the Democratic support for abortion by singling down on the values which comprise the bulk perception of the family. However, pushing a conservative agenda in order to take the advantage over the Democrats requires the Republican candidate to not only focus on the policies which preserve the integrity of the family but also on other policies which may have a lasting effect on the status of the family as the basic unit of the state.
That it, the Republican can attack the weak spot which Democrats fail to address in detail. For instance, the Republican candidate can relate economic issues with pervasive abortion rates in order to tie together the candidate’s position on lowering tax rates for the middle class population who may have the highest abortion rates. The political cleavage of the Democrats over the specific issues regarding abortion is essentially the platform where the Republican candidate can initiate the attack.
The demarcations between the ideologies of Democrats and Republicans are as sharp as ever. As the presidential election draws near, it is expected that the collision of ideologies between the two parties will continue to swell. Political cleavages from among the ranks of ether party can be used by the other to their advantage.
WORK CITED Marshall, Joshua Micah. “Elephantiatis: Weakness in the Republican Coalition. ” The American Prospect 1998: 370-77.