The evolution of the Republican party from 1960 to 2012: from moderate to extreme

Preface (long). Summary of changes in Republican platform from 1960 to 2012:

  1. Although their business-oriented and strong defense beliefs are unchanged, they’ve gone from a socially moderate, environmentally progressive and fiscally cautious group to a conservative party that is suspicious of government, allied against abortion and motivated by faith.
  2. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, the GOP platform includes vigorous support for an equal-rights amendment to protect women. Then, in 1980, the party stalemates: “We acknowledge the legitimate efforts of those who support or oppose ratification.
  3. In the 1960s and ’70s, the party positioned itself as a strong advocate for voting rights in the Senate as well as the House. Then, in 1980, all mention of voting rights vanishes; the subject has not appeared since.
  4. In 1960, Republicans give “firm support” to “the union shop and other forms of union security” and say that “Republican conscience and Republican policy require that the annual number of immigrants we accept be at least doubled.”
  5. For decades, the party presented itself as “moderate” or even “progressive.” The 1960 plank listed “progressive Republican policies” such as “liberal pay” and that the government “must be truly progressive as an employer”.
  6. From the 1960 platform: “We have no wish to exaggerate differences between ourselves and the Democratic Party.” In 1964: “Let the Democratic Party stand accused.
  7. The 1960 plank says nothing about religion; suddenly in 1964, “faith” is one of the most frequently used words, along with “heritage” and “freedom.  In 2000, religion plays an even larger role in the platform as the party goes beyond supporting prayer in public schools by seeking to allow them to post the Ten Commandments.
  8. In 1960, the party pledges to “support and strengthen the United Nations”. In 1964, foreshadowing the 1990s skepticism of the U.N. the platform warned that “Republicans will never surrender to any international group the responsibility of the United States for its sovereignty.
  9. In 1964, the GOP bashed Democrats for being “federal extremists” wedded to an ever more intrusive central government.
  10. The 1968 platform would strike many voters today as a Democratic agenda — addressing air and water pollution, crowded slums, and discrimination against minorities, all with “a new mix of private responsibility and public participation in the solution of social problems.  The ’68 plank also proposes to expand Social Security by lowering the age for universal coverage from 72 to 65. Future platforms remain supportive of maintaining benefits until 2004, when the party endorses George W. Bush’s proposal to shift to personal retirement accounts.
  11. The 1972 platform celebrated a doubling of federal spending on manpower training, and a tripling of help to minorities.
  12. The 1972 platform opposes quotas to achieve racial balance in college admissions and hiring, and rails against liberal hegemony on campuses. (That theme remains through 2008, when the platform says that “leftist dogmatism dominates many institutions.”)
  13. The word “abortion” doesn’t enter the Republican Party platform until 1976, when the party concedes that it is deeply split between those who support “abortion on demand” and those who seek to protect the lives of the unborn.  This mainly happened because Nixon wanted to get re-elected and partnered up with Catholic clergy to be against abortion in exchange for them getting their parishioners to vote Republican.
  14. In 1980, the GOP sought a constitutional amendment protecting “the right to life for unborn children.” By 1992, the platform called for appointing judges who oppose abortion.
  15. The watershed platform of 1980 introduces tax cuts and an increasingly critical attitude toward government. “The Republican Party declares war on government over regulation,” it says.
  16. The 1960 plank calls for government workers to receive “salaries which are comparable to those offered by private employers.” In 1984, public-sector workers are renamed “bureaucrats” and “Washington’s governing elite,” and are blamed for “an epidemic of crime, a massive increase in dependency and the slumming of our cities.” Republicans pledge a major cut in the government workforce.
  17. For decades, Republicans emphasized federal funding for public transit. Then, in 1980, a turn: “Republicans reject the elitist notion that Americans must be forced out of their cars. Instead, we vigorously support the right of personal mobility and freedom as exemplified by the automobile.
  18. Antipathy toward high taxes strengthens, resulting in 1992 in an explanation of how lowering taxes on the wealthy would lead to job creation, adding a simple declaration: “We will oppose any attempt to increase taxes.
  19. In 1992, reforms of campaign finance include the elimination of “political action committees supported by corporations, unions or trade associations.” By 2000, that position morphs into one championing “the right of every individual and all groups to express their opinions and advocate their issues” — a veiled reference to efforts to eliminate limits on campaign contributions.
  20. By 1992, “family values” become a major theme. The platform states that “the media, the entertainment industry, academia and the Democrat Party are waging a guerrilla war against American values”, and is the first time same-sex relationships are mentioned, rejects any recognition of gay marriage or allowing same-sex couples to adopt children or become foster parents.  The passages about marriage grow every more strident until in 2008 an amendment is called for that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
  21. From 1996 through 2008, Republicans repeat that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service.

Fisher’s article describes the Republicans as going from moderate to conservative, but I think the word extreme is better. Let’s call Republicans Extremists in the next election.

If that sounds extreme, consider the definition of extremist: a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action. “political extremists” synonyms: fanatic, radical, zealot, fundamentalist, hard-liner, militant.

Today the Extremist partie’s main voters are Evangelists and the National Rifle Association (probably a large overlap). NO COMPROMISE has become the platform of the Republican Party.  Sure seems Extremist to me.  Consider these facts as well:

  • The GOP today are the first political party in history to explicitly endorse a religion.  Despite the efforts of the founding fathers to prevent this. The First Amendment is an explicit statement of separation of church and state.
  • The last two GOP platforms have had anti-Agenda 21 planks, and a dozen state legislatures have passed resolutions cursing it. Agenda 21 was a 1992 United Nations Earth Summit paper with a list of ideas for sustainable development and improving the environment in areas like deforestation, protecting fragile environments, the atmosphere, and biodiversity, controlling pollution, and minimizing radioactive wastes.  But FOX and the Republicans accuse Agenda 21 of being a plot for one-world totalitarian and Communist domination.
  • Republicans are the party of Misogyny: Prevented the Equal Rights Amendment from happening, destruction of women’s rights by taking away birth control and abortion, trying to eliminate Planned Parenthood, and much more, see wiki’s War On Women.
  • And it can be hard to tell the Republicans apart from radical Muslims after they tried to stop women in Congress from wearing sleeveless dresses.
  • The Republicans are the party of Gun Nuts, the National Rifle Association, who are absolutely opposed to any restrictions, no matter how reasonable. This no compromise attitude now encompasses all Republican platforms.
  • The only goal of Republicans during Obama’s administration was to prevent him from doing anything, appointing judges, working with members across the aisle, yet didn’t have alternative proposals.  This is dysfunctional, unprecedented in all of U.S. history.

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]


Marc Fisher. August 28, 2012. GOP platform through the years shows party’s shift from moderate to conservative. Washington Post.

The Republican Party, viewed through its quadrennial platform documents, is consistently business-oriented and committed to a strong defense, but has morphed over the past half-century from a socially moderate, environmentally progressive and fiscally cautious group to a conservative party that is suspicious of government, allied against abortion and motivated by faith.

Influenced by the rise of tea party activists, this year’s platform, adopted Tuesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, has shifted to the right, particularly on fiscal issues. It calls for an audit of the Federal Reserve and a commission to study returning to the gold standard. There are odes of fidelity to the Constitution but also calls for amendments that would balance the federal budget, require a two-thirds majority in Congress to raise taxes and define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The new plank urges the transformation of Medicare from an entitlement to a system of personal accounts, increased use of coal for energy and a ban on federal funding to universities that give illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates.

What it means to be a Republican has changed enormously over the past half-century. The GOP opposed a Palestinian state as late as 1992, went silent on the issue for eight years, then endorsed the idea in its past two planks. During the George H.W. Bush presidency, Republicans acknowledged global warming and boasted of efforts to commit billions of federal dollars to finding solutions. The party then spent two election cycles saying there was too much “scientific uncertainty” before accepting in 2008 that humans have a role in altering the climate.

The GOP, like its opposition, has responded to ideological, demographic and social changes by hardening some of its positions and adopting entirely new planks, all part of an effort to create a coalition capable of winning national elections. In the Republicans’ case, that meant adapting and appealing to a new base in the South from the 1970s forward, becoming the dominant party of white suburbia, and finding ways to marry its traditional pro-business foundation with less affluent, more socially conservative voters.

Many positions Republicans often tout as traditionally conservative are actually relatively new to GOP ideology. Indeed, although the party’s stance on the issues has shifted rightward over the past 20 years, Republicans have studiously avoided using the word “conservative” in platforms.

Even the party’s most conservative platforms avoid the word conservative, which first appears in 1992. From the 1960s to 2008, platforms liberally criticize “liberals,” but “conservative” is used almost exclusively to refer to judges.

From the 1960s through the ’80s, each plank reads like a snapshot of its time, capturing the frustrations of the party or the pride of those in power, sometimes wryly needling Democrats, other years slamming them hard. But from the 1990s forward, the platforms exhibit a sameness of rhetorical style, a reflection of the cut-and-paste reality of the computer age, in which entire sentences appear over and over in successive planks.

Even as ritual expressions of solidarity with the Philippines or calls to abolish inheritance taxes survive each round of platform construction, the party line changes markedly on many issues.

The platforms of 1980 and 1992 are the party’s big pivots, both in positions and rhetoric. But the roots of today’s Republicanism become clear during the 1964 conservative uprising that led to Barry Goldwater’s presidential nomination.

The optimism of 1960 — brimming with hope about new nations, weapons and ideas — gives way four years later to worry about “moral decline and drift” born of “indifference to national ideals rounded in devoutly held religious faith.”

In 1960, the platform calls for “vigorous support of court orders for school desegregation” and affirms the rights of civil rights protesters. The 1964 plank calls for “discouraging lawlessness and violence” and “opposing federally sponsored ‘inverse discrimination.’

On foreign policy, Republicans remain mostly consistent, calling for increased defense spending to combat communism.

If the fiery rhetoric of 1964 presaged the Reagan and tea party revolutions, the path was not smooth. The Richard M. Nixon years brought a return — in the platform, if not in the coarser approach revealed in the Nixon White House tapes — of a more moderate message.

And the party’s attitude on the balance between civil liberties and aggressive security measures shifts dramatically after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The 1996 and 2000 platforms oppose President Bill Clinton’s decision to close Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, promising to reopen the street. But later platforms embrace George W. Bush’s emphasis on the vigorous expansion of the government’s role in homeland security.

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One Response to The evolution of the Republican party from 1960 to 2012: from moderate to extreme

  1. Ken Barrows says:

    In the 1960s and 1970s we had plentiful net energy so the GOP could be generous. Now they subconsciously know they have to steal what is left.