Is There Really A Difference Between The Two Major Political Parties?

We have basically a two party system with several small and somewhat insignificant parties (unless they partner with one of the two majors). Once long ago- in a land that once was free, they were both built upon ideology and had specific goals and moral imperatives. But alas, it seems that they have both changed and some even believe they are now both- corrupt sides of the same coin. I do not understand that argument at all.

Are there some well informed members of this board who can explain to me (and possibly others) how the parties have changed? Can you give specific examples, possibly global currencies or energy markets? Perhaps tax policies, spending, global politics as well as global economics? Please include any other factors I have failed to mention, and please, please go into as much detail and history as necessary to convey your views. Be as pedantic and detail oriented as you judge prudent and relevant.

One more thing (in all seriousness), please explain all terms used if they be economic, political, or historic. Give simple to follow examples and keep everything at a level that sixth graders (or remedial eight graders) can easily follow.

One big one is how one of the major constituencies in the Democratic party, up until the 1960s, was working-class white Southerners.

After the Democratic party supported the Civil Rights Act and desegregation in the South, the GOP actively courted those Southerners under their “Southern Strategy,” in which the Republicans appealed to them with messaging that appealed to those who held racist views. This led to white Southerners largely switching their party allegiance to the GOP.

Yes, this is the basis for chapter three of this book (which I sooner or later recommend in almost every thread- sooner it seems in this case):

Chapter Three: Inventing Abortion goes into specific detail on how the original cause was segregation and specifically that many southern colleges were in danger of losing their tax exempt status as religious institutions because they were segregated, but Republican voters would not rally around that issue. Six years after ROE, the behind the scene operatives of the movement finally hit upon a topic that would motivate religious voters. But alas, for the most part Evangelicals were not on board which led to huge propaganda machines (think tanks, etc.) which changed their minds.

Here is an interview with the author that does not start until five and a half minutes into the podcast (it is a re-run pulled up because of the Texas abortion law being in the news):

If the link does not go to the specific podcast, it is the one titled:
Christian Nationalist Political Tactics with Katherine Stewart

They were? Some of us are old enough to remember when both parties had conservative and liberal wings.

Sure there’s always some overlap, but by and large the Democrats are the more scientific of the two parties (except with regards to gender, etc.) Climate change, Covid, etc. are all things the D’s are far superior to the R’s on.

Republicans don’t give a shit about the less fortunate in this country, and Democrats do. Republicans want tax cuts for the rich, Democrats want them to pay. Republicans are overwhelmingly White, and Democrats are diverse. Just a few without much deep thinking required.

To point some similarities, both parties now hold negative views against China (IIRC, Republicans were over 70 percent unfavorable, Democrats over 60 percent unfavorable,) both parties have a small minority that believes that violence is necessary and justified (Capitol rioters, Antifa,) both parties are perfectly happy to embrace or condemn police depending on whether it benefits their particular situation or not, both parties endorse huge defense budgets (the baseline defense budget was huge under Obama and Trump alike,) both parties run up big deficits, both parties say “my body my choice” in certain situations (although Democrats have a much more logical argument on that front than Republicans.)

Trump on the insurrection and the upcoming protest over those insurrectionists in custody:
“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,”

Show me a Democratic President who has said anything comprable about the group you just equated with the insurrectionists.
Your “similarity” is actually another good example of the difference between Republicans and Democrats.

A recent study shows a distinct political split between intellectuals and anti-intellectuals.

I take issue with this. Republicans talk a lot about being “fiscally responsible”, but do nothing about it. Since Reagan, Republicans have cut taxes and raised spending, leading to increases in the deficit. Medicare Part D is a perfect example, a vast, expensive federal program, with no attempt to pay for it. Say what you want about Democrats launching new federal initiatives, at least they try to pick up the check.

Two caveats:

The federal budget doesn’t start from scratch each year. Whatever the deficit was from Trump’s last budget, it may go up or down in Biden’s first year, but it won’t be zero. So, yes, there will be deficits under Biden, but I expect them to be less than they would have been under a Republican. Give Democrats enough time and they might get it balanced. Give Republicans enough time and they’ll dig a hole we can never get out of.

And presidents aren’t the final say on the federal budget. They submit a request, but Congress passes it. Still, for all my political lifetime, Democrats have been far more fiscally responsible than Republicans.

I read an interesting book years ago, I don’t remember the name of it, but it was about how similar patterns tend to emerge out of what seem to be very different sets of complex systems.

One thought experiment was: there are two ice cream vendors working a beach. They each want to maximize their sales, so where do they set up in order to do this? The answer mathematically but non-intuitively, turned out to be in the exact center of the beach, right next to each other. And this also explained why you always see competing gas stations at opposite corners of an intersection.

It also, according to the book, explained why you typically have two candidates for President who are close in ideology, one slightly left of center and one slightly right (though what is considered ‘center’ shifts right and left over time—- today’s center would be 1950s or 60s well to the right).

Democrats believe that they can govern well, and want people to vote for them to have the chance to prove it.

Republicans believe that they cannot govern well, and want people to vote for them to have the chance to prove it.

That’s why Democrats tend to base their policies on reality, garnering opinions and ideas from experts and scientists. Republicans tend to base their policies on gut feelings and beliefs, rejecting experts and scientist who disagree with them.

Democrats certainly do make mistakes from time to time, but try to learn from them to make better decisions in the future. Republicans refuse to admit mistakes, and insist that it is reality that has it wrong.

Democrats tend to accept people for who they are, and do their best to accommodate them in their beliefs and preferences. Republicans dictate who someone must be in order to be accepted.

Republicans appear to believe that the possible negative consequences of change far outweigh the possible benefits. Democrats are far more likely to think that while feet are being dragged, people are suffering and injustice is happening.

Of course that’s incredibly simplistic but, yes, there are differences.

When Democrats want to win an election, they seek to engage more voters in the process. When Republicans want to win an election, they seek to restrict more voters from the process.

I don’t know how long ago the OP was talking about, but in 1968 George Wallace said that “there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference” between Republicans and Democrats, in this case Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. And the parties are far more different today.

People on the fringes seem to think the parties are closer together than people in the middle, in my experience. The SDS back in 1968 didn’t see much of a difference either.

I’ve observed instances of that. But somehow, the far-right people are able to simultaneously believe that electing the Democrat who’s barely different will be the end of the world. And they throw their support behind the Republican.

I think you’re projecting here. You may believe that Republicans cannot govern well. And you may be right. But Republicans themselves genuinely do believe that their governance is, or will be, good governance. Most (R) voters aren’t marking their ballots thinking, “I’m going to vote for this Republican so he can screw up the state, cause chaos and bankruptcy, destroy the economy and cause crime rates to soar” - in fact, that’s what they think the Democrat will do.

Oversimplifying policy differences, to be sure:

Democrats generally act to restrict citizens in terms of how fast they can get rich (or richer).

Republicans generally act to kill poor people and the environment.

More recently, I noticed that the anti-intelectual views of many in the US are moving more into the Republican camp.

Even when I was young, I do remember Republicans like Reagan and Bush father listening to science and supporting the protection of the ozone layer by banning chlorofluorocarbons, Republicans today are embracing the anti-intellectual ball more nowadays by embracing conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers and even sovereign citizens.

Both parties have been promoting neoconservatism and neoliberalism. For the first, the government and the media tell the public that other countries are being oppressed and must be freed, and the U.S. is the best country in the world to help them become free by various (legal) means. Secretly, they do so in order to justify military spending (otherwise, the public will wonder why so much money is being spent on the military), to access natural resources like oil and minerals, and to gain strategic advantages over military rivals, and that includes various (illegal) means like supporting coups and various regimes, financing armed groups (including terrorists), bribing officials, and so on.

Together with that is neoliberalism, or the belief that only liberal democracies and free markets work. Policies include deregulating at home so that Wall Street and financiers can engage in more speculation, and policies that entice or even force other countries to open up their economies for exploitation and to remain dependent on the U.S., especially on the dollar as a reserve currency. These include structural adjustment and financial aid with strings attached: countries need to increase taxes, decrease public spending, allow for democratic elections (but only politicians who favor the U.S.), allow for more importation and the entry of more powerful businesses, and so on.

Both parties have been employing one or the other since the early part of the previous century, and both since Reagan.

One main reason behind both is the use of the dollar as a global reserve currency, something which made many things that the U.S. could buy abroad cheap but also made many things that the U.S. could sell to others in order to earn expensive.

That’s why sometime after 1961, economic growth slowed down, except for one high in 1984. Also, trade deficits started to take place after 1971. And then borrowing and spending levels started growing considerably after 1981.

From there, the U.S. has been in a borrowing and spending spree since, with oligarchs encouraged to engage in more speculative activities and get-rich schemes quickly, and credit created used to pay for a very expensive military needed to coerce other countries to remain dependent on the dollar.

That’s why the CNN only reported once about Saddam using the euro for oil trade, which might have been the real reason why the U.S. attacked Iraq a year later. The same goes for Libya’s attempt in opening an oil bourse, and how Iran was threatened by the U.S. after it did similar, with even Japan scolded by the U.S. for buying oil from it.

Meanwhile, the public, regardless of whether they supported Democrats or Republicans, said little about both ideologies, except that the U.S. is special (it’s part of exceptionalism) and others (from China to Iran to Russia to anyone else who criticizes the U.S.) should be taught a lesson, at least for the last few decades.

That’s why there have been no nationwide and prolonged protests since the Vietnam war, even though similar suffering and destruction took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and involving both parties.