Republicans have historically supported the War on Drugs and oppose the legalization of drugs. More recently, severalIn contrast, George H. W. Bush, formerly a lifelong NRA member, was highly critical of the organization following their response to the Oklahoma City bombing authored by CEO Wayne LaPierre, and publicly resigned in protest.
Republicans have historically supported the War on Drugs and oppose the legalization of drugs. More recently, several prominent Republicans have advocated for the reduction and reform of mandatory sentencing laws with regards to drugs.
Republicans have historically opposed same-sex marriage, while being divided on civil unions
Republicans have historically opposed same-sex marriage, while being divided on civil unions and domestic partnerships, with the issue being one that many believe helped George W. Bush win re-election in 2004. In both 2004 and 2006, President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and House Majority Leader John Boehner promoted the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment which would legally restrict the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples. In both attempts, the amendment failed to secure enough votes to invoke cloture and thus ultimately was never passed. As more states legalized same-sex marriage in the 2010s, Republicans increasingly supported allowing each state to decide its own marriage policy. As of 2014, most state GOP platforms expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. The 2016 GOP Platform defined marriage as "natural marriage, the union of one man and one woman," and condemned the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriages. The 2020 platform retained the 2016 language against same-sex marriage.
However, public opinion on this issue within the party has been chang
However, public opinion on this issue within the party has been changing. Following his election as president in 2016, Donald Trump stated that he had no objection to same-sex marriage or to the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. In office, Trump was the first sitting Republican president to recognize LGBT Pride Month. Conversely, the Trump administration banned transgender individuals from service in the United States military and rolled back other protections for transgender people which had been enacted during the previous Democratic presidency.
The Republican Party platform opposed the inclusion of gay people in the military and opposed adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes since 1992. The Republican Party opposed the inclusion of sexual preference in anti-discrimination statutes from 1992 to 2004. The 2008 and 2012 Republican Party platform supported anti-discrimination statutes based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin, but both platforms were silent on sexual orientation and gender identity. The 2016 platform was opposed to sex discrimination statutes that included the phrase "sexual orientation."
A group of LGBT Republicans are the Log Cabin Republicans.
Virtually all restrictions on voting have in recent years been implemented by Republicans. Republicans, mainly at the state level, argue that the restrictions (such as purging voter rolls, limiting voting locations, and prosecuting double voting) are vital to prevent voter fraud, claiming that voter fraud is an underestimated issue in elections. However, research has indicated that voter fraud is very uncommon, as civil and voting rights organizations often accuse Republicans of enacting restrictions to influence elections in the party's favor. Many laws or regulations restricting voting enacted by Republicans have been successfully challenged in court, with court rulings striking down such regulations and accusing Republicans of establishing them with partisan purpose.
Towards the end of the 1990s and in the early 21st century, the Republican Party increasingly resorted to "constitutional hardball" practices.
A number of scholars have asserted that the House speakership of Republican Newt Gingrich played a key role in undermining democratic norms in the United States, hastening political polarization, and increasing partisan prejudice. According to Harvard University political scientists Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, Gingrich's speakership had a profound and lasting impact on American politics and the health of American democracy. They argue that Gingrich instilled a "combative" approach in the Republican Party, where hateful language and hyper-partisanship became commonplace, and where democratic norms were abandoned. Gingrich frequently questioned the patriotism of Democrats, called them corrupt, compared them to fascists, and accused them of wanting to destroy the United States. Gingrich was also involved in several major government shutdowns.
Scholars have also characterized Mitch McConnell's tenure as Senate Minority Leader and Senate Majority Leader during the Obama presidency as one where obstructionism reached all-time highs. Political scientists have referred to McConnell's use of the filibuster as "constitutional hardball", referring to the misuse of procedural tools in a way that undermines democracy. McConnell delayed and obstructed health care reform and banking reform, which were two landmark pieces of legislation that Democrats sought to pass (and in fact did pass) early in Obama's tenure. By delaying Democratic priority legislation, McConnell stymied the output of Congress. Political scientists Eric Schickler and Gregory J. Wawro write, "by slowing action even on measures supported by many Republicans, McConnell capitalized on the scarcity of floor time, forcing Democratic leaders into difficult trade-offs concerning which measures were worth pursuing. That is, given that Democrats had just two years with sizeable majorities to enact as much of their agenda as possible, slowing the Senate's ability to process even routine measures limited the sheer volume of liberal bills that could be adopted."
McConnell's refusal to hold hearings on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland during the final year of Obama's presidency was described by political scientists and legal scholars as "unprecedented", a "culmination of this confrontational style", a "blatant abuse of constitutional norms", and a "classic example of constitutional hardball." Senate Republicans justified this move by pointing to a 1992 speech from then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Biden; in that speech, Biden argued that hearings on any potential Supreme Court nominee that year should be postponed until after Election Day. Biden contested this interpretation of his 1992 speech. Democrats were further angered when McConnell seemed to switch his position in the later confirmation case of Amy Coney Barrett, who Senate Republicans confirmed on the basis that they had control of both the presidency and Senate at the time.
In the Party's early decades, its base consisted of Northern white Protestants and African Americans nationwide. Its first presidential candidate, John C. Frémont, received almost no votes in the South. This trend continued into the 20th century. Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Southern states became more reliably Republican in presidential politics, while Northeastern states became more reliably Democratic. Studies show that Southern whites shifted to the Republican Party due to racial conservatism.
While scholars agree that a racial backlash played a central role in the racial realignment of the two parties, there is a dispute as to the extent in which the racial realignment was a top-driven elite process or a bottom-up process. The "Southern Strategy" refers primarily to "top-down" narratives of the political realignment of the South which suggest that Republican leaders consciously appealed to many white Southerners' racial grievances in order to gain their support. This top-down narrative of the Southern Strategy is generally believed to be the primary force that transformed Southern politics following the civil rights era. Scholar Matthew Lassiter argues that "demographic change played a more important role than racial demagoguery in the emergence of a two-party system in the American South". Historians such as Matthew Lassiter, Kevin M. Kruse and Joseph Crespino, have presented an alternative, "bottom-up" narrative, which Lassiter has called the "suburban strategy". This narrative recognizes the centrality of racial backlash to the political realignment of the South, but suggests that this backlash took the form of a defense of de facto segregation in the suburbs rather than overt resistance to racial integration and that the story of this backlash is a national rather than a strictly Southern one. The "Southern Strategy" refers primarily to "top-down" narratives of the political realignment of the South which suggest that Republican leaders consciously appealed to many white Southerners' racial grievances in order to gain their support. This top-down narrative of the Southern Strategy is generally believed to be the primary force that transformed Southern politics following the civil rights era. Scholar Matthew Lassiter argues that "demographic change played a more important role than racial demagoguery in the emergence of a two-party system in the American South". Historians such as Matthew Lassiter, Kevin M. Kruse and Joseph Crespino, have presented an alternative, "bottom-up" narrative, which Lassiter has called the "suburban strategy". This narrative recognizes the centrality of racial backlash to the political realignment of the South, but suggests that this backlash took the form of a defense of de facto segregation in the suburbs rather than overt resistance to racial integration and that the story of this backlash is a national rather than a strictly Southern one.
The Party's 21st-century base consists of groups such as older white men; white, married Protestants; rural residents; and non-union workers without college degrees, with urban residents, ethnic minorities, the unmarried and union workers having shifted to the Democratic Party. The suburbs have become a major battleground. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 25% of Americans identify as Republican and 16% identify as leaning Republican. In comparison, 30% identify as Democratic and 16% identify as leaning Democratic. The Democratic Party has typically held an overall edge in party identification since Gallup began polling on the issue in 1991. In 2016, The New York Times noted that the Republican Party was strong in the South, the Great Plains, and the Mountain States. The 21st century Republican Party also draws strength from rural areas of the United States.
In 2018, Gallup polling found that 69% of Republicans described themselves as "conservative", while 25% opted for the term "moderate", and another 5% self-identified as "liberal".
When ideology is separated into social and economic issues, a 2020 Gallup poll found that 61% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents called themselves "socially conservative", 28% chose the label "socially conservative", 28% chose the label "socially moderate", and 10% called themselves "socially liberal". On economic issues, the same 2020 poll revealed that 65% of Republicans (and Republican leaners) chose the label "economic conservative" to describe their views on fiscal policy, while 26% selected the label "economic moderate", and 7% opted for the "economic liberal" label.
The modern Republican Party includes conservatives, centrists, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, right-wing populists, and social conservatives.
In addition to splits over ideology, the 21st-century Republican Party can be broadly divided into establishment and anti-establishment wings. Nationwide polls of Republican voters in 2014 by the Pew Center identified a growing split in the Republican coalition, between "business conservatives" or "establishment conservatives" on one side and "steadfast conservatives" or "populist conservatives" on the other.
In the 21st century, conservatives on talk radio and Fox News, as well as online media outlets such as the Daily Caller and Breitbart News, became a powerful influence on shaping the information received and judgments made by rank-and-file Republicans. They include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Larry Elder, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Dana Loesch, Hugh Hewitt, Mike Gallagher, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Reagan, Howie Carr and Michael Savage, as well as many local commentators who support Republican causes while vocally opposing the left.