Ideology vs. group interests: How Republicans and Democrats really are different | Michigan Radio

Ideology vs. group interests: How Republicans and Democrats really are different

Sep 30, 2016


This election year has a lot of people scratching their heads.

Many just can’t wrap their heads around how or why two people who are not that well liked - according to the polls - are the nominees of the major parties.

And it seems that Republicans and Democrats just can’t understand why the people in the opposite party think the things they do.

There’s a new book that looks at how the parties and their supporters are different and tries to help make sense of American politics today.

The book is Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, written by David Hopkins and Matt Grossmann.

Grossmann joined us today.

In the book’s introduction, Grossmann writes:

“While the Democratic Party is fundamentally a group coalition, the Republican Party can be most accurately characterized as the vehicle of an ideological movement.”

He explains that the Democratic Party is made up of a variety of demographic and issue groups who have banded together to see new laws enacted that further their interests.

“It used to be the case that we assumed that … if you had a lot of groups that you were trying to pull together that they would be disorganized. But in the last decade or so we’ve actually seen that a party that defines itself by principles, the Republican Party, can also have a lot of dissension,” he said.

“And now we have the Democrats, even though they have to line up a lot of groups behind disparate policy agenda, seem to be getting along internally better than the Republican party.”

According to Grossmann, the Republican Party after the 1964 election became “the vehicle of the conservative ideological movement,” but it took some time to get really conservative officials in office.

“We’re long past that point where the Republican Party is really unified around the broad cause of conservatism, but they’ve always had trouble translating that conservatism into actual policy action in government.”

Grossmann talks more about what divides the Republican and Democratic Parties and how the parties have changed over the years in our conversation above.

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