Should people support all issues in their political party?
- The official 2020 Democratic Party Platform includes such issues as: recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, building a “stronger, fairer” economy, “achieving universal, affordable, quality health care,” reforming the criminal justice system, “healing the soul of America,” environmental justice/climate crisis, strengthening America’s democracy, “creating a 21st-century immigration system,” providing higher educational standards throughout the nation, and “renewing American leadership.”
- The Republican Party did not release a formal party platform in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. Instead, the 2016 Republican Party Platform was reused in 2020, of which the following issues were highlighted: “restoring the American dream,” rebirthing Constitutional government, a focus on America’s natural resources such as agriculture, energy, and the environment, “government reform,” and finally “great American families, education, healthcare, and criminal justice.”
- In 2020, polls by The New York Times/Siena College Research Institute and The Public Religion Research Institute revealed that the top issues dividing Democrats were COVID vaccine mandates, a more liberal presidential nominee, reparations, and religion. The same polls found that the topics most divisive within the Republican party were: President Trump’s demeanor, public health insurance, state and local government COVID policies, renewable energy/environmental sustainability infrastructure, COVID vaccines, race discrimination, immigration policy, and universal basic income.
- A 2021 Gallup Poll found that 62% of US adults feel a third political party is needed in America.
People should support issues important to their political parties for the simple reason that they do so by default when casting their vote a certain way. When someone votes either Republican or Democrat, they vote for everything the party encompasses, as there is no way to cherry-pick issues.
In supporting all the issues favored by a political leaning, one upholds the ideology of their political party and the causes that it considers important, as generally there are value-based reasons why a party would endorse or oppose specific causes. While some could argue that this is blindly following, a party is strengthened from within by the validation of its values.
This is especially true with controversial issues that political parties hold strong opinions about, such as gun and abortion rights. A person may not agree with an issue on a personal level, but their vote implies that they support fellow party members' decisions about it, including related laws. Of course, voters can personally disagree on any issue that does not align with their beliefs, but on a ballot, they are essentially supporting all of the causes represented by their party.
However, questioning a party's ideology may help determine how one leans politically. If a person finds themselves disagreeing with more issues than not, this could indicate that they may wish to consider voting in the other direction. It could also mean that they are a more moderate voter within a party, are an Independent, or simply lack interest in politics, all of which are fine.
People should NOT support ALL issues in their political party. Too often, we see voters choosing a candidate based on party affiliation rather than a party evolving based on the candidate. However, sometimes a candidate breaks the mold and overcomes the party establishment. For example, President Trump often crossed the line of controversy into troubling waters, but that appealed to voters in 2016, even those outside his party.
Supporting a party’s platform in its entirety weakens unity among voters and willingness to consider another candidate’s positions. Further, our electoral process is undermined when national elections become about the color of a candidate’s tie or an animal on a flag.
Our democracy has become hyper-sensitive, and Pew Research shows that in 2020 just 4% of registered voters who supported a nominee of one party planned to support a Senate candidate from another party, with roughly 80% of Americans voting straight-ticket Republican or Democrat.
Our country feels more divided than ever, and people are afraid to share their political views. The Cato Institute found that 64% of moderates and 77% of conservatives and strong conservatives don’t feel they can express their political opinions, while 60% of educated Republicans with graduate degrees worry their political views could harm them at work. Our country feels more polarized because breaking with the establishment means sacrificing the support of the ‘leaders’ in one’s own party. Still, as we’ve seen, a candidate can change this drastically.
If we voted for a candidate rather than a party, our country would be more united, and party platforms would be more malleable.