Party discipline in the Republican Party

Inspired by this post by Cam Riley … Any observer of U.S. politics could not have failed to notice the incredible level of party discipline that the Republicans, particularly in the Senate, have achieved over the last year or six.  This may be something new to Americans, but it’s rather common to Britons and Australians, who generally get more excited when somebody — anybody! — breaks the party line.  The party discipline of the Australian Labor Party, in particular, is phenomenal.

I understand that the generally accepted explanation for the differences between the USA and Australia in this regard focuses on the sources of funding for campaigns.  In Australia, all campaign funds come from the party — individual candidates cannot raise money directly — where as in the US, there’s a combination of party-supplied and individually-raised funding.

That then suggests two possible reasons for the new-found Republican discipline:

  • Republican congressional candidates have started to take a larger fraction of their total campaign funding from the party itself; and/or
  • Advocacy groups that support policies we stereotypically associate with the Democratic Party have not been giving any money to Republicans.

If it is the second reason, then that is a tactical error, and a foolish one, on the part of those advocacy groups.

1 Response to “Party discipline in the Republican Party”

  • John, I think it was Labor’s pledge in the early 1900s that led Australia to be that way. When Labor won seats they quickly got bundled out, wedged, etc by the experienced parliamentarians. So the Labor executive came up with the pledge – where parliamentarians would vote exactly as the external party executive had decided. So they were a voting bloc. The Liberal/Conservatives responded with absolute party discipline though they have in their constitution or charter the right to conscience vote. Labor does not. Giorgou covered the history of it in a speech.

    I think it is sad to see the US system gain absolute party discipline. I admired that aspect of it over the Australian system.

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