If you listen to the talking heads on mainstream media, Democrats and Republicans are one in the same. This becomes even higher pitched when you listen to Republicans and their supporters. Whenever Republicans are correctly pinged for their blatant hypocrisy the typical defense is that Democrats do it as well. This is quickly picked up and parroted (if not started) by Fox News (not to mention right wing websites and radio) which then broadcasts this information out to their followers.
However, this could not be farther from the truth. Sure the leaders within each party may seem eerily similar at times, but when you look farther down the chain the differences are stark.
The Resistance vs. The Tea Party
The Resistance is not simply made up of Democrats, but it is the largest member base. When comparing how the Resistance and the Tea Party sprang up there is something very telling. The Resistance has largely been a true grass roots organization that in a very short time was able to quickly and tightly organize. The Tea Party was largely not grass roots. Though Republicans, Tea Partiers, and the media are quick to say that it was, the facts do not agree. The Tea Party was actually organized by right leaning corporations like the Koch Brothers that had the money to throw into organization.
Democratic leadership, at first, attempted to distance themselves from the Resistance because they were unsure of how successful it would be. There were signs in the beginning that the Democratic leadership in Washington was willing to work with Trump and Republicans. Once the Resistance took hold and made the Democratic leadership take notice, they suddenly changed their minds.
The Tea Party had the full backing of the leadership of the Tea Party because some of them had a hand in creating the organization. The Tea Party was never about splitting up the Republican Party, but to enhance and unify the party.
People vs. Party
The Democratic Party is behind the game when it comes to listening to the people in the party. The Republicans figured it out years ago. No matter if they agreed (though mostly they did) with what the base wanted they capitulated to those demands. The Democratic Party is still fighting against what the people in the party want.
In Kansas this week a special election was held to fill a Congressional seat. The Democratic Party spent hardly any money on the election. The reason was simple, it was a very red district. Trump won the district by nearly 30 points. The Congressman that was just elected (and now serving in the Trump Administration) won by over 30 points. There were early signs that the race may be a lot closer than people though. Yet, the Democratic Party waited until the final days to put any effort into the state.
The seat was held by the Republicans by 7 points. Not 30, not 40, but 7. Imagine what could have happened if the Democratic leadership would have put some money behind the race.
The Big Difference
Where the difference comes in is that the Democratic base often disagrees with the leaders within the party. However, the Republican base typically goes along with what the leaders want.
By now, everyone knows that Trump illegally ordered an airstrike that did virtually no damage in Syria. He did this as a result of Assad (reportedly) bombing his own citizens with chemical weapons.
In 2013, Obama considered ordering airstrikes against Syria because Assad was using gas against his own people (again reportedly). However, as the Constitution dictates, he went to Congress before actually doing so. The approval essentially stalled in Congress before Obama, Russia, and Syria agreed on a treaty where Syria would not use chemical weapons.
At the time, the Washington Post conducted a poll asking whether Americans supported airstrikes. In that poll 38% of Democrats supported the idea, while just 22% of Republicans showed support. The Washington Post just performed a new poll after Trump’s strike and the differences are stark … on one side of the aisle. Democratic support roughly stayed the same, it dropped by 1% to 37%. Republican support, though, blossomed to 86%. A 64% difference in about a four year period.
What’s the difference? The person in the office. In 2013 it was a Democratic president, so Republicans mostly opposed the airstrikes. Now that a Republican is in office, they are suddenly giddy over it.
Once you leave the leadership of the parties there are very stark differences between the Democratic and Republican base. It does not mean we cannot come together for the better of the country. However, saying that the bases are cut from the same cloth or of the same side of the coin is just a fallacy.