Party Evolutions in Moral Intuitions: A Text-Analysis of US Political Party Platforms from 1856-2008
26 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 8, 2012
The theory of political realignments has been debated since its conception. The prevailing perspective is that critical political realignments generally do not occur in the way they were initially described. Rather, it seems more likely that if political realignments occur, they tend to be more gradual, secular realignments akin to issue evolution where parties slowly change their positions on issues over time. The focus of this analysis is on examining how each party’s moral intuitions change, as determined by a textual analysis of the Democratic and Republican party’s platforms from 1856-2008. The data suggest that, in general, the usage of words related to each of 5 moral intuitions move together over time for both parties. However, in 1896 and 1932, the Democratic and Republican parties diverge in their emphasis on harm, fairness, and authority-related moral intuitions. Furthermore, it appears that the clearest instance of party evolution in their moral intuitions occurred between 1896 and 1932, suggesting a fundamental shift in both party’s views of the federal government’s role in promoting individual welfare.
Keywords: morality, moral foundations, moral intuitions, polarization, realignment, party platforms, Democrat, Republican
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