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  • AQA Component Political parties: the ideological changes in both the Democratic and Republican parties making them more distinct and polarised 

  • Edexcel Component 5.2:  The key ideas and principles of the Democratic and Republican parties

Background: what you need to know

The article has been prompted by Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, an annual policy speech delivered by the president in Congress. His remarks on the fraught US-China relationship provide the most headline-catching section of the address.

However, the article also contains evidence of the polarisation between Democrats and Republicans. Biden appealed for a spirit of bipartisanship, but this seems unlikely to overcome the deeply entrenched mistrust between the two parties.

Click to read the article below and then answer the questions:

Joe Biden warns China over threats to US sovereignty in State of the Union address

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • Explain and analyse three reasons why the two main US political parties are strongly polarised in their ideas and policies. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3

  • Evaluate the view that modern US political parties have no common ground in terms of their ideas and policies. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks] 

    TIP: Think about a range of policy areas where the two parties are divided from each other — not just the economy but also ‘identity’ issues such as gun control and abortion. Areas of agreement are less obvious than the causes of conflict, but it is important to be aware of some common ground. As the article shows, not all Republicans support cuts to welfare programmes. The protection of American industries is another example.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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