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  • Edexcel Component 3, Section 5.2: The key ideas and principles of the Democratic and Republican Parties

  • AQA Component 3.2, Section Political Parties

Background: what you need to know 

This article focuses on the electoral victory of Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia. The issue of education featured strongly in the campaign. Voters were apparently concerned by the Democratic Party’s association with ‘critical race theory’, which argues that racism is embedded in society.

This plays into a narrative that the Democrats have moved too far to the left, alienating moderate, middle-class suburban voters. These people were repelled by Donald Trump’s brand of politics but are attracted to a more mainstream pitch by the Republican Party. The article suggests that this, and other educational issues, may prove important in the midterm elections in November 2022.

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

Republicans focus on education in bid to win back suburban America

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • Explain and analyse three ways in which US party politics has become increasingly polarised in recent years. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3a

  • Evaluate the view that the Republican and Democrat Parties have become increasingly polarised in recent years.

    You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. (30)

    TIP: The article focuses on education but you will of course need to look at other policy areas where the two parties are in conflict. Another area currently in the news is the argument over the scale of President Biden’s social spending package. See, for example, this article: Biden seeks course out of doldrums after US legislative victory.

    In answering a question with the command word ‘evaluate’, you need to think about areas of common ground as well as conflict between the two parties, even if these are much less apparent today. You could examine the ideas of centre-right Democrats, such as Senator Joe Manchin, who have been working with moderate Republicans to obstruct Biden’s spending plans.

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College

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