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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 explains how the US government has narrowly avoided defaulting on its debts — a potentially catastrophic economic event — following a bipartisan deal between Senate Republicans and the Democratic Party administration.

At one level this is a refreshing break from the bitter polarisation that has typified US party politics in recent years. But it is important to note that the negotiations went to the wire and the deal was opposed by elements of both parties. This is a good illustration of the conflicting ideologies of the main US parties.

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

US Senate passes bill to end debt ceiling stand-off and avoid default

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • Explain and analyse three reasons why the two main US political parties are strongly opposed to each other’s ideas and policies. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3

  • Evaluate the view that the two main US political parties are now completely opposed to each other’s values and policies. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: The budget crisis shows that there are wide differences between the Democrats and Republicans. Look at their positions on other policy areas, such as welfare and social and moral issues, to assess the extent to which common ground between the two parties has disappeared in recent years.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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