Political Analyst Gerard Lameiro predicted a split of the Republican Party in 2019, as two major systems of contradictory thoughts are emerging between social and economic conservatives. Military status is almost always associated with conservative ideals, and very few analysts account for the impact service may have on political ideology. By looking at the intersection of military status and political party, we can theorize which of these two memberships has a stronger impact on an individual’s viewpoint.
When comparing civilian and military cadet responses to questions about hot-button issues, such as gun control and abortion, our data shows that people in the Democratic Party show more consistent responses to these questions than people in the Republican Party. The Democratic group differs no more than 7.5% between civilians and cadets on topics of gun control, abortion, homosexuality, and affirmative action. They are consistently more liberal than republicans, and remarkably similar. The Republican group, on the other hand, diverges by about 25% on three of the four issues. On all topics presented, cadet Republicans share a more traditional viewpoint than their civilian counterparts.
Why are military Republicans more socially conservative than their civilian Republican peers? Perhaps traditional Republicans are more drawn to military values and lifestyle than progressive Republicans, causing an over-representation of traditionalist thought. Thought polarization would also explain this phenomenon, suggesting that those entering the military gradually develop more stringent traditionalist beliefs as they are mostly surrounded by conservative Republicans. This explanation, however, does not account for why Democrats are steadfast in their views of social issues regardless of military status.
The concept of intersectionality reminds us that people hold multiple statuses, making it difficult to stereotype them. In our sample, both military and civilian Democrats follow the wider party’s values, while Republicans differ by military status. Perhaps, as suggested by Dr. Lameiro, this indicates that the Republican Party encompasses a wider variety of acceptable viewpoints, allowing military status to intersect with political party, therefore affecting stances on social issues.