Joanne B. Freeman, the redoubtable author of The Field of Blood, about violence in the antebellum Congress, offers a timely New York Times op-ed about antebellum conflicts over the House Speakership. I like the history given in the op-ed very much, but I think she gets current politics wildly wrong when she writes:
The resulting speakership struggle was not about an issue. It was not
about a policy. It was about power. Kevin McCarthy’s reported
concession to empower the extreme right by making it easier to oust
him as speaker was a surrender of power — and that’s all a potential
speaker has to offer in today’s political climate. Promises to support
key bills or logrolling mean nothing in a party that has very little
real planned legislation and very few policies.
The leadership struggle was also about policy; whether to make some modest compromises with the Democrats or to go full on fascist. Unlike slavery, which was sectionally popular in the antebellum period and therefore had sectional representation, the policies of the fascist wing of the Republican Party are, when stated plainly, popular with very few, and Republican policies overall are, when stated plainly, still minority policies.
So Republicans do not state them.
The modern Republican party is dominated by a coalition of business interests, nationalists, militarists, white supremacists, and religious radicals. They oppose social insurance programs and support white supremacy. So the only way they can win elections is by lying about their goals and taking advantage of flaws in the US political system. They have to pretend to be about nothing to take advantage of wavering low-information voters, but they are very much about tax cuts for the rich, gutting social insurance programs, and white supremacism. (And, for some reason, the gold standard, beloved of US aristocrats from the very beginning, bah!)
The Republican leadership is not honest about what they support and, in fact, when much of the public is told what Republicans support, they simply do not believe it (to this point, see Data For Progess’s polling), but never doubt that they have policy goals, and that the conflicts both with and within the Republican Party are about policy as well as raw power.