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The Evolution of Republican and Democratic Positions on Cold War Military Spending

A Historical Puzzle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2016


The domestic politics of American military spending during the Cold War confronts scholars with an important but often overlooked puzzle: the two major parties appear to have switched positions on the issue. During the early Cold War era, Democrats were generally supportive of increased military spending, while Republicans were critical. After the mid-1960s, Democrats increasingly tended to oppose larger military budgets, while Republicans more often favored them. This article presents evidence about the process through which this change took place. It identifies several developments in the domestic and international environments that may have contributed to this party switch and evaluates preliminary evidence about each of them.

Copyright © Social Science History Association 2007 

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