Many Americans appear to be confused about, or unsure of, their political identities. Some Americans align with a party because they have friends or associates within it, while some drift towards a party because of one or two platform issues they like, and still others join a party because they are attracted by its charismatic leader.
Few Americans truly understand the meaning of being a Democrat or Republican.
Let’s look at the origin and platforms of these two political parties.
In 1791, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party, in opposition to the Federalist Party of the time. In 1824, the party changed its name to the Democratic Party (dropping the word Republican since the Federalist was no longer). Thirty years later (in 1854), the Republican Party was founded by anti-slave activists and liberal-minded statesmen, including Abraham Lincoln.
Up until 1912, the Democratic Party was the party of conservatives while the Republican Party was the party of liberals.
In 1912, the Democratic Party started taking stands “to the left of” the Republican Party position, especially on economic and social matters. The socialist philosophy of Franklin D. Roosevelt formed the Democratic Party’s agenda beginning in 1932, controlling much of the government’s programs. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s Republican Party was being scorched by internal factions and scandals, resulting in changes in its membership and thinking. Starting at about 1910, the party became pro-business and started embracing the viewpoints of the “religious right.”
And so in today’s political world, a Democrat is liberal while a Republican is conservative.
How can you tell today’s Democrat from a Republican?
I like to quote Ambrose Bierce who once said that a conservative is “a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.”
A Democrat is on the “left” of the political spectrum, while a Republican is on the “right” of it. The farther left one moves, the more liberal one gets (extreme liberalism, bordering on socialism); the farther right one goes, the more conservative one becomes (extreme conservatism, bordering on social chaos).
A Democrat is for a broad range of social services (social welfare, social security, universal healthcare, etc.) all of which a Republican will oppose. A Republican is pro-religion (Christian, of course), pro-business, pro-military, anti-government, and wants people to be personally responsible for their own well-being.
A Democrat believes that the government is a business owned by the people, of the people, and for the people. A Republican considers government as an obstacle to the “survival of the fittest” and believes that private enterprise can serve the needs of all the people without government assistance or interference.
A Democrat is against growing the military while a Republican wants a militarily powerful nation. A Democrat will oppose military intervention in foreign disputes while a Republican will seek it.
A Democrat is for stricter gun control and is opposed to the carrying of concealed weapons in public places, while a Republican holds the opposing view.
A Democrat wants those who make more to pay taxes at a higher rate, while a Republican believes everyone should pay taxes at one low flat rate.
A Democrat will support a woman’s right to choose, while a Republican (because of religious leanings) will oppose the right to abortion.
A Democrat favors equal rights for gays and lesbians, while a Republican (again, due to religious beliefs) is against it.
A Democrat favors a higher minimum wage so workers can live respectably, while a Republican believes businesses should decide what wage to pay workers in a market economy.
Demographically, more minorities (Blacks, Asians, Latinos, etc.), including immigrants, are Democrats while more Whites are Republican.
Democrats are more educated than Republicans (there are more Democrats among college graduates).
Democrats are blue, Republicans are red.
According to Gallup, 43% of American voters are Independent (no party affiliation) and of those who’ve declared a party affiliation, 30% are Democrat while 26% are Republican. On the other hand, the Pew Research Center claims that 39% of American voters are Independent, 32% are Democrat, and 23% are Republican.
So there – choose your side.