If you’re able to answer that question then you’re ahead of the game. For many, political parties are a mystery. The dictionary defines them as “groups of people who control or seek to control a government.” So much for tip toeing around the subject.
Oddly enough, The U.S. Constitution doesn’t even bring up political parties. President George Washington warned about “the danger of parties.” Our leaders didn’t always agree. From the 1790s, a quarrel broke out between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over
amount of power to grant the federal government, that argument split followers into two separate groups – thus began the two separate U.S. political parties.
The debate still forms the underlying dispute between both political parties: the Democrats and the Republicans (though “Republicans” as a party came later).
So what exactly does each class stand for?
The Party of the People
The Democratic Party is the oldest existing political party in the U.S.. Some scholars state it began when Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republicans in 1792. Jefferson opposed a strong central government.
The party later split. Some scholars say that the Democrat Party grew from a branch headed by President Andrew Jackson. Jackson, who came to power in in 1828, believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution and a limitation in the powers of the Federal Government.
Today’s Democratic Party represents a different idea. Occasionally known as “the Party of the People,” Democrats generally attract immigrants, blue-collar employees, women, and minorities. Democrats are inclined to take a more liberal stand on important issues. They believe the federal authorities should have a more active role in daily life, especially for those in need.
One example of the shift in Democratic values comes from President Franklin Roosevelt. To pull the U.S. out of an economic depression, Roosevelt started many government plans to create jobs and help those in need.
The Grand Old Party
The Republican Party was formed in 1854 when a man by the name of Alvan E. Bovay brought together antislavery leaders. These leaders opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, legislation that would allow slavery in the new territories if approved.
After a run at the Presidency in 1856 the party’s candidate lost. The Republicans realized they needed more than one issue to triumph. In 1860, they opposed
slavery from the territories, but also called for a transcontinental railroad and free land to settlers. This time the Republican party won led by one Abraham Lincoln.
So what does the Republican stand for today? In general, Republicans tend to take a more conservative stand on issues being the polar opposite of the Democrats. Republicans believe the Federal government should not play a major part in people’s day to day lives. What’s more, the idea that Government should not intervene in business has become a staple of the red party. They advocate for less taxes and regulation.
Who Should You Choose?
Not everybody agrees with the policies and values of one party or the other, most voters choose a party that most closely represents their values, concerns, and ideals. Many pick a party depending on the candidate running so there is no need to choose one way or the other.
Other Voices from the Electoral Crowd
Over the past 40 years, Americans have seldom granted their Presidents much liberty to enact their own proposals. Since 1987, as an example, Republican Presidents have held the Federal Government, while Democrats controlled both houses of Congress (until now). The outcome is what we call a divided government.
Some experts say that this scenario has played a spark for current troubles. Each party blames the other when things go wrong. Voters, in turn, have
grown disillusioned with a government that is constantly deadlocked.
While we have a two-party system, there are hundreds of political parties at the U.S.. Additionally, there are individuals that aren’t connected to any party and run as independents. But several third-party proposals have gained such widespread support that the significant parties have been forced to adopt them.