Focus 5


The Differences Between the Republicans and Democrats

George Washington once said, “However political parties may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” The citizens of the United States were warned by Washington that dividing the country by political parties would have a negative impact. But,  since the 1700s, it seems this country has been divided by political parties.  A political party “is a coalition of people organized formally to recruit, nominate, and elect individuals to office and to use elected office to achieve shared political goals” (Gitelson 221).  The early United State’s parties were established in 1787 when Hamilton and other leaders, who wanted a strong central government started calling themselves Federalists.  Those who opposed Hamilton called themselves Democratic-Republicans and were lead by Thomas Jefferson. In 1828, Andrew Jackson, a democratic-republican, was elected president. He changed the party’s name to Democrats. Those who opposed the Democrats who were once called “federalists joined with anti-Jackson Democrats to form the National Republican, or Whig, Party” (Flanders). The two parties soon  became widely divided when the topic of discussion for the United States turned to slavery.  In 1854, antislavery forces formed the Republican Party. Today, generally the two parties agree on “social security, unemployment insurance, basic foreign policy, and civil rights” (Flanders). There are hundreds of issues that the two parties debate over, such as abortion, healthcare, and gun control.

Generally, for most of our nation’s history, we have had a two-party system. The system known as single-member district, winner-take-all electoral system is when a candidate must win by most votes (Gitelson).  Then only one U.S state or representative from each district may win. This is vastly different from European nations that use proportional representation, which seats are assigned to party candidates in proportion to percentage of the vote that the party gets within a district.   

The Republican party is represented by the color red and an elephant mascot. It was established in 1854 and is considered to have right wing conservative beliefs. States that are traditionally Republican are Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas. A few past presidents that have been Republican are Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. Republicans are more interested in a smaller government, individual rights, freedoms and liberties. Republicans are likely to favor “reducing taxes…governmental services, including aid to minorities and social welfare programs” (Gitelson). Support generally comes from those who are white, reside in southern states, Protestant, and are in the middle to upper classes.  

The Democratic party, whose color is blue and has a mascot of a donkey, was brought into fruition in 1824. Those who are Democrats have liberal, left-wing beliefs and states that have a strong Democratic background include California, Massachusetts, and  New York. Past democratic presidents include Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) and John F. Kennedy. Democrats are concerned with the equality of an individual and the overall community responsibility, with a high degree of governmental oversight.  A large governmental role in “policy areas such as social welfare and business regulation” (Gitelson). African Americans, Hispanics, Catholics, Jews, women and those over the age of fifty tend to support this political party.

There are countless issues that both Democrats and Republicans have their views on, such as, the debate over abortion, military involvement, and the role the government should play.   January 22, 1973, changed the lives for many women when the U.S. Supreme Court made its ruling on Roe v. Wade, that “only a pregnant woman and her doctor have the legal right to make the decision about an abortion” (Schnall).  Through the 14th Amendment, no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (Gitelson), while the fifth section states that Congress may enforce, “by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article”. From the 14th Amendment, it is fair to conclude that unborn children are persons under the law. The Republican platform believes that abortion should be considered illegal and oppose the ruling of  Roe v. Wade. They believe that life begins at conception and, “say the unborn child has a fundamental right to life” (Republican) and will not fund any public health organization that induces abortion coverage. They heavily support adoption instead of abortion. On the other hand, Democrats support this issue and support keeping late-term abortions legal. They believe a woman has the right to choose what should be done with her body and believe abortion should be done in a safe and legal way. They support contraceptive research, family planning and family life education.  Of all of the issues Americans fight for or against, abortion is an extremely controversial and a broad topic of argument.

In addition, when the issue is centered on health care, Republicans oppose too much government involvement while Democrats support full involvement (TheDemocrats). Democrats prefer having government involvement, they believe that having the government regulate the healthcare system, it will thrive. They support acts such as the Affordable Care Act, previously referred to as Obamacare. “The sweeping health care reform was designed to lower healthcare costs, make health insurance available to the 30 million Americans lacking it, and prevent the health insurance industry from denying coverage to any American with a pre-existing condition” (Scarpelli 12). Republicans wish to eradicate the Affordable Care Act by repealing it; they believe that this act has a negative impact on overall patient health and drives up the cost for the ones paying for the healthcare. Millions of Americans are still without health care, however, due to its high cost and/or high deductibles. These Americans are choosing to take a penalty on their income tax returns rather than pay the higher healthcare costs.

Another issue that is largely debated over is gun control, with Republicans being in favor of it and Democrats are not. Republicans believe that individuals have the right to bear arms (2nd Amendment) and these individuals may store and have firearms. They also “oppose federal licensing of law abiding gun owners and national gun registration as a violation of the 2nd Amendment and an invasion of privacy of honest citizens” (Republican Party). Democrats believe that owners should have guns with reasonable regulation. By doing this, they hope to keep the weapons out of the hands of criminals by fighting gun crime and closing the gun show loophole (The Democrats).  This is a feat easier said than done.

As November 8th approaches, the Republican party won’t even consider a “Democratic president’s nomination for the Supreme Court and it means that the ‘I can work with Congress’ talking point should be permanently retired” (Washington). As long as Republicans have control over both the house and the senate, there is no working with Congress for President Obama on this issue.  Budgets will still get passed, but whether there will be compromise or not is up in the air if Hillary Clinton wins the election in November.

 Some presidents or even potential candidates may promise such things that they cannot control. Donald Trump’s plan for immigration is to convince the Mexican government to build a wall with Mexico’s own resources and money. This is an unrealistic approach, since Trump does not possess the power to do this. “Conservative voters are so locked into their hatred of anything “liberal” that even a man as openly vile and dangerous as Trump will probably manage to at least make it close on election day” (Washington) and will try to build his unreasonable wall. However, Trump has a point, the United States needs to do something about its immigration problem; immigration is a privilege, not a right. Both of these candidates are fighting for the title of the President of the United States. This election cycle has been somewhat person and vile to everyone, but anyway you look at it, we are going to have a new President come November 2016.

To say the least, after examining party platforms, the Democrats are considered to have liberal views, while Republicans have conservative views. Despite the core differences between the two parties, they “remain a key institution in American politics and are still one of the most important cues for voters making electoral decisions” (Gitelson).  The presidential election is a little over a month away and Americans will make decisions based on their views on the issues. The choice the voters have to make comes down to primarily this: more governmental intervention or less governmental intervention.

Works Cited

AM, September 1 201610:55. “A Personal Note about Donald Trump’s Candidacy.” Washington Monthly. Diane Straus, 02 Sept. 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. <>.

“Democrat vs Republican.” Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 2 Oct 2016.< >

Flanders, Steven. “The Origins and Functions of Political Parties.”Scholastic Teachers. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.

Gitelson, Alan R., Robert L. Dudley, and Melvin J. Dubnick. American Government: Myths and Realities. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

“Republican Party on Abortion.” Republican Party on Abortion. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.

“Republican Party on Gun Control.” Republican Party on Gun Control. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016. <>.

Scarpelli, Craig. California in the American System. McGraw Hill, 2012.

Schnall, Marianne Marianne. “HISTORY OF ABORTION.” HISTORY OF ABORTION, Simon & Schuster Inc.,

TheDemocrats. “” N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.


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