|Party Chairman||Thomas Perez|
|Senate Leader||Chuck Schumer|
|House Leader||Nancy Pelosi|
|Headquarters|| 430 South Capitol Street SE|
|Political ideology|| Liberalism|
|Political position|| Fiscal: Left-wing|
- This article is about the Democratic Party of the United States. For Democratic Parties in other countries, see Democratic party (disambiguation)
- For the grammatically-correct name of the party, see Democrat Party
The Democratic Party (D) is one of the two major political parties in the United States of America. It is pro-abortion and anti-free enterprise, supporting higher taxes, redistribution of wealth, over-regulation, anti-gun policies, and a much larger, more invasive government, while the Republican Party is generally pro-life and pro-free enterprise, supporting lower taxes, gun rights, indiviudal liberty and small, responsible government. Barack Obama and other Democrats are left-wing on the political spectrum. Voters in 2010, 2014, and 2016 rejected Democratic Party candidates at the local, state and national levels in record-setting proportions. On February 25, 2017, the Democratic National Committee selected Thomas Perez to lead the party.
Members of the Democratic Party are known as Democrats. Founded in 1828, slavery and segregation were cornerstones of the party's ideology. Both were exclusively Democratic issues which the GOP was founded to oppose. A Congressional faction known as Blue Dogs made up of conservative Democrats, was largely "shellacked" after it was offered up on the altar of Obamacare by Progressives, defying and abandoning their constituents. In 2009 Bluedogs boasted 44 centrists but by 2011 it had only 8 members. A bi-partisan core in the House was destroyed by radical leftists who now dominate the party.
In the doldrums after 2000, the party led by anti-war radicals roared back with major gains in 2006, which it expanded in 2008 to sweep control of the national government and leave the GOP in a state of confusion and decline. The GOP bounced back in 2009, with near-unanimous opposition to contentious Democratic policies, especially stimulus spending and Obamacare. Polls show Obama's popularity began to erode after his anti-police stance became apparent in the summer of 2009.
For the first two Obama years, the Democrats controlled the White House and a veto-proof Congress, ramming through unpopular legislation without bipartisan support such as Obamacare. In the 2010 midterm elections, the Republican party won decisive control of the House of Representatives; suburbs and rural areas are still more likely to be in Republican hands. Polls at the time indicated that 50% of voters identified themselves with the Democrats as opposed to 35% for the Republican Party. On the one hand, the Democrats claim to have won the popular vote for President in 2016 by more than 2.7 million votes (although, contrary to liberal denial, over 800,000 illegal immigrants likely voted), and Republican candidates received 49.13% of the nationwide total votes cast for House races in 2016 and won 55.4% of U.S. House seats. However, because the Presidential election is decided by the Electoral College and the House seats are elected by defined districts, Republicans won the White House as well as the majority of House seats.
- 1 Policies and criticism
- 2 Religion
- 3 History
- 3.1 First Party System
- 3.2 Origins
- 3.3 Jacksonian Democracy: 1832-1854
- 3.4 Third Party System: Civil War, Gilded Age: 1854-1896
- 3.5 The Bryan Movement
- 3.6 Fourth Party System: Bryan, Wilson, Progressivism: 1896-1932
- 3.7 Fifth Party System: The New Deal
- 3.8 Truman to Kennedy: 1945-1963
- 3.9 Civil Rights, Riots, War and collapse of the New Deal Coalition
- 3.10 1968 to 1999
- 3.11 21st century
- 4 Symbols
- 5 Jefferson – Jackson Dinners
- 6 Democratic Presidents
- 7 See also
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Policies and criticism
The views of individual Democrats sometimes diverge from the party's official stance as expressed in its national party platform, however unlike the Republican party, the Democratic National Committee has not allowed dissenting opinions to share the podium on matters such as abortion at National Conventions. The Democratic party also adopts policy positions and platforms at the state, Congressional district and local levels.
In the field of economic policy, Democrats tend to favor high progressive taxes, more regulation, less personal freedom and more government control and spending.
The Democratic Party has historically had ties to organized labor. However, the influence of organized labor has waned as the portion of the unionized workforce has dropped in the "gig economy" that is more service oriented.
Democrats typically claim that they want to help low-income Americans and claim to want to accomplish this by increasing the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans. However now only half of Americans pay federal taxes, and the other half receive federal benefits.
Many Democrats support a minimum wage that increases with the increases in the cost of living and currently advocate setting the minimum wage at $15.00 per hour. President Obama signed an executive order imposing this minimum wage on federal contractors, a meanigless gesture as few federal contracts and little money is handed out to unskilled workers. Congress did not adopted a proposed $10.10 wage for all interstate commerce. Currently, only 4.3% of all hourly wage workers receive the current minimum wage of $7.25.
Foreign and military policy
According to its platform, the Democratic Party is alleged to have the objective of strengthening America. Democratic national leadership has shown itself lax on terrorism while it grew exponentially on President Obama's watch and insufficiently patriotic. A poll conducted by Fox News released in October 2007 found that 1 in 5 Democrats – nearly 10 million voters – think the world will be better off if the United States were to lose the War in Iraq. The poll found this sentiment 3 to 4 times higher among Democrats than among moderate, centrist, and Republican voters.
In general, the Democratic Party has been pro-Israel and, in a reversal of roles, anti-Russia. In contrast, some critics claim that Russia interefered in the 2016 Presidential election and worked to undermine Hillary Clinton's campaign, promoted Donald J. Trump while President Obama did nothing to prevent it. The Democratic Party has favored free trade agreements, environmental regulation and so-called "trade impact assistance" or government handouts after trade agreements destroy private sector, taxpaying jobs. Many traditional Republicans have also favored free trade agreements, but President Elect Donald J. Trump has called for the re-negotiation of free trade agreements.
An organization affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council called the Progressive Policy Institute claims a long-standing opposition to school vouchers. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek warned that opposition to vouchers might alienate some traditional Democratic voting blocs:
- "Can wealthy white liberals - many of whom send their kids to private school - really say to poor parents: 'We can have choices, but you must not?'...This is a glaring hypocrisy sitting at the heart of the liberal opposition to targeted vouchers… Right now, Democrats are in a highly compromised position on education."
Democrats favor expanded taxpayer funding of higher education, particularly for scientific research, land-grant colleges, community colleges and historically black colleges. President Obama established a White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Democrats subsidized the interest rate out of the federal treasury for Stafford loan voters by cutting the rate to 3.4% and eliminated private banks as middlemen in federal student loans.
Environment vs Labor
Two other important coalition groups also find themselves in direct conflict with each other within the Democratic party coalition--Environmentalists and Labor Unions. While environmentalists support efforts like clean air and alternative fuels, for example, this creates tension with the workers of American automobile manufactures whose jobs are threatened by environmental policies such as increasing regulations and high costs. Such policies can lead to cutbacks and layoffs. Balancing these issues is difficult because some sacrifices of interests must be made by both sides.
Democratic leaders have endorsed various Democratic Health Care Plans; the question in 2009 was whether a new trillion dollar plan could pass in a time of economic crisis. Many Democrats advocate a socialist big government single-payer health insurance system and used the budget reconciliation act to ram through an unpopular plan that required individuals to purchase insurance with the threat of fines for non-compliance. A new entitlement and income transfer program was created which favored some of their core constituents. On March 21, 2010, ObamaCare was passed on a straight partyline vote, and President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010.
The party grossly overplayed its hand, mistaking its internal unity as a national consensus. And the Obamacare plan was promoted by mainstream media sources with thousands of fake news stories, blatant lies, distortions, and deceptions, even by President Obama himself promising Americans if they liked their insurance policy, they could keep it. Many Democrats argued that there may be some advantages to a universal health care system. Democrats generally regard universal health care coverage to be a priority because of the appeal to voters with nothing to contribute to their own care and are without any kind of health insurance. Others argue that the United States must compete with foreign countries where the public treasury covers all health care costs which supposedly gives foreign companies an advantage over U.S. products. Another argument is that prior to ObamaCare, uninsured people would fail to get preventative care and would go to hospital emergency rooms for treatment, resulting in higher health care costs and large subsidies paid by people with health insurance.
The employer mandate required employers with 50 or more employees to provide some sort of health insurance plan for their workers. The net result was job loss and little new job creation, as many existing small businesses were forced to pare down their workforce to 49 employees and other jobs were never created because of the added costs and burden.
Voting Rights and Civil Rights
Democrats have generally favored legislation that makes it more convenient to vote, including early voting and no-excuse absentee voting. Democrats have supported litigation to address redistricting that hinders minorities from electing officials. Democrats have favored extension of the Voting Rights Act.
White Democratic leaders — but not blacks or Latinos — consistently favor measures such as the establishment of same-sex civil unions or "marriage". On May 9, 2012, President Obama announced that he supports same-sex "marriage".
In 2016, the Democrats adopted one of the most extreme, pro-abortion platforms in its history, supporting unrestricted abortion, supporting the repeal of every single law in existence that limits abortion including those that formerly received bipartisian support, and forcing taxpayers to fund murder. Additionally, the Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was one of the strongest supporters of abortion in U.S. history.
In the United States, there is some correlation between religious and political affiliation, though people of all faiths and denominations can be found among the supporters of each of the main parties.
Historically, Catholic voters have had a tendency to identify with the Democratic Party; in recent decades there has been little difference. However, Catholic politicians are mostly Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. However, several general ideals of the Democratic Party's platform — most notably, the party's overall support for the legality of abortion and many methods of contraception — are contrary to the position of the Catholic Church. In 2012, there was a controversy regarding a national organization of religious women ("nuns") speaking out against House Republican budget proposals. This resulted in a national publicity tour and protests called "Nuns on the Bus".
With regard to Protestants, members of Evangelical churches in recent years have voted about 70-80% Republican. However, the large majority of Democratic Party members are Protestants. One unusual feature of the Democratic Party, however, is that it draws substantial support both from committed African-American Protestants (most of whom are Baptists) and from secular and atheist voters. The strong opposition to homosexuality found among many Black Protestants contrasts strikingly with the support frequently shown by other Democrats for the homosexual agenda. One reason for this contrast could be the Democrats' strong support for minority rights.
Democrats also generally believe that organized religion should be separate from public life, and as such are typically supported by the ACLU. For example, in 1999 the Congress took up a bill to protect the display of the Ten Commandments. In the House of Representatives, over 3/4ths of the Democratic party members voted to remove the display. The measure did not pass the Congress, and as a result when a member of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, posted a Ten Commandments display in his courthouse, the ACLU was able to have the display removed.
Religious affiliation and voting for Barack Obama
Pew Forum reports about the religious affiliation of voters who voted for Barack Obama in 2012:
|“||About seven-in-ten religiously unaffiliated voters (70%) and Jews (69%) voted for Obama in 2012. A similar share of Jews in our survey (64%) say they are Democrats, while all three subsets of religious “nones” (atheists, agnostics and those who say their religion is “nothing in particular”) lean in that direction as well.||”|
First Party System
Democrats claim that Thomas Jefferson founded their party in 1792 at the start of the First Party System. The Jeffersonian Republicans was a political party established under the leadership of Jefferson and James Madison. At the time, it was generally called the Republicans, but it had no relationship to today's Republican Party, founded in 1854. The 1816 election was the last occasion when the Federalist Party nominated a presidential candidate. In the 1820s, the Jeffersonian Republicans split into several fractions. Andrew Jackson emerged as the candidate of one of these groups and was elected president in 1828.
Most historians regard Jackson's 1832 campaign organization as the beginning of today's Democratic Party. The Democratic Party itself traces its origin to Jefferson's Republicans. The leadership of the Jeffersonian Republicans, including John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, created the National Republican Party. Adams supporters called themselves National Republicans, antecedents of the Whig and later the Republican parties.
The modern Democratic party was formed during 1828-34, under the national leadership of Jackson and Van Buren, with organizations in all the states comprised of local political leaders. This became the era of Jacksonian Democracy. The Jacksonians resembled the Jeffersonians especially in terms of anti-elite rhetoric of opposition to "aristocracy" (that is, wealthy old families), distrust of banks (and paper money), and faith in "the people." By his extensive use of federal patronage, President Jackson removed old office-holders to make way for party loyalists. With the emergence of the Whig Party, the nation now had a new party system, the Second Party System, which lasted until 1854.
The party held its first national convention in 1832 to choose a new running mate for Jackson; it nominated Martin Van Buren for vice president and endorsed the reelection of Jackson. Jackson easily defeated Clay in 1832. In the political realignment of 1828-32, some of Jackson's supporters from the election of 1828, especially businessmen and bankers, switched to the opposition Whig Party as Jackson crusaded against the Second Bank of the United States. The name "Democratic Party" became common by the mid-1830s.
Jacksonian Democracy: 1832-1854Second Party System (as political scientists call it; historians call it "Jacksonian Democracy", 1832-54. After 1832, the Democratic Party drew support from a cross section of the country; every group was represented. However the vast majority of rich merchants, bankers and plantation owners were Whigs, as were most evangelical Protestants. The party was strongest among traditionalistic farmers, frontiersmen, unskilled workers, Irish Catholics, and local or state political leaders. It was weakest in New England, where industrialization turned most factory workers and white collar workers into Whigs, but was dominant in all other regions. The key issues it promoted were opposition to elites and aristocrats, popular democracy (in terms of voting rights and access to government patronage jobs) and opposition to the Bank of the United States (Jackson vetoed its charter renewal in 1832). The policies were known as Jacksonian Democracy.
Banking and tariffs were the central domestic policy issues from 1828 to 1852. The Democrats favored the Mexican-American War; Whigs opposed it. Democrats attracted Catholic Irish and German immigrants and denounced anti-immigrant nativism. Both the Democrats and Whigs were divided on the issue of slavery.
In the 1830s the Loco-Focos in New York City were radically democratic, anti-monopoly, and proponents of laissez-faire. Their chief spokesman was writer William Leggett. At this time labor unions were few; some were loosely affiliated with the party.
The economy went sour in the late 1830s with Van Buren getting the blame; he lost reelection as president in 1840 to the Whig William Henry Harrison. The Democrats gained the White House back in 1844 with James K. Polk. He had a successful term, then retired. The Democratic National Committee was created in 1848 at the convention that nominated General Lewis Cass, who lost to General Zachary Taylor of the Whigs. In state after state the Democrats gained small but permanent advantages over the Whigs, until by 1852 the Whig Party was fatally weakened by divisions regarding the issue of slavery and they soon vanished.
The Democratic party dominated the North from the 1840s to 1854. Northern Democrats opposed banks, criticized corporate practices, and preached the ideals of a free society. They called for rapid territorial expansion of the United States, saying that in territorial expansion lay a means for thwarting the pretensions of the Slave Power.
Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire was elected president in 1852, followed by James Buchanan of Pennsylvania in 1856. They proved poor presidents who lost control of the slavery issue, and the party, as the nation broke apart and fought the American Civil War.
Third Party System: Civil War, Gilded Age: 1854-1896
During the Third Party System (1854-1896) the Democrats (still split in two due to the issue over slavery) became the minority in the face of the newly formed Republican Party (formed by former Whigs and abolitionists), which controlled nearly all northern states by 1860, bringing a solid majority in the Electoral College. A powerful Republican issue was the allegation that northern Democrats, including "Doughfaces" like Pierce and Buchanan, and advocates of popular sovereignty like Stephen A. Douglas and Lewis Cass, were accomplices to the Slave Power. The Republicans meant by Slave Power the conspiracy of slaveholders to seize control of the federal government and block the progress of liberty.
In 1860 the Democrats were unable to stop the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln, even as they feared his election would lead to civil war. The party split in two due to the issue of slavery. The northern wing nominated Douglas, and the southern wing nominated Vice President John C. Breckinridge. Douglas campaigned across the country and came in second in the popular vote, but carried only Missouri. Breckinridge carried 11 slave states.
The Republican Party was beginning a 50-year era of dominance (1858-1910). During the war, Northern Democrats divided into two factions, War Democrats, who supported the military policies of President Lincoln, and Copperheads, who strongly opposed them. Historian Kenneth Stampp has captured the Copperhead spirit in his depiction of Democratic Congressman Daniel W. Voorhees of Indiana:
There was an earthy quality in Voorhees, "the tall sycamore of the Wabash." On the stump his hot temper, passionate partisanship, and stirring eloquence made an irresistible appeal to the western Democracy. His bitter cries against protective tariffs and national banks, his intense race prejudice, his suspicion of the eastern Yankee, his devotion to personal liberty, his defense of the Constitution and state rights faithfully reflected the views of his constituents. Like other Jacksonian agrarians he resented the political and economic revolution then in progress. Voorhees idealized a way of life which he thought was being destroyed by the current rulers of his country. His bold protests against these dangerous trends made him the idol of the Democracy of the Wabash Valley.
The Democrats lost consecutive presidential elections from 1860 through 1880 (but 1876 was in dispute); 1884 was their next victory. The Democrats were weakened by their record of opposition to the Civil War but nevertheless benefited from white Southerners' resentment of Reconstruction and consequent hostility to the Republican Party. The Redeemers gave the Democrats control of every Southern state; the disenfranchisement of black voters in most of the South took place 1890-1900. From 1880 to 1960 the "Solid South" voted Democratic in all presidential elections (except 1928). After 1900 the key election in southern states was the Democratic primary; victory in the that primary was "tantamount to election" because the GOP was so weak.
Though Republicans continued to control the White House until 1912 (except 1884 and 1892), the Democrats remained competitive in the states, especially in the mid-Atlantic and lower Midwest, and controlled the House of Representatives for most of that period. In the election of 1884, Grover Cleveland, the conservative Democratic Governor of New York, won the presidency, a feat he repeated in 1892, having lost in the election of 1888.
Cleveland was the leader of the Bourbon Democrats, the conservative wing of the party. They represented business interests, supported banking and railroad goals, promoted capitalism, opposed imperialism and U.S. verseas expansion, opposed the annexation of Hawaii, fought for the gold standard, and opposed Bimetallism. They strongly supported reform movements such as Civil Service Reform and opposed corruption of city bosses, leading the fight against the Tweed Ring. The leading Bourbons included Samuel J. Tilden, David Bennett Hill and William C. Whitney of New York, Arthur Pue Gorman of Maryland, Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware, William L. Wilson of West Virginia, John Griffin Carlisle of Kentucky, William F. Vilas of Wisconsin, J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska, John M. Palmer of Illinois, Horace Boies of Iowa, L.Q.C. Lamar of Mississippi, and railroad builder James J. Hill of Minnesota. A prominent intellectual was Woodrow Wilson. The Bourbons were in power when the Panic of 1893 hit; it was a deep depression and they took the blame. A fierce struggle inside the party ensued, with catastrophic losses for both the Bourbon and agrarian factions in 1894, leading to the showdown in 1896.
Ethnocultural voting: pietistic Republicans versus liturgical Democrats
Religious lines were sharply drawn. Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Scandinavian Lutherans and other pietists and evangelicals in the North were tightly linked to the Republican Party. In sharp contrast, liturgical groups, especially the Catholics, Episcopalians, and German Lutherans, looked to the Democratic Party for protection from pietistic moralism, especially prohibition. Both parties cut across the class structure, with the Democrats more bottom-heavy.
Cultural issues, especially prohibition and foreign language schools became important because of the sharp religious divisions in the electorate. In the North, about 50% of the voters were pietistic or evangelical Protestants who believed the government should be used to reduce social sins, such as drinking. Liturgical churches (Roman Catholics, German Lutherans, Episcopalians) comprised over a quarter of the vote and wanted the government to stay out of the morality business. Prohibition debates and referenda heated up politics in most states over a period of decade, as national prohibition was finally passed in 1918 (and repealed in 1933), serving as a major issue in the North between the wet Democracy and the dry GOP.
The Bryan Movement
Grover Cleveland led the conservative, pro-business Bourbon Democrats but as the depression of 1893 deepened his enemies multiplied. The Panic of 1893 started in February 1893, a full month before Cleveland became president. Convinced that the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, passed under the administration of Benjamin Harrison, was largely responsible for the alarming drain on federal gold, President Cleveland called Congress into special session to urge its repeal. Congress consented, but only after bitter debate that divided the Democratic party into two hostile camps-the eastern "goldbugs" and the silver wing of the West and South that was to propel young William Jennings Bryan to the fore in 1896. At the 1896 convention the silverite-agrarian faction repudiated the president, and nominated the crusading orator William Jennings Bryan on a platform of inflation through "free" silver. The idea was that minting huge numbers of silver dollars would flood the economy with cash and end the depression. Eastern Democrats, unable to accept the party's free-silver platform and unwilling to support McKinley for his tariff views, nominated their own candidate, John M. Palmer of Illinois and called themselves the National, or Gold, Democrats. The Gold Democrats attracted politicians and intellectuals (including Woodrow Wilson and Frederick Jackson Turner) who refused to vote Republican.
Bryan, an overnight sensation because of his phenomenal "Cross of Gold" speech, crusaded against the gold standard. Crisscrossing the Midwest and East by special train, he gave over 500 speeches to audiences in the millions. In St. Louis he gave 36 speeches to workingmen's audiences all over the city, all in one day. Most Democratic newspapers were hostile (except William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal) but Bryan seized control of the media by making the news every day, as he hurled thunderbolts against Eastern monied interests. The rural folk in South and Midwest were ecstatic, showing an enthusiasm never before seen. Ethnic Democrats, especially Germans, however, were alarmed and frightened by Bryan. The middle classes, businessmen, newspaper editors, factory workers, railroad workers, and prosperous farmers generally rejected Bryan's crusade. Bryan was overwhelmed by William McKinley in the most exciting race in national history. McKinley promised a return to prosperity based on the gold standard, support for industry, railroads and banks, and pluralism that would enable every group to move ahead. Bryan did however, win the hearts and minds of a majority of Democrats. The election of 1896 was a political realignment. The victory of the Republican Party marked the start of the "Progressive Era," from 1896 to 1932, in which the GOP usually was dominant.
Fourth Party System: Bryan, Wilson, Progressivism: 1896-1932
The Fourth Party System began with the 1896 election, a realignment during which the GOP controlled the presidency for 28 of 36 years. The GOP dominated most of the Northeast and Midwest, and half the West. Bryan, with a base in the South and Plains states, was strong enough to get the nomination in 1900 (losing to McKinley) and 1908 (losing to Taft). Theodore Roosevelt dominated the first decade of the century—and to the annoyance of Democrats "stole" the trust issue by crusading against trusts.
Anti-Bryan conservatives controlled the convention in 1904, but they faced a Theodore Roosevelt landslide. Bryan dropped his free silver and anti-imperialism rhetoric and supported mainstream progressive issues, such as the income tax, anti-trust, and direct election of Senators. He backed Woodrow Wilson in 1912, was rewarded with the State Department, then resigned in protest against Wilson's non-pacifistic policies in 1916. Northern Democrats were progressive on most issues, but generally opposed prohibition, were lukewarm regarding woman's suffrage, and were reluctant to undercut the "boss system" in the big cities.
Taking advantage of a deep split in the GOP, the Democrats took control of the House in 1910, and elected the intellectual reformer Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916. Wilson successfully led Congress to a series of Progressive laws, including a reduced tariff, stronger antitrust laws, the Federal Reserve System, hours-and-pay benefits for railroad workers, and outlawing of child labor (which was reversed by the Supreme Court). Furthermore, constitutional amendments for prohibition and woman suffrage were passed in his second term. In effect, Wilson laid to rest the issues of tariffs, money and antitrust that had dominated politics for 40 years.
Wilson ordered Jim Crow segregation in the federal government offices in Washington DC, wiping out 50 years of social progress for African-Americans. No longer could blacks and whites work together in government offices, eat in the same cafeterias, our use the same bathrooms. The Wilson administration went a step further. Through the Treasury Department's Office of the Architect, the bureau charged with construction and maintenance of federal buildings, federal buildings throughout the nation were ordered to furnish segregated bathrooms, even in Northern states were practices as such were virtually unknown.
Wilson led the U.S. to victory in the World War, and turned his attention to foreign affairs. He wrote parts of the Versailles Treaty, especially the new League of Nations. But in 1919 Wilson's political skills faltered, and suddenly everything turned sour. The Senate rejected Versailles and the League, a nationwide wave of strikes and violence caused unrest, and Wilson's health collapsed. The GOP came roaring back in a landslide in 1920, as Warren G. Harding defeated a Democratic ticket memorable for having Franklin D. Roosevelt as the vice presidential nominee.
At the 1924 Democratic National Convention, the big fight was over a resolution denouncing by name the Ku Klux Klan; it was pushed by New York governor Al Smith and Alabama Senator Oscar W. Underwood in order to embarrass the front-runner, William McAdoo of California. After furious debate, the resolution failed by just a single vote. The KKK faded away soon after, but the deep split in the party over cultural issues, especially Prohibition, facilitated Republican landslides in 1920, 1924 and 1928. However Al Smith did build a strong Catholic base in the big cities in 1928, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's election as Governor of New York that year brought a new leader to center stage.
Fifth Party System: The New Deal
The stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression set the stage for a more progressive government and Franklin D. Roosevelt won a landslide victory in the election of 1932, campaigning on a platform of "Relief, Recovery, and Reform." This came to be termed "The New Deal" after a phrase in his acceptance speech. The Democrats also swept to large majorities in both houses of Congress, and among state Governors. Roosevelt altered the nature of the Party, away from laissez-faire capitalism, and towards an ideology of economic regulation and insurance against hardship. Conservative Democrats were outraged; led by Al Smith they formed the American Liberty League in 1934 and counterattacked. They failed and either retired from politics or joined the GOP. A few of them, such as Dean Acheson found their way back to the Democratic Party.
After making gains in Congress in 1934 Roosevelt moved left and embarked on an ambitious legislative program called "The Second New Deal." It was characterized by building up labor unions, nationalizing welfare by the WPA (which 2 million employed unemployed men), setting up Social Security and raising taxes on business profits.
Roosevelt's New Deal programs focused on job creation through public works projects as well as Social Security. In the name of "reform" it imposed strong regulations on the banking and financial system, transportation, communications, stock markets and labor-management relations.
Roosevelt successfully built up the "New Deal Coalition", a powerful coalition of voters and interest groups that supported liberalism. Key components included big city machines and labor unions. Key voter groups included traditional Democrats, white Southerners, Catholics, Jews, and liberals, as well as many blacks. This united voter base allowed Democrats to be elected to Congress and the presidency for much of the next 30 years.
After a sweeping landslide reelection in 1936—losing only Maine and Vermont—Roosevelt stunned the nation, and his party, by calling for legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court by five new members. A firestorm of opposition erupted, led by his own vice president John Nance Garner. Roosevelt was defeated by an alliance of Republicans and conservative Democrats, who formed a Conservative coalition that managed to block nearly all liberal legislation. (Only a minimum wage law got through.) Angry with the conservative wing of his own party, Roosevelt tried to destroy it. In 1938, he actively campaigned against five incumbent conservative Democratic senators; all five senators won re-election. In 1940, Roosevelt broke with tradition and sought a third term as President.
Under FDR, the Democratic Party became identified closely with modern liberalism, which included the promotion of social welfare, unions and regulation of the economy. Civil rights were not on the party agenda at this time. FDR slways opposed the federal anti-lynching law a courted racist Southern Democrats.
Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York, a Republican New Dealer who supported Roosevelt, made the first efforts to court African-Americans, who were traditional Lincoln Republicans, into the New Deal coalition. Roosevelt provided federal funds to La Guardia and withheld support from his opponents. La Guardia decreed that African-Americans were not to be arrested for anything, and that police patrolling Harlem could not carry night sticks. Not until the presidential election of 1960 when John Kennedy intervened for the release of Martin Luther King, who was jailed two weeks before the election in Atlanta following a non-violent protest, did the majority of Blacks begin voting Democratic en bloc. The transition was solidified four years later when the Republican presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater, who defied Republican Congressional leadership and voted with Southern Democrat segregationists to oppose the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Truman to Kennedy: 1945-1963
Harry Truman took over unexpectedly in 1945, and the rifts inside the party that Roosevelt had papered over began to emerge. Former Vice President Henry A. Wallace denounced Truman as a war-monger for his anti-Soviet programs, the Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, and NATO. By cooperating with internationalist Republicans, Truman succeeded in defeating isolationists on the right and pro-Soviets on the left to establish a Cold War program that lasted until the fall of Communism in 1991. Wallace supporters and fellow travelers of the far left were pushed out of the party and the CIO in 1946-48 by young anti-Communists like Hubert Humphrey, Walter Reuther, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.. Hollywood emerged in the 1940s as an importance new base in the party, led by movie-star politicians such as Ronald Reagan, who at this point in time strongly supported Roosevelt and Truman.
On the right the Republicans blasted Truman’s domestic policies. "Had Enough?" was the winning slogan as Republicans recaptured Congress in 1946. Many party leaders were ready to dump Truman, but they lacked an alternative. Truman counterattacked, pushing J. Strom Thurmond and his Dixiecrats out, and taking advantage of the splits inside the GOP. He was reelected in a stunning surprise. However all of Truman’s Fair Deal proposals, such as universal health care were defeated by the Conservative Coalition in Congress. His seizure of the steel industry was reversed by the Supreme Court.
In foreign policy, Europe was safe but troubles mounted in Asia. China fell to the Communists in 1949. Truman entered the Korean War without formal Congressional approval—the last time a president would ever do so. When the war turned to a stalemate in 1951 he fired General Douglas MacArthur, a hero to conservatives. Republicans blasted Truman's failure to stop Communist gains in Asia. A series of petty scandals among friends and buddies of Truman further tarnished his image, allowing Dwight Eisenhower and the Republicans in 1952 to crusade against "Korea, Communism and Corruption." Truman dropped out of the presidential race early in 1952, leaving no obvious successor. The convention nominated Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956, only to see him overwhelmed by two Eisenhower landslides.
In Congress the powerful duo of House Speaker Sam Rayburn and Senate Majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson held the party together, often by compromising with Eisenhower. In 1958 the party made dramatic gains in the midterms and seemed to have a permanent lock on Congress. Indeed, Democrats had majorities in the House every election from 1930 to 1992 (except 1946 and 1952). Most southern Congressmen were conservative Democrats, however, and they usually worked with conservative Republicans. The result was a Conservative Coalition that blocked practically all liberal domestic legislation from 1937 to the 1970s, except for a brief spell 1964-65, when Johnson neutralized its power.
The nomination of John F. Kennedy in 1960 energized the Catholic population, which jammed motorcades and turned out in heavy numbers (over 80% voted for Kennedy), while also causing a backlash among white Protestants (over 70% of whom voted for Republican candidate Richard Nixon. Reaching beyond the traditional Irish, German, Italian and Polish Catholic ethnics, Viva Kennedy set out to mobilize the previously passive Latino vote, and it perhaps provided the margin of victory for Kennedy in Texas and New Mexico. Kennedy's victory reinvigorated the party. His youth, vigor and intelligence caught the popular imagination. In foreign policy he was strongly anti-Communist, and promptly launched an invasion of casto's Cuba; it failed badly. A few new programs like the Peace Corps harnessed idealism. In terms of legislation, Kennedy was stalemated by the Conservative Coalition, and anyway his proposals were all cautious and incremental. In three years he was unable to pass any significant new legislation.
Kennedy's election did mark the coming of age of the Catholic component of the New Deal Coalition. After 1964 middle class Catholics started voting Republicans in the same proportion as their Protestant neighbors. Except for the Chicago of Richard J. Daley, the last of the Democratic machines faded away. His involvement in Vietnam proved momentous, for his successor Lyndon Johnson decided to stay, and double the investment, and double the bet again and again until over 500,000 American soldiers were fighting in that small country.
Civil Rights, Riots, War and collapse of the New Deal Coalition
The New Deal Coalition began to fracture as union and religious leaders demanded support for civil rights, upsetting the party's traditional base of conservative Southern Democrats. After Harry Truman's platform showed support for civil rights and anti-segregation policies during the 1948 Democratic National Convention, many Southern Democratic delegates decided to split from the Party and formed the "Dixiecrats," led by South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond (who, as a Senator, would later join the Republican Party). Over the next few years, many conservative Democrats in the "Solid South" drifted away from the party. By 1940 most northern Blacks had shifted to the Democratic Party due to its New Deal relief programs and support for civil rights.
The party's dramatic reversal on civil rights issues culminated when Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new laws ended segregation and also ended the main argument Democrats had used to block Republican gains in the South (that is, only the Democrats could protect segregation). The South became competitive in presidential politics in the 1970s and 1980s, giving strong support to Republican Ronald Reagan and rejecting the liberal northern candidates. The Democrats responded by nominating Southerners (Carter in 1976 and 1980, Clinton in 1992 and 1996, Gore in 2000). Few southern states were won by Democratic presidential candidates from the North (Humphrey in 1968, McGovern in 1972, Mondale in 1984, Dukakis in 1988, Kerry in 2004). At the state and local level the Republicans made slow, steady gains, especially among upscale middle class whites and migrants from the North. By the 1990s the GOP was competitive at the state and local level throughout the South. The Democrats made gains in the west, converting California to a Democratic stronghold and gaining in fast-growing Arizona and Nevada. The Northeast became more and more a Democratic enclave, especially after 2006 when numerous Republican moderates were defeated for reelection. The Midwest remained a battleground. The Democrats made strong gains in Illinois, but slipped a little in Minnesota.
1968 to 1999
The Democratic party split five ways in 1968 and became a minority party in presidential elections for decades; after 1964 they won a national majority of the popular presidential vote only in 2008. However, the Democrats won a plurality of the popular vote in 1976, 1992, 1996 and 2000.
In 1972, the Democrats nominated Sen. George McGovern (SD) as the presidential candidate on a platform which advocated, among other things, U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam and a guaranteed minimum income for all Americans. McGovern's forces at the national convention ousted Mayor Richard J. Daley and the entire Chicago delegation, replacing them with insurgents led by Jesse Jackson. After it became know that McGovern's running mate, Thomas Eagleton, had received electric shock therapy, McGovern said he supported Eagleton "1000%" but he was soon forced to drop him and find a new running mate. With his campaign stalled for several weeks McGovern finally selected Sargent Shriver, a Kennedy-in-law who was close to Mayor Daley. On July 14, 1972, McGovern appointed his campaign manager, Jean Westwood as the first woman chair of the Democratic National Committee. McGovern was defeated in a landslide by incumbent Richard Nixon, winning only Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. The Watergate affair of 1973-74 made corruption a central issue, especially after Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon in September 1974. The Democrats made major gains in the 1974 off-year elections.
In 1976, mistrust of the administration, complicated by a combination of economic recession and inflation, sometimes called stagflation, led to Ford's narrow defeat in 1976 by Jimmy Carter, a former governor of Georgia.
Carter represented the total outsider, who promised honesty in government. He had served as a naval officer, a farmer, a state senator, and a one-term governor. His only experience with federal politics was when he chaired the Democratic National Committee's congressional and gubernatorial elections in 1974. Some of Carter's major accomplishments consisted of the creation of a national energy policy and the consolidation of governmental agencies, resulting in two new cabinet departments, the United States Department of Energy and the United States Department of Education. Carter also successfully deregulated the trucking, airline, rail, finance, communications, and oil industries, bolstered the social security system, and appointed record numbers of women and minorities to significant government and judicial posts. He also enacted strong legislation on environmental protection, through the expansion of the National Park Service in Alaska, adding 103 million acres of park land. In foreign affairs, Carter's accomplishments consisted of the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the creation of full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and the negotiation of the SALT II Treaty. In addition, he championed human rights throughout the world and used human rights as the center of his administration's foreign policy.
Even with all of these successes, Carter failed to implement a national health plan or to reform the tax system, as he had promised in his campaign. Inflation was also on the rise. Abroad, the Iranians held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, and Carter's diplomatic and military rescue attempts failed. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan later that year weakened the perception Americans had of Carter. Even though he had already been defeated for re-election, Carter fortunately was able to negotiate the release of every American hostage. They were lifted out of Iran minutes after Reagan was inaugurated and Carter served as Reagan's emissary to greet them when they arrived in Germany. In 1980, Carter defeated liberal champion Edward Kennedy to gain renomination, but lost to conservative Ronald Reagan by a landslide. The Democrats lost 12 Senate seats, and for the first time since 1954, the Republicans controlled the Senate. The House, however, remained in Democratic hands.
1980s: Battling Reaganism
Instrumental in the election of Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980, were Democrats who supported many conservative policies. Among legislators, one of the most prominent of these consevative Democrats was Georgia congressman and second chairman of the John Birch Society, Larry McDonald, who was a passenger on Korean Airlines Flight 007 shot down by the Soviets near Moneron Island on September 1, 1983. The "Reagan Democrats" were Democrats before the Reagan years, and afterward, but they voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 (and for George H. W. Bush in 1988), producing their landslide victories. They were mostly white ethnics in the Northeast who were attracted to Reagan's social conservatism on issues such as abortion, and to his strong foreign policy. They did not continue to vote Republican in 1992 or 1996, so the term fell into disuse except as a reference to the 1980s. The term is not used to describe southern whites who became permanent Republicans in presidential elections. Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster analyzed white ethnic voters, largely unionized auto workers, in suburban Macomb County, Michigan, just north of Detroit. The county voted 63 percent for Kennedy in 1960 and 66 percent for Reagan in 1984. He concluded that Reagan Democrats no longer saw Democrats as champions of their middle class aspirations, but instead saw it as being a party working primarily for the benefit of others, especially African Americans and the very poor. Bill Clinton targeted the Reagan Democrats with considerable success in 1992 and 1996.New Deal coalition. Reagan carried 49 states against former Vice President and Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale, a New Deal stalwart, in 1984. Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, running not as a New Dealer but as an efficiency expert in public administration, lost by a landslide in 1988 to Vice President George H. W. Bush, who had pledged "no new taxes."
In response to these landslide defeats, the Democratic Leadership Council was created. It worked to move the Party rightwards to the ideological center in order to recover some of the fundraising that had been lost to the Republicans due to corporate donors supporting Reagan. With the Party retaining left-of-center supporters as well as supporters holding moderate or conservative views on some issues, the Democrats became generally a "big tent" or "catch all party" with widespread appeal to most opponents of the Republicans.
The South moves toward Republicans
In the century after the end of Reconstruction in 1877, the white South identified with Democratic Party. The Democrats' lock on power was so strong, the region was called the Solid South. The Republicans only controlled parts of the Appalachian mountains, but they sometimes did compete for statewide office in the border states. Before 1964, the southern Democrats saw their party as the defender of the southern way of life, which included a respect for states' rights and an appreciation for traditional southern "values" (including segregation of blacks). They repeatedly warned against the aggressive designs of Northern liberals and Republicans, as well as civil rights activists whom they denounced as "outside agitators."
However, between 1964 and 2004, the Democratic Party's lock on the South was broken. The long-term cause had to do with the South becoming more like the rest of the nation. It could not long stand apart in terms of racial segregation. Modernization had brought factories, national businesses, and larger, more cosmopolitan cities to the South, as well as millions of migrants from the North and more opportunities for higher education. Meanwhile, the cotton and tobacco economy of the traditional rural South faded away, as former farmers commuted to factory jobs.
Integration and the civil rights movement caused enormous controversy in the white South, with many attacking it as a violation of states' rights. When segregation was outlawed by court order and by the Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965, a die-hard element resisted integration, led by Democratic governors Orval Faubus of Arkansas, Lester Maddox of Georgia, and, especially George Wallace of Alabama. These populist governors appealed to a less-educated, blue-collar electorate that on economic grounds favored the Democratic Party, but opposed desegregation. After 1965 most Southerners accepted integration (with the exception of public schools). Believing themselves betrayed by the Democratic Party, traditional white southerners joined the new middle-class and the Northern transplants in moving toward the Republican Party. Meanwhile, newly enfranchised Black voters began supporting Democratic candidates at the 80-90-percent levels, producing Democratic leaders such as Julian Bond and John Lewis of Georgia, and Barbara Jordan of Texas. Just as Martin Luther King had promised, integration had brought about a new day in Southern politics, freeing both blacks and whites from old hatreds and fears.
Using issues of cultural conservatism, especially opposition to abortion and homosexuality and support for school prayer, Republicans attracted strong majorities among evangelical Christians. They were nationwide, but strongest in the South; before the 1980s they were largely apolitical. Exit polls in 2004 showed that Bush led Kerry by 70-30% among Southern whites, who comprised 71% of the voters. Kerry had a 90-9 lead among the 18% of Southern voters who were black. One third of the Southern voters said they were white evangelicals; they voted for Bush by 80-20.
In the 1990s the Democratic Party revived itself, in part by moving to the right on economic and social policy. President Bill Clinton, who defeated the incumbent George H. W. Bush in 1992, implemented a balanced federal budget and welfare reform (cutting benefits and requiring many recipients to take jobs), traditionally conservative causes. Labor unions, which had been steadily losing membership since the 1960s, found they had also lost political clout inside the Democratic Party: Clinton enacted the NAFTA free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico over the strong objection of these labor unions, much to the disappointment of those on the left of the party. The Republican Party took control of both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate after the 1994 election. Clinton was impeached in 1998 and subsequently acquitted in 1999.
When the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) attempted to move the Democratic agenda in favor of more centrist positions, prominent Democrats from both the centrist and conservative factions assumed leadership of the party and its direction. Some liberals and progressives felt alienated by the Democratic Party, which they felt had become unconcerned with the interests of the common people and left-wing issues in general. Some Democrats challenged the validity of such critiques, citing the Democratic role in pushing for progressive reforms.
Election of 2000
During the presidential election of 2000, the Democrats chose Vice President Al Gore to be the party's candidate for the presidency. Gore and George W. Bush, the Republican candidate and son of former President George H.W. Bush, disagreed on a number of issues, including abortion, gun control, environmentalism, gay rights, tax cuts, foreign policy, public education, global warming, judicial appointments, and affirmative action. Nevertheless, Gore's affiliation with Clinton and the DLC caused critics—Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader in particular—to assert that Bush and Gore were too similar, especially on free trade, reductions in social welfare, and the death penalty. "We want to punish the Democrats, we want to hurt them, wound them," Nader's closest advisor said.
Gore won a popular plurality of over 500,000 votes over Bush, but lost in the electoral vote by four votes. In a close election anything can be decisive, but many angry Democrats blamed Nader's third-party spoiler role for Gore's defeat. Controversy plagued the election, and Gore largely dropped from politics for years; by 2005 however he was making speeches critical of Bush's foreign and environmental policies.
Despite Gore's close defeat, the Democrats gained five seats in the Senate (including the election of Hillary Clinton in New York), to turn a 55-45 Republican edge into a 50-50 split (with a Republican Vice President breaking a tie). However, when Republican Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont decided in 2001 to become an independent and caucus with the Democrats, the majority status shifted along with the seat, including control of the floor (by the Majority Leader) and control of all committee chairmanships. However, the Republicans regained their Senate majority with gains in 2002 and 2004, leaving the Democrats with only 44 seats, the fewest since the 1920s.
In the aftermath of the 9-11 Attacks, the nation's focus was changed to issues of national security. All but one Democrat joined the Republicans to authorize President Bush to invade invasion of Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban. House leader Richard Gephardt and Senate leader Thomas Daschle pushed Democrats to vote for the USA PATRIOT Act and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Democrats were split over entering Iraq in 2003 and increasingly expressed concerns about both the justification and progress of the War on Terrorism, as well as the domestic effects, including supposed threats to civil rights and civil liberties from the PATRIOT Act. Senator Russ Feingold was the only Senator to vote against the act; it received more resistance when it came up for renewal, but was renewed in 2006.
In the wake of the financial fraud scandal of the Enron Corporation and other corporations, Congressional Democrats pushed for a legal overhaul of business accounting with the intention of preventing further accounting fraud. This led to the bipartisan Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. Economic issues did not work well in 2002, as the Democrats lost a few seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. They lost three seats in the Senate. While Democrats gained governorships in New Mexico (where Bill Richardson was elected), Arizona (Janet Napolitano) and Wyoming (Dave Freudenthal), other Democrats lost governorships in South Carolina (Jim Hodges), Alabama (Don Siegelman) and, for the first time in more than a century, Georgia (Roy Barnes). The election led to another round of soul searching about the party's narrowing base. The party's miseries mounted in 2003, when a voter recall unseated their unpopular governor of California, Gray Davis, and replaced him which a charismatic liberal Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. By the end of 2003 the four largest states had Republican governors: California, Texas, New York and Florida.
Election of 2004
The 2004 campaign began in late 2002, when Gore said he would not run again. Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, an opponent of the war and a critic of the Democratic establishment, was the front-runner leading into the Democratic primaries. Dean had immense grassroots support, especially from the left wing of the party. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a more centrist figure with heavy support from the DLC, was nominated because he was seen as more "electable" than Dean. Democrats moved to populist anti-business positions that denounced free trade and the NAFTA agreement. The party rhetoric attacked the Bush administration rather than propose alternative programs.
In the end, Kerry lost both the popular vote (by 3 million out of over 120 million votes cast) and the Electoral College. Republicans also gained four seats in the Senate and three seats in the House of Representatives, and for the first time since 1952, the Democratic leader of the Senate lost re-election. In the end, there were 3,660 Democratic state legislators across the nation to the Republicans' 3,557. Democrats gained governorships in Louisiana, New Hampshire and Montana. However, they lost the governorship of Missouri and a legislative majority in Georgia, which had long been a Democratic stronghold.
There were many reasons for the defeat. After the election most analysts concluded that Kerry was a poor campaigner. A group of Vietnam veterans opposed to Kerry called the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" undercut Kerry's use of his military past as a campaign strategy. Kerry was unable to reconcile his initial support of the Iraq War with his opposition to the war in 2004, or manage the deep split in the Democratic Party between those who favored and opposed the war. Republicans ran thousands of television commercials to argue that Kerry had flip-flopped on Iraq. When Kerry's home state of Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, the issue split liberal and conservative Democrats and independents (Kerry publicly stated throughout his campaign that he opposed same sex marriage, but favored civil unions). Republicans exploited the same-sex marriage issue by promoting ballot initiatives in 11 states that brought conservatives to the polls in large numbers; all 11 initiatives passed. Some Democrats argued that flaws in vote-counting systems may also have played a role in Kerry's defeat in Ohio. Other factors include a healthy job market, a rising stock market, strong home sales, and low unemployment.
After the 2004 election, prominent Democrats began to rethink the party's direction, and a variety of strategies for moving forward were voiced. Some Democrats proposed moving towards the right; others demanded that the party move more to the left and become a stronger opposition party. Rethinking the party's position on gun control became a matter of discussion, brought up by Howard Dean, Bill Richardson, Brian Schweitzer and other Democrats who had won governorships in states where Second Amendment rights were important to many voters.
2005 - 2007
These debates were reflected in the 2005 campaign for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, which Howard Dean won. He sought to move the Democratic strategy away from the establishment, and bolster support for the party's state organizations, even in Red states.
When the 109th Congress convened in 2005, Harry Reid, the new Senate Minority Leader, tried to convince the Democratic Senators to vote more as a bloc on important issues; he forced the Republicans to abandon their push for privatization of Social Security. In 2005, the Democrats retained their governorships in Virginia and New Jersey, electing Tim Kaine and Jon Corzine, respectively. However, the party lost the mayoral race in New York City, a Democratic stronghold, for the fourth straight time.
In 2006, with scandals involving Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, as well as GOP House leader Tom DeLay, Ohio GOP governor Bob Taft and others, the Democrats used the slogan "Culture of corruption." Negative public opinion on the war in Iraq, along with widespread dissatisfaction among conservatives over government spending, dragged President Bush's job approval ratings down to the lowest levels of his presidency. To win control the Democrats had to add 15 seats in the House (they added 30), and 6 in the Senate (they added 6).
The Democratic Party's electoral success has been attributed to running relatively conservative Democrats in close seats, such as the Senate races in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Montana. Exit polling suggested that corruption was a key issue for many voters.
In 2006 Democrats gained a majority of governorships and made gains in many state legislatures. No Democratic incumbent was defeated in any major race.
House Democrats chose Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California for Speaker, the first woman ever, but rejected her choice for House Majority Leader, electing Steny Hoyer instead of John Murtha. Senate Democrats promoted Harry Reid to Majority Leader. Neither have been very effective.
The presidential campaign of 2008 featured a remarkable duel between Obama—the first major black candidate, and Hillary Clinton, the first major woman contender. Obama won with his charismatic oratory and his highly efficient fund-raising and strong organization in the caucus states, while Clinton went downscale to pick up big majorities among poor whites and Hispanics. The contest between Obama and GOP nominee John McCain showed Obama being the clear favorite, with the vast majority of polls (with the exception of early September) depicting Obama as the clear favorite.
The Obama Administration got off to a fast start in 2009, especially in vigorous efforts to combat the Recession of 2008 with heavy new stimulus spending, massive loans to banks, increased regulation, and deep intervention in the automobile industry. All those policies were begun by Bush, and had failed to reverse the decline of the economy in late 2008. Whether they will now succeed remains an open question, with the GOP now voting solidly against them and some conservatives like Rush Limbaugh hoping that the Democrats will fail badly and that the people will again turn to the Republican party. The Democratic Party is feeling the sting from the opposition and many Democrats are beginning to question their own leadership. Liberals are disenchanted with Obama's hawkish position on the Afghanistan War. The health care reform that consumed most of 2009 remains unsettled, as public opinion has turned against it. Environmentalists now seem resigned to the failure of a cap and trade program to reduce CO2 emissions. Most of all the recession drags on. The stimulus bill was passed quickly in February 2009 over almost unanimous GOP opposition, but despite promises of "shovel ready" projects, most of the money has not been spent a year later and the economy remains in the doldrums.
The elections in November 2009 in New Jersey and Virginia went badly for the Democrats, as the GOP gained both governorships and many local races, not to mention the Democrats' fifth straight loss for the mayoralty of New York City.
In the 2010 Midterm Elections, the Republican Party gained 63 Representatives in the House (one of the largest amounts in its history and surpassing the 1994 landslide), almost gained a majority in the Senate, and gained a majority of governorships and state legislatures in one of its best election results in its history.
Although the Democrats had the opportunity to reverse the massive GOP gains in 2014, they completely failed and allowed the GOP to make even larger victories. For example, even though the GOP held a majority of governorships so large that it would be extremely difficult to hold them all, they actually gained two states, expanding their majority to 31 out of 50.
Again, in 2016, the Democrats performed very poorly, allowing the GOP to win the presidency with Donald Trump, to maintain their House and Senate majorities, to win the largest amount of governorships since 1922, and to win the most state legislative chambers in history. The Democrats held a record low amount of party trifectas in the states. Democrats lost 1,042 seats—including U.S. House, Senate, state governorship, and state legislative seats—during the eight years of Barack Obama's tenure as U.S. president.
Although the Democrats had earlier derided conservative Republicans as being the "party of No", the aftermath of the 2016 elections showed that the Democrats would rightfully assume that label.
The most common symbol for the party is the donkey, although the party itself never officially adopted this symbol. Some historians suggest the jackass was born 1828 when Jackson was sometimes called a jackass by his opponents as a play on his name. A political cartoon depicting Jackson riding and directing a donkey (representing the Democratic Party) was published in 1837. A political cartoon by Thomas Nast in an 1870 revived the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party. Cartoonists ever since have followed Nast and used the donkey to represent the Democrats, and the elephant to represent the Republicans.
In the early 20th century, the traditional symbol of the Democratic Party in many states was the rooster, as opposed to the Republican eagle.
There is no official color, but since election night 2000 blue has become the identification color of the Democratic Party for maps, while the red has become the color of the Republicans. Increasingly blue is used by Democrats for promotions (e.g. BuyBlue, BlueFund) and by the party itself, which in 2006 unveiled the "Red to Blue Program" to support Democratic candidates running against Republican incumbents in the 2006 midterm election.
The song "Happy Days Are Here Again" is the unofficial song of the Democratic Party. It was used prominently when Roosevelt was nominated for president at the 1932 Democratic National Convention and remains a sentimental favorite for Democrats today. During the Clinton era, the Fleetwood Mac song "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" became a popular song at Democratic events, reflecting the growing prominence of Baby Boomers in the party.
Some critics refer to the group disparagingly as the Democrat Party.
Jefferson – Jackson Dinners
The United States Democratic Party claims Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as two of its key founding members. Although this claim is a bit of a stretch, for decades the Democrats have honored these two presidents by holding fund-raising events called "Jefferson-Jackson Dinners." Recently, in an act of extreme "political correctness", activists have demanded that these events be renamed on the grounds that Jefferson held slaves and Jackson mistreated Native Americans. Many units of the Democratic Party have given into these arguments and are denouncing and dishonoring two of what most Americans view as great Presidents.
- Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
- Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
- James K. Polk (1845-1849)
- Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
- James Buchanan (1857-1861)
- Grover Cleveland (1885-1889) (1893-1897)
- Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
- Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945)
- Harry S Truman (1945-1953)
- John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
- Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
- Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
- Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
- Barack Obama (2009–2017)
- Racism and the Democratic Party
- Clinton Foundation conflicts of interest
- Democratic party (disambiguation)
- Articles about Democrats from previous "Breaking News"
- Democrats (Brazil)
- Barone, Michael, and Grant Ujifusa, The Almanac of American Politics 2008: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts (2007) covers all the live politicians with amazing detail. New edition every two years since 1975.
- Brownstein, Ronald. The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America(2007)
- Crane, Michael. The Political Junkie Handbook: The Definitive Reference Books on Politics (2004) covers all the major issues explaining the parties' positions
- Sabato, Larry J. Divided States of America: The Slash and Burn Politics of the 2004 Presidential Election (2005).
- Sabato, Larry J. ed. The Sixth Year Itch: The Rise and Fall of the George W. Bush Presidency (1907), in-depth essays by scholars on key states in 2006
- Sabato, Larry J., and Howard R. Ernst eds. Political Parties and Elections (2007), 540pp; an encyclopedia with 450 entries by scholars; focus is 1945 to present
- Sabato, Larry J. and Bruce Larson. The Party's Just Begun: Shaping Political Parties for America's Future (2001) textbook.
- Shafer, Byron E. and Anthony J. Badger, eds. Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775-2000 (2001), long essays by specialists on each time period
- Shafer, Byron and Richard Johnston. The End of Southern Exceptionalism (2006), uses statistical election data & polls to argue GOP growth was primarily a response to economic change
- American National Biography (20 volumes, 1999) covers all politicians no longer alive; online and paper copies at many academic libraries.
- Jensen, Richard. Grass Roots Politics: Parties, Issues, and Voters, 1854-1983 (1983) online edition; survey by conservative scholar, with primary sources
- Kennedy, David M. Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (2001), synthesis by leading scholar; Pulitzer prize online edition
- Kleppner, Paul et al. The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1983), essays by scholars (some of them conservatives), 1790s to 1980s.
- Kleppner, Paul. The Third Electoral System 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures (1979), analysis of voting behavior, with emphasis on region, ethnicity, religion and class. online edition
- Ling, Peter J. The Democratic Party: A Photographic History (2003).
- Patterson, James T. Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (1997) synthesis by leading scholar. excerpt and text search
- Patterson, James T. Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush vs. Gore (2005) synthesis by leading scholar. excerpt and text search
- Ritchie, Donald A. Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932 (2007) excerpt and text search
- Rutland, Robert Allen. The Democrats: From Jefferson to Clinton (1995).
- Shafer, Byron E. and Anthony J. Badger, eds. Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775-2000 (2001), most recent collection of new essays by specialists on each time period:
- includes: "State Development in the Early Republic: 1775–1840" by Ronald P. Formisano; "The Nationalization and Racialization of American Politics: 1790–1840" by David Waldstreicher; "'To One or Another of These Parties Every Man Belongs;": 1820–1865 by Joel H. Silbey; "Change and Continuity in the Party Period: 1835–1885" by Michael F. Holt; "The Transformation of American Politics: 1865–1910" by Peter H. Argersinger; "Democracy, Republicanism, and Efficiency: 1885–1930" by Richard Jensen; "The Limits of Federal Power and Social Policy: 1910–1955" by Anthony J. Badger; "The Rise of Rights and Rights Consciousness: 1930–1980" by James T. Patterson, Brown University; and "Economic Growth, Issue Evolution, and Divided Government: 1955–2000" by Byron E. Shafer
- Schlisinger, Galbraith. Of the People: The 200 Year History of the Democratic Party (1992)
- Sundquist, James L. Dynamics of the Party System: Alignment and Realignment of Political Parties in the United States, (1983) online edition
- Wilentz, Sean. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005), detailed synthesis by a leading liberal scholar. excerpt and text search
- Witcover, Jules. Party of the People: A History of the Democrats (2003)
- Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr. ed. History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2000 (various multivolume editions, latest is 2001). For each election includes a short history by a leading scholar and a selection of primary documents.
- This is the official name of the party. Some argue that its proper name is the "Democrat" Party, not the "Democratic" Party. No one says the "Republicanic Party," for example. Some Republicans and conservatives commonly refer to it as such, implying the party is not democratic. The term is said to grate on Democrats' ears.
- The rights and dignity of the individual remain the core principal of the Republican party, be it opposition to slavery, abortion, big government, or high taxes.
- Multistate.com Post-Election 2006 Maps
- Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007 Pew Research Center, 22 March 2007
- Lucas, Fred, "More Than 800,000 Noncitizens May Have Voted in 2016 Election, Expert Says," The Daily Signal.
- O'Reilly, Bill (November 29, 2016). Bill O'Reilly: Amazing amount of confusion over illegal aliens voting. Fox News. Retrieved November 2016.
- Scarborough, Rowan (January 26, 2017). Trump argument bolstered: Clinton could have received 800,000 votes from noncitizens, study finds. The Washington Times. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
- "United States House of Representatives elections, 2016". Retrieved on February 8, 2017.
-  , http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_03/005787.php, March 6, 2005
- http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/913wopoz.asp Paying Dues - The Democrats settle up with their union bosses, Weekly Standard, July 25, 2007
- National Education Association homepage
- Employment Situation Summary. Bureau of Labor Statistics (August 1, 2014). Retrieved on August 5, 2014.
- Obama Moves On Minimum Wage Without Congress (June 12, 2014). Retrieved on August 5, 2014.
- Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2013. Bureau of Labor Statistics (March 2014). Retrieved on August 5, 2014.
- "Democrats, ACLU Outraged Over Traveler Terrorism Screening Program" C. Johnson, Associated Press
- CNN Saturday Morning News Transcript: December 1, 2001
- Nearly 1 in 5 Democrats Say World Will Be Better Off if U.S. Loses War, FOX News Poll, October 04, 2007.
- 21st Century Schools Project Bulletin: Special Edition Putting Vouchers in Perspective, PPI E-newsletter 2 July 2002
- Center For Education Reform, Monthly Letter to Friends No. 75, Back to School 2002.
- Higher Education. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
- Executive Order 13532 -- Historically Black Colleges and Universities (February 26, 2010). Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
- Obama Affirms Support for Same-Sex Marriage. ABC News (May 9, 2012).
- Gast, Phil. "Obama announces he supports same-sex marriage", CNN, May 9, 2012. Retrieved on November 1, 2012.
- Bilger, Micaiah (June 28, 2016). Democratic Party Platform Calls for Forcing Americans to Pay for Abortions. LifeNews.com. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
- Ertelt, Steven (October 19, 2016). Hillary Clinton Defends Killing Babies in Partial-Birth Abortions: “Government Shouldn’t Step In”. LifeNews.com. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
- Williams, Thomas D. (April 23, 2017). DNC Chair Calls for Abortion Rights Litmus Test for Democrats. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- U.S. religious groups and their political leanings
- World Book
- William DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Gramercy 1997
- Stampp, 211.
- Kleppner (1979).
- In the South the Democrats were mostly on the dry side. Kleppner (1979).
- Refuting Bryan's charges, historians have discovered there was little coercion of workers.
- American Nightmare: The History of Jim Crow, Jerrold M. Packard, St. Martin's Press, 2003, pp. 124-125
- In general the New Deal, 1933-40, did not raise taxes, except for the Social Security tax that went into effect in 1937.
- Reagan became a conservative around 1960, saying the Democratic party had left him.
- See the exit polls at U.S. PRESIDENT / REGION: SOUTH / EXIT POLL (2004-11-02\). Retrieved on 2006-11-18.
- Harry G. Levinem "Ralph Nader, Suicide Bomber." The Village Voice May 3, 2004 at 
- Representative Barbara Lee of Texas
- Evan Thomas and Staff of Newsweek,Election 2004: How Bush Won and What You Can Expect in the Future(2005)
- Dewan Shaila and Anne E. Kornblut, "In Key House Races, Democrats Run to the Right," New York Times, 2006-10-30; but compare Rick Perlstein, "Who deserves credit for the Democratic comeback?" The New Republic 2006-11-08 at 
- CNN, "Corruption named as key issue by voters in exit polls," 2006-11-08 at 
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