Democratic Party

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Democratic Party
Party Chairman Howard Dean
Senate Leader Harry Reid
House Leader Nancy Pelosi
Founded 1792 or 1820's
Headquarters 430 South Capitol Street SE
Washington, D.C.
Political ideology Liberalism
Political position Fiscal: Populism
Social: Liberalism
International affiliation
Color(s) Blue (unofficial)

The Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties in the United States of America. Its leadership is liberal, in contrast with conservative voters who tend to support the rival Republican Party.[1] Members and supporters of the Democratic Party are known as Democrats, and historically the party has sometimes been called the "Democrat Party," which the party considers a pejorative term. The Democratic Party is the recipient of 85% of all corporate lobbying cash according to Roll Call newspaper's top-20 list of corporate influence donations.[2] However, this is likely due to corporate donors' tendency to support the majority party in Congress,[3] as when the Republican party was in power the situation was reversed.

The Democrats currently control the 110th United States Congress together with the majority of State governorships and legislatures.[4] According to a Pew Research Center poll, 50 percent of Americans identify themselves with the Democratic Party as opposed to 35 percent for the Republican Party.[5] However, Democrats have served out only three of the last ten presidential terms. The AP/Ipsos Poll reports that the Democratic-majority U.S. Congress currently has a 26% approval rating.[6]

On June 7th, 2008, with the concession of Senator Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee for the 2008 presidential election is Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. The most recent president who was a Democrat was Bill Clinton, who served from 1993 to 2001.

In 2007, the democratic leadership in Florida broke the party rules by moving their primaries up. This disqualified their delegates from the 2008 Presidential Primary Election 2008 Democratic National Convenetion.[7] The St. Petersberg Times quotes a letter from Florida Senator Bill Nelson and others Democratic members of the Florida Congressional delegation sent to DNC Chairman Howard Dean protesting a move by the Committee to violate individual voting rights,

It always has been a priority of our party to protect the rights of every eligible American to vote," the letter said. "We would hope the DNC will continue to honor this right.

The Democrats ended up seating all of Florida's delegates but they will only have half of a vote each at the convention. A full Michigan delegation with half-votes was seated as well, but Obama was assigned all of Michigan's uncommitted delegates, and four Hillary Clinton delegates were transfered to Barack Obama, allegedly to compensate for the Barack Obama supporters who didn't vote because he removed his name from the Michigan ballot.

Giving each delegate half a vote was the minimum penalty possible, leading some to question whether the Democratic Party is serious about punishing states for moving up their primaries.[Citation Needed]


The Democratic Party was founded in 1792 by Thomas Jefferson as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and to oppose the elitist Federalist Party led by Alexander Hamilton, which fought for the Constitution.

In 1798, the party was officially named the "Democratic-Republican Party", and in 1800 Jefferson was elected as the first Democratic President of the United States. Jefferson, a member of the landed gentry and a slave owner, served two terms as president with distinction, and was succeeded by another Democrat, James Madison, in 1808. During Madison's tenure, the United States fought the United Kingdom in the War of 1812. James Monroe, another Democratic-Republican, was elected president in 1816 and led the nation through a time commonly known as "The Era of Good Feelings". In this period, the party dominated American politics with little opposition. Monroe was followed by John Quincy Adams who won the hotly contested election of 1824, becoming the first son of a former president to be elected president.

Andrew Jackson, who defeated Adams in the 1828 election and signed into law the Indian Removal Act of 1830,[8] according to the Democratic National Committee's website is "considered — along with Jefferson — one of the founding fathers of the Democratic Party".[9] Annual Jefferson-Jackson Day celebrations nationwide by local chapters of the Democratic Party commemorate the two founders of the Democratic Party.[10] The Indian Removal Act, enforced through a series of dishonest dealings with native people such as the Treaty of Dancing Rabitt Creek and the Treaty of New Echota, resulted in the wholesale deportation of Native Americans from the Southeastern states to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma).[11]

The Jacksonian period also saw the expansion of the voting franchise as most states did away with, or decreased property requirements for, voting. The beneficiaries of the expansion of the franchise, however, were nearly all white males.

During and after the period of the Civil War, the Democratic party was noted for being heavily supportive of the institution of slavery. In fact, its views were in direct opposite of the newer Republican party, which opposed slavery and believed that the vile institution should be eliminated. It would be many years before the Democrats recognized that they needed to hide their views about slavery in order to attract support and become more in line with the mainstream Republican Party.

Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, who served as President from 1933 to 1945, led the United States during the Great Depression and throughout most of the Second World War. He remains the only President elected to four terms. Under his successor Harry Truman the United States emerged a victor from World War II and articulated the Doctrine of Containment, which committed the U.S. to stop the spread of global Communism. Truman ordered the Berlin airlift in 1948 and sent U.S. troops to Korea in 1950.

Policies and criticism

In June 2005, at the U.S. Capitol Democrats held a mock impeachment inquiry into President's Bush's foreign policy. Concurrently, a rally was being held at the Democratic National Party headquarters where some activists handed out anti-Semitic materials, claiming that an Israeli company had warning of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and an "insider trading scam" on Wall Street had occurred simultaneously.[12] These activists were not officially associated with the Democratic party.

The views of individual Democrats sometimes diverge from the party's official stance as expressed in its national 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. [13]

Economic policy

In the field of economic policy, Democrats favor high progressive taxes, higher government spending and increasing the minimum wage.

The Democratic Party has historically had ties to organized labor.[14]

The National Education Association,[15] the largest union of public school teachers, is a backbone of the party, supplying the largest number of delegates to its national conventions.

Democrats take the stance of wanting to help low-income Americans by increasing the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans.

Foreign and military policy

According to its platform, the Democratic Party has the objective of strengthening America. Democratic national leadership has been accused of being ambivalent about terrorism[16] and insufficiently patriotic.[17] 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.[18] The poll found this sentiment 3 to 4 times higher among Democrats than among moderate, centrist, and Republican voters.


An organization affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council called the Progressive Policy Institute claims a long-standing opposition to school vouchers.[19] 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."[20]

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.


The Democrat fondness for heavy government intervention into the marketplace and social engineering means that a significant proportion of their base and of their candidates for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election ideologically favor introducing a system of socialized healthcare[Citation Needed]; regardless of the crippling tax burden this would require to sustain itself and the low standard of care achieved by socialized health programs in other countries compared to the United States.[Citation Needed] However, many first world nations such as France and Britain do have socialized healthcare systems, and are ranked 1 and 18 by the World Health Organization[21], respectively, compared to the United States' rank of 37. Therefore, many argue that there may be some advantages to a universal health care system. Democrats generally regard universal healthcare to be a priority because of the appeal to voters without any kind of health insurance. Among the leading proponents for this idea include Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John Edwards; the latter formerly being the running mate to Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential Election.

Gay Rights

Democratic lawmakers and opinion-formers consistently favor measures such as the establishment of same-sex civil unions, gay marriage and gay adoption of children over defense of the traditional family. Likewise they are vigorous in attempting to amend hate crime laws, which some experts maintain would make criticism of the homosexual lifestyle illegal;[22] while at the same time supporting efforts to disseminate favorable opinions regarding homosexuality through channels such as the mainstream media and even the educational system in the face of opposition from churches and religious authorities, a broad coalition of Republican and Independent politicians. Democrats reject the idea of a Homosexual agenda preferring to speak in terms of gay rights when this issue is raised. The Democratic Party is the recipient and beneficiary of funding from homosexual lobbying groups and can be seen by their positions as the United States' largest and most powerful de facto supporter of the Homosexual Agenda.[23]

Other Policies

Democrats frequently support the minimum wage, workplace protections, the right of women to choose to have an abortion, gun control, gay marriage, and the separation of church and state.


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.

Both historically and today, Catholic voters have had a tendency to identify with the Democratic Party, and a number of Democratic office-holders, such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, are Catholics. However, several general ideals of the Democratic Party's platform - most notably, the party's overall support for the legality of abortion - are contrary to the position of the Catholic Church.

With regard to Protestant Christians, members of Evangelical churches in particular are associated with the Republican Party. 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 Protestant Christians and from secular and atheist white voters. The strong opposition to homosexuality found among many Black Protestant Christians (and, indeed, among orthodox Catholics) 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 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.[24]. The measure did not pass the Legislature, and as a result when Justice Roy Moore posted a Ten Commandments display in his courthouse, the ACLU was able to have the display removed.

Democratic Presidents

See also


  1. See political spectrum theory
  2. Comfy With K Street Democrats tell business to pay up or else, Stephen Moore,, October 19, 2007.
  3. [1], Jeanne Cummings,, October 15, 2007.
  4. Post-Election 2006 Maps
  5. Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007 Pew Research Center, 22 March 2007
  6. AP/Ipsos Poll, January 7-9, 2008.
  7. Fla. Democrats warn of voting rights probe if state sanctioned, By Rasha Madkour, Associated Press, Aug 23, 2007. Retrieved from St. Petersberg Times August 24, 2007.
  8. Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal, by Robert Remini.
  9. Democratic National Committee, Our History, retrieved 25 March 2007.
  10. String of Successes Enlivens Democratic Party, Michael D. Shear, The Washington Post, 22 February 2007.
  12. Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War, Dana Milbank, Washington Post, June 17, 2005.
  13. [2] ,, March 6, 2005
  14. Paying Dues - The Democrats settle up with their union bosses, Weekly Standard, July 25, 2007
  15. National Education Association homepage
  16. "Democrats, ACLU Outraged Over Traveler Terrorism Screening Program" C. Johnson, Associated Press
  17. CNN Saturday Morning NewsTranscript: December 1, 2001
  18. Nearly 1 in 5 Democrats Say World Will Be Better Off if U.S. Loses War, FOX News Poll, October 04, 2007.
  19. 21st Century Schools Project Bulletin: Special Edition Putting Vouchers in Perspective, PPI E-newsletter 2 July 2002
  20. Center For Education Reform, Monthly Letter to Friends No. 75, Back to School 2002.
  22. Christian belief a hate crime under plan, WorldNetDaily, March 3, 2007.
  23. Human Rights Campaign,

External links