Democratic Party

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The Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties in the United States of America. It is generally seen as being politically between center and left of center, while the rival Republican Party is positioned to the right of center.

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,[1], though President George W. Bush was re-elected as President on the Republican ticket in 2004, albeit by the narrowest margin of any incumbent candidate since Woodrow Wilson [2]. The Democrats currently control the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as the majority of State governorships and legislatures. [3]

Like the Republicans, the Democrats are currently selecting their candidate for the 2008 presidential election; the front-runners in the contest are Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. The most recent president who was a Democrat was Bill Clinton, who served from 1993 to 2001. In his second term he was impeached by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for lying under oath in a civil case which ended in a large out of court settlement, a reproach from the presiding judge, and his disbarment from the Arkansas Bar. However, the Senate chose to return an 'innocent' verdict to the impeachment charge.


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. Ironically in view of the party's image as the "party of the common man," Jefferson was a member of the landed gentry and a slave owner.

In 1798 , the party was officially named the "Democratic-Republican Party", and in 1800 Jefferson was elected as the first Democrat President of the United States. Jefferson served two terms as president with distinction, and was succeeded by another Democrat, James Madison, in 1808 . Madison strengthened America's armed forces and helped to reaffirm American independence by defeating 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 Feeling". In this period, the party dominated American politics with little opposition. Andrew Jackson, who signed into law the Indian Removal Act of 1830 [4] according to the Democratic National Committee's website is "considered — along with Jefferson — one of the founding fathers of the Democratic Party." [5] Annual Jefferson-Jackson Day celebrations nationwide by local chapters of the Democratic Party commemorate the two founders of the Democratic Party. [6]

Franklin Roosevelt, president during the Great Depression and Second World War, was a Democrat, as was his successor, Harry Truman.

Policies and criticism

It should be noted that the views of individual Democrats sometimes diverge from the party's official stance as expressed in its national platform. Naturally, the same is true of individual Republicans.

Economic policy

In the field of economic policy, Democrats favor high taxes, higher government spending and a relatively high minimum wage. While they defend these policies as compassionate and socially responsible, people in favor of liberal economics reply that they depress economic growth and stifle enterprise and job creation.

The Democratic Party has historically had ties to organized labor. The National Education Association,[7] the largest union of public school teachers, is a backbone of the party, supplying the largest number of delegates to its national conventions.[Citation Needed]

Foreign and military policy

According to its platform, the Democratic Party has the objective of strengthening America. Democratic national leadership has been accused by some Republican party leaders, most notably Dick Cheney, as being ambivalent about terrorism[8] and insufficiently patriotic [9], such as Saxby Chambliss' campaign against Senator Max Cleland--a Vietnam veteran and triple amputee.[10]


An organization affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council called the Progressive Policy Institute which claims a long standing opposition to school vouchers [11] reported Jonathan Alter of Newsweek saying,

"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." [12]

Environment vs Labor

Two other important coalition groups also find themselves in direct conflict with each other within the Democratic party coalition--Environmentalists and Labour Unions. While environmentalists support efforts like clean air and alternative fuels, for example, this places them directly at odds with the workers of American automobile manufactures whose jobs and livelihoods are threatened by increasing regulations and high costs that lead to cutbacks and layoffs.

Other Policies

Democrats frequently support a woman's right to choose, gun control, homosexual marriage and the separation of church and state. The Democratic party also supports the environment which, some claim, leads to a loss of jobs and an overall decline in the economy.


One of the curious coalitions within the Democratic party is the strange alliance between devout African-American Christian believers and avowed atheists who both claim the mantle of "liberal". While there is negligible if any difference between doctrinal Christian teachings regarding homosexuality in most Black churches and the views expressed by televangelists such as Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, the Democratic coalition relies heavily upon votes of African-Americans and gays.[Citation Needed]

Evangelical Christians tend to be associated with the Republican Party. However, both historically and at the present day, Catholic voters have had a tendency to identify with the Democratic Party, and a number of Democrat office-holders, such as Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, are Catholics. On the other hand, 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.


  1. Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007 Pew Research Center, 22 March 2007
  2. "Learn About the Elections"
  3. Post-Election 2006 Maps
  4. Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal, by Robert Remini.
  5. Democratic National Committee, Our History, retrieved 25 March 2007.
  6. String of Successes Enlivens Democratic Party, Michael D. Shear, The Washington Post, 22 February 2007.
  7. National Education Association homepage
  8. "Democrats, ACLU Outraged Over Traveler Terrorism Screening Program" C. Johnson, Associated Press
  9. CNN Saturday Morning NewsTranscript: December 1, 2001
  10. "Dirty-Bomb Politics" Mary McGrory, The Washington Post, 20 June 2002
  11. 21st Century Schools Project Bulletin: Special Edition Putting Vouchers in Perspective, PPI E-newsletter 2 July 2002
  12. Center For Education Reform, Monthly Letter to Friends No. 75, Back to School 2002.