The United States political arena is basically a battle of two parties—the Republicans who hold a conservative perspective and Democrats who hold a liberal view (On the Issues, 2000., n.pag. ).
According to the website of the Democratic party (2008., n.pag.), they are committed to keep the nation safe and expand opportunities for every American. Their political party is focused on having a secure nation, strong economic growth, security in retirement benefits, affordable health care, and a government that is honest and would promote civil rights.
The Democrats also believe in the government’s responsibility to take care of all the citizens. They are also pushing for the centralization of power and favor federal-level interventions which are aimed to replace community based solutions to community problems (Cagop. Org, 13 May 2008., n.pag.).
The Republicans (GOP, 2008., n.pag.) on the other hand believe that the strength of the nation lies in the individual thus, each person’s dignity, ability, freedom and responsibility should be respected. They also believe in the promotion of equal rights, justice and opportunity for all. They deem to encourage free enterprise and encourage individual initiative and believe that the American ideals and values should be retained. They hold on to the principle that the government should only do those which the individual cannot do for himself. Their philosophy is based in limiting government intervention thus, the government should only intervene in cases where the society cannot act effectively at the individual level (Cagop. Org, 13 May 2008., n.pag.).
The Republicans believe in the power of free enterprise and in its power of bringing economic growth and innovation. The government should help in stimulating a business environment where the people can freely exhibit their talents. The Democrats on the other hand believe that the government knows what is best for its citizens. Federal officials have a better grasp of the needs of the community.
As far as National Defense is concerned, the Republicans advocate that this area of the government should be given focus. Defending the nation must be the fundamental commitment of the federal government. The Democrats on the other hand foster a different belief. They advocate for the scaling down of military spending and are also pushing for the end of the Iraq war.
In immigration issues, the Republicans advocate for stricter implementation of immigration laws and maintenance of security within the US borders. They believe that the lax security in the borders of the country has caused violence and lawlessness. The Democrats on the other hand, foster the cause of immigrants and believe that they should also be given opportunity to earn a better living and should not be denied of their rights (Cagop. Org., 13 May 2008., n.pag.).
The Republicans believe that the foundation of American society is the preservation of American values. Parents have the liberty to choose the values that their children will be exposed thru the schools and religion that they engage their children in. The Democrats in the other hand perceive that the American society should redefine its values to fit for changing world wide trends. They also believe that the federal government has the right to determine the values that should be taught in public schools.
In terms of taxes, the Republicans do not believe in the imposition of high taxes and fosters that government spending should be regulated. The Democrats on the other hand believe that the government knows what is best for the people and taxes should be proportionate to the obligations which the government needs to perform (Shannon, M. n.d., n.pag.).
According to Tamim Ansary (2008., n.pag.), the present stance of the Democrats and the Republicans are almost the same. The ideologies which originally shaped these two political parties have waned and changed through time. Now, it is almost difficult to determine a Democrat from a Republican. If only they remained constant with their ideologies then may be it would be easier to differentiate the two and choose which party espouses best one’s beliefs.
To better understand the present principles of the two parties, there is a need to look at their historical make up and see the origin and development of the ideologies that they are now trying to promote.
The Republican Party was founded in 1854 by a coalition composed of former members of the parties: Whig, Know-nothing and the Free-soil as well as Northern Democrats who did not adhere to the conciliation posed by their party regarding the issue on slavery. They were united and determined to push for the cease of slavery in Western territories. During the year 1856, John Charles Fremont was nominated for President. Fremont did not win due to his failure to oppose immigration.
It was in the late 1850s that the Republicans gained recognition as one of the major parties of the United States. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln, the party candidate was elected as President. It was during Lincoln’s Presidency that the country joined the Civil War which lasted from 1861 to 1865. The Civil war as well as the reconstruction after is gained edge for the Republican Party as they enjoyed a solid core of strength as well as permanence. The party’s control of the north states during the war earned them the patriotic fervor they needed to denounce the Democrats but the latter remained strong. The Republicans on the other hand faced an internal strife. There was a disagreement between the moderate and radical Republicans regarding the party’s war aims. Both the radicals and moderates wanted to end the war, however, the radicals also aimed of ending slavery in the South, reshape their society as well as their power structure. The moderates on the other hand did not favor the idea of having racial equality and reshape the social and economic structures if the South. This difference in ideologies prompted a battle for party control. After President Andrew Johnson was elected, the party nomination mostly favored the moderates.
The stance of the party was not so consistent its ideologies changed as various events concerned the United States. The party, from its beginnings represented a nationalistic, Protestant, Anglo Saxon and patriotic view. During the post civil war era, the party also represented the cause of the industrial forces. They also showed hostility to eastern Europeans and Irish groups who were transforming the cities in the country. The platforms that the party introduced concerned prohibition or limitation of liquor consumption and shape the curriculum of the schools to be more in tune with Protestant and American values and fight the threats posed by the foreigners who were trying to establish alliance with the Democrats.
Although Republicans share the same party and the same conservative views, there are still certain disagreements between the members of the group that caused factions and division within the party which won seven Presidential elections from 1868 to 1892. The rift within the party members as well as the growing support of the Democrats in the South, aided the Democrats in winning the Presidency after Republican take over.
The Republicans regained their power after World War I. The party continued to dominate the American political arena until the 1920s. Among the factors that contributed to this dominance is the industrial economic values that the party fostered at a time when there is an extraordinary prosperity. However, this dominance waned when the Great Depression was felt by the people. The administration of Hoover, a Republican, destroyed the belief of the people that there is unlimited prosperity. There was an economic collapse and high unemployment rate. There was also a slow and limited response of Hoover’s administration to the sufferings of the people. These factors greatly affected the faith of the people to the Republicans. Thus the Democrats took over the Presidency in 1932. For the next years, the Democrats dominated the charts. There were only certain instances when the Republicans gathered support from the people but this was only the time when the Democrats were facing problems. The impact of the Great Depression was so great for the Republicans party.
In their attempt to regain their power, the Republicans condemned the New Deal policy of deficit spending and even argued against government intervention to the poor. In terms of foreign affairs issues, the Republicans did not exhibit much difference with the policies and ideologies of the Democrats. The parallelism in ideologies brought confusion to the Americans.
It was through the administration of Ronald Reagan that the party regained the support that it needed to restore the party back to power. He won landslide re election in 1984 with his military programs. The influence of the Reagan administration waned when Bill Clinton was elected as President. However, the strength of the Republicans showed revival when the party dominated Congress for the first time in 40 years during the midterm elections after Clinton was elected. However, this dominance had little effect because they experienced difficulty in passing their agenda; Clinton even vetoed two bills.
In 2000, George Bush, the son of former President George Bush won the Presidency on a close fight against Democratic bet Al Gore. The Republicans, however, lost seats in the Senate and House of representatives. Bush won a re-election despite its declining popularity and support (MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia a, 2008., n.pag.).
The Democratic Party was founded in 1790s to primarily resist the policies which George Washington introduced during his administration. It was originally called Republican and was later known as Democratic – Republican Party. In 1828, the party was divided into two factions: the national Republican Party which was later on absorbed by the Whig party and the other, the Democratic Party.
It was during the 1830s that the Democratic Party began developing distinct characteristics such as the use of national power in foreign affairs, the economic and social responsibility of the government to act with caution. They also argued for the independence of the states—that the national government should not do anything which the states could do for themselves.
Supporters of the party came from owners of southern plantation and immigrants who both disliked the intervention of the government to their lives. The Whigs on the other hand believe that there is a need for government intervention fro regulation, correction and reformation. Unlike the Republicans which faced a series of threats to its government and organization, the Democrats have established a strong organization which enables them to effectively fight their opponents during the elections.
They have strong political machinery. It’s local, district and statewide committees, convention as well as party rallies are spread everywhere in the country to promote the principles that the party advocates. They also list down the justification on why the people should vote for their candidates. Aside from these, the party also helps on selecting government officers as well as provides a system of disciplining them while they are still in the service. From 1828 until 1856, the party won the Presidency six out of eight elections. The party’s popularity suffered a low, however, during the mid 1850s. There was a voter backlash due to the issues on slavery and the party’s relationship with immigrant workers. There was an increasing number of immigrants in the country and this caused a great threat to the stability of the American values.
The party experienced a split in 1860 on the issue of slavery—the southern Democrats wanted to protect slavery but the northern democrats refused to push for it. This rift proved to be beneficial for the Republicans which won the elections. The Democrats expressed opposition to the policies advocated by the Republicans such as the refusal to increase government power in fighting the war and opposing the draft for social changes among others. These oppositions negatively reflected in the party standing the succeeding elections. The party only won when the Republicans experience an internal strife.
Like the republicans, the Democrats also had to deal with factions which tried to maneuver the stance of the party and the candidates. It was during the late 19th century that the party experienced a big problem with factions—there were three democratic parties which competed to control the party; the traditional, the urban political machines and the restive groups in the south and west.
After 1929, the party experienced a surge in the polls as Democratic leadership expanded the role of the government in social welfare and economic regulation. The party even won in black communities which basically were Republicans. This positive standing in the polls gave the Democrats a stable standing for more than 30 years and the rise of the New Deal coalition.
The party regained control of the White House during John F. Kennedy’s election in 1960. But then with the rise of the Vietnam War and the controversies that arose with it as well as the Watergate scandal, the Democrats again suffered in the polls. The party was able to gain better control of the political arena when Bill Clinton and Al Gore won as President and Vice-President respectively. In 1996, the two were re-elected; however, their leadership did not give full control of American politics as Congress was filled with Republicans.
In 1997, the party faced a controversy on allegations of illegal campaign contribution and fund raising practices. In 1998, Clinton also faced the White House scandal. Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern accused Clinton of having sexual relations with her. The Democrats desired to express their displeasure with the event and wanted to adopt an official rebuke, however, the Republicans, desiring to topple the Democrats moved ahead with impeachment proceedings against the President. This hasty move did not work for the benefit of the Republicans; the people instead sided with the Democrats (MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia b, 2008., n.pag.).
In 2000, the Republicans took over the Presidency as George Bush won in a close fight with Al Gore. He was re-elected for his second term.
Today, the Republicans and the Democrats are again facing one of their biggest battles—the 2008 Presidential elections. The Republicans are already certain with John McCain as their candidate, however, the Democrats are still choosing between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Both the Democratic candidates are at loggerheads on who is the best Presidential candidate for the party. Clinton aims of strengthening the middles class, providng health care that is affordable and accessible, ending the war in Iraq and Restoring America’s standing to the world among others (Hillary Clinton, 2008, n.pag.). Obama on the other hand, is pushing for ending discrimination in America, better recognition of civil rights, a better economy and strong families, among others (Barack Obama, 2008, n.pag.). The primaries and the battle on which candidate has more bailiwick to win and finally represent the party only indicates that the two parties in America, despite its heritage, remains to be regionalistic and have not prospered much as national parties. They have not rally come to terms as regard to their party policies and remain quite divided.
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