Voter's Guide/United States/Democratic Party
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The Democratic Party is, briefly, the party most associated with increasing social welfare through health care, unemployment benefits and other programs, of a more interventionist and protectionist economic policy compared to the Republican Party, and of a generally liberal stance on social issues.
Brief history[edit | edit source]
More information: Democratic Party of the United States
The Democratic Party has its roots in the party of Thomas Jefferson, but took shape after the 1824 election, in which Andrew Jackson won a plurality of the popular vote but lost the election. He formed a coalition of political allies to defeat John Quincy Adams, succeeding. This group went on to become the modern Democratic Party.
In the run-up to the Civil War in the 1860s, the Democratic Party became increasingly fractured along a North-South split. The most important dividing issue was slavery, which the southern Democratic party supported, and the northerners did not. The divided party produced two rival candidates for the 1860 election, and did not run another successful presidential campaign until Grover Cleveland, well after the Civil War was over. Cleveland was followed by the famed William Jennings Bryant, who nevertheless lost to William McKinley. The next great Democratic leader was Woodrow Wilson, who led the country through World War I. Republicans remained in control through the 1920s, but the subsequent Great Depression secured greater support for government intervention. The result was the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who went on to champion the New Deal as he was re-elected an unprecedented three more times. Roosevelt also directed the nation through World War II, but died before the end of the war.
By the 1960s, a fundamental shift in American politics was beginning. The Civil Rights Movement became a potent political force that divided people along racial and geographic lines. African Americans had previously supported the Republican Party in large numbers, but shifted after Lyndon Johnson showed strong support for civil rights. Following Johnson, there have been two Democratic presidents: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Positions[edit | edit source]
- Affirmative Action - Support
- Gay Marriage - varies among Democrats, many support gay marriage and more support civil unions
- War in Iraq - supports staying in Iraq to establish a stable, democratic government; many Democrats were opposed to the war and most are critical of the handling of the war and its aftermath. Two nonbinding resolutions were voted on in the Senate in June 2006. One set a date on leaving Iraq; the other urged President Bush to start withdrawaling troops. Both resolutions failed.
- Taxes - generally supports raising taxes on the rich, and sometimes across-the-board, believes strongly in the progressive income tax
- Health Care - supports health care funded by taxes for those who can not afford health insurance; some support a nationalized health care plan
- Environmentalism - supports more restrictions to protect the environment compared to the Republican Party