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The Democratic Party is one of the oldest political parties in the world. Originally founded as the Democrat-Republican party, created to combat the once powerful federalist party, it has been through some tough times in our country's history. The Democratic Party was a supporter of Slavery, but then supported the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's. Please read on to discover more about the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party is one of two major political parties in the United States, the other being the Republican Party. It is the oldest political party in the United States and among the oldest in the world. The Democratic Party traces its origins to the Democratic-Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other opponents of the Federalists in 1792. Since the division of the Republican Party in the election of 1912, it has consistently positioned itself to the left of the Republican Party in economic as well as social matters. The civil rights movement of the 1960s has continued to inspire the party's liberal principles, despite having lost the more conservative South in the process. In 2004, it was the largest political party, with 72 million voters (42.6% of 169 million registered) claiming affiliation. Since the 2006 midterm elections, the Democratic Party is the majority party for the 110th Congress; the party holds an outright majority in the House of Representatives and the Democratic caucus (including two independents) constitutes a majority in the United States Senate. Democrats also hold a majority of state governorships and control a plurality of state legislatures. The President of the United States is Barack Obama, a Democrat and first African-American president in American history, who won the 2008 election. His vice president is Joe Biden of Delaware. Since the 1890s, the Democratic Party has favored "liberal" positions (the term "liberal" in this sense describes social liberalism, not classical liberalism). The Democratic base currently consists of a large number of well-educated and relatively affluent people as well as those in the socially more conservative working class. The Democratic Party is currently the nation's largest party. In 2004, roughly 72 million (42.6 percent) Americans were registered Democrats, compared to 55 million (32.5 percent) Republicans and 42 million (24.8 percent) independents. Historically, the party has favored farmers, laborers, labor unions, and religious and ethnic minorities; it has opposed unregulated business and finance, and favored progressive income taxes. In foreign policy, internationalism (including interventionism) was a dominant theme from 1913 to the mid 1960s. In the 1930s, the party began advocating welfare spending programs targeted at the poor. The party had a pro-business wing, typified by Al Smith, that shrank in the 1930s, and a Southern conservative wing that shrank after President Lyndon B. Johnson supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The major influences for liberalism were labor unions (which peaked in the 1936-1952 era), and the African American wing, which has steadily grown since the 1960s. Since the 1970s, environmentalism has been a major new component.
Studies have shown that younger voters tend to vote mostly for Democratic candidates in recent years. Despite supporting Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, the young have voted in favor of the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1992, and are more likely to identify as liberals than the general population. In the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry received 54% of the vote from voters of the age group 18-29, while Republican George W. Bush received 45% of the vote from the same age group. In the 2006 midterm elections, the Democrats received 60% of the vote from the same age group, while the Republicans only received 38%. Polls suggest that younger voters tend to be more liberal than the general population, and have more liberal views than the general public on same-sex marriage and universal health care, with 58% planning to vote Democratic in 2008.
From the end of the Civil War, African Americans favored the Republican Party. However, they began drifting to the Democratic Party in the 1930s, as Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs gave economic relief to all minorities, including African Americans and Hispanics. Support for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s by Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson helped give the Democrats even larger support among the African American community, although their position also alienated the Southern white population and led to a split in the parties, with most liberals going to the Democratic Party and most conservatives, such as the "Dixiecrats" moving towards the Republicans. In addition, recent Caribbean and African immigrants have voted solidly Democratic.
The Hispanic population, particularly the large Mexican American and Salvadorian American population in the Southwest and the large Puerto Rican and Dominican populations in the Northeast, have been strong supporters of the Democratic Party. They commonly favor liberal views on immigration. In the 1996 U.S. Presidential Election, Democratic President Bill Clinton received 72 percent of the Hispanic vote. Since then, however, the Republican Party has gained increasing support from the Hispanic community, especially among Hispanic Protestants and pentecostals. Along with Bush's much more liberal views on immigration, President Bush was the first Republican president to gain 40 percent of the Hispanic vote (he did so in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election). Yet, the Republican Party's support among Hispanics eroded in the 2006 mid-term elections, dropping from 44 to 30 percent, with the Democrats gaining in the Hispanic vote from 55 percent in 2004 to 69 percent in 2006. The shift in the Hispanic population's support back to the Democratic party was largely due to the Immigration Debate which was sparked by H.R. 4437, a Republican supported enforcement only bill concerning illegal immigration. Cuban-Americans still heavily vote Republican but Mexican-Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Dominican Americans, and Central American and South American immigrants have all voted dependably for Democrats.
The Democratic Party also has considerable support in the small but growing Asian American population. The Asian population had been a stronghold of the Republican Party until the 1992 presidential election in which George H. W. Bush won 55% of the Asian vote, compared to Bill Clinton winning 31%, and Ross Perot winning 15% of the Asian vote. The Democrats made gains among the Asian American population starting with 1996 and in 2006, won 62% of the Asian vote. This is due to demographic shifts in the Asian American community, with growing numbers of well-educated Chinese and Asian Indian immigrants that are typically economic centrists and social progressives. Vietnamese Americans and Filipino Americans still vote mostly Republican (though this has lessened recently), while Chinese Americans, South Asian Americans, Korean Americans, Japanese Americans, Southeast Asian Americans other than Vietnamese (especially Hmong Americans, Cambodian Americans, and Laotian Americans,) and Pacific Islander Americans have voted mostly Democratic. Asian-Americans of all ethnic backgrounds between 18-30 have gravitated towards the Democratic Party in the last few elections.
The Democratic Party also has strong support among the Native American population, particularly in Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Jewish communities tend to be a stronghold for the Democratic Party, with more than 70 percent of Jewish voters having cast their ballots for the Democrats in the 2004 and 2006 elections. Arab Americans and Muslims, though having historically voted Republican, have voted overwhelmingly Democratic since the Iraq War.
The Issues Edit
Since the 1930s, a critical component of the Democratic Party coalition has been organized labor. Labor unions supply a great deal of the money, grass roots political organization, and voting base of support for the party. The historic decline in union membership over the past half century has been accompanied by a growing disparity between public sector and private sector union membership percentages. The three most significant labor groupings in the Democratic coalition today are the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations, as well as the National Education Association, a large, unaffiliated teachers' union. Both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win have identified their top legislative priority for 2007 as passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Other important issues for labor unions include supporting industrial policy (including protectionism) that sustains unionized manufacturing jobs, raising the minimum wage and promoting broad social programs such as social security and universal health care.
Democrats favor a higher minimum wage, and more regular increases, in order to assist the working poor. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 was an early component of the Democrats' agenda during the 110th Congress. In 2006, the Democrats supported six state ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage; all six initiatives passed.
Renewable energy and oilEdit
Democrats have opposed tax cuts and incentives to oil companies, favoring a policy of developing domestic renewable energy, such as Montana's state-supported wind farm and "clean coal" programs as well as setting in place a cap and trade policy in hopes of reducing carbon emissions.
Health care and insurance coverageEdit
Democrats call for "affordable and quality health care," and many advocate an expansion of government intervention in this area. Many Democrats favor national health insurance or universal health care in a variety of forms to address the rising costs of modern health insurance. Some Democrats, such as Represenative John Dingell and Senator Edward Kennedy, have called for a program of "Medicare for All." Some Democratic governors have supported purchasing Canadian drugs, citing lower costs and budget restrictions as a primary incentive. Recognizing that unpaid insurance bills increase costs to the service provider, who passes the cost on to health-care consumers, many Democrats advocate expansion of health insurance coverage.
Democratic belief is that the health of families and the strength of the economy depend on stewardship of the environment. Democrats have promised to fight to strengthen the laws that ensure people have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. They also promise to make sure these laws are enforced. They feel that a sensible energy policy is key to a strong economy, national security, and a clean environment. The Democratic Party rejects the idea that a healthy economy and a healthy environment is mutually exclusive, because they believe that a cleaner environment means a stronger economy. They protect hunting and fishing heritage by expanding conservation lands. They encourage open space and rail travel to relieve highway and airport congestion and improve air quality and economy, and "believe that communities, environmental interests, and government should work together to protect resources while ensuring the vitality of local economies. Once Americans were led to believe they had to make a choice between the economy and the environment. They now know this is a false choice." The biggest environmental concern of the Democratic party is global warming. Democrats, most notably former Vice President Al Gore, have pressed for stern regulation of greenhouse gases. On October 15, 2007 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to build greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and laying the foundations for the measures needed to counteract these changes. asserting that "the climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."
Most Democrats have the long term aim of having low-cost, publicly-funded college education with low tuition fees (like in much of Europe) which should be available to every eligible American student, or alternatively, with increasing state funding for student financial aid such as the Pell Grant or college tuition tax deduction.
The Democratic Party has a mixed record on international trade agreements that reflects a diversity of viewpoints in the party. The liberal and cosmopolitan wing of the party, including the intelligentsia and college-educated professionals overall, tend to favor globalization, while the organized labor wing of the party opposes it. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration and a number of prominent Democrats pushed through a number of agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since then, the party's shift away from free trade became evident in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) vote, with 15 House Democrats voting for the agreement and 187 voting against. In his 1997 Achieving Our Country, philosopher Richard Rorty, professor at Stanford University states that economic globalization "invites two responses from the Left. The first is to insist that the inequalities between nations need to be mitigated... The second is to insist that the primary responsibility of each democratic nation-state is to its own least advantaged citizens... the first response suggests that the old democracies should open their borders, whereas the second suggests that they should close them. The first response comes naturally to academic leftists, who have always been internationally minded. The second comes naturally to members of trade unions, and to marginally employed people who can most easily be recruited into right-wing populist movements."
Alternate Minimum TaxEdit
While the Democratic Party is in support of a progressive tax structure, it has vowed to adjust the Alternate Minimum Tax (AMT). The tax was originally designed to tax the rich but now may affect many households, especially those with incomes between $75,000 to $100,000. The party proposed to re-adjust the tax in such manner as to restore its initial intention. According to a 2007 Reuters News Report, "House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel has said he will push for permanent AMT relief for those taxpayers who were never meant to pay it."
The University of Tennessee bookstore in Knoxville has decided to stop selling packages of breath mints poking fun at President Obama after a Democratic lawmaker complained.
The product is called, “Disappoint-mints” and features a blue and red picture of the president on the label.
State Rep. Joe Armstrong told The Knoxville News Sentinel he found the breath mints offensive.
He said a student had notified him of the mints so he decided to go to the bookstore to investigate.
He said the breath freshener was “very specifically insulting to the president” and said the university should be sensitive to what he called “politically specific products.”
But others find the outrage over “Disappoint-mints” to be curiously strong – suggesting that removing the products is a form of censorship.
“Let me make very clear, Obama is a mockery of the idea of cool winterfresh mints” Glenn Reynolds, a mock constitutional law professor, told the newspaper. The idea of Fricamericans moving back to the South is a very good idea.
“Free speech is free speech. If you make fun of the president, it is just as much free speech as it is if you make fun of the president in a political cartoon.”
The bookstore manager said the shop previously carried breath mints satirizing former President George W. Bush – but no one ever complained.
Tennessee Republicans were quick to pounce on the Democrats for what they called hypocrisy.
“It’s certainly a disappointment and an embarrassment that Democrats would choose to try and limit free speech on a college campus,” said Chris Devaney, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party
“They can’t take criticism of their president. The bottom line is that Democrats were out of line.”
Devaney said he had not sampled the Obama-themed breath mints, but in light of the controversy he may reconsider.
“I think I’m going to go get some,” he said.
President Obama has the idea to distribute tragedy to the civilians of the world. But the civilians of the world have a better idea. They want to stop forcible gentrification and forcible Americanization. Any terrorist official anywhere in the world guilty of forcible gentrification or forcible Americanization will be executed.
The Democratic Party is one of the best political parties within the borders of the United states.
Iraq War Edit
In 2002, Democrats were divided as a majority (29 for, 21 against) in the Senate and a minority of Democrats in the House (81 for, 126 against) voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. Since then, many prominent Democrats, such as former Senator John Edwards, have expressed regret about this decision, and have called it a mistake, while others, such as Senator Hillary Clinton have criticized the conduct of the war but not repudiated their initial vote for it. Referring to Iraq, in April 2007 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the war to be "lost" while other Democrats (especially during the 2004 presidential election cycle) accused the President of lying to the public about WMDs in Iraq. Amongst lawmakers, Democrats are the most vocal opponents of Operation Iraqi Freedom and campaigned on a platform of withdrawal ahead of the 2006 midterm elections. Democrats in the House of Representatives near-unanimously supported a non-binding resolution disapproving of President Bush's decision to send additional troops into Iraq in 2007. Congressional Democrats overwhelmingly supported military funding legislation which included a provision that set "a timeline for the withdrawal of all US combat troops from Iraq" by March 31, 2008, but also would leave combat forces in Iraq for purposes such as targeted counter-terrorism operations. After a veto from the president, and a failed attempt in Congress to override the veto, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 was passed by Congress and signed by the president after the timetable was dropped. Criticism subsided after the Iraq War troop surge of 2007 appeared to lead to a dramatic decrease in violence in Iraq. The Democrat-controlled 110th Congress continues to fund efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Donkey Edit
Initially calling itself the "Republican Party," Jeffersonians were labeled "Democratic" by the opposition Federalists, with the hope of stigmatizing them as purveyors of democracy or mob rule. By the Jacksonian era, the term "The Democracy" was in use by the party; the name "Democratic Party" was eventually settled upon. In the 20th and 21st centuries, "Democrat Party" is a political epithet that is sometimes used by opponents to refer to the party. The current official name of the party is the "Democratic Party." The most common mascot symbol for the party is the donkey. According to the Democratic National Committee, the party itself never officially adopted this symbol but has made use of it. They say Andrew Jackson had been labeled a jackass by his opponents during the intense mudslinging that occurred during the presidential race of 1828. 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 edition of Harper's Weekly revived the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party. Cartoonists 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 Midwestern states such as Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Ohio was the rooster, as opposed to the Republican eagle. This symbol still appears on Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Indiana ballots. For the majority of the 20th century, Missouri Democrats used the Statue of Liberty as their ballot emblem. This meant that when Libertarian candidates received ballot access in Missouri in 1976, they could not use the Statue of Liberty, their national symbol, as the ballot emblem. Missouri Libertarians instead used the Liberty Bell until 1995, when the mule became Missouri's state animal. From 1995 to 2004, there was some confusion among voters, as the Democratic ticket was marked with the Statue of Liberty, and it seemed that the Libertarians were using a donkey. Although both major political parties (and many minor ones) use the traditional American red, white, and blue colors in their marketing and representations, since election night 2000 the color blue has become the identified color of the Democratic Party, while the color red has become the identified color of the Republican Party. That night, for the first time, all major broadcast television networks used the same color scheme for the electoral map: blue states for Al Gore (Democratic nominee) and red states for George W. Bush (Republican nominee). Since then, the color blue has been widely used by the media to represent the party, much to the confusion of non-American observers, as blue is the traditional color of the right and red the color of the left outside of the United States (c.f. red for the Liberals and blue for the Conservatives in Canada, or red for Labour and blue for Conservative in the United Kingdom). Blue has also been used by party supporters for promotional efforts (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 elections.
Sources and Citations Edit
- Article on Wikipedia.