The Democratic Party (1792- ) is the largest left-wing political party in America. It was founded by Thomas Jefferson. The Republican Party is its counterpart on the right. The Democratic Party is represented by a donkey in pictures.
It is like Labour in Britain or the Social Democrats in Europe, but it is not as far to the left as they are. It accepts capitalism as a given. It is not socialist.
Since the 1930s it has believed in taxing the rich to help the poor.
Since the 1980s, as the Republicans have moved to the hard right, the Democratic Party has been moving towards the centre right. In the 1990s, for example, they pushed through welfare reform, free trade with Mexico and kept taxes low on the rich.
Some famous Democratic presidents:
- Thomas Jefferson (1800s)
- Andrew Jackson (1830s)
- Woodrow Wilson (1910s)
- Franklin Roosevelt (1930s, early 1940s)
- Harry Truman (late 1940s)
- John Kennedy (early 1960s)
- Bill Clinton (1990s)
Democrats have been favoured by labour, the poor, Jews, blacks, women and newspaper reporters.
Democrats see the purpose of government as providing justice, especially equality. Therefore they are generally for equal rights, especially for blacks, women and homosexuals.
Democrats favour social change, which they almost always regard as progress. They paint the past (but not the present) as the bad old days when rich white men ruled and kept everyone else down to become rich and powerful.
Democrats see themselves as standing up for the common man, with whom they are often out of touch. They get their ideas from intellectuals and newspapermen, not from ordinary people. They get most of their money from the rich.
Nevertheless, they have done a lot of good for ordinary people, particularly in the 1930s and 1960s. They have made it harder for business to make people work long hours for little pay under unsafe conditions. They have made it possible for many who do well at school to go on to university – it is no longer the preserve of the rich. The old are not so desperately poor as they once were. They are now working for universal healthcare. And so on.
While the Republicans are loosely Christian in their outlook, the Democrats have no moral foundation.
Therefore they sometimes support laws that are either immoral or unfair:
- Race: They supported keeping blacks as slaves and then keeping them down with Jim Crow laws. They supported civil rights reforms in the 1960s but only after it was forced on them through protests.
- Abortion: In the 1980s there were still Democrats who opposed abortion. Now abortion is unquestioned doctrine among Democrats in high office.
Their stand on race and abortion has lost them the South along with most church-going whites.
Blacks are among the most faithful Democratic voters. The party takes them for granted and has done little for them since the 1960s – because most will not vote at all rather than vote for the Republicans, who are far more racist.
– Abagond, 2006.