Nobody needs an introduction about the two prime political parties of the United States; the Republican party and the Democratic party. Each of the two parties has its own beliefs and political theories. Before analyzing what differentiates Republicans from the Democrats, let's take a brief look at the two.
The Republican Party
The symbol of the Republican party is the elephant. It was founded in 1854 by the anti-slavery activists and modernizers in Ripon, Wisconsin (United States). Also called Grand Old Party or GOP, it is the second-oldest continuing party in the United States, after the Democratic Party. The Republicans believe in giving privilege to the citizens. After its establishment, this party gained political power for the first time in 1860, when Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election. At present, the Republican Party is the second-largest political party with a record of 55 million registered voters in 2004.
The Democratic Party
The symbol of the Democratic party is the donkey. It was founded in 1792, which was much earlier than the Republicans. The founders include James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and other opponents of the Federalist Party. The oldest continuing party in the United States, the Democratic Party believes in giving rights to the citizens. Modern Democratic Party came into limelight in the 1830s, and became powerful when Andrew Jackson was elected as the seventh president of the United States. In 2004, this Party was declared as the largest political party with 72 million voters. At present, the United States is ruled by the Democratic Party with Barack Obama as the president.
Republicans and Democrats: Differences
While discussing the difference between Republicans and Democrats, the words conservative and liberal first come to mind. Republicans are more conservative and they usually follow the established tradition. Democrats on the other hand, are more liberal and they believe in change. The Republicans favor a small federal government and strong state governments, whereas the Democrats believe in a large federal government.
The Republicans profess the ideology that each person is responsible for his/her status in society and the government should intervene only when the society is unable to act on its own. Whereas, the Democrats believe that it is the responsibility of the government to take care of the citizens. They often argue that the federal bureaucrats know better about the need of the individuals than the locally elected officials.
Regarding economy, the Republicans believe in economic growth by free enterprise and want people to use their own innovative ideas and talents; whereas the Democrats believe that the economy is too tough for individuals to handle. According to them, business decisions can be better guided by the government officials.
According to the Republicans, property rights should be given to individuals. By this, they mean that a person has full right to use and safeguard his/her property without the interference of the government. In this regard, the Democrats believe that implementing regulations concerning the use of private property is the ideal state of being. So, taxes are imposed. The money is meant to be used for the betterment of the less privileged group.
The Republicans believe in strong national defense and are in favor of spending more money on military intelligence and warfare. Contrary to this, Democrats have the philosophy that security can be ensured through mutual understanding and negotiations between countries. Republicans do not believe in strict gun control, whereas the Democrats favor gun control.
The parties are divided over views on death penalty. Most Republicans favor capital punishment for crimes such as rape or murder and hold a view that the threat of facing death is effective in preventing crime. The Democrats are against death penalty and consider life imprisonment as moral as it does not impinge upon the individuals' right to live. The Republican views on issues such as gay rights and same-sex marriages are conservative compared to the Democrats.
Democrats endorse family planning and birth control, and are in support of abortion rights, with the view that a woman has the right to take decisions about her pregnancy. Republicans oppose abortion with the view that it deprives an unborn child of his right to live.
Thus we see that the Republican and Democratic parties that dominate American politics, differ in not just their political ideologies, but also their social views and philosophies.