The political landscape of the United States is dominated by two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans. Though there are some differences between democrats and republicans, it’s next to impossible to classify everyone based on every political issue, there are many specific important points that members of each party agree with. These important points are generally found in each party’s platform.

History of Democrats and Republican

In order to understand the fundamental differences and beliefs of each party, we must look at the histories of Democrats and Republicans to understand their motives for becoming a party. It is also necessary to understand their fundamental beliefs and positions and how they have stuck with these positions through their voting records.

History of the Democratic Party

The party can trace its roots all the way back to Thomas Jefferson when they were known as Jefferson’s Republicans and they strongly opposed the Federalist Party and their nationalist views. The Democrats adopted the donkey as their symbol due to Andrew Jackson who was publicly nicknamed “jackass” because of his popular position of “let the people rule”. The Democratic National Committee was officially created in 1848. During the civil war a rift grew within the party between those who supported slavery and those who opposed it. This deep division led to the creation of a new Democratic party, the one we now know today.

History of the Republican Party

The Republican Party came into existence just prior to the Civil War due to their long-time stance in favor of abolition of slavery. They were a small third-party who nominated John C. Freemont for President in 1856. In 1860 they became an established political party when their nominee Abraham Lincoln was elected as President of the United States. Lincoln’s Presidency throughout the war, including his policies to end slavery for good helped solidify the Republican Party as a major force in American politics. The elephant was chosen as their symbol in 1874 based on a cartoon in Harpers Weekly that depicted the new party as an elephant.

Differences Between Democrats and Republicans

With the establishment of a powerful two-party political system in the United States—the Democrats beginning in 1824 and the Republicans beginning in 1854—there are some core differences between the two based on very strong political beliefs.

Tax Policy

Both parties favor tax cuts, but each party takes a different view on where those tax cuts should be applied. The Democrats believe there should only be cuts for middle and low income families, but believe they should be higher on corporations and wealthy individuals. The Republicans believe there should be tax cuts for everyone, both corporations and people of all income levels.


Social Issues

One of the differences between democrats and republicans lies in their views towards social issues. The Republicans tend to be conservative on social issues. They tend to oppose gay marriage and promote marriage being between a man and a woman. They also oppose abortion and promote the right of gun ownership. Democrats tend to be more progressive in their views, favoring abortion and gay marriage, but are strongly for strict gun control laws that limit ownership.


Labor and Free Trade

Republicans and Democrats have very different ideas when it comes to the business environment. Republicans tend to oppose increases to the minimum wage, citing the need for business to keep costs low so they can prosper and all Americans can have access to products and services. The Democrats favor increasing the minimum wage so that Americans have more money with which to purchase goods. They also favor trade restrictions to protect American jobs while Republicans favor free trade in order to keep costs low for consumers and make businesses more profitable so they can grow.


Health Care

Democrats generally prefer a lot of government regulation and oversight of the health care system, including the passage of the Affordable Care Act, because it makes the health care system accessible to everyone. Republicans, who opposed the Affordable Care Act, believe too much government involvement in the industry will drive up costs and have a negative impact on the quality of care that consumers receive.


Social Programs

Democrats across the board believe that government should run such social programs as welfare, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and Medicaid that support people in need. They believe more tax dollars should be funneled into these programs. Republicans acknowledge a need for these social programs, but favor less funding and tighter control. Republicans favor supporting private organizations that support people in need.


Foreign Policy

When it comes to differences between democrats and republicans, the foreign policy can not be missed. Each party has had differing stances in relation to foreign policy over the years depending on the situation. Generally speaking, when military involvement may be required, the Democrats favor more targeted strikes and limited use of manpower while Republicans favor a full military effort to displace regimes that are totalitarian and detrimental to their own people and who are threatening others. Both parties typically agree that sending aid to other countries is a good thing, but disagree on the nature of that aid and who should be receiving it.


Energy Issues and the Environment

There have always been clashes between the parties on the issues of energy and the environment. Democrats believe in restricting drilling for oil or other avenues of fossil fuels to protect the environment while Republicans favor expanded drilling to produce more energy at a lower cost to consumers. Democrats will push and support with tax dollars alternative energy solutions while the Republicans favor allowing the market to decide which forms of energy are practical.



The parties have different views on the education system of the country, but both agree there needs a change. Democrats favor more progressive approaches to education, such as implementing the Common Core System, while Republicans tend to favor more conservative changes such as longer hours and more focused programs. They are also divided on student loans for college, with Democrats favoring giving students more money in the form of loans and grants while Republicans favor promoting the private sector giving loans and not the government.


Crime and Capital Punishment

Republicans generally believe in harsher penalties when someone has committed a crime, including for selling illegal drugs. They also generally favor capital punishment and back a system with many layers to ensure the proper punishment has been meted out. Democrats are more progressive in their views, believing that crimes do not involve violence, such as selling drugs, should have lighter penalties and rehabilitation. They are also against capital punishment in any form.


Individual Liberty

Individual liberty has been a sore subject of late. Political correctness is on the rise and many people believe that people need to be protected against themselves. Democrats have tended toward favoring legislation that restricts some freedoms, including foods we may have access to. Republicans favor personal responsibility, in that individuals should be able to choose for themselves what they do and what they do not do if it doesn’t break existing laws.


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  • Lisa HazlettOct.19 11:49
    Great article. Very informative. Why can't people just read it for the information provided. I found the article unbiased. Why does a personal attack have to follow?
  • AndyOct.19 08:29
    @Matt. Well said. %100.
  • IndiaOct.18 01:40
    Frenchindia. Both parties have some good points. Marriage is between man and woman that's how families are born. But republicans oppose wage increases while families struggle. No restrictions on who can have a gun. No everyone can afford insurance insurance companies increased premiums themselves. They do oppose abortion which women are going to do what they want to do. They fund them anyway when all is said and done. Both parties are strange and out of control. One goes for what's right then jump over on the wrong train. Just back and forth. Disappointed by both parties.
  • Nick LewisSep.26 19:32
    As a Brit with a keen interest in American politics, my opinion doesnt matter one jot. However I would broadly identify with the democratic party. My views largely match up with theirs. But I don't identify with party politics at all. Have local politicians set out their views and vision for the local region, vote for the person you most identify with, regardless of party. Some people, I'm talking about here in the UK, are die hard labour or conservative... or even liberal Democrats, this makes no sense to me, particularly because things change in the world. Vote for what matters to you in your situation at that particular time, not because it's the party you have always voted for and your parents have always voted for...and so on. That's just my two peneth worth.
  • DawnaSep.23 23:46
    All democrats don't believe in abortion... and all republicans aren't against pot... there are shades of grey all over our persons political views. It really depends upon how the specific issues affect you and those you love. When I was young I was like a newborn kitten. I was very idealist and generally identified with the democratic party. As I grew, and learned more about the world my eyes opened like those little kittens and I realized that in order to survive the better choice was the other party. Just because I identify with republicans doesn't mean I agree with everything. We read and follow the Bible. If democrats have trouble with a man and woman defining marriage, please take it up with God...
  • Hailey Sep.16 19:16
    Being a democrat doesn't mean that our values our stupid and misleading. We believe in gay marriage because heck of a person loves another person of the same gender... then let them freaking be in love with each other! And with the guns I believe that although everybody should have a right to bear arms... we need to limit it so it can cause fewer damages... like what happened in Florida in the LGTB club... that was sad and the Republican Party needs to realize that the democrats have their own opinion and deal with if
  • TanzeelaSep.4 15:35
    I think ill be a skeptic....there are some traits of republicans and democrats which should be ratified....i think republicans are way too conservative n democrats are way too progressive....
  • LeilaSep.1 23:56
    Very helpful.
  • Alexa Sep.1 15:36
    Great Article, non-biased and helps people figure out what they believe. I think that Democrats have good motives, but fail to see the outcome of a a lot of their ideas, such as Common Core. I also dislike that they think Republicans are hateful and for example "Don't think everyone should marry who they want", when in fact that is not case most of the time. Republicans want to take the power away from the federal government and return them to the states and the small businesses. I, for example, don't oppose gay marriage, but I think that the churches should have the right to decide whether to marry them. Not to be forced out of their own will to by the government. Return the power to the people who make the economy function, the business owners who work for their money and take it away from the government. I'm sure I'll get replies so go right ahead.
  • Judy JarrellAug.27 21:57
    The democratic party has made a mistake trying to control health care. Insurance premiums are going up, doctors are getting out of profession. Now that the subsidies are gone for the insurance companies, they are bailing out. Does Washington care? NO! The tax payers foot their medical bills,vacations, retirement.... No wonder they do not care if vets have no benefits, there is no social security, money continues to be sent overseas. We cannot even take care of our own people. They have killed a whole generation of taxpayers through abortion, which is not birth control. It is MURDER. It just goes on and on. Apparently politics is the profession to be get rich,you do not have to have any morals, you have retirement, and funded by the taxpayers.
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