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Debate: Democrats vs. Republicans

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Which party should you belong to: Democratic or Republican?

Background and context

Despite still being a relatively young country, the United States of America has a long and colorful political history. Each of the surviving major political parties continues to brag about numerous larger-than-life political figures that have defined and shaped today’s Democratic and Republican parties.
Vastly differing Americans, with vastly differing backgrounds, living in vastly differing regions of the nation collectively appear to be divided almost equally – at least judging by the results of recent major elections during which the electorate split near evenly between liberal Democratic principles and more conservative Republican ideology. A review of the major issues of the day clearly demonstrates this divide; a nation split almost evenly and debating the key issues of the day in a fashion that likely would please our Founding Fathers. The debate below will explore the positions of Democrats and Republicans on various key issues, from abortion and the economy to welfare and terrorism.

Principles

Democrat

  • Democrats stand for social progress.
  • Democrats are liberal on morality; oppose governing it. Paul Shlesinger. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political philosophies." Helium: "Democrats hold a liberal philosophy towards social issues such as gay marriage (support) and abortion (support). This philosophy on social issues stems (in part) from a belief that morality is subjective. Therefore, they believe that any attempt to govern based on morality could be interpreted as violating the religion clauses of the first amendment, either by establishing a religion based on such moral beliefs or prohibiting the free exercise of other moral beliefs that are progressive or different from traditional beliefs. In general, their progressive philosophy tends to attract support from non-Christians and from younger individuals."
  • Democrats tend to favor positive liberties. Marty Adkns. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political Philosophies." Helium: "The Democratic party has a general notion of a drive toward positive liberty. The general approach is that economic liberty is a required for any real freedom. Toward that end the party generally favors a course of government intervention designed to equalize economic status. The notion of sharing the wealth more equitably is seen as a laudable goal."
  • Democrats believe economic/social equality is generally good. Paul Shlesinger. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political philosophies." Helium: "They believe that the role of the Federal government is to ensure equality. This which translates into support for tax increases, particularly on the wealthy and big businesses, which can be used by the government to fund social programs designed to help the poor and middle class. Labor unions and minority groups are often attracted to the party based on its fiscal philosophy prompting equality."
  • Democratic heroes include Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
  • Democrats believe government's primary role is regulating economy. "Democrats vs. Republicans: What DO they believe?." OnTheIssues. 2000: "A liberal would say that a proper role for government is to regulate and oversee the economy. Liberals say it's proper for government to ensure that companies do the right thing (such as pay minimum wages), and to ensure that people act responsibly in their finances (such as requiring contributions to retirement savings)."
  • Republicans forget that govt is of, by, for the people. Republicans often bash government and celebrate the individual over the government, as if we don't live in a democracy, where government is of, by, for the people. In a democracy, the government is not an oppressive monolithic figure. Instead, it is composed of elected officials and is, therefore, controlled and directed by the will of the people. To bash government is, therefore, to bash the citizens behind it.
  • Democrats are optimistic about making progress as society. Oliver Willis. "Oh. That's why I'm a democrat." Huffington Post. September 8th, 2008: "The Democratic party, for better or worse, believes in a Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart view of the world. It says time and time again that through our collective might we can improve the nation, and as a byproduct the world. It is optimistic to the point of being almost corny. The party looks as the world as it is, and says 'Gosh darn it everyone, let's roll up our sleeves and clean up this mess.' It is no coincidence that the current leader of the party, Barack Obama, is the sort of guy you can imagine saying 'by golly' and not in an ironic way. [...] By contrast to the Democratic sunshine, the Republican party is night. Their view of the world is one in which everything is just a shade of negative, and that is the cold heart underlying the cynicism of speakers like Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney. They see a world of despair and depression and they wallow in it. The Republican party and the conservative movement that supports it is all about being the snarky guy in the corner playing the angles and making a buck off the foibles and failures of others. For a few it promises the spoils of war - both ideological and real war - but for the rest it just offers a way of wallowing in darkness without any optimistic movement towards a better day."
  • Democrats like to help the most disadvantaged among us. Valerie Smith. "I'm a Democrat because..." On Being Democrat Blog. June 13th, 2005: "I'm a Democrat because I believe that we have to help the least among us. If that's healthcare for children, the elderly or the poor, if that's education for people who's family can't afford to send their children to private schools, if that's women who need abortions, when it's gays or African Americans being discriminated against, if it's working folks trying to get a fair shake. I'm a Democrat because the Democrats stand with them."
  • Democrats have accomplished more while in office. "Why I'm a Democrat." Time. June 12th, 2007: "I'm a Democrat because we're the party that won 2 world wars, ended segregation in America, contained Communism, founded the UN, set up Social Security, saved the Kosavars from genocide, produced the longest economic expansion in American history, and avoided nuclear confrontation in Cuba."
  • Democrats have a better record of balancing budgets. "Why I'm a Democrat." Time. June 12th, 2007: "I'm a Democrat because we understand how to balance budgets. At the Federal level, Democrats were responsible for the largest surplus in American history. At the state level, we understand that roads, hospitals, and transit come with a cost, and we're still willing to pay that cost."
  • Democrats tend to be more humble. "Why I'm a Democrat." Time. June 12th, 2007: "I'm a Democrat because we have humility. Can you imagine a Republican apologizing to the country the way Clinton did after the sex scandal? Let alone the way JFK did after the Bay of Pigs? Taking any personal responsibility for anything? Shit George W. Bush couldn't even figure out anything he's done wrong in 4 years."
  • Democrats focus more on improving and developing cities. "Why I'm a Democrat." Time. June 12th, 2007: "I'm a Democrat because we're the party of cities. We fight for transit. We fight to get people to live near each other. We fight to get affordable housing. We fight to make cities livable. We fight to make cities a great place to work. We fight to make cities engaging."
  • Democrats appreciate complexities; Republican think black/white. Jonathan Haidt. "What Makes People Vote Republican?" AlterNet. September 16, 2008: "conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity" -- a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world."
  • Democrats believe in bigger govt at federal and state level. Can Tran. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political philosophies." Helium: "Democrats believe in a bigger role of the central government. This applies to the federal government and state governments. In regards to a national level, the federal government will have more power. In regards to a state level, the state government will have more power."
  • Democrats focus on regulation of business, protection of consumers. Cody Hodge. "Democrat vs Republican." Helium: "Democrats believe in the regulation of businesses, and that people need to be protected from abuse by industries that otherwise would have the power to run free over the American consumer."


Republican

  • Republicans represent traditional values. The social philosophy of the Republican Party could be summarized as 'traditional'.
  • Conserving freedoms is essential to societal progress. Republicans are conservative in the sense that they believe in preserving freedoms. And, these freedoms are essential to societal progress. This is particularly true in the economy, where it is necessary that individuals have maximum freedom to engage in commerce without heavy regulation and without heavy taxation. These and other conservative freedoms are what truly allow for the societal progress that Democrats claim to value.
  • Democrats' allow "progress" of immoral values. Democratic "progress" is all about advancing new and innovative social norms and values, which could mean allowing gays to marry, sex changes legally recognized, and even incest among consenting adults. But, this is not "progress". It is the opposite. It is the degradation of social values.
  • Republicans believe morality is absolute, so govt can regulate it.
  • Republican tend to have a conservative philosophy.
  • Republican heroes include Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.
  • Republicans believe in power of individual over government.
  • Republicans believe the best govt is one that governs least. This phrase was popularized during the Reagan administration to define a key belief of the Republican party: the best government is the one that governs the least.
  • Reps believe govt should do only things citizens/companies can't. "Why I'm a Republican." Republican Party of Wakulla County: "I Believe... The proper function of government is to do for the people those things that have to be done but cannot be done, or cannot be done as well, by individuals, and that the most effective government is government closest to the people."
  • Govt of, by, for the people is still a burden on people. While it may be true that, in a democracy, government is of, by, for the people, it should also be recognized that the bigger the government gets, and the more employees it has, the more taxpayer money it expends. While it may be trying to do "the will of the people", it inadvertently burdens and harms the people in the process.
  • Republicans believe in helping others by ending dependence on govt. Can Tran. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political philosophies." Helium: "Overall, the Republican philosophy is opposed to the role of a larger government. It would mean the government does not impose on your money, your freedoms, your lives, and so forth. This is overall good as it teaches people to be independent. The people within the GOP do believe in helping people out. However, it encourages people to not constantly depend on the government. The GOP philosophy encourages a strong will of independent will."
  • Republicans believe in decentralizing power to states over fed. Can Tran. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political philosophies." Helium: "Republicans believe in a smaller role of the central government. It means that the Republican philosophy reflects upon the power of individuality. In regards to the country, it focuses a lot on States' rights. You have your federal government and your state governments. [...] That means that Republicans do not want the federal government imposing on the state governments. Most of the power will lie in the hands of the state governments. It brings more power to the state governors. Also, this extends to the counties of the state. It would mean a smaller role of state government in those states."
  • Republicans want taxing all people equally/fairly. Paul Shlesinger. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political philosophies." Helium: "The fiscal philosophy of the Republican Party can be summarized by the word “fairness”. Fiscally speaking, Republicans believe that the Federal government should play a passive role in attempting to better society because they believe that private companies and local and state governments are more effective at meeting the people's needs than a large Federal government. They believe that the main role of the Federal government is to ensure fairness. This means reducing taxes and regulations, especially for businesses, which can grow the economy and create jobs. Small business owners and non-minorities are often attracted to the party based on its fiscal philosophy promoting fairness."
  • Republican generally believe govt should regulate morality. "Democrats vs. Republicans: What DO they believe?." OnTheIssues. 2000: "A conservative would say that a proper role for government is to regulate and oversee morality. Conservatives say it's proper for government to ensure that people are punished for immoral acts (such as taking drugs), and that people act appropriately in their marriages (such as banning homosexual marriage)."
  • Republican are best at stimulating economic growth. Mona Charen. "14 reasons to vote Republican on November 7th." Townhall.com. 2008: "1) The economy. More than 6.6 million new jobs have been created since August 2003. Our 4.1 annual growth rate is superior to all other major industrialized nations. The Dow has set record highs multiple times in the past several weeks. Productivity is up, and the deficit is down. Real, after-tax income has grown by 15 percent since 2001. Inflation has remained low. As Vice President Cheney summed it up at a recent meeting with journalists, "What more do you want?" The tax cuts proposed by President Bush and passed by a Republican Congress can take a bow."
  • Football coaches more often identify with Republican characteristics. Steve Kornacki. "Why your coach voter Republican." Wall Street Journal. September 2, 2009: "There's no evidence that coaches with a conservative bent are better coaches or more likely to get jobs. Football coaches aren't the most diverse group, which may help explain their political similarities. [...] Still, could it be that football coaches, just by the nature of the job, are more comfortable on the right end of the political spectrum? [...] 'I'd say that sounds likely—very likely,' said Bobby Bowden, the longtime Florida State coach and an outspoken Republican. Mr. Bowden, a 79-year-old native Alabaman, describes himself as a lifelong conservative who—like many white Southerners of his generation—migrated from the Democratic Party to the GOP a few decades ago. There is, he says, a natural connection between his political and coaching philosophies. 'In coaching, you've got to have more discipline and you've got to be more strict and just conservative, I think. It fits with the Republicans,' he said. Mr. Holtz, who coached Notre Dame to its last national championship in 1988, draws a parallel between the standards and rules that most coaches set for their players and the Republican vision of how American society ought to operate. 'You aren't entitled to anything. You don't inherit anything. You get what you earn—your position on the team,' Mr. Holtz said. 'You're treated like everybody else. You're held accountable for your actions. You understand that your decisions affect other people on that team…There's winners, there's losers, and there's competitiveness.' Tom Osborne, who coached the Nebraska Cornhuskers for 25 seasons before serving three terms in Congress as a Republican, suggested that football coaches probably look at their own lives and careers as testaments to the conservative principle of self-reliance. 'There's an awful lot of people who want to be in coaching for the number of jobs,' he said. 'It's highly competitive. And many of them have had to spend a fair amount of time as graduate assistants, interns—as much as four, five, six, seven, eight years—making very, very little money to get into the profession. And they will work 70, 80, 90 hours a week during the season. 'I think that background—adherence to discipline, sometimes sacrifice, loyalty to core values—those things tend to have people move in that direction.' [...] Some cite geography—the fact that so many coaches have roots in the South, a staunchly Republican region. Others point out that Republicans tend to revere strong, singular executive leaders—a pretty good description of a coach."
  • Republicans are more concerned with overseeing morality. "Democrats vs. Republicans: What DO they believe?." OnTheIssues. 2000: "A conservative would say that a proper role for government is to regulate and oversee morality. Conservatives say it's proper for government to ensure that people are punished for immoral acts (such as taking drugs), and that people act appropriately in their marriages (such as banning homosexual marriage)."

Abortion

Democrat

  • Women have right to choose. [...] President Barack Obama: "A woman's ability to decide how many children to have and when, without interference from the government, is one of the most fundamental rights we possess. It is not just an issue of choice, but equality and opportunity for all women."

Republican

  • Sanctity of human life. [...] NJ Governor Chris Christie: "I am pro-life. Hearing the strong heartbeat of my unborn daughter 14 years ago at 13 weeks gestation had a profound effect on me and my beliefs. The life of every human being is precious. We must work to reduce abortions in New Jersey through laws such as parental notification, a 24-hour waiting period and a ban on partial-birth abortion."

Constitution

Democrat

Republican

Crime

Democrat

Republican

Drugs

Democrat

Republican

  • Regulation of drugs should be at state level. [...] Texas Congressman Ron Paul: "Alcohol is a deadly drug, kills more people than anything else. And today the absurdity on this war on drugs has just been horrible. Now the federal government takes over and overrules states where state laws permit medicinal marijuana for people dying of cancer. The federal government goes in and arrests these people, put them in prison with mandatory sentences. This war on drugs is totally out of control. If you want to regulate cigarettes and alcohol and drugs, it should be at the state level. That’s where I stand on it. The federal government has no prerogatives on this.

Education

Democrat

Republican

Energy

Democrat

Republican

Environment

Democrat

  • Government responsibility to environment. [...] 2008 Democratic Party Platform: "The Democratic Party believes that it is our responsibility to protect America's extraordinary natural resources. The health of our families and the strength of our economy depend on our stewardship of the environment. We reject the false choice between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. Democrats will fight to strengthen the laws that ensure we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink."

Republican

  • Individual responsibility to environment. [...] 2004 Republican Party Platform: "Economic prosperity is essential to environmental progress. We link the security of private property to our environmental agenda because environmental stewardship has been best advanced where property is privately held. People who own the land also protect it."

Foreign Policy

Democrat

Republican

Gun Control

Democrat

  • Goverment should limit use of firearms. [...] President Barack Obama: "As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right, in the same way that we have a right to private property but local governments can establish zoning ordinances that determine how you can use it. We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measures that I think respect the Second Amendment and people’s traditions."

Republican

  • Individual's have right to bear arms. [...] Texas Congressman Ron Paul: "When the 2nd Amendment speaks of a 'well-regulated militia,' it means local groups of individuals operating to protect their own families, homes, and communities. They regulated themselves because it was necessary and in their own interest to do so. The Founders themselves wrote in the Federalist papers about the need for individuals to be armed. Gun control makes people demonstrably less safe - as any honest examination of criminal statistics reveals. It is no coincidence that violent crime flourishes in the nation’s capital, where the individual’s right to self-defense has been most severely curtailed."

Health Care

Democrat

Republican

Immigration

Demorat

  • Democrats tend to oppose building a border fence.
  • Allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses.
  • Prevent creation of national ID card & database.

Republican

  • Republicans tend to support building a border fence.


Jobs and the Economy

Democrat

Republican

Social justice:

Pro

Con

National Security

Democrat

  • Democrats believe security is best maintained internally, not externally. Paul Shlesinger. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political philosophies." Helium: "The Democratic Party’s philosophy on security can be summarized as “internal”. What this means is that the party puts a priority on dealing with risks from inside the country. This philosophy explains the tendency of Democrats to oppose military involvement more frequently then their Republican counterparts."
  • Dems generally favor reducing or maintaining defense spending.

Republican

  • Republican believe in eliminating risks outside of borders. Paul Shlesinger. "Democrat vs. Republican: Political philosophies." Helium: "The Republican Party’s philosophy on security can be summarized as 'external'. In other words, the party puts a priority on eliminating risks from outside entities. This philosophy explains why Republicans are more willing to act aggressively with military force to combat external threats."
  • Republicans tend to favor increasing defense spending.


Role of Government

Democrat


Republican

Social Structure

Democrat

  • Society based on communal responsibility.

Con

Social Security

Democrat

Republican

Welfare & Poverty

Democrat

Republican

Terrorism

Pro

Con

Taxes

Democrat

Click "edit" and write arguments here



Republican

  • Government spending is problem; not taxes. [...] President Ronald Reagan: "We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much"
  • Higher taxes discourage hard work. [...] "America’s producers can compete successfully in the international arena – as long as they have a level playing field. Today’s tax code is tilted against them, with one of the highest corporate tax rates of all developed countries. That not only hurts American investors, managers, and the U.S. balance of trade; it also sends American jobs overseas. We support a major reduction in the corporate tax rate so that American companies stay competitive with their foreign counterparts and American jobs can remain in this country."

Death penalty:

Pro

  • Democrats oppose death penalty because it is socially unjust. "Why I'm a Democrat." Time. June 12th, 2007: "I've got a problem with the Death penalty. It's not a faith-based view but one that comes under social justice and economic fairness. I don't believe there is equality in our judicial system. A wealthy guy and a poor guy go to the same courtroom for the same offense. Who are you betting on to walk? I am obviously Pro-Civil Rights. That definitely comes under social justice."


Con

  • Republicans support the death penalty as a form of punishment.


Pro/con sources

Pro

Con


See also:

External links and resources:


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