Democratic Party (United States)
Political party in the United States
Top 10 Democratic Party (United States) related articles
- 1 History
- 2 Name and symbols
- 3 Current structure and composition
- 4 Ideology
- 5 Political positions
- 5.1 Economic issues
- 5.2 Social issues
- 5.3 Legal issues
- 5.4 Foreign policy issues
- 6 Voter base
- 6.1 Professionals
- 6.2 Labor
- 6.3 Working class
- 6.4 Younger Americans
- 6.5 Women
- 6.6 Relation to marital status and parenthood
- 6.7 LGBT Americans
- 6.8 African Americans
- 6.9 Hispanic and Latino Americans
- 6.10 Asian Americans
- 6.11 Native Americans
- 6.12 Christian Americans
- 6.13 Religious minorities
- 7 Democratic presidents
- 8 Supreme Court justices appointed by Democratic presidents
- 9 Recent electoral history
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
|This article is part of a series on|
the United States
The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its main, historic rival, the Republican Party. It was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.
Before 1860, the party supported limited government and state sovereignty while opposing a national bank and high tariffs. It split in two in 1860 over slavery and won the presidency only twice between 1860 and 1910. In the late 19th century, it continued to oppose high tariffs and had bitter internal debates on the gold standard. In the early 20th century, it supported progressive reforms and opposed imperialism, with Woodrow Wilson winning the White House in 1912 and 1916. Since Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal coalition after 1932, the Democratic Party has promoted a social liberal platform. The New Deal attracted strong support for the party from recent European immigrants, many of whom were Catholics based in the cities, but caused a decline of the party's conservative pro-business wing. Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the core bases of the two parties shifted, with the Southern states becoming more reliably Republican in presidential politics and the Northeastern states becoming more reliably Democratic. The once-powerful labor union element became smaller after the 1970s, although the working class remains an important component of the Democratic base. Women, people living in urban areas, younger Americans, and college graduates, as well as sexual, religious, and racial minorities, also tend to support the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party's philosophy of modern liberalism blends notions of civil liberty and social equality with support for a mixed economy. In Congress, the party is a big-tent coalition with influential centrist, progressive, and conservative wings. Corporate governance reform, environmental protection, support for organized labor, expansion of social programs, affordable college tuition, universal health care, equal opportunity, and consumer protection form the core of the party's economic agenda. On social issues, it advocates campaign finance reform, LGBT rights, criminal justice and immigration reform, stricter gun laws, abortion rights, and the legalization of marijuana.
Including the incumbent, Joe Biden, 16 Democrats have served as President of the United States. As of 2021, the party holds a federal government trifecta (the presidency and majorities in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate),[a] as well as 23 state governorships, 18 state legislatures, 15 state government trifectas (the governorship and both legislative chambers), and the mayoralty of most major cities. Three of the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court were appointed by Democratic presidents.
Democratic Party (United States) Intro articles: 50
Democratic Party officials often trace its origins to the Democratic-Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other influential opponents of the Federalists in 1792. That party also inspired the Whigs and modern Republicans. Organizationally, the modern Democratic Party truly arose in the 1830s with the election of Andrew Jackson. Since the nomination of William Jennings Bryan in 1896, the party has generally positioned itself to the left of the Republican Party on economic issues. Democrats have been more liberal on civil rights since 1948, although conservative factions within the Democratic Party that opposed them persisted in the South until the 1960s. On foreign policy, both parties have changed position several times.
The Democratic Party evolved from the Jeffersonian Republican or Democratic-Republican Party organized by Jefferson and Madison in opposition to the Federalist Party. The Democratic-Republican Party favored republicanism; a weak federal government; states' rights; agrarian interests (especially Southern planters); and strict adherence to the Constitution. The party opposed a national bank and Great Britain. After the War of 1812, the Federalists virtually disappeared and the only national political party left was the Democratic-Republicans, which was prone to splinter along regional lines. The era of one-party rule in the United States, known as the Era of Good Feelings, lasted from 1816 until 1828 when Andrew Jackson became president. Jackson and Martin Van Buren worked with allies in each state to form a new Democratic Party on a national basis. In the 1830s the rivals coalesced into the main rival to the Democrats.
The Democratic-Republican Party split over the choice of a successor to President James Monroe. The faction that supported many of the old Jeffersonian principles, led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, became the modern Democratic Party. As Norton explains the transformation in 1828:
Jacksonians believed the people's will had finally prevailed. Through a lavishly financed coalition of state parties, political leaders, and newspaper editors, a popular movement had elected the president. The Democrats became the nation's first well-organized national party [...] and tight party organization became the hallmark of nineteenth-century American politics.
Behind the platforms issued by state and national parties stood a widely shared political outlook that characterized the Democrats:
The Democrats represented a wide range of views but shared a fundamental commitment to the Jeffersonian concept of an agrarian society. They viewed the central government as the enemy of individual liberty. The 1824 "corrupt bargain" had strengthened their suspicion of Washington politics. [...] Jacksonians feared the concentration of economic and political power. They believed that government intervention in the economy benefited special-interest groups and created corporate monopolies that favored the rich. They sought to restore the independence of the individual—the artisan and the ordinary farmer—by ending federal support of banks and corporations and restricting the use of paper currency, which they distrusted. Their definition of the proper role of government tended to be negative, and Jackson's political power was largely expressed in negative acts. He exercised the veto more than all previous presidents combined. Jackson and his supporters also opposed reform as a movement. Reformers eager to turn their programs into legislation called for a more active government. But Democrats tended to oppose programs like educational reform mid the establishment of a public education system. They believed, for instance, that public schools restricted individual liberty by interfering with parental responsibility and undermined freedom of religion by replacing church schools. Nor did Jackson share reformers' humanitarian concerns. He had no sympathy for American Indians, initiating the removal of the Cherokees along the Trail of Tears.
Opposing factions led by Henry Clay helped form the Whig Party. The Democratic Party had a small yet decisive advantage over the Whigs until the 1850s, when the Whigs fell apart over the issue of slavery. In 1854, angry with the Kansas–Nebraska Act, anti-slavery Democrats left the party and joined Northern Whigs to form the Republican Party.
The Democrats split over slavery, with Northern and Southern tickets in the election of 1860, in which the Republican Party gained ascendancy. The radical pro-slavery Fire-Eaters led walkouts at the two conventions when the delegates would not adopt a resolution supporting the extension of slavery into territories even if the voters of those territories did not want it. These Southern Democrats nominated the pro-slavery incumbent Vice President, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, for President and General Joseph Lane, of Oregon, for vice president. The Northern Democrats nominated Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois for president and former Georgia Governor Herschel V. Johnson for vice president. This fracturing of the Democrats led to a Republican victory and Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States.
As the American Civil War broke out, Northern Democrats were divided into War Democrats and Peace Democrats. The Confederate States of America deliberately avoided organized political parties. Most War Democrats rallied to Republican President Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans' National Union Party in the election of 1864, which featured Andrew Johnson on the Union ticket to attract fellow Democrats. Johnson replaced Lincoln in 1865, but he stayed independent of both parties.
The Democrats benefited from white Southerners' resentment of Reconstruction after the war and consequent hostility to the Republican Party. After Redeemers ended Reconstruction in the 1870s and following the often extremely violent disenfranchisement of African Americans led by such white supremacist Democratic politicians as Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina in the 1880s and 1890s, the South, voting Democratic, became known as the "Solid South." Although Republicans won all but two presidential elections, the Democrats remained competitive. The party was dominated by pro-business Bourbon Democrats led by Samuel J. Tilden and Grover Cleveland, who represented mercantile, banking, and railroad interests; opposed imperialism and overseas expansion; fought for the gold standard; opposed bimetallism; and crusaded against corruption, high taxes and tariffs. Cleveland was elected to non-consecutive presidential terms in 1884 and 1892.
Agrarian Democrats demanding free silver, drawing on Populist ideas, overthrew the Bourbon Democrats in 1896 and nominated William Jennings Bryan for the presidency (a nomination repeated by Democrats in 1900 and 1908). Bryan waged a vigorous campaign attacking Eastern moneyed interests, but he lost to Republican William McKinley.
The Democrats took control of the House in 1910, and Woodrow Wilson won election as president in 1912 (when the Republicans split) and 1916. Wilson effectively led Congress to put to rest the issues of tariffs, money and antitrust, which had dominated politics for 40 years, with new progressive laws. He failed to secure Senate passage of the Versailles Treaty (ending the war with Germany and joining the League of Nations). The weak party was deeply divided by issues such as the KKK and prohibition in the 1920s. However, it did organize new ethnic voters in Northern cities.
The Great Depression in 1929 that began under Republican President Herbert Hoover and the Republican Congress set the stage for a more liberal government as the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives nearly uninterrupted from 1930 until 1994, the Senate for 44 of 48 years from 1930, and won most presidential elections until 1968. Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected to the presidency in 1932, came forth with federal government programs called the New Deal. New Deal liberalism meant the regulation of business (especially finance and banking) and the promotion of labor unions as well as federal spending to aid the unemployed, help distressed farmers and undertake large-scale public works projects. It marked the start of the American welfare state. The opponents, who stressed opposition to unions, support for business and low taxes, started calling themselves "conservatives".
Until the 1980s, the Democratic Party was a coalition of two parties divided by the Mason–Dixon line: liberal Democrats in the North and culturally conservative voters in the South, who though benefitting from many of the New Deal public works projects opposed increasing civil rights initiatives advocated by Northeastern liberals. The polarization grew stronger after Roosevelt died. Southern Democrats formed a key part of the bipartisan conservative coalition in an alliance with most of the Midwestern Republicans. The economically activist philosophy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which has strongly influenced American liberalism, shaped much of the party's economic agenda after 1932. From the 1930s to the mid-1960s, the liberal New Deal coalition usually controlled the presidency while the conservative coalition usually controlled Congress.
Issues facing parties and the United States after World War II included the Cold War and the civil rights movement. Republicans attracted conservatives and, after the 1960s, white Southerners from the Democratic coalition with their use of the Southern strategy and resistance to New Deal and Great Society liberalism. Until the 1950s, African Americans had traditionally supported the Republican Party because of its anti-slavery civil rights policies. Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Southern states became more reliably Republican in presidential politics, while Northeastern states became more reliably Democratic. Studies show that Southern whites, which were a core constituency in the Democratic Party, shifted to the Republican Party due to racial conservatism.
The election of President John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts in 1960 was a partial reflection of this shift. In the campaign, Kennedy attracted a new generation of younger voters. In his agenda dubbed the New Frontier, Kennedy introduced a host of social programs and public works projects, along with enhanced support of the space program, proposing a manned spacecraft trip to the moon by the end of the decade. He pushed for civil rights initiatives and proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but with his assassination in November 1963, he was not able to see its passage.
Kennedy's successor Lyndon B. Johnson was able to persuade the largely conservative Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and with a more progressive Congress in 1965 passed much of the Great Society, which consisted of an array of social programs designed to help the poor. Kennedy and Johnson's advocacy of civil rights further solidified black support for the Democrats but had the effect of alienating Southern whites who would eventually gravitate toward the Republican Party, particularly after the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. The United States' involvement in the Vietnam War in the 1960s was another divisive issue that further fractured the fault lines of the Democrats' coalition. After the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, President Johnson committed a large contingency of combat troops to Vietnam, but the escalation failed to drive the Viet Cong from South Vietnam, resulting in an increasing quagmire, which by 1968 had become the subject of widespread anti-war protests in the United States and elsewhere. With increasing casualties and nightly news reports bringing home troubling images from Vietnam, the costly military engagement became increasingly unpopular, alienating many of the kinds of young voters that the Democrats had attracted the early 1960s. The protests that year along with assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy (younger brother of John F. Kennedy) climaxed in turbulence at the hotly-contested Democratic National Convention that summer in Chicago (which amongst the ensuing turmoil inside and outside of the convention hall nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey) in a series of events that proved to mark a significant turning point in the decline of the Democratic Party's broad coalition.
Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon was able to capitalize on the confusion of the Democrats that year, and won the 1968 election to become the 37th president. He won re-election in a landslide in 1972 against Democratic nominee George McGovern, who like Robert F. Kennedy, reached out to the younger anti-war and counterculture voters, but unlike Kennedy, was not able to appeal to the party's more traditional white working-class constituencies. During Nixon's second term, his presidency was rocked by the Watergate scandal, which forced him to resign in 1974. He was succeeded by vice president Gerald Ford, who served a brief tenure. Watergate offered the Democrats an opportunity to recoup, and their nominee Jimmy Carter won the 1976 presidential election. With the initial support of evangelical Christian voters in the South, Carter was temporarily able to reunite the disparate factions within the party, but inflation and the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979–1980 took their toll, resulting in a landslide victory for Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan in 1980, which shifted the political landscape in favor of the Republicans for years to come.
With the ascendancy of the Republicans under Ronald Reagan, the Democrats searched for ways to respond yet were unable to succeed by running traditional candidates, such as former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, who lost to Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. Many Democrats attached their hopes to the future star of Gary Hart, who had challenged Mondale in the 1984 primaries running on a theme of "New Ideas"; and in the subsequent 1988 primaries became the de facto front-runner and virtual "shoo-in" for the Democratic presidential nomination before his campaign was ended by a sex scandal. The party nevertheless began to seek out a younger generation of leaders, who like Hart had been inspired by the pragmatic idealism of John F. Kennedy.
Arkansas governor Bill Clinton was one such figure, who was elected president in 1992 as the Democratic nominee. He labeled himself and governed as a "New Democrat." The party adopted a centrist economic yet socially progressive agenda, with the voter base after Reagan having shifted considerably to the right. In an effort to appeal both to liberals and to fiscal conservatives, Democrats began to advocate for a balanced budget and market economy tempered by government intervention (mixed economy), along with a continued emphasis on social justice and affirmative action. The economic policy adopted by the Democratic Party, including the former Clinton administration, has been referred to as "Third Way." The Democrats lost control of Congress in the election of 1994 to the Republican Party. Re-elected in 1996, Clinton was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to be elected to two terms.
In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as well as the growing concern over global warming, some of the party's key issues in the early 21st century have included combating terrorism while preserving human rights, expanding access to health care, labor rights, and environmental protection. Democrats regained majority control of both the House and the Senate in the 2006 elections. Barack Obama won the Democratic Party's nomination and was elected as the first African American president in 2008. Under the Obama presidency, the party moved forward reforms including an economic stimulus package, the Dodd–Frank financial reform act, and the Affordable Care Act. In the 2010 elections, the Democratic Party lost control of the House and lost its majority in state legislatures and state governorships. In the 2012 elections, President Obama was re-elected, but the party remained in the minority in the House of Representatives and lost control of the Senate in 2014. After the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the Democratic Party transitioned into the role of an opposition party and held neither the presidency nor the Senate but won back a majority in the House in the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats were extremely critical of President Trump, particularly his policies on immigration, healthcare, and abortion, as well as his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on a poll conducted in 2014, Gallup found that 30% of Americans identified as Democrats, 23% as Republicans, and 45% as independents. In the same poll, a survey of registered voters stated that 47% identified as Democrats or leaned toward the party compared to 40% of registered voters who identified as or leaned toward the Republicans.
We're now the party of fiscal responsibility in America. We didn't just add $2 trillion to the national debt for that tax cut that Warren Buffett didn't want ... We're the party of law enforcement in America; we don't vilify the Federal Bureau of Investigation every single day. We're the party of family values. We don't ... take kids from their parents at the border. We're the party of patriotism in America that wants to defend this country against our foreign adversaries.— Tom Malinowski in July 2018
Democratic Party (United States) History articles: 131
Name and symbols
The Democratic-Republican Party splintered in 1824 into the short-lived National Republican Party and the Jacksonian movement which in 1828 became the Democratic Party. Under the Jacksonian era, the term "The Democracy" was in use by the party, but the name "Democratic Party" was eventually settled upon and became the official name in 1844. Members of the party are called "Democrats" or "Dems".
The term "Democrat Party" has also been in local use, but has usually been used by opponents since 1952 as a disparaging term.
The most common mascot symbol for the party has been the donkey, or jackass. Andrew Jackson's enemies twisted his name to "jackass" as a term of ridicule regarding a stupid and stubborn animal. However, the Democrats liked the common-man implications and picked it up too, therefore the image persisted and evolved. Its most lasting impression came from the cartoons of Thomas Nast from 1870 in Harper's Weekly. 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 Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Ohio was the rooster, as opposed to the Republican eagle. This symbol still appears on Oklahoma, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia ballots. The rooster was adopted as the official symbol of the national Democratic Party. In New York, the Democratic ballot symbol is a five-pointed star.
Although both major political parties (and many minor ones) use the traditional American colors of red, white and blue in their marketing and representations, since election night 2000 blue has become the identifying color for the Democratic Party while red has become the identifying color for 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. This is contrary to common practice outside of the United States where blue is the traditional color of the right and red the color of the left. For example, in Canada red represents the Liberals while blue represents the Conservatives. In the United Kingdom, red denotes the Labour Party and blue symbolizes the Conservative Party. Any use of the color blue to denote the Democratic Party prior to 2000 would be historically inaccurate and misleading. Since 2000, blue has also been used both by party supporters for promotional efforts—ActBlue, BuyBlue and BlueFund as examples—and by the party itself in 2006 both for its "Red to Blue Program", created to support Democratic candidates running against Republican incumbents in the midterm elections that year and on its official website.
In September 2010, the Democratic Party unveiled its new logo, which featured a blue D inside a blue circle. It was the party's first official logo; the donkey logo had only been semi-official.
Jefferson-Jackson Day is the annual fundraising event (dinner) held by Democratic Party organizations across the United States. It is named after Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, whom the party regards as its distinguished early leaders.
The song "Happy Days Are Here Again" is the unofficial song of the Democratic Party. It was used prominently when Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for president at the 1932 Democratic National Convention and remains a sentimental favorite for Democrats today. For example, Paul Shaffer played the theme on the Late Show with David Letterman after the Democrats won Congress in 2006. "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac was adopted by Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and has endured as a popular Democratic song. The emotionally similar song "Beautiful Day" by the band U2 has also become a favorite theme song for Democratic candidates. John Kerry used the song during his 2004 presidential campaign and several Democratic Congressional candidates used it as a celebratory tune in 2006.
The 2016 campaign of Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders used the hopeful Simon & Garfunkel song "America" for one of its campaign advertisements, with the complete permission of the still-active duo of popular American musicians. As a traditional anthem for its presidential nominating convention, Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" is traditionally performed at the beginning of the Democratic National Convention.
Democratic Party (United States) Name and symbols articles: 33
Current structure and composition
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is responsible for promoting Democratic campaign activities. While the DNC is responsible for overseeing the process of writing the Democratic Platform, the DNC is more focused on campaign and organizational strategy than public policy. In presidential elections, it supervises the Democratic National Convention. The national convention is subject to the charter of the party and the ultimate authority within the Democratic Party when it is in session, with the DNC running the party's organization at other times. The DNC is chaired by Jaime Harrison.
Each state also has a state committee, made up of elected committee members as well as ex officio committee members (usually elected officials and representatives of major constituencies), which in turn elects a chair. County, town, city and ward committees generally are composed of individuals elected at the local level. State and local committees often coordinate campaign activities within their jurisdiction, oversee local conventions and in some cases primaries or caucuses and may have a role in nominating candidates for elected office under state law. Rarely do they have much funding, but in 2005 DNC Chairman Dean began a program (called the "50 State Strategy") of using DNC national funds to assist all state parties and pay for full-time professional staffers.
Major party groups
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) assists party candidates in House races and its current chairman (selected by the party caucus) is Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York. Similarly, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), headed by Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, raises funds for Senate races. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), chaired by Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Andrea Stewart-Cousins, is a smaller organization that focuses on state legislative races. The DNC sponsors the College Democrats of America (CDA), a student-outreach organization with the goal of training and engaging a new generation of Democratic activists. Democrats Abroad is the organization for Americans living outside the United States and they work to advance the goals of the party and encourage Americans living abroad to support the Democrats. The Young Democrats of America (YDA) and the High School Democrats of America (HSDA) are young adult and youth-led organizations respectively that attempt to draw in and mobilize young people for Democratic candidates but operates outside of the DNC. The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) is an organization supporting the candidacies of Democratic gubernatorial nominees and incumbents. Likewise, the mayors of the largest cities and urban centers convene as the National Conference of Democratic Mayors.