Can you tell me the difference between a Republican and Democrat?

United States
September 18, 2008 9:55am CST
My Mom called me this morning and asked me what the difference is between a Democrat and a Republican. I know where I stand but I cant define it for her. What does a Republican believe in? What does a Democrat believe in? What are the differences?
3 responses
@evanslf (485)
18 Sep 08
A question that cannot be answered quickly, I'm afraid. To start to understand the difference between Dems and Reps, you need to understand the concept of Left and Right which is applicable to most democratic parties across the world. (Note that the terms Left and Right derive from the French revolutionary times, when one group sat on the Left in parliament and the other on the right, but I won't go into too much detail here). Underpinning parties of Left (Dem in this case) and Right (Rep in this case) are political philosophies going back centuries. So for the parties of the Left, they will tend to be underpinned by the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau whose view was that man is made good at birth and that it is his environment that makes him bad. From this philosophy springs the view that if we improve people's social conditions at birth and reduce poverty and deprivation, then this will help society as a whole, reduce crime, etc. Hence you will see policies from Left parties to use taxation to reduce poverty/deprivation and seek to create a more equal society. Similarly, from this philosophy, springs policies of rehabilitation of offenders for instance. Then there are also economic philosophies such as those of John Maynard Keynes which deal with taxing and spending, particularly to boost economies in recessionary times (may well be relevant today perhaps?) From the right, we have philosophies inspired from John Locke which refers to the State needing to be strong enough to maintain security (strong defence, policing) in order to maintain order in a chaotic world but also philosophies that man is born bad (a sinner) and if he commits crime, must be punished. Hence Republicans and most other parties of the Right will tend to take tougher stands in terms of punishment (long prison sentences, capital punishment, etc). On economic policy, Republican policies will spring from philosophies going all the way back to Adam Smith, which refers to the importance of trade and free markets and the limiting of government intervention in these markets. Hence you will see that Reps tend not to like regulation very much and with recent economic developments, Obama has moved onto the attack as many people now feel that more regulation of the financial services industry should have been in place to prevent what is happening now. Of course, the philosophies can be traced to different aspects of the Old and New Testament, on the one hand God punishing his followers when they err but on the other hand Jesus, the God of love and forgiveness. It is interesting that in the Christian religion, there is inspiration for both philosophies (ie both sides of the same coin), but when it comes to Left and Right parties, each party will say that what they believe in (and the philosophy that underpins these beliefs) is the only correct world view. Of course life and the world is much more complex and in shades of grey than both parties and their supporters would acknowledge: there is merit in both philosophies, appropriately applied and taken in moderation. So for instance, yes we should not have too much regulation as we would stifle business and competition. But on the other hand, too little regulation leads to problems as we are now all to painfully aware. Similarly, man is not always bad nor is he always good either: hence policies that 'punish' and 'rehabilitate' both have a role in sentencing policy. Anyway, I'm sure there are other things that I have missed and that people will pick me up on but I hope this explanation gives at least some understanding between the differences between Dem and Rep. Of course, I am not saying that the two parties follow the above philosophies to the letter in practice and when in government, they have to face the realities of life and the complexity of the world they have to deal with. But I hope the above explanation gives at least some idea as to where both parties of Left and Right are coming from.
• United States
19 Sep 08
That was a very good explanation. You have put a lot fo work into this and you have earned the Best Response. It sounds like you have wrote a college paper on this. I know how I feel and which side of the line I stand on but when someone asks you to define your party it is a challenge. I am going to pass this on as it is to my Mom. Thank you so much.
@evanslf (485)
20 Sep 08
Glad to be of help! Thanks for the best response, my first one!
@twoey68 (13651)
• United States
18 Sep 08
Here's how I understand it...and I could be wrong... Republicans believe in personal responsibility, limited government involvement and paying your own way. Democrats believe in complete government control, the government taking care of them and depending on the government for support. [b]**AT PEACE WITHIN** ~~STAND STRONG IN YOUR BELIEFS~~ [/b]
1 person likes this
• United States
19 Sep 08
I have to say that was very well put. Straight and to the point. Easy to understand and along the lines of my own thinking. Thank you so much for putting it this way. It was like a light went off in my head, Oh ya...
@bumba1988 (1222)
• India
20 Sep 08
Thanks for your views.
• United States
18 Sep 08
Well to look now adays there is not a lot of difference between them. The republican party is suppost to about small government, budget control, fiscal responsibility, and self reliance. But look at them now. The democratic party is for big government, lots of programs that cost lots of money, government controlled everything, group reliance. Meaning we are all responsible for each other. McCain and Obama are really not THAT different. Both are talking about more programs, more money, more cost, more taxes. Both are talking about the government being in control of more stuff. True they differ on other things but to hear them both talk you would think our country had tons and tons of money because all you hear is spending increase on this, created a new program here. I keep thinking where is all that money going to come from? Then I remember...oh ya...me the tax payer.
1 person likes this
• United States
19 Sep 08
It is hard to draw a clear line between McCain and Obama. I know who I am going to vote for, but I am not to excited about our choices. Why do we need more government ran stuff? I dont want to pay more taxes. I understand they are part of life but I could use some of that money too.