The contemporary American political philosophies
The United States of America is a highly diversified country – with people from very different backgrounds. The country has seen several political parties since independence but at the moment there are two political parties – Democratic Party and Republican Party – that define American political ideology. The Democratic Party was formed by Thomas Jefferson back in 1792. It is committed to fighting for the poor, weak, marginalized and downtrodden by advocating for a government framework that gives them the full opportunity to enjoy the American dream. The Republican Party came into existence in the early 1850s and produced Abraham Lincoln as the first president from the party. Their ideology promotes minimal government involvement in people’s welfare, leaving the economy to run freely. The country is roughly divided equally behind these two opposing political camps, at least according to results of major elections held recently. During elections, the electorate is usually split almost evenly between liberal democratic principles and republican ideology that is more conservative. This divide is seen in all major issues affecting the country and the people, and each side presents strong arguments to support their stand.
Democrats generally ascribe to a liberal philosophy where government has a major role of overseeing and regulating the economy. In addition to this, democratic principles also advocate for the redistribution of economic wealth to benefit the needy people. Democrats believe it is the duty of the government to ensure all people are well taken care of, through programs like food stamps, social welfare, healthcare and education for those in need. The government should provide a social safety net for every individual as well as opportunities for all regardless of power or wealth.
Republican philosophy is more conservative and members believe it is not the government’s responsibility to take care of individuals. The party believes in personal responsibility, where individuals determine how they want to live, and being left to succeed or fail based on their own efforts without government input. Republicans believe that things like education, employment and healthcare are personal choices that the government should not determine for an individual. Furthermore, they believe that each individual’s freedom, dignity and ability should be respected. Theirs is a market-oriented approach with minimal government interference.
From election results in the last six presidential elections, democratic presidential candidates have garnered majority votes in five instances. This is taken to reflect a trend in which the country is becoming more receptive to democratic ideology. This is seen from the strong support the democrats draw on issues like healthcare, taxes, economic growth and government regulation. This is because the Democratic Party proposes to a government that helps the people to ensure that the weak in society also get a decent life. Republicans want to leave people on their own to take care of themselves, even for the disadvantaged who are unable to do so. In a republican set up, the rich are likely to flourish while the poor continue to suffer.
Economy and employment
It has been established that the American economy performs better under Democrat presidents than republican presidents. Ideologically, democrats support balancing budgets, increasing taxes on the higher income bracket, and fair trade. On the opposite side, republicans believe in lowering the tax burden, limiting government spending on social welfare programs, and letting handle their own economic well-being. Over the decades, republicans have come to be seen as a party of trade restrictions, fiscal irresponsibility, failing micro-economics and big government. As for democrats, they are relatively viewed as fiscally responsible, having good microeconomic policies, and allowing free trade and competitive markets.
An analysis of federal budget statistics indicates a tendency for government deficit to rise during republican presidencies. For example, both Reagan and Bush introduced tax cuts in 1981 and 2001 respectively, with the result being a poor long-term budget outlook. In between the two republicans, Clinton’s administration recorded declining deficits and eventually high surpluses. In as much as many factors affect the overall budget, Clinton took two important steps that boosted economic growth. First, he established new trends for spending and tax revenues. Secondly, his “Save social security first” strategy helped to successfully block republicans desire to cut taxes, and even the democrats desire to increase spending. Thus, he was able to preserve the new surpluses the government had gained.
Republicans are supposed to put more effort into fighting inflation but in practice, their presidents have tended to put pressure on the Fed to relax on monetary policy. They are also expected to support small government but it has been shown that federal employment rises during republican governments. When it comes to free trade, republican actions are contrary to what their proclamations of support. They are known for protectionist actions like tariffs and export restraints. Many of the country’s economic decisions are hindered by current national security issues. There is increased spending on national security and this seems to be hurting other areas of the economy. Much of this increase is usually seen during republican presidencies, especially in recent years under George W. Bush.
Data from the U.S. Census on annual changes in income, unemployment and poverty over the last 50 years indicate that minority groups flourish under democratic governments but lose ground when republicans take over. Economic improvements happen to the whole nation as a whole under democrats, not just minority groups, as white Americans also fair better under democrats. This is one of the reasons why President Obama overwhelmingly won the black and Latino vote. The differences in economic performance under the two parties can be attributed to inherent ideological differences. Minority groups tend to fall under poor or lower-income bracket, and Democrat ideology calls for the protection and boosting of these groups economically. Democrat policies usually favor these groups, for example Clinton’s expansion of the earned income tax credits gave low-income earners tax refunds. Democrats usually introduce a range of policies that are intended to boost minority communities on issues like education and immigration reforms.
Democrat presidents tend to emphasize overall economic and job growth that ends up benefitting everyone, including minorities. Republicans, on the other hand, put more emphasis on reducing inflation, even if it means unemployment rising as a result. With the minority groups growing in numbers, and most U.S. children being born to minority parents, economic gains for minorities make the overall economy stronger for all Americans. Therefore, there is a tendency for voters, both whites and minorities, to support democratic ideologies on the economy and even other issues.
The Democratic Party aims to expand education opportunities and make them available for every child today. This is seen clearly in President Obama’s policy of “No Child Left Behind”. The party aims to achieve this policy through expanded government support, and a raft of other measures like cutting student loan rates, and introducing deductibles on college tuition tax. By paying for expanded education policies using higher taxation, the democrats are staying true to their principles on redistribution of wealth. Republicans approach to education is guided by the principle of personal responsibility with less government support. They believe that federal government should not get involved with state and local schools. From these two positions, it is clear that the democrat approach is more popular with many people. Minority groups and many white people are likely to support the Democratic Party based on their efforts to make education available and affordable to all.
Democrats propose that the federal government provides a healthcare system that includes everyone, so that everyone gets access to healthcare coverage. Democrats want to force citizens to purchase healthcare insurance through the government. The proposed Obamacare aims to achieve this mainly through increasing taxation on the higher income bracket. Republicans have been vehemently opposed to Obamacare and any universal healthcare program that is funded through government. Whereas they also propose a more affordable healthcare program, they plan to achieve this through lowering taxes for people who purchase health insurance, so that it is easier for them to purchase on their own. According to republican principles, it is wrong for those who are on welfare to get health insurance from the government, while many hard-working people cannot afford it. In such a situation, republicans are likely to get support from well-to-do Americans who can afford their won private health insurance. As for minority groups and many white Americans who struggle with health insurance payments, the democratic route presents a better option since they will have a ‘safety net’ even when they cannot afford healthcare.
America has long been seen as the land of opportunity and many immigrants make every effort to get there, whether legally or otherwise. The number of immigrants has been on the increase and their presence is being felt significantly. This has made immigration a very hot issue in the U.S. political arena. Democrats are sympathetic to immigrants in their policies and ideologies and this has seen them get a lot of political support from them. According to democrats, immigrants who are already in America should be afforded the same opportunities as U.S. citizens so that they work and contribute to the economy. Republicans are against illegal immigrants earning the same opportunities as U.S. citizens. They believe that immigrants are taking opportunities that should be available to citizens, and all illegal immigrants should be deported. With such a harsh republican stand on immigration, they are likely to get support from the Latino vote and any other migrant group in the U.S. Even immigrants who are already settled in the U.S. legally are sympathetic to illegal immigrants. As minority groups grow in number, they tend to boost democratic political base and make the country more popular overally in the country.
Republicans favor a more American involvement in world affairs backed by a strong military presence. They believe that the best way to keep America safe is through pre-emptive military intervention against perceived threats and enemies. To this extent, they support increased military spending and excursions abroad. They also want a tough stance against countries like Iran and Syria. Republicans are usually seen as pro-war and believe America should use its military right to secure the rights of its citizens and the rest of the world. They see America playing an oversight role over the rest of the world and flexing its military muscle as much as possible.
On the opposite side, democrats are anti-war and prefer to cut military spending and reduce American military intervention abroad. Democrats have been at the forefront in trying to bring American troops back home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Whereas the republican approach was seen as the best way to fight the threat of terrorism, major failures have made many people rethink their support. For example, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq yet the public was misled to believe that was the reason for the invasion in the first place. Saddam may no longer be there, but Iraq is not anyway safer, with rampant sectarian violence that has claimed many U.S. troops stationed there.
The republican push for a stronger American input in world affairs may have been well intended initially but the outcomes have left many Americans disillusioned. The main concerns include the loss of American lives fighting abroad and the amount of government spending that goes into those wars. This is especially so if the public feels that military intervention may not be necessary in the first place. Furthermore, republican-driven wars, like the Iraq Invasion, have been followed by tough economic times back at home. Whether there is a clear connection between wars and subsequent economic turmoil or not, public perception is that wars are costing America a lot more than they should. For this reason, the democrat approach of less military spending and less American military presence across the world is looking more attractive. Furthermore, democrats have been steadfast and consistent with their approach to foreign policy while republicans have been floundering on their stand regarding the same.
Democrats firmly believe in the concept that all humanity deserves liberty, and human individuals sometimes have to be restrained for their own good and the good of others. However, there is that inherent belief that the government should have greater control on people’s day-to-day lives. This can only be achieved, of course, through higher taxes. Republicans want lots of individual freedom, especially when it comes to business and other economic activities. However, this only applies to Americans, especially the white folks in the Republican Party. They will not raise so much concern if people are being denied individual liberties abroad, or even if the same is happening at home to minority groups.
Religion is another hot issue that shows clear divide between republicans and democrats. Republicans, on the extreme, can be termed as religious zealots. They believe it is their duty to enforce God’s will and plan on the people. They tie their religious commitment to the preservation of traditional family values. For this reason, republicans are strongly opposed to abortion and are even against contraceptive use. They believe abstinence and following God’s word is enough to solve problems like teen pregnancies. Republicans are also strongly opposed to the issue of gay rights, which they consider ungodly and should not be permitted. Gay rights are a threat to traditional family values espoused by the republicans.
Democrat approach to religion is hinged on the fundamental belief in individual liberties. For this reason, they are relaxed on religion and accommodate a whole range of religious views, including atheists. By extension, they believe in an individual’s right to make a whole range of choices without strictly following the traditional teachings of the church. On the issue of abortion, democrats believe that it is the right of the woman to choose whether she wants to have a baby or not. To this end, democrats usually support family health programs both home and abroad. Democrats also advocate for gay rights as an important element of individual liberties. This support has gained the Democratic Party a lot of support from the LGBT group, which is becoming very vocal and very influential on the public political arena.
Democrats relaxed approach to such issues like religion, gays and abortion make it more appealing to young, urban populations that are grappling with these issues on a daily basis. The republican views on the same are seen by many as retrogressive and unfair on individuals. America is a diverse nation of different cultures and the republicans seem to be promoting only white American culture and seeking to impose it on the rest of the people. Democrats are seen to be more accommodating by allowing a wide range of personal choices on issues of religion, culture and personal preference. For this reason, democrats are appealing to the educated white Americans in urban areas and the rest of the non-white Americans. With the population of non-white Americans on the rise, their political input is becoming increasingly important and the Democratic Party is gaining a lot from having embraced these groups with accommodative ideologies.
American political landscape is roughly divided equally between two opposing camps – democrats and republicans. These two political parties have strikingly divergent political ideologies that influence their views on various important issues that affect American people and the nation at large. Democrats believe it is the duty of the government to ensure that each citizen enjoys a quality life. For this reason, the government must take an active role in providing services like healthcare, education and economic empowerment, especially to weak groups that are unable to afford these things on their own. Republicans favor less government involvement in such matters, instead advocating for individuals to be left free to determine their own lives.
The difference in ideology between the two parties is seen in the way they run government when in power. Democrats favor increasing taxes on the higher income bracket and a free trade economy. They want more government spending on social welfare programs, and less on the military. Republicans want to lower taxes on the rich and reduce government spending on social welfare. They prefer everyone to take care of themselves with no special protections for the weak and underprivileged. Republicans want a strong American involvement in world affairs, mainly achieved through flexing its military muscle. They are usually proponents of war while Democrats generally oppose wars. The democratic stand on a range of issues like religion, immigration, individual liberties and social welfare has made it very attractive to more Americans, especially the growing proportion of minority groups. This is why Democrats have been able to appeal to the modern voter more than the conservative republicans.
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