What the USA maintains in preference to China's one-party system. Commonly believed to be at least twice as good.

Its perpetuation is not guaranteed in the constitution (yet), so it is not impossible that it will transmogrify at some point in the future into something bearing a closer resemblence to democracy

All registered voters should be informed about all of their options when deciding who to vote for in any election. They should educate themselves on where the candidates stand on any of the issues important to them and vote accordingly. Always vote for the individual - do not blindly vote on a political party. However, to make an informed decision, it is important to know where a candidate's party stands on the issues as well.

The purpose of this writeup is to explain the stances of the two major parties in the United States1:

In general there are numerous differences between how a Democrat and a Republican stand on various issues. Obviously, individual members of either political party can have their own opinions on the issues, but as a whole a politician joins a party because they believe in the stance it takes on issues important to our nation. In other words, the ideas presented below are not stereotypes; they are generalities, and for the most part, included in official platform documents. On any specific issue or current world event, the Democratic and Republican parties may wholly agree - a fact that was seen numerous times during the Bush / Gore Presidential debates.

Give me liberty or give me death. (This is the most important issue separating the parties.)

  • Republicans believe that all powers not directly granted to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved for state and local governments, and that anything other than this is inefficient and complex.
  • Democrats believe the concentration of power should reside with the federal government, and that state governments should support them.

The Republican wants you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. The Democrat wants to give you a pair of shoes for your bare feet.

  • Republicans believe that each individual is responsible for their position in society, and wish to leave it to the states to help anyone in need.
  • Democrats believe in the need to help poor and minority groups through national social and educational programs.

Have your cake, and eat it too.

  • Republicans believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to provide and aid a growing economy, so that people can work and provide for themselves and their families.
  • Democrats believe that even with a good economy the government needs to be a source of aid for those in need.

Read my lips.

  • Republicans strongly prefer cutting taxes (often to specific groups that they believe can best help the economy such as corporate capital gain taxes) over additional spending.
  • Democrats believe that if a tax cut is necessary they should lower taxes for the poor and raise them for the rich. They often feel it is more important to put any budget surplus toward welfare programs for the people than to simply cut taxes.

Other Issues

Issue                   Democrat                 Republican
Abortion                Pro-choice               Pro-life

Affirmative Action      Support                  Oppose

Animal Rights           Support                  Not a big issue

Civil Liberties         Strongly support         Support what is
                          individual rights        morally right

Crime                   Add new laws             Add stronger penalties
                          and rehabilitation

Death Penalty           Opposed                  Eye for an eye

Drugs                   Want to regulate         Want to regulate
                          prescription drugs       recreational drugs

Education               Tend to support          Tend to support
                          public education         private education
                          programs                 programs including
                                                   school vouchers

Environment             Strict environmental     Protect the environment
                          protection laws          as long as it doesn't
                                                   hurt business

Gun Control             Strict laws needed       The right to bear arms

Healthcare              Universal healthcare     Healthcare is an industry
                          is ultimate goal         and subject to capitalism

Homosexual rights       Support                  Oppose

Military                Increase the size and    Increase the spending
                          scope of the military    but decrease the scope

Minimum Wage            Increase                 Keep it stable

Social Security         Use the budget surplus   Privatization of SS
                          to fund SS

Author's Note: I wrote this mostly for my own benefit so that I had a reference for some of the upcoming elections in my county and state as well as the not-too-distant Presidential election. I know I am going to get a lot of flak for this writeup. Anyone old enough to remember more than the last two or three presidents, or who has an interest in politics/political science can probably cite numerous exceptions to anything listed above. As stated, these are generalities. While Everything is not a BBS, feel free to rebut me below.

1 I have tried to be objective on all points for both parties. If you find something in this writeup that seems to favor one party more than another, feel free to let me know.

In Australia we effectively have a two party system with a twist - a third party. Parties can be classified into three broad categories (Note that this may differ for other countries). A majority party is a party that can reasonably hope to gain a majority in the House of Representatives after an election (In Australia government is formed by the party holding the support of the House of Representatives). A major party is a party that can hope to gain the confidence of the House with the support of another party. Finally, a minor party is a party that cannot reasonably expect to gain the confidence of the House.

Australia has one majority party, one major party and a number of minor parties. The majority party is the Australian Labor Party (who, for some reason, can't spell labour like everyone else here). The major party is the Liberal Party, who can always count on the support of one of the minor parties, the National Party. It is exceedingly rare for anyone who is not a member of one of these three parties to gain a seat in the House of Representatives, so government is always formed by Labor or a Liberal/National coalition - effectively a two party system.

It is notable that there have been a couple of occasions when the Liberal Party has been able to form government without the support of the National Party and therefore without sharing the Cabinet with them but that have always chosen not to, as they will certainly need National support in future elections.

Although the National Party can influence the democratic process their influence is not very significant because they predictably vote with the Liberals. In recent years the two party system has started to crack with occasional independents and minor party (other than National) candidates elected to the House of Representatives. Also, due to the voting system used, the Senate has a higher number of parties represented. Traditionally, the Senate was not considered to have a say in the party forming government. This all changed, though, after the Dismissal, when the Senate forced the Labor Party out of government by refusing to pass Supply, which is a crucial part of the Budget.

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