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