Usually, when people think about politics in the United States, 2 parties come to mind. This should not be a surprise. After all, the US system is basically geared to create 2 parties system. Unlike Europe and other parts of the world that generally use a parliamentary system, the US political structure tends to favor a 2 party model.
There are other parties, no doubt. But they don’t do all that well in elections. In fact, the most successful, if you want to use that word to describe their fate, is the libertarian party. The number of seats they hold on the local level is a tiny fraction of the electoral hold of both democrats and republicans.
This 2 party system is not without criticism. A lot of people are saying that there’s really not much difference between the parties. In fact, some of the most vocal critics of the current American political systems say that there is such a thing as a uni party.
In other words, there’s really one party ruling the Unites States. I know it sounds conspiratorial and crazy. But there are actually a lot of people who believe this. They think that the republicans and democrats are essentially just fronts. They’re essentially just masks for a select group of people that really run the show.
It doesn’t really matter who the current and next president is. It doesn’t matter whether they have an R or a D after their name. At the end of the day, the same policies are passed by congress and implemented by the executive.
Unfortunately, this is not true. This is a gross simplification of the democrats and republicans. If you are to look at the details and policy positions of democrat and republican candidates for any office, you can see marked differences.
In fact, depending on which republican and democrat you research, the differences can be like black and white. It can be that extreme. Here are just some of the main policy differences between the democrats and republicans.
Republicans tend to be pro-life
Generally speaking, republicans, in terms of party platform as well as through some sort of “ideological litmus test” tend to be pro-life or anti-abortion. The flip side of this applies to the democrats. If you are not pro-choice, you’re going to have a tough time as a democrat candidate. You might not even make it through the primary.
The same applies to republicans. If you strayed too far to the choice spectrum of the whole abortion debate that’s been raging in the United States for the past 40 years, you might not get elected as a republican.
Republicans favor smaller government
Republicans think that the government that’s closest to the people is the most responsible and is the most worthy form of government. The idea is as you move along the chain and you get closer and closer to Washington, the bureaucrats there and the people who make all sorts of decisions are really so far away from the day to day concerns of people in Main Street, USA.
The whole idea here is to cut the size of government, roll back the scope of the federal governments responsibilities and powers and give more of that power to the people. If this sounds familiar, it should because this is actually enshrined in the US constitution.
However, the constitution was drafted and ratified in the late 18th century. Things have changed dramatically and people’s expectations have changed dramatically. This is why democrats say that the constitution should be interpreted as a living document.
In other words, it has to be in consonance or it must be in touch with people’s needs in the here and now. With that framework, then it follows that government should be large enough to solve problems wherever they appear because the state and local government may seem too small or may not have the proper resources to deal with the problem accordingly.
Republicans favor the second amendment, democrats are more ambivalent about it
The second amendment guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. This is almost unheard of because other governments want guns out of their citizen’s hands. You have to understand that the reason why the second amendment was pushed so heavily by the founding fathers of the United States is because they did not trust a central government.
They just had a revolution. They knew that centralized authority can be a very bad thing. They also believed that an armed society is a polite society. You literally put the power back in the hands of the citizenry.
However, the democrats counter that arms technologies have evolved dramatically since the days of muskets and pistols. Now, people can have automatic or semi-automatic rifles that can kill a lot of people in a very short period of time.
Accordingly, there has to be some sort of rational limit to the right to bear arms. This is a raging debate in the United States which often flares up whenever there’s a mass shooting. As scary as those events may be, when you look at the total number of deaths in the United States in any given year, mass shootings are actually account for a very very small percentage.
Republicans are for less spending and less regulation
Until recently, republicans have been very big on spending cuts. Well, it seems that that has changed under president Trump. But historically speaking, republicans believe that the smaller the government is and the less money it spends, the better off people will be because hey, let’s face it, who is the better judge of how to spend your money?
That’s right. That person is you. So, generally speaking, republicans are for less taxes, less spending and less regulation. The idea is when these policies are pursued, the economy flourishes. And based on the recent results in Trump’s economy, there are actually more jobs than people looking for jobs. A lot could be said about this low regulation, low tax strategy.
Democrats, on the other hand, say that the reason there are so many billionaires in the United States is because the American system is so awesome and it really would be immoral for the government to stand by and let billionaires like Jeff Bezos make so much money while their employees are barely getting by above minimum wage.
The idea is for the government to step in through taxation to redistribute or equalize the wealth so we live in a more equitable society. The idea of inclusive growth is a very democratic idea.
Keep the differences above in mind if you come across somebody who says that there’s really not much difference between the political parties in the United States. There are actually quite a lot of differences. The policy variances I outlined above actually form just the tip of the iceberg.