The Democratic Party
The Democratic Party is the more liberal and left wing of the two major American political parties. A core principle of the party is that a progressive tax system and government programs are essential in creating a fair and just society that protects the rights of all citizens, especially those who are most vulnerable. Democrats also tend to be more liberal on social issues. Traditionally, it has been the party of the working class, ethnic minority groups and organised labour, as well as left-liberal elites in big cities on both the east and west coasts of America. Party platforms often include support of a women's right to choose, cutting taxes for lower income families, and support for civil rights. Like the Republican Party, each state has its own chapter of the Democratic Party, meaning that the beliefs and positions of Democratic candidates often differ depending on what area of the country they are from. For instance, a Democratic Senator from a conservative state may often take different positions on issues than the other more liberal members of the party.
The Democratic Party has the largest number of supporters in the Northeast (eg. New York and New England), the Pacific or West Coast (eg. California) and in major cities outside these regions like Chicago and St Louis. Until the mid-1960s, the Democratic Party also won a majority of Southern voters due to allegiances going back to the Civil War in the mid-19th century. After the civil rights movement and the Reagan ‘revolution' of the 1980s, Southern voters increasingly indentified with the Republican Party, particularly with respect to conservative positions on social issues.
Fast facts: The Democrats in the 2008 elections
- There were over 72 million registered Democrats in the US in 2004
- Democrats received 95% of African-American and 75% of religiously unaffiliated voters Source: CNN
- 56% of women voted Democrat Source: Pew Research
The Democratic Party is symbolised by a donkey. Two events contributed to making the donkey the official symbol of the Democratic Party. In the 1828 election, presidential nominee Andrew Jackson was labelled a "jackass" for his populist views. Jackson turned it to his own advantage, embracing the donkey as his campaign symbol. A political cartoon in an 1870 Harper's Weekly magazine also depicted the Democratic Party as a donkey.
For more information visit the Democratic Party's official site.