|Why Become a Democrat?
|In order to answer that question,
you must first understand what a Democrat is and why people choose to be democrats.
The most confusing thing is that most people don't understand what the difference between
the two parties are and vote more so based on key issues or the popularity of the
candidate. To be a member of the
democratic party means that you care about the little guy and the people that cannot speak
loudly for themselves - being a Democrat means you know where your loyalties lay and you
stand by them through thick and thin. Maybe this will help you to understand better
and help you choose the right party:
Why Do We Need Political Parties in the
Believe it or not, political parties do serve a
purpose besides triggering 95% of all arguments ever started since time began. Political
parties help define potential voters' beliefs and positions on important issues and use
that strength in numbers to get candidates who share those views elected into office.
Currently the United States has two major political parties, the progressive Democratic
party and the conservative Republican party. There are also various "third
party" political parties, but their political clout is generally considered marginal
Roughly speaking, political parties serve the same purpose in
the political world as denominations or sects serve in the religious world. If an
individual were the only person alive on an island, his or her word would be considered
law. Once a second person arrives, however, differences of opinion would almost inevitably
arise. As more and more people arrive, these differences could divide inhabitants into
different camps of thought. Living together on the island would still be a priority for
all, but differences of opinion on how to accomplish that goal would always exist.
On a larger scale, political parties would represent all of
those different camps of thought. Some political parties are composed of very liberal
members who believe a larger national government has an obligation to provide essential
services for all citizens. Other political parties are composed of very conservative
members who believe a smaller national government should allow the private sector to
provide such assistance. It is political differences such as this which create the need
for at least two political parties, one more progressive and the other more conservative
||Political parties also help to
define specific issues and positions which go along with their broad stroke conservative
or liberal leanings. The Democratic party, for example, can specifically take an official
stance on an controversial issue, such as abortion rights. The Republican party's stance
may be pro-life. This process continues for any number of important or controversial
issues. Individual voters seeking to align themselves with political parties can compare
each party's stance or platform and decide which one is most in line with their
own personal beliefs.
Another purpose for
political parties is strength in numbers. The United States is not a true democracy, but
more of a representative republic. Instead of a logistical nightmare of 300 million
individuals running for elected office every few years, different political parties
actively seek out qualified candidates with the necessary skills and belief structure to
represent their party's platform while serving their terms.
Not all political candidates agree completely with their
political parties' stances on individual issues, but it would be fair to assume a
Democratic candidate would be of a moderate to liberal bent, while a Republican candidate
would be moderate to conservative in his or her thinking. Voters with allegiances to the
two political parties could rally behind their particular candidates.
The two major political parties have been accused of choking
out the voices of other political parties with far fewer resources. There have been third
parties which have had noticeable effects on the outcome of national elections, however.
Third party candidates such as Ross Perot and Ralph Nader have had the ability to draw
votes away from major political party candidates and make voters aware of their parties'
platforms. Many smaller political parties, however, routinely take controversial stances
on issues such as the legalization of marijuana, or put up fringe candidates as a
grassroots political exercise.
What is a Democrat?
A Democrat may
identify himself or herself as politically or socially conservative, moderate or liberal.
Historically, the Democratic party has appealed to academics and professionals with
progressive to liberal leanings, although there is a faction of so-called "Blue
Dog" Democrats who espouse political conservatism while endorsing socially
progressive programs. Many of these conservative Democrats are from southern states which
have recently moved to the political right.
The Democratic party has also aligned itself
with the plight of minority populations and the economically challenged. A Democrat
generally believes the federal and state governments have an obligation to provide
essential services for citizens in need, as well as legal recognition and protection for
oppressed or poorly represented minority groups. Social Security, public welfare and food
stamp programs are the direct result of Democratic presidencies.
may also strongly support the needs and rights of workers over the demands of management.
Establishing a federal minimum wage was accomplished during Democratic president Franklin
D. Roosevelt's administration, for example. Many labor unions gained strength during
Democratic administrations as well. The Civil Right Act of 1965 was enacted during
Democratic president Lyndon B. Johnson's time in office. Democratic president Bill Clinton
also signed a law allowing workers to take unpaid leaves of absence during times of family
Many Democrats also support the idea of
universal health care for all citizens, a concept which led to the development of Medicaid
and Medicare. A woman's right to choices about her own reproductive health is also a
platform for the Democratic party, which was tested most notably during the Supreme Court
case Roe vs Wade.
The controversial right to seek out a legal
abortion continues to be a source of strong disagreement between the Democratic and
Republican parties. Another divisive issue is the use of capital punishment, with many
Democrats believe should be abolished entirely, or at least severely restricted.
A member of the Democratic party is free to
form his or her own opinion on the party's general political stances or candidates, as is
a member of the Republican party. The national parties, however, do hold primaries and
caucuses to determine the political candidates who best represent the ideals of the
parties as a whole. A registered Democrat votes
for the candidate who best represent his or her own political viewpoint, and the winners
become the official candidates of the Democratic party.
The Democratic Nation Commitee Platform:
"Our vision is
simple. We want an America that gives all Americans the chance to live out their dreams
and achieve their God-given potential. We want an America that is still the world's
strongest force for peace and freedom. And we want an America that is coming together
around our enduring values, instead of drifting apart.".
Party is determined to renew America's most basic bargain: Opportunity to every American,
and responsibility from every American. And today's Democratic Party is determined to
reawaken the great sense of American community."
"That is what today's
Democratic Party offers: the end of the era of big government and a final rejection of the
misguided call to leave our citizens to fend for themselves -- and bold leadership into
the future: To meet America's challenges, protect America's values, and fulfill American
|Democrats believe all
people should be able to pursue their goals to spite their religion, race, ethnic
background or sexual orientation. In the sixties, Democrats fought for civil rights, but
the battle is not yet over.
Democratic Party knows we must renew our efforts to stamp out discrimination and hatred of
every kind, wherever and whenever we see it." (DNC Platform)
"We continue to lead the fight to end discrimination on
the basis of race, gender, religion, age, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation.
The Democratic Party has always supported the Equal Rights Amendment, and we are committed
to ensuring full equality for women and to vigorously enforce the Americans with
Disabilities Act." (DNC Platform)
|Democrats realize that
all Americans should have the opportunity to pursue an education regardless of the
economic situation they are born into.
education for all Americans. Finally, we must make sure that every American has the
opportunity to go to college. Higher education is the key to a successful future in the
21st century." (DNC Platform)
"Safe schools and healthy students. If young people do
not have the freedom to learn in safety, they do not have the freedom to learn at
all." (DNC Platform)
"Technology in the classroom. We must bring the 21st
century into every classroom in America. There is a vast realm of knowledge waiting for
our children to tap into. Computers are powerful tools to teach students to read better,
write better, and understand math." (DNC Platform)
Freedom of Speech
|The right for people to
express their beliefs and advocate their ideas is paramount in a democracy. Though
as unique people, we will find some ideas repugnant, but the First Amendment is vital to
the free exchange of ideas and should never be violated.
for a Clean Environment
Democrat believes that the environment must be protected from those will exploit it for
their own means. We are part of this ecosystem. Its destruction is our destruction.
"Today's Democratic Party believes we have
a duty to preserve God's earth and American quality of life for future generations. ...
The Republican budget guts environmental protection." (DNC Platform)
"Clean, abundant, and reliable energy is
essential to a strong American economy. We support investment in research and development
to spur domestic energy production and enhance efficiency. New technologies -- natural
gas, energy efficiency, renewable energy -- developed in partnership with American
industries and scientists are increasing productivity and creating jobs." (DNC
|The Democratic Party is a
strong supporter of technology and keeping the United States on top.
"We know investments in technology drive economic growth, generate new
knowledge, create new high-wage jobs, build new industries, and improve our quality of
life. In the face of Republican efforts to undermine America's dedication to innovation,
President Clinton and the Democratic Party have fought to maintain vital investments in
science and technology. We remember that government investment in technology is
responsible for the computer, for jet aircraft, and for the Internet -- no investments
have ever paid off better, in jobs, in opportunity, or in growth." (DNC Platform)
|It is economically
irresponsible to push the nation into debt to support the comforts of the wealthy.
"For 12 years, Republicans hid behind rosy scenarios while quadrupling
the national debt. We knew this had to stop. In 1992, we promised to cut the deficit in
half over four years. We did. Our 1993 economic plan cut spending by over a quarter
trillion dollars in five years. The only deficit left today is interest payments on the
debt run up over the 12 Republican years before fiscal responsibility returned to the
White House." (DNC Platform)
|Taxes should not be used
to increase the gap between the very wealthy and the very poor in the United States.
Giving tax breaks to the rich while unloading the weight onto the shoulders of the poor,
Party believes that working people should not be taxed into poverty. The Republican budget
raises taxes on millions of working families." (DNC Platform)
"America cannot afford to return to the era of
something-for-nothing tax cuts and smoke-and-mirrors accounting that produced a decade of
exploding deficits. Today's Democratic Party is committed to targeted tax cuts that help
working Americans invest in their future, and we insist that any tax cuts are completely
paid for, because we are determined to balance the budget." (DNC Platform)
for Working America
|The government must
protect the rights workers from exploitation. This includes making sure that employees
receive a livable wage, work in a safe environment, and have an active roll in the
"We honor work in
America. Americans work hard, and they have a right to expect that work will pay. We want
to continue reversing the trend of the eighties, so all Americans benefit from continued
economic growth and rising wages." (DNC Platform)
"The Democratic Party insists that corporate leaders
invest in the long-term, by providing workers with living wages and benefits, education
and training, a safe, healthy place to work, and opportunities for greater involvement in
company decision making and ownership." (DNC Platform)
|Health care is an
essential part of life and well-being. This is not a right only reserved for the content
in society, but for each and every American.
"The Democratic Party is committed to ensuring that Americans have
access to affordable, high-quality health care." (DNC Platform)
a Women's Right to Choose
|The Woman's Right to
Choose is fundamental to equality between the sexes. No one or no government agency should
interfere with reproductive rights.
Democratic Party stands behind the right of every woman to choose, consistent with Roe v.
Wade, and regardless of ability to pay." (DNC Platform)
"We believe it is a fundamental constitutional liberty
that individual Americans -- not government -- can best take responsibility for making the
most difficult and intensely personal decisions regarding reproduction." (DNC
Church & State
|The government should not
endorse or favor any religion above another. To do so, isolates and intimidate those who
follow a faith other than that of the majority. The First Amendment guarentees all
Americans the freedom of religion, and, consequently, the freedom from religion.
As a result, the government cannot use public funds or
public institutions to advocate or display the religious beliefs any particular faith.
|All cultures are
inherently equal and unique. People should be able practice their traditions and feel
pride in their background. Each culture, in turn, adds diversity to America.
"We believe everyone in America should learn English so they can fully
share in our daily life, but we strongly oppose divisive efforts like English-only
legislation, designed to erect barriers between us and force people away from the culture
and heritage of which they are rightly proud." (DNC Platform)
Real Campaign Finance Reform
|A democracy can only
function if the will of the people is observed. Unfortunately, special interest groups
have enormous influence through the hard money they provide.
"Today's Democratic Party knows we have a responsibility to make our
democracy work better for America, by limiting the influence of special interests and
expanding the influence of the American people. Special interests have too much power in
the halls of government. They often operate in secret and have special privileges ordinary
Americans do not even know exist. Elections have become so expensive that big money can
sometimes drown out the voices of ordinary voters -- who should always speak the
loudest." (DNC Platform)