What Should You Know About the Political Parties?

Angela Baker

In the new age of constant media buzz, the 2016 election has become one of the most covered topics in the past few months. Even as the election is more than eleven months away, speculation continues to be passed around as to who will win each party’s nomination and who will be America’s new leader come November. With the intensive coverage of political debates and the political squabbles that follow them, it’s easy to lose track what exactly each party and politician stands for. To provide clarity, here’s a brief explanation of the Democratic and Republican parties.


What is the Democratic Party?

The Democratic Party believes in cooperation and equality, as the their party statement says “There are several core beliefs that tie our party together: Democrats believe that we’re greater together than we are on our own—that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.” The party’s dedication lays with issues such as “job creation, equal pay, health care, and clean energy.”

The Democratic Party was founded in 1828. Of the two major parties, the Democratic Party has undergone the most drastic transformation since it’s founding. Originally supporting slavery and opposing civil rights reforms in post-Civil War America, a dramatic ideological reformation came in the early twentieth century. The party reinvented itself to support organized labor, civil rights for minorities and progressive reform. The party’s logo is a donkey which was made famous by cartoonist Thomas Nast in the 1870s.

For a brief synopsis on some of the party’s 2012 platform:


Strongly and unequivocally support Roe v. Wade.

Budget and Economy

Create an economy built to last & built from the middle out.


Civil Rights

Enable disability access; plus 100,000 federal jobs

Equal treatment under law for same-sex couples.


Reduce racial disparities in sentencing for drug crimes.

Join Central American governments to combat narco-traffic.


OpEd: anti-school choice policy alienates Hispanics.

Turn around struggling public schools; expand public options.

Double investment in Pell Grants & more tax credits.


Restore wilderness & watersheds for generations to come.

Government Reform

Curb the influence of lobbyists; no to Citizens United.

Your vote should count; no voter ID laws.

Gun Control

No arbitrary insurer cancellation; yes pre-existing condition.

Preserve promise of Medicare; don’t privatize or voucherize.

Tax Reform

Cut taxes for every working family, but not millionaires.

War and Peace

No US forces in Iraq; no US bases in Iraq.

Balance between MoveOn anti-war & Bush militarism.


What is the Republican Party?

The Republican Party is one of the two major political parties dedicated to “fighting for a freer and stronger America where everyone has the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.” Among it’s main goals are making the government “smaller and smarter.”

The Republican Party, or Grand Old Party, was formed in 1854 by a “small group of abolitionists gathered to fight the expansion of slavery”. The chosen name, ‘Republican,’ comes from Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party. The party’s symbol, an elephant, comes from the 1860 campaign, as it was intended to represent the party’s strength.

For a brief synopsis on some of the party’s 2012 platform:


Support Human Life Amendment

oppose abortion funding

Budget and Economy

Audit the Federal Reserve

bring more transparency

Balanced Budget Amendment and super-majority for tax increase

Civil Rights

Constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman

Support disability access through the IDEA Act, and Employment First


Shift to community colleges and technical institutions

No federal college loans, just insure private loans


Open ANWR and OCS for gas and oil development

Free Trade

Restore presidential Trade Promotion Authority.

   Countervailing duties against China on intellectual property.

Government Reform

Keep Electoral College

   Repeal McCain-Feingold; no contribution limits.

Require photo ID to fight voter fraud.

   No statehood for the District of Columbia.

Gun Control

Protect the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution

Health Care

Repeal Obamacare & supporting alternatives


Support employee ownership over union elites.

Principles and Values

Support voluntary prayer in public schools.

War and Peace

Prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons.