As so many of my peers approach their mid-20’s and begin to pay more attention to national politics I thought it might be helpful to really know what you’re voting for when you vote Democrat or Republican. Perhaps you’ve wondered which one you are. I’ve recognized that I am among the few my age that actually pay close attention to politics, so I feel it’s my duty to clarify such political issues that are fogged up by rumors, jokes, and the media.What the heck are the real differences in Democrats and Republicans? From what we hear, Republicans are greedy, upper-class white men who care nothing about the millions of low-income families, and Democrats are pansy liberals who are trying to destroy American culture, Christianity, and national security. If you believe either one of these, you’ve become a victim of the media. Get your head out of your rear.So here I will attempt to explain the ideals behind the parties in layman’s terms. Before I start, it’s important to note that you should never define a political party by the measure of a candidate associated by that party. Doing this is like judging my Christianity based on Pat Roberts or Benny Hinn. The foundational themes are consistent, but not necessarily the practice. It’s best to never assume a persons intentions always reflect the group as a whole.
To prepare for this blog, I searched online for a more in-depth understanding on the guiding principles of the parties, but it’s difficult to find any resource that offers a fair explanation without obvious bias. To say that either party doesn’t get it, or doesn’t care, is simply wrong, and from a journalistic perspective, irresponsible. Most of us know where they tend to stand on basic issues, but what are these objectives rooted in? What are the theories behind their views? This is the question I set out to answer.
It began with simply googling “Republican vs. Democratic Philosophy,” from which several pages were summoned to my screen, nearly all making one side or the other seem ignorant or just plain evil. And so I changed my approach and looked them up one at a time. Typing simply “Republican Philosophy” brought my first piece of legitimate reading, a simple bullet list in laymen’s terms. I also read Wikipedia’s extensive offering and several others pages from various sites, adding all of it to my own understanding of the party I’ve claimed for several years now.
The Republican party believes, in summary, that the best Government is the closest government (geographically), and it should exist to preserve rights to freedom and opportunity, and only interfere where it must. These were, in fact, the founding principles that lead to America’s fight for independence from a government 3000 miles away.
In the eyes of a Rep, anyone who works and trades has a right to any wealth that is accumulated, to spend it or save it as he see’s fit. In this case, “wealth” includes property, animals, or any other thing of value. Those things cannot be taken away, with exception to absolute necessity for the benefit of the community (with reasonable compensation) or when that person gives up those rights through violation of law. Each person also has the right to protect those valuables and family from criminals, thus the firm belief in the right to bear arms.
Reps believe the states should govern their people, with less interference from Washington, and that federal involvement in the lives of individuals should be as little as possible. They believe that the preservation and security of our nation and its citizens depends on respect for the constitution and the judicial system, and a strong military.
The Republican government’s sole purpose is three-fold: 1. To protect opportunity, but not necessarily to provide it, accomplished through legislation. 2. To provide service to local governments who cannot provide it for themselves, and where the service is considered necessary, to be funded through taxation. An example would be the intervention of FEMA during natural disasters. (Reps also insist that the best community service is done through private and faith-based organizations, and often supports federal funding for them). 3. To provide military protection and strength, also through taxation, for protection, and to approach global issues from a position of power, not weakness.
The Rep philosophy dictates that crimes are punished, and the remainder of law abiding citizens are free and independent people, with power over their lives, so long as it doesn’t prohibit the freedoms of others.
The Republican approach would say that if the people don’t like the unethical policies of a certain retail store, they can refuse to shop there, therefore putting the control of the market in the hands of the people, not the government. Or allowing tax-paying parents the vouchers to place their children in private schools, where they are not restricted by the limitations of, and lack of quality in, public education.
The only real problem with the R approach, is that it creates an environment in which the wealthy have more opportunities to become even more wealthy, and their power can be abused to keep others from having better opportunities, therefore splitting the country into rich or poor. Because of this, congress has to be very careful to patch these holes and offer some assistance to the lower-income classes without denying the rights of people to earn their keep, and keep their earnings. At the current rate, the wealthy in America pay the majority of taxes. The top 1% income earners pay for a third of the taxes, with the bottom 50% of income earners paying only 3% of the total cost. This leaves about 64% of the total tax weight on the shoulders of the upper-middle classes. By this data, it’s difficult to argue that our system is unfair to the poor, as they are largely supported by the wealthy.
When it comes to taxes, the Reps, already in favor of low taxes across the board, feel that regulating and overtaxing companies causes them to cut jobs and hike prices. They support offering tax breaks to these companies to encourage economic growth through increased jobs and more spending money in the pockets of Americans, which in turn, help our economy.
The Democratic party is focused on the poor and less privileged. They believe that it is the role and responsibility to the government to insure that all citizens have a good income, healthcare coverage, and education. This is done by distributing the wealth of the nation, through government regulation and taxation. They receive strong support from low-income groups and minorities, who believe that they are entitled, as American citizens, to the share in its general wealth and opportunity.
Democrats believe that there is no problem that the government can’t and shouldn’t fix. This is one fundamental digression from the Republican belief in a smaller, less intrusive government.
Democratic support for stricter anti-gun laws and less military funding reflects the view that violence never solves problems, but creates more violence. In its promise to serve and protect the greater good, the Democratic party seeks legislative changes, and new programs through which they can push more of the general wealth into the lower income classes, provide easily accessed public education, and provide free or affordable health care to the poor or elderly. They prefer more federal involvement and less power from the state and local governments, and the private sector. The private sector consists of non-profit and faith-based organizations, private schools, parks, zoo’s, museums, and anything else that is not funded through taxes. If I could summarize the Democrat philosophy in just one sentence it would be “Government provision for everyone, paid for by the upper class.”
There’s one major flaw with this concept as well, and that is the idea that I must assume that politicians know what’s best for me and my children, and that they have a right to intervene into my personal life and require my adherence to their ideas. In an attempt to provide for everyone equal opportunity and equal benefits, you must go against a basic American principle, that taking from one person is not justified by giving to another. And to be more specific, in many cases, it is taking from someone who has worked hard for it, to give it to someone who has not. Where, then, is the incentive to succeed?
However, in society there must be some give and take, and therefore, it’s impossible to allow the most wealthy in the nation to hoard billions while people are starving. The rights of a man to keep the money he earns must, to some degree, be trumped by the basic needs and responsibilities of the nation and its people. The argument here is exactly where do you draw the line of what is acceptable? If the rich owe their success partially to the nation that provided them the opportunity, and partially to the patrons who paid into that wealth, what can we reasonably expect them to pay back into the community without stepping too far in taking from them what they rightfully earned or inherited?
And should opportunity and privilege be distributed in the same way? Should a minority have a better chance at a college scholarship than a white person in the same income bracket? Should a company be required to pay a nation-wide minimum wage that is enough for an individual to live on, even though the cost of living is low in their state or most of the employees are still in high school, living with their parents?
My beliefs in personal responsibility, and that opportunity is to be sought, not given, makes me a Republican, as well as my belief that a society that caters to the weak and unmotivated only weakens itself. On the other hand, my compassion and convictions force me to recognize that regardless of the circumstances that may be or may have been, people need other people, and with much power comes much responsibility. We must understand the importance of sharing, and helping those who are broken and downtrodden. That is a principle on which all parties can agree.
A healthy dose of Socialism in a Capitalist society is a good reminder to any nation that the health and prosperity of its people are important to its sucess, and thus, both parties have survived through the years, alternating in power, and challenging each other to think beyond themselves. Nevertheless… if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.