WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DONKEY AND AN ELEPHANT? Several months ago I received this email: "Tom, I am becoming a U.S citizen soon, I would like to register with the Republican Party. Would you write a parallel in general between both parties, Democratic and Republican? I would appreciate it very much. Ike Sainta." Since that time I have been thinking about this subject and doing research. Recently I became a volunteer expert on the subject of Conservatism at a website (www.allexperts.com) that provides free expert advice on just about any subject to visitors. To my surprise, the first question I received was very similar to Mr. Sainta’s. My answer to that young lady’s question formed the core of the article that follows. It also motivated me to complete my research and fulfill my promise to Mr. Sainta.
The obvious place to start is a brief history of the two parties. They differ widely. Thomas Jefferson, who became the first Democratic president, founded the Democratic Party in 1792. It was formed as a Congressional Caucus to fight the Populist Party, and officially became a political party six years later. It was originally named the Democratic- Republican Party. There have been many political parties in our nations history, but the Democrats are the oldest surviving party.
The Republican Party was born out of the campaign to abolish slavery. According to The Columbia Concise Encyclopedia (1995 Edition), "The active campaign had its mainspring in the revival in the North of evangelical religion, with its moral urgency to end sinful practices." Interestingly, I discovered on the Republican website (www.rnc.org) that the initial organizer of the Republican Party, and the man who named it, was a staunch Democrat named Alvin E. Bovay. Unable to convince his fellow Democrats to denounce slavery, in 1854 he helped establish a third party. The Republicans ran John C. Fremont as their first presidential candidate, under the slogan "Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont." Surprisingly, this underdog upstart party won 33% of the vote. Of course, the first Republican to be elected president was Abraham Lincoln four years later. Less than a year after that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, ending forever in the United States the reprehensible practice of people owning other people.
I think the contrast between the way the two parties began is significant, because the liberal propaganda machine has been so successful in painting the Democratic party as the party of inclusion, and Republicans as elitists. From the beginnings of both parties until today, nothing could be further from the truth. Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the Democrats, was a great man in many ways, but he considered black people to be inferior in every way to whites. His party fought viciously to maintain the status quo. During a search of the official Democrat website (www.democrats.org) I found it very interesting that there was not one mention of the abolition of slavery, even though their "History of the Democratic Party" mentioned almost every other political event of significance back to 1792. They certainly don’t mention that their Party fought against the abolition of slavery. (An interesting fact: Prior to Lincoln assuming the presidency, Washington, D.C. itself was the primary depot for the slave trade in the U.S.) Obviously, even today, the Democrats are ashamed of the way they treated fellow human beings whose only "crime" was having the wrong skin color. The only mention of the word "slavery" in the "History of the Democratic Party" was this statement by the late Ron Brown, their former national Chairman: "We remember that this great land was sculpted by immigrants and slaves." (Much of this article’s information on slavery comes from the "Chronology on the History of Slavery and Racism," http://innercity.org/holt/chron_1790_1829.html.)
In contrast, Abraham Lincoln literally gave his life because he so passionately believed what Jefferson had helped to write: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln, was founded to ensure that ALL men and women, regardless of color, religion, or national origin, enjoyed the same rights as the elitists that oppressed them. The Republicans worked hard to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed everyone equal protection under the law; and the Fifteenth Amendment, which helped secure the right to vote for African-Americans. The Republican Party also played a leading role in guaranteeing the right to vote for women. In 1896, Republicans were the first major party to support the right of women to vote. When the 19th Amendment was added to the Constitution, 26 of 36 state legislatures that had voted to ratify it were under Republican control. The first woman elected to Congress was a Republican, Jeanette Rankin from Montana in 1917.
My four-year-old daughter, Sarah, often asks me when we’re watching TV, "Is he the Good Guy? Is that the Bad Guy?" Life isn’t that simple. People aren’t "Good Guys" or "Bad Guys" simply by virtue of their party affiliation. But there are certainly good and bad ideologies, good and bad policies. I believe there are good people in both parties. The people I respect are those who stand up for what is right, regardless of what their Party decrees.
Often you can discern what an organization deems important just by observing what they talk about. Following are two lists of party positions and position papers copied from the official websites of the two parties. (If you would like to see the complete lists, which were quite lengthy, go to each party’s website.) I have included ten items from each, representative of the lists. See if you can guess which list belongs to which party:
Gays & Lesbians
National Endowment for the Arts
School Choice (Against)
Education Accountability and Empowering Parents
Higher Education: Increased Access For All
Judicial Reform: Courts That Work
A Military for the Twenty-First Century
Principled American Leadership
Privacy and Secure Technologies
Protecting Property Rights
Saving Social Security
Small Business: Where Prosperity Starts
Upholding the Rights of All
I’m sure no one will be surprised to find that the second list came from the Republican website. Let me conclude by contrasting Democrat and Republican views on major subjects. I’ll put a capital "D" in front of the Democratic position, followed by a capital "R" for the Republican position. (I could just as easily use "L" for liberal and "C" for conservative.) Please keep in mind that these are generalizations. In each party there are individuals that take positions opposite to those of their party’s leadership. But since we’re talking about the parties themselves, I will attempt to portray what the leadership of each of the parties stands for.
D- Big government
R- Less intrusive government
D- More and larger taxes
R- Less government spending
D- Hostile toward expression of religion
R- Acknowledges this nation was founded on religious principles
D- Government control of what children learn
R- Parental control of a child’s education
D- Federal government usurps powers granted to the individual States by the Constitution
R- Recognizes and supports Constitutional State’s rights
D- Special rights for minorities (quotas, "affirmative action")
R- All citizens should be treated equally; society & government should be "color-blind"
D- Expansion of the welfare state (most welfare recipients vote Democrat)
R- All able-bodied people should work; welfare should be reserved for people with real disabilities
D- Against testing of teachers (not surprising, since 10% of the Delegates to the Democratic Convention were members of the NEA)
R- Believes only qualified teachers should teach, and that they should prove by testing that they are able to read and write coherently
D- Support the marriage penalty, estate taxes, and same-sex marriages, all of which weaken the traditional family.
R- Strongly support traditional family values
D- Risk damaging our economy to enforce scientifically unproven environmental theories (such as greenhouse gas emissions)
R- Believe we can protect the environment without costing hundreds of thousands of jobs
D- Focus on the rights of criminals
R- Strict punishment of criminals
D- Moral relativism ("If it feels good, do it.")
R- Moral absolutes; right and wrong DO exist
D- Faith in Man (Government) to solve all problems (The New Deal, The Great Society)
R- Faith in God ("In God We Trust’)
D- Promote One-World Government
R- Very suspicious of the U.N. and its goals
D- Elect or appoint judges and justices who "legislate from the bench", thus usurping the role of the legislature
R- Believe judges and justices should stick to their Constitutional roles of interpreting laws, instead of making laws
I could continue, but you get the drift. Please do not think for a moment that I am naive enough to believe that either Party votes or acts strictly according to the ideals listed above. These are PRINCIPLES that have traditionally guided the Parties we are discussing. Most Democrats are liberal and proud of it, as they have a right to be. Most Republicans are conservative, and support what they consider to be the traditional values that have made our country great. But I am well aware that deals are made, and that many politicians of both Parties would sell their mothers to get elected. I have a saying that the only time most politicians do the right thing is by accident. The only thing that we as voters can do is say, "We elected you because you and your Party say this is what you believe. Act like it, or we won’t re-elect you."
I believe the Republican Party’s philosophy is by far the closest to that of our Founding Fathers. They saw this Republic (we are not a democracy, regardless of what you may heard to the contrary) as a loose confederation of self-governing sovereign states. They saw the central (federal) government as having a very limited role, clearly defined by the Constitution. If you read this document, you will find that the powers granted to the federal government are very few. (The Constitution is actually quite short; take the time to read it at www.usconstitution.net.)
I believe those same Founding Fathers would be aghast if they saw what the Democratic Party has become. Democrats enthusiastically support any measure that increases the power of the government over the people, that increases taxes, or that broadens the role of the federal government. They preach about a "separation of church and state", a phrase that is found nowhere in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers sought to protect us from the establishment of a state religion. In other words, they wanted to keep government out of religion, not keep religion out of the government. Otherwise, why has Congress always opened with prayer, and every President been sworn in on a Bible? The hypocrisy is evident when religion is openly practiced in government, but teachers are fired for having a Bible on their personal desks.
By now you may have guessed that I am a registered Republican. I hope that my unbiased analysis has been helpful. I will close with some quotations from both party websites ("Fair and Balanced Coverage"). "I am a Democrat because I hold true to the Democratic ideology that this country is for all people and not just a select group. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe in gay rights. I believe in civil rights. I believe in gun reform. I am pro labor and pro environment." "Without Democrats there would be no social safety net, no Social Security, no Medicare. In short, without Democrats, many Americans would live in poverty without basic human dignity." These people honestly believe that government is the answer to all their problems!
"Republicans have a long and rich history with basic principles: Individuals, not government, can make the best decisions; all people are entitled to equal rights; and decisions are best made close to home. Abolishing slavery. Free speech. Women’s right to vote. In today’s stereotypes, none of these sounds like a typical Republican issue, yet they are stances the Republican Party, in opposition to the Democratic Party, adopted early on." Republicans believe in individual responsibility. They believe that the government should be the servant of the people, not their master or their mother.
IS CONGRESSMAN GARY CONDIT A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN? I had hoped never to write a word about Gary Condit, and I am NOT going to address his situation, which I believe the media has blown completely out of proportion. (It reminds me of the O.J. Simpson case. I got so sick of the non-stop coverage that I was really looking forward to a planned trip to Europe to get away from it all. The first thing I saw on European television was O.J. Simpson’s face!)
No, I want to discuss the shameless way that the media has used their power to protect one of their own. This morning I received an update from Accuracy in Media describing a study by the Media Research Center. It revealed that in a total of 179 stories about Congressman Condit (between May 14 and July 11, 2001), only 14 mentioned the fact that he was a Democrat! We all know that almost without fail, even legislators whose Party affiliations are well-known are labeled. They’re referred to as "Democratic Senator Teddy Kennedy," or Republican Governor Jeb Bush." If Condit were a Republican, that fact would have been mentioned at least three times during every 60 seconds of reporting. This type of "journalism" is the strongest proof of the liberal bias of most of the media. In less than 8% of the stories about Condit’s sexual escapades was the word "Democrat" mentioned. Most Americans do not know this man’s Party affiliation because the media have protected the Party to which the great majority of them belong.