What do you think the Democratic Party does or should
St. Paul, MN
Bless you! Auntie Pinko just adores these big, philosophical
questions that allow her to burble on about ideology and principles.
What is the Democratic Party, and what makes us different
from other parties?
It might be useful to approach this via the history of the
The Democratic Party was founded by Thomas Jefferson as a
congressional caucus in 1792. Its purpose was to fight for
the Bill of Rights, in the teeth of Federalist opposition.
In 1798 it was officially named the "Democratic-Republican
Party" (confusing, isn't it!) and Thomas Jefferson was the
first Democratic President in 1800.
However, the kind of two-party politics we recognize today
was in its infancy then. Factions within the Party espoused
a wide variety of issues and agendas, mostly concerned with
the emerging government structure, and peace vs. war, isolationist
vs. internationalist questions.
The left/right dichotomy that characterizes American politics
today really emerged in the mid-19th century with the candidacy
of Andrew Jackson. Jackson was a populist who believed in
the maximum possible access and control of the ordinary citizen
in the government process. He also believed in the ability
of government as an instrument to carry out the will of the
people-a positive force in social evolution. (Though he wouldn't
have used those terms, he was a plain-talking, even salty-tongued
man who let actions speak louder than words.)
In the late 19th century the Democratic Party moved from
focus to focus. They focused on enfranchising and empowering
the waves of immigrants pouring into American cities, giving
them a voice in the political process, and creating channels
for them to participate directly. This focus had two consequences:
First, it built the Party an enormous base of hard working
volunteers and loyal voters, and second, it brought the issues
most important to these urban masses into the Party's agenda.
As the 19th Century turned over into the 20th Century, the
Democratic Party moved on to making the lives of Americans
safer and healthier. Safe food and better, safer working conditions
were tough fights against the captains of industry who saw
any government regulation as an unfair restriction on their
ability to make profits. (Sound familiar? It should.)
As labor movements gained momentum in the early 20th century,
they naturally gravitated toward the Democratic party, with
its huge base and well-established organization. Their agenda
was to give workers a leverage that would balance against
the power of money and capital. And while this, too, was fought
tooth and nail by many captains of industry, a few did recognize
the seed of an essential economic truth: empowered labor would
help distribute wealth more evenly, producing larger, more
prosperous working classes and a stronger, demand-driven economy.
In the aftermath of the market failure of 1929, the Democratic
Party recognized the need for an infrastructure of resources
that would allow working people to build economic security
for themselves and their families. To achieve this it would
be necessary to reform the banking and credit structures,
ensure a stable retirement for workers, and bring quality
health care within reach. These have been Democratic goals
Are you seeing a theme here, Randy? Democrats stand for two
things: keeping control of the government in the hands of
its citizens - all citizens, not just the wealthy special
interests - and using government as a tool to build a better
society for everyone.
I think that about covers it, and thanks for asking Auntie
you have a question for Auntie Pinko?
Do political discussions discombobulate you? Are you a liberal
at a loss for words when those darned dittoheads babble their
endless rhetoric at you? Or are you a conservative who just
can't understand those pesky liberals and their silliness?
Auntie Pinko has an answer for everything! So ask away!