Republican or Democratic? Understanding the Key Differences

By Steve Dobo

In this post I will attempt to lay the fundamental beliefs of both parties (Democratic and Republican) because I feel many people do not understand the key differences.

First, the Republicans believe in having a government in the form of a republic.  Hence, they are defined by the term “Republican.”  This form of government believes in having elected officials by the people, for the people.  In other words, they believe in having a representative government.  Democrats, however, believe in “mob rule,” or the rule of the people.  One dictionary defines it as “a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them rather than by elected representatives” (The American College Encyclopedic Dictionary).

Second, Republicans have a strong belief in holding to the Constitution.  They are often labeled “Conservative” because of this belief.  Whatever it says, we must follow, is the general consensus among Republicans.  However, Democrats believe that each new generation faces different kinds of problems that may or may not be addressed in the Constitution.  Thus, they are many times labeled “liberal” for taking this view of the Constitution.  They believe that the Constitution must represent the times in which we live and should be amended when necessary.

Thirdly, Republicans believe in the ideal of having a “limited government.”  This means they believe that the government should only exercise the power that is given to them within the Constitution.  In general, they believe the sole purpose of the government is to protect (have a strong military) and collect taxes for essential things.  For the most part, however, they believe a government should stay out of the private lives of the people they govern.  Republicans generally frown on regulations of businesses and work hard to protect the freedoms of the people in their constituency.

On the contrary, most Democrats believe that great achievements to help humanity can happen through government intervention; hence, they are labeled as believing in “big government.”  For example, they believe in making new laws to help social progress.  Democratic administrations often pass labor and wage laws in an attempt to control the greed and injustices of businesses taking advantage of their control of wealth.  This government intervention has also happened in the form of civil rights and suffrage laws that have gone into effect from democratic policies.

Fourth, both differ on economic policies.  Democrats believe that great things can be achieved through generating revenue via taxes.  For example, the new health care bill demonstrates the belief that all citizens should have health care.  They are also given the label “liberal” because of their generous use of tax revenue.  All in all they believe that high spending is necessary if we are to provide a great place to live for the inhabitants of our country.  This is evidenced by their support of social programs such as social security, medicare, health care, food stamps, etc.

Republicans believe the opposite.  Their view of spending is labeled “conservative” because they do not believe in using revenue primarily to support social programs.  They tend to believe that these social programs are not rights that should be given to people, but privileges.  For example, recently a Republican Congressional Representative, Paul Ryan, introduced a bill that plans to help balance the budget by gradually reducing spending for social programs.  They feel that government is putting the country into debt under the guise of helping people.

There are also differences in how people view who each party is really trying to help. Democrats are traditionally viewed as helping the poor.  Their plethora of social programs proves this belief.  Furthermore, Democrats traditionally favor taxing the rich rather than the middle class or poor.  They believe in what is called a “bottom-up” mentality when it comes to taxes.  By helping the little man, the economy is bound to get better is the underlying belief of this ideal.

Republicans on the other hand are viewed as helping the rich.  They believe in a “trickle-down” effect of economics.  They generally believe that if you make it hard for the rich, by taxing them, you will make it hard for everyone.  If the entrepreneurs are taxed, they will have a hard time growing their businesses, and thus, there will be less jobs and opportunities for the common man.  Republicans argue that in taxing the rich, we are hurting everyone’s ability to succeed and achieve the American Dream.

This list of differences is not exhaustive, but I hope it has provided a general framework for you to understand the fundamental differences between the two parties.  In my next piece, I hope to show that regardless of where your political affections lie at this point, you will see that there is an ultimate allegiance we have as Christian’s.  We will explore what the Bible says about government to see how it should influence the way we vote in any election.

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