What is a Democrat?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Currently, there are two major political parties that dominate American politics: the Democratic party and the Republican party. A Democrat identifies with the centrist-to-left wing ideals of the Democratic party, while a Republican identifies with the centrist-to-right wing ideals of the Republican party. While an individual voter may not agree with every position taken by his or her chosen political party, a Democrat tends to believe in a progressive social agenda, workers' rights, diplomacy over military action, and a clear separation between church and state.

Democratic leaders, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, have historically supported government intervention in the economy.
Democratic leaders, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, have historically supported government intervention in the economy.

Members of the Democratic party may identify themselves as politically or socially conservative, moderate or liberal. Historically, the party has appealed to academics and professionals with progressive to liberal leanings, although there is a faction of so-called "Blue Dog" Democrats who espouse political conservatism while endorsing socially progressive programs. Many of these conservatives are from Southern states that have recently moved to the political right.

Democrats tend to favor expansive entitlement programs and open immigration.
Democrats tend to favor expansive entitlement programs and open immigration.

The Democratic party has also aligned itself with the plight of minority populations and the economically challenged. Members generally believe that the federal and state governments have an obligation to provide essential services for citizens in need, as well as legal recognition and protection for oppressed or poorly represented minority groups. Social Security, public welfare, and food stamp programs are the direct result of Democratic presidencies.

Some Democratic leaders, such as Lyndon Johnson, are famous for supporting workers' rights.
Some Democratic leaders, such as Lyndon Johnson, are famous for supporting workers' rights.

A Democrat may also strongly support the needs and rights of workers over the demands of management. Establishing a federal minimum wage was accomplished during Democratic president Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, for example. Many labor unions gained strength during this party's administrations as well. The Civil Right Act of 1965 was enacted during Democratic president Lyndon B. Johnson's time in office. Democratic president Bill Clinton also signed a law allowing workers to take unpaid leaves of absence during times of family need.

The Democratic Party's symbol is a donkey.
The Democratic Party's symbol is a donkey.

Many people who consider themselves part of this group also support the idea of universal health care for all citizens, a concept that led to the development of Medicaid and Medicare. A woman's right to choices about her own reproductive health is also a platform for the Democratic party, which was tested most notably during the Supreme Court case Roe vs Wade. The controversial right to seek out a legal abortion continues to be a source of strong disagreement between the Democratic and Republican parties. Another divisive issue is the use of capital punishment, with many Democrats believe should be abolished entirely, or at least severely restricted.

Many Democrats support the idea of universal health care for all citizens.
Many Democrats support the idea of universal health care for all citizens.

A member of the Democratic party is free to form his or her own opinion on the party's general political stances or candidates, as is a member of the Republican party. The national parties, however, do hold primaries and caucuses to determine the political candidates who best represent the ideals of the parties as a whole. A registered Democrat votes for the candidate who best represent his or her own political viewpoint, and the winners become the official candidates of the party.

Some politically active Democratic party members may become delegates to the national convention or even receive appointments to higher office if a Democratic candidate wins the election. He or she can also assist with grassroots lobbying efforts or work on a favored candidate's election campaign.

Latino and other minority populations have generally supported the Democratic Party in recent decades.
Latino and other minority populations have generally supported the Democratic Party in recent decades.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Jabuka you are so wrong. Wait till you are disabled and have worked hard all your life and there is no other way to survive without social security and Medicare. Such foolish thoughts indeed!


We can all sit back and gripe about it, or do the right thing. Together we are strong.


The main purpose of the American government is to defend the American people. Period. It is not and should never be the responsibility of the government to support anyone.

I am 24 and I would like to make something of myself, and from now on I will be getting penalized to make more money. I guess I am just a jerk, but I think that this should be the greatest country in the world and supposedly I have to pay for everyone else who doesn't want to work. Get rid of every substitute that has to do with everything and let's make some money.


I believe it's the Civil Rights Act, and it's definitely Roe v. Wade (attorneys don't use vs.).


To be a democrat you must not believe in a Constitution or a written rule of law. When all is said and done, that means democrats believe might makes right. That can be seen in their verbal attacks on anyone who doesn't see things their way. It can be seen in their physical attacks when the mob gets big enough and in their threats of violence.

One could reasonably argue they believe in secular humanism, where they see themselves as god of all others. Those like Al Gore seem to see themselves as gods of the heavens and earth. Do democrats attack the Christian church? Absolutely! Do they attack the religion of Islam? Absolutely not. They understand full well the notion of might makes right and they know Muslims have more power than they.

As there is no rule of law other than might, democrats are prone to join "movements" for the power they can get. Frequently these are emotional causes as democrats emote rather than think. The one power they need to get rid of so they can totally dominate is the U.S. Military. I have no way of proving this, but I believe the core hatred for the military goes back to the Civil War when democrats supported slavery and were denied their power over blacks by the military. Think of the dixiecrats who fought desegregation, Woodrow Wilson who was a clansman and ordered segregation in the military, Robert Byrd - another clansman. All since the Civil War have been at war with the military.

Look at some of their leaders: Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barack Obama are all class and race baiters. Other "notables" are Larry Flynt, John Edwards, Harry Reid, the criminal Kennedy clan The Communist Party USA endorses Barack Obama, as does the socialist party in America. A large number of democratic party representatives in the house are part of the "democratic socialists".

This is not representative of what the Constitution calls for. The most important is the limited power of government, more power to the states, and most power to individuals. These are all things the democratic party cannot live with and that is why see Eric Holder suing states more than any AG. The government wants to strangle the middle class with high taxes, high energy costs, high food costs, high medical costs, and giving what money the middle class has to those who would rather live on welfare.


Hey Jabuka, wake the hell up. Ever heard of Ben Franklin? It's time to put people in positions of power who are smart enough to be inventors.

Why not invent a few jobs? Small business is exactly that, small! It's not the ideal of the small business person to open a store and rape his employees. Most small business owners create low end jobs, and maintain loyalty to their valued employees, and increase their pay as well as increase their business.

You don't have to treat people poorly to own a business or create a job.


So lets go. Remember what a wise president once said (who died for his beliefs) "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Got lead in your underwear? Let's snap to it.


the reason we need help is because these so called leaders have totally unbalanced the american way of life. sent jobs to places were they are paid very little for the work we did to try to keep up with government constantly raising prices of food, gas, housing you name it. neither the demos or the republicans will fix this mess. it will get worse.


I am currently writing a paper on what makes a democrat and what they believe in. If anyone with any help would like to help, it would be very helpful. thank you


Not sure if I agree. True we should not be dependent on the government but at the same time, if people need help and the government is willing and able, then so be it. My only problem is when people act like it's their only way to survive.


jabuka, I don't know who you are, but you need to run for office! I have never seen the Democrats' (which I used to consider myself) shortcomings so clearly and succinctly laid out. Brilliant.

Although certain safeguards must be put in place to prevent serious damage being done to citizens by large corporations, people must be free and expected to take care of themselves.

All of the pieces are in place. We have a great constitution and no excuse. In the end, this country will rise or fall on the character of its citizens, not its leadership. -- Nightowl4272


good points. Jabuka, you're cute when you talk politics.


Unfortunately, lately I think democratic party in United States is focusing more on the rights of each individual rather than on the responsibilities that each citizen has in a democratic society. All of it at the expense of law abiding, hard working, mind my own business type of a citizen.

That philosophy builds up bigger and bigger government that needs to manage social programs and restricts free enterprise. In that environment citizens loose in their freedom because of all the regulations imposed by the government.

In the long run this type of governing is not sustainable. If too many roadblocks are thrown in front of people, fewer and fewer will work hard and create new businesses and invent new products, a necessary part of a prosperous society, where its citizens are alive, proactive and creative.

After all, the government does not create anything, it can only legislate and either help or hinder progress.

As our forefathers wisely stated, we have the right to liberty, justice, and pursuit of happiness. None of us have any "right" to health care, welfare or any kind of other "care". None of these programs are sustainable for a long time, an example would be social security.

As more and more people believe they have the "right" to any kind of a social program, and fewer people contribute in terms of creating something, like a farmer would, or a manufacturer would, the coffers eventually dry up.

Lets grow up and take responsibility. Lets not wait with our hands extended for help from the government. Grown, mature people take care of themselves and their own. They do not wait for handouts.

Post your comments
Forgot password?