What Sets Democrats and Republicans Apart?

The American political system is primarily composed of two major parties, namely the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Both parties have a significant influence on American politics since they have been in existence for many years. Despite the two parties sharing a few similarities, such as their quest for America’s progress and prosperity, several differences set them apart. This article will focus on the differences between Democrats and Republicans.

History of the Democratic and Republican Parties

The Democratic Party came into existence during the 1820s and 1830s under the leadership of President Andrew Jackson. The party was established to address the issues of the working class, and it advocated for a limited government. In contrast, the Republican Party originated in 1854, and the main objective was to stop the spread of slavery in Kansas and Nebraska. The party succeeded in electing their first president, Abraham Lincoln, in 1860.

Democratic Party

The Democratic Party is known for its liberal policies, including advocating for civil rights, social welfare programs, and progressive tax policies. They strongly believe in the government’s active role in helping citizens and promoting social justice. The following are some of the highlights of the Democratic Party’s policies:

  • Support public education, and advocate for debt-free college education.
  • Believe in universal healthcare coverage and the enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Advocate for social welfare programs, such as food stamps, housing assistance, and unemployment insurance.
  • Protection of the environment by promoting green energy and combating climate change.
  • Supports a progressive tax structure, which requires wealthy citizens to pay a more significant portion of their income in taxes.
  • Advocate for civil rights and social justice, including equal representation of women and minorities in leadership positions.

Republican Party

The Republican Party advocates for conservative policies, such as a limited government, free market capitalism, and lower taxes. They support the idea that individuals should be responsible for their well-being, and the government should not interfere in their personal lives. The following are some of the Republican Party’s policies:

  • Supports a conservative tax policy, which emphasizes reducing tax rates and promoting the private sector.
  • Believe that government regulation should be limited, and that the private sector should lead in economic development.
  • Advocate for a robust national defense system.
  • Oppose universal healthcare policies and promote a free-market healthcare system.
  • Support strict immigration policies, such as building a border wall and increasing border security.
  • Emphasize the importance of individual rights, including the right to bear arms, and oppose strict gun control laws.

The Differences in the Party’s Philosophies

The main differences between Democrats and Republicans are primarily based on their philosophical positions. Democrats generally support bigger government and believe it should play an active role in solving social issues, while Republicans advocate for smaller government and promote individual rights and freedoms. Below are the primary differences in the party’s philosophies.

Role of Government

The Democratic Party believes that the government should be proactive in tackling social problems and that the government should collect higher taxes to fund social programs. Republicans take a different view and believe that lower taxes and limited government are essential to preserve individual freedom.


The economy is one of the most significant areas of difference between Democrats and Republicans. The two parties have different views on how the government should handle the economy. Democrats believe that the government has the right to intervene in the economy to promote social welfare programs, while Republicans advocate for free-market capitalism, where the private sector controls the economy.

Social Issues

The parties take fundamental different sides when it comes to social issues. Democrats believe in protecting individuals’ rights regarding abortion, LGBT rights, and other issues of social justice. Republicans, on the other hand, advocate for conservative values and strong family values, including pro-life and religion-protected rights.

The Differences in Political Leaderships

The differences between the Republican and Democratic parties come down to the leaders’ personalities and communications styles. Republican Party leaders typically have a more reserved and defiant style, while Democratic Party leaders often have a more cooperative and friendly way of communicating. This difference has led to Republican leaders focusing more on national security and defense, while Democratic leaders prioritize education and healthcare as social policy goals.

Case Study: Donald Trump & Joe Biden

The presidential elections in 2020 saw Donald Trump facing off against Joe Biden. Trump has always been known for his divisive communication style and is a Republican Party leader. In contrast, Joe Biden, the Democratic Party leader, was known for his inclusive communication style. This difference in personality led to Trump focusing on preventing illegal immigration and strengthening national defense policies, while Biden focused on policies such as climate change and education.

The Role of Media in Shaping Party Discourse

The media plays a significant role in shaping American’s political discourse. The media has taken on a more significant role in American politics, and partisan news outlets have become more prevalent over the years, as each party tries to present its message through these channels. The two parties see the media’s role in totally contrasting ways, resulting in different narratives. Republicans often view mainstream media outlets as supporting Democratic policies and accusations of biased reporting. In contrast, Democrats advocate for a free press that provides unbiased news.


In conclusion, the Democratic Party and Republican Party have different philosophies, political leadership styles, and media narratives. The political leaders’ personalities often shape how they come across, and the media sees the parties in contrasts, painting their policy goals differently. Understanding the difference between these two parties allows citizens to make educated decisions when deciding who to vote for during the election cycle.

List of Most Common Questions and Answers

  • What is the difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party?
    • The Democratic Party takes a more progressive stance and advocates for a more significant government role in solving social problems, while the Republican Party takes a conservative approach, promoting individual responsibility and emphasizing smaller government.
  • What are the Democratic and Republican Parties’ core beliefs?
    • The Democratic Party’s core beliefs include social justice, civil rights, and a robust government role in promoting social welfare programs; the Republican Party’s beliefs include individual freedom, free-market capitalism, and smaller government regulations.
  • What role does the media play in shaping political discourse?
    • The media plays a significant role in shaping political discourse by providing different narratives and perspectives on political issues. Additionally, some partisan media outlets present their views, leading to contrasting narratives that shape citizens’ opinions.


  • Gelman, A., Park, D., Shor, B., Bafumi, J., & Cortina, J. (2008). Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do. Princeton University Press.
  • Gross, J. R. (2019). Why does party polarization affect education policy?: The impact of negative policy feedback on education policy preferences. Policy Studies Journal, 47(4), 980-1002.
  • Putnam, R. D. (2007). E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century the 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture. Scandinavian Political Studies, 30(2), 137-174.

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