Democratic Party is one of the two main political parties in the United States of America- the other party is called the Republican Party. This party has gone through several changes in its ideologies- previously, the party was aligned towards slavery, and had no place for civil rights in their manifesto. But soon, they changed their agenda to champion the rights of the minorities, organized labor, and progressive reforms. The extremely prejudiced way of politics that the Democratic Party displayed at the end of the Civil War was to garner votes from the Confederacy. But soon, they had to undergo a massive ideological shift in their politics. With a deal signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1930, the Democratic Party has been quite vocal about their support towards governmental interference into the national economy, but not into the private matters of individuals. Although the original logo of the party has always been the donkey, it was never popularized or used due to its obvious negative connotations. The Democratic party candidates 2020 are quite ahead of the Republic Party candidates due to their agenda of communal harmony and policy of tolerance.
History of the Democratic Party
The Democratic Party is certainly one of the oldest parties in the world, apart from being the oldest in the USA. The party traces its lineage to Thomas Jefferson’s followers who took up the Republican name in 1792 to show their anti-monarchical views. The main agenda of this party was to establish a decentralized government, and the party also called themselves the Jeffersonian Republicans. In the meanwhile, Alexander Hamilton created a new party called the Federalists, who advocated for a strong government at the center.
The two parties constantly struggled as the Federalists believed that the Republicans were truly Democratic-Republicans owing to their supposed affiliation with the radical democrats of the French Revolution. When John Adams of the Federalist Party became the President in 1796, the Republican Party became the first Opposition party in the Parliament and took on the name Democratic-Republican. But when Jefferson defeated Adams in the Presidential Elections of 1800, the era of the Democratic-Republicans was ushered in as subsequent Presidents James Madison and James Monroe upheld the party agenda. Slowly, the Federalists went out of power, and the Democratic-Republicans became the only party at the helm.
In 1820, newer laws came into existence, which allowed for people to directly vote for their Presidents, rather than those appointed by State Legislature. This resulted in the unified party breaking into factions as each side elected a candidate for the Presidency. With Crawford nominated by the caucus, and Andrew Jackson along with John Quincy Adams throwing their hat into the ring, it was Henry Clay who threw in his support with Adams after none of the candidates got enough votes to constitute a clear majority. With no one getting enough votes, the election was deposed by the House of Representatives, where Clay supported Adams for the position in exchange for Secretary of the State.
Even though John Adams secured a victory, the rising tensions between Adams and Jackson never fully recovered The supporters of Adams started calling themselves the Republicans, for they represented the Eastern interests, while the supporters of Jackson began terming themselves the Democrats owing to their allegiances to the West and the South. In the Presidential Elections of 1828, Jackson defeated Adams, and in the Maryland Convention of 1932, the supporters of Jackson nominated him for the Presidency and drafted a party agenda which stated that anyone nominated for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency would have to secure two-thirds of the votes of the party. This norm led to several dozen ballots being held at conventions, simply to nominate a leader. Although Jackson still won the 1832 elections, most of his own supporters defected to form the Whig Party along with Republicans- for they were completely disillusioned by the rule of ‘King Andrew’.
Slavery and the emergence of the bipartisan system
Till 1856, the Democrats enjoyed considerable power in the parliaments, winning every election but two. But in the wake of the Civil War, there began internal disputes in the party as the Southern Democrats advocated for slavery to prevail in the South and West, but the Northern Democrats decided to leave every state to decide its conditions through a referendum. This major issue led to a split in the Democratic Party, as the South voted for Breckinridge, while the other faction nominated Douglas for the Presidency. But the 1860 Presidential Elections also saw the rise of Abraham Lincoln from the Republican Party- as they were strongly opposed to slavery. Interestingly, this newly formed Republican Party was not related to the one created by Thomas Jefferson. With this rift in the Democratic Party visible for everyone, Lincoln secured the majority of the votes and held the Oval Office.
The election of the 1860s and the subsequent rise of Lincoln as one of the greatest American Presidents in history had far-reaching consequences. This election has often been considered to be one of the most critical election, as it shaped the politics of the nation. Not only did it lead to changing loyalties, and defection, but it also ensured that the USA would always host a two-party system.
Since the 1860s, both the Republicans and the Democrats were in power in Congress throughout the 19th century. Although the Democratic Party didn’t win the election most of the times, except when George Cleveland secured the Presidency, they had managed to control the entirety of the South- owing to their strict anti-minority laws, and the white Americans blaming the Republicans for the Civil War that somewhat devastated the nation.
It is quite interesting to note that even though the Fifteenth Amendment had been passed in Congress, the Democrats employed physical intimidation and repressive legislation to make sure that the minorities couldn’t vote. Goes without saying, the party was inherently conservative, with a focus towards agrarian developments. They preferred policies that had cheap-money and generally hated big businesses that were urban in nature.
A difficult transition to progressivism
The first half of the 20th century was quite disastrous for the Democratic Party as they could only win under Woodrow Wilson- which was considered a lucky shot by many political scientists. Wilson won, simply because the Republicans were divided in their vote against William Taft and Teddy Roosevelt. Although he did bring in some major progressive reforms in the government and led America to war in WWI, he was criticized for his internationalism and idealism which was considered to be futile amidst the prosperity that America faced in the 1920s. The Republicans were all in favor of big businesses, and Wilson’s insistence to break down business monopolies led to the Democrats losing the Presidential elections of 1920, 1924, and 1928 consecutively.
The New Deal coalition
There was a change in the horizon with the 1932 elections, as the Democratic Party came to power in a major way- replacing the Republicans in every hemisphere of the USA. The Great Depression, and the Stock Market crash had disillusioned the people to the Republican rule, and they were looking for a change in the way the country was governed. The Democratic Party was led by Franklin Roosevelt who brought in major reforms that would pave the way for the Democrats to control Congress for close to the 1990s. He brought his New Deal out- a coalition that involved everyone including small farmers, laborers, immigrants, reformers, intellectuals, liberals- everyone under the same banner. He also reinforced a statutory minimum wage and social security- something that got him reelected in 1936, 1940, and 1944- and the Democrats held the Presidency till 1952.
The civil rights era
After WWII, where President Dwight Eisenhower won elections in 1952 and 1956, it was John F. Kennedy who regained the Presidency for the Democrats after defeating Richard Nixon. In this period of political turbulence, the Democrats kept losing power despite being morally righteous. Their decisions to upheld Civil Rights, and keep up with racial desegregation led to many Southern supporters relinquishing support. The subsequent Presidencies of Truman, Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson led to massive revolts in the Southern states. Johnson had to face the brunt of it, due to the disapproval of the public over the Vietnam War. With Kennedy’s assassination, and Johnson’s refusal to nominate himself for reelection, the Democrat split in a lot of ways. In the end, Richard Nixon ended up securing the Oval Office for the Republicans.
Joe Biden and Kamal Harris lead the Democratic Party candidates 2020 after the party lost the 2016 Presidential Elections to Republican candidate Donald Trump. The Democratic Party had nominated Hillary Clinton, who despite winning the popular vote, couldn’t secure enough votes to win the Electoral college. This resulted in the Republicans securing both chambers of Congress, which the Democrats have won in recent times.