Apathy In Government

In addition to being the oldest existing political party in the United States, the Democratic Party is also the oldest in the entire world. Officially started in 1792 and founded by such federalists as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the Democratic Party has long been a driving force in American politics.

At first called the Democratic-Republican Party, the party split into two factions in 1824, one of which eventually became the Democratic Party.

Democratic Party State Structure

While each state varies in its party organization, each state has Democratic Party divisions at the local levels as well as at the higher state level.

For example, in Washington the first level of organization begins with the voting precinct, and several precincts together form a Legislative District. The Legislative Districts make up the County Central Committee, and all the counties together make up the state party. But this is just one state’s organization, and it does vary across the country.

However, every state in the United States does have a state committee made up of elected committee members from within that state. Those committee members will elect the state chairman. Other officials may be elected at the local level.

Traditionally, the party at the state or local level has had minimal funding. This began to change, however, in 2005 with a new program called the 50 State Strategy. This system uses funds from the Democratic National Committee to assist the individual state parties and pay for full-time staff members.

Democratic National Committee and Convention

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the largest and most important group within the Democratic Party. Officially, this group writes the Democratic Platform. In reality, however, it focuses on elections, campaigns and organizational strategy. Every four years this group supervises the Democratic National Convention.

The Democratic National Committee began in 1848. Today it is responsible for promoting the Democratic political platform and coordinating the party’s fundraising and election strategies.

During the Democratic National Convention, delegates nominate and confirm a candidate for president and vice president, form a comprehensive party platform and attempt to unify the party.

Additional National Organizations

Other committees exist to help the Democratic Party run efficiently and ensure election victories:

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) helps all Democratic Party candidates running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) aids all Democratic gubernatorial candidates.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) helps party candidates running for the Senate.

To help ensure that the party has strong leadership in the future, the DNC also sponsors the College Democrats of America (CDA) and the Young Democrats of America (YDA).

Democratic Party Role in American Politics

As the nation’s largest party, with 72 million Americans registered as Democrats as of 2004 (42.6 percent of the population), Democrats wield tremendous influence. The Republican Party, by contrast, has only 55 million registered voters (32.5 percent of the population).

However, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt: The Democratic Party is far more fractured than the Republican Party, as its members are divided between two large groups: the working class (who tend to be conservative on social issues) and the well-educated, fairly affluent liberals.

The Democratic Party tends to dominate:

  • along the west coast
  • in the Northeast, Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes Region
  • in major cities.

Democratic Beliefs vs. Republican Beliefs

In spite of the two-party system, American politics can be complicated to understand since each of the major parties encompasses several different groups and beliefs. On the whole, however, the Democratic Party is to the left side of the spectrum.

While in the past the Democrats could be described as the liberal party, this has shifted in recent years as Democrats have become more central. The party does still advocate civil liberties, equal rights and free enterprise. They also believe in the government helping to alleviate poverty and helping those who are less fortunate, even if it requires higher taxes.

This differs from America’s other major political party, the Republican Party. Unlike Democrats, the Republican Party is mostly conservative on politics, social issues and the economy. Its beliefs focus on lower taxes instead of social welfare programs.

One faction of the Republican Party believes strongly in government intervention on moral and religious issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, while another faction believes in more limited government. In recent years, the religious right has become much more influential within the Republican Party and has pursued a far more conservative belief system.

Democratic Party vs. the Socialist Party

On the other side of the political spectrum lies the Socialist Party, which has been growing rapidly in the 21st century. Socialists describe themselves as a democratic socialist party, being against Soviet-style communism as well as capitalism.

The party wants to eliminate big businesses in favor of a classless society and also wants a more international and equal world. The Socialist Party strives to end racism, sexism, heterosexism and homophobia. While one section of the party wants to work with progressive Democrats, others feel this will turn them into a mere splinter group and want to remain more independent.