Friday, May 18, 2012

Et Tu, Democrats?


Lou Hough

About the only thing my sources agree about on the beginnings of the Democratic Party is that it is the oldest existing party.  Some sources believe it started with Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party and others that it started later with Andrew Jackson's presidential campaign -- with his committee to elect him being the beginning.  Whether it began from remnants of an older party or had a fresh start, it is fairly clear that its policies now are no more like the ones at its start than are those of the Republican Party, which was last month's blog topic.

Early on, the Party espoused a strict interpretation of the Constitution and believed in small government, especially at the federal level.  It was not until the depression, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that the federal government first expanded.  His measures to save the country from the depression seemed to require federal intervention, a level of interference with which even some Democrats disagreed.

At first the party was popular with farmers, plantation owners, bankers and urban laborers.  These groups all believed in small government and states rights.  Members of the Party quarreled often over slavery, banking and tariffs.  Most of the quarreling was over slavery, of course, peeking with the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  These issues resulted in the beginnings of the Republican Party. 

After this, the south became largely Democratic, which is not necessarily the case at this time.  Democrats fought for reform in both the government and private sectors, causing the parties to become quite similar over time.  However, the Democrats now seem to favor social and entitlement programs, which Republicans do not.  Republicans favor, in theory, a "hands off" government approach, all the while wanting to regulate personal choices of individuals.  Both parties have changed enough over time as to no longer resemble their original form.

Democrats seem to be more oriented toward Civil Rights and helping those less well off than themselves.  Even Democrats from the one percent holding most of the country's wealth are more likely to want the entitlements that help others.

The parties are so dissimilar in beliefs at this point, that they can barely get a piece of legislation through Congress. 

Lou Hough, B. S. in Journalism, SIU, Carbondale, IL; M. A. in Educational Research and Psychology, UMKC, Kansas City, MO; All But Dissertation, School Psychology, KU, Lawrence, KS.  Lou Hough can be reached at  (this is the only correct address at this time).

Publications include Changes, a novel; and Food for the Soul:  A Book of Devotional Essays.  Both were published by Jamie Carr Publications in 2004.  Changes is available through Barnes and Noble on-line service.  If interested in Food for the Soul, please write Ms. Hough at the e-mail address.