Difference between Democrats and Republicans

Updated on March 8, 2017

Democrats and Republicans differ in so many ways and often disagree on various issues affecting the country. This article aims to lay out the differences between these two major political parties in the US.


The donkey is a popular symbol of the Democratic Party

Democrats form one of the two main political parties in the US. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison saw the beginnings of the political party with their own Democratic-Republic party. In 1828, Andrew Jackson established the Democratic Party we know today and the party is the oldest active political group in the world.

Democratic ideals were once based on social conservatism and classical liberalism. Today, the Democratic Party is composed mainly of progressives, “moderates” (or centrists), and a smaller group of conservative Democrats. Democrats uphold the principles of modern liberalism and advocate social and economic equality and the welfare state. A government-regulated economy, effective implementation of social programs, support for labor groups and affordable college education are some of the party’s fundamental policies. Democrats also believe in the utmost importance of providing equal opportunities, a universal health care system, consumer protection and the preservation of the environment. Democrats also believe that non-violent crimes (e.g. drug trafficking) should merit lighter penalties. In addition, Democrats question the efficacy of any forms of capital punishment. In terms of social issues, Democrats have an open stance on abortion, gay marriage and LGBT issues. They also believe in the enforcement of stricter gun laws.

There have been fourteen Democratic presidents so far, with Andrew Jackson being the first and Barack Obama being the most recent.

The elephant is a symbol of the Republican Party

The Republicans, or commonly called the Grand Old Party (GOP), is the historic rival of the Democratic Party and was formed in 1854. The party was named after its dominant value, republicanism. Republicans dominated the political landscape of the nation, including most of the northern States during the 1860s until the early 1930s.

American conservatism forms the current core principles of the Republican party. Its platform involves supporting free trade, free market capitalism and fiscal conservatism (strict government spending). Republicans believe in a strong national defense and a less-involved government in the national economy. The Republican party supports social conservatism, that is, they seek to integrate Christian values in policy making. They strongly oppose abortion and gay marriage. Republicans also believe that tax cuts should be applied to people and corporations across all income levels. Republicans are divided when it comes to the highly controversial issue of illegal immigration. Case in point: the White House, along with the Republican-led Senate, passed a law in 2006 allowing millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens. However, the Republican-led House did not allow the bill to advance.

While Republicans recognize the importance of social programs, they want less government spending on food stamps, welfare and unemployment benefits. They would rather support private organizations involved in social work. Republicans are of the belief that government intervention in healthcare should be non-existent. They warn that government involvement in health care services will only drive up costs and bring down the quality of health services.

Nineteen Republican presidents have served as US presidents. Abraham Lincoln was the first president from the Republican Party, while Donald Trump is the recently-elected US president.

Democrats vs Republicans

So, what’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans? Democrats strongly believe in modern liberalism and upholding the welfare state in support of social and economic equality. Republicans, on the other hand, are American conservatives at the core, and believe in conservative economic and social policy-making.

White they both agree that there should be tax cuts, Democrats believe it should only be given to middle income and low income families. Republicans would rather have it extended to corporations and to people of all income brackets. When it comes to wages, Democrats favor increases to the minimum wage to improve the people’s purchasing power. Republicans see lower wages as a way to keep costs down so people can afford more products and services.

Comparison Chart

Moderate liberalismAmerican conservatism
Regulate business and economyFree market and free capitalism
Taxes should fund social programsLesser and stricter funding on social programs
Support alternative energy solutionsAllow corporations to decide which energy sources are practical


Here’s a great YouTube video talking about Democrats and Republicans