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The Democratic Party includes a diverse group of individuals who typically emphasize the need for a greater role of the federal government in promoting social, economic and political opportunities for all citizens. The party typically argues for more government control over economic matters and less government control over individual rights.
The symbol of the donkey for the Democratic Party is said to have stemmed from Andrew Jackson. His opposition called him a "jackass." Instead of taking it as an insult, he chose to adopt this as a symbol. This, in turn, became the symbol of the Democratic Party.
Democratic National Committee
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) provides national leadership and is the principal organization governing the Democratic Party of the United States. While it is responsible for overseeing the process of writing and promoting a platform every four years, the DNC's central focus is on campaign, fundraising, political activity and election strategy in support of Democratic Party candidates and not on public policy. The DNC was established at the 1848 Democratic National Convention.
Its main counterpart is the Republican National Committee.
The Democratic Party is considered to be the older and more liberal of the two major political parties in the United States.
Both the Democratic Party and Republican Party originated as one, single party. This party was called the Democratic-Republican Party, and it was organized by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1792. The purpose of the Democratic-Republican Party was to stand in opposition against the Federalist Party, who had supported and pushed through the ratification of the United States Constitution, in upcoming elections. The party came into power with Thomas Jefferson’s election in 1801 and held the nation’s highest office through the election of Andrew Jackson in 1824. Jackson’s election was contentious, however, with the party dividing its support between him and John Quincy Adams. Soon after the 1824 election, the party officially split into the National Republicans (led by Adams and Henry Clay) and the Democratic Party (led by Jackson). It adopted its present name during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson in the 1830s.
In the 1840s and 1950s, the party was in conflict over extending slavery to the Western territories. The party split in 1960 over the unresolved issue of slavery. This resulted in the election of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Bitterness over the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction caused southern states to become Democratic for the next 100 years, during which time they wielded considerable control over the party.
By the 1900s, the Democratic Party evolved from its original platform, favoring more government oversight and regulation in business and economic affairs. These began with the progressive policies of the Wilson administration and deepened after the Great Depression with the founding of various social assistance programs that still continue to this day. In addition, the Democratic Party moved towards a more liberal interpretation of the United States Constitution.
Another factor that contributed to the evolution of the Democratic Party was religious affiliation. The Republicans of the North were mostly Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregationalist, while most Democrats were Catholic, Episcopalian and German Lutheran. Because of this sharp division, issues like prohibition became difficult to settle. Similar to the current political atmosphere, the Republicans then believed that the government should interfere with morality issues, like drinking alcohol, to protect citizens from sin, while Democrats felt that the government should not be allowed to make religious or moral legislation.
Over the next century, both the Democratic and Republican parties began to materialize into the polarized, two-party system that we have today.
For more than 200 years, our party has led the fight for civil rights, health care, Social Security, workers' rights, and women's rights. We are the party of Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, FDR, and the countless everyday Americans who work each day to build a more perfect union...
We've reined in a financial system that was out of control and delivered the toughest consumer protections ever enacted.
We've reworked our student loan system to make higher education more affordable and won the fight for equal pay for women.
We passed the Recovery Act, which created or helped to save millions of jobs and made unprecedented investments in the major pillars of our country.
From America's beginnings to today, people have turned to Democrats to meet our country's most pressing challenges—and pave the way for a future that lifts up all Americans.
1920s: 19th Amendment: Woman’s Suffrage
Under the leadership of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. Constitution was amended to grant women the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee's became the 36th state to ratify women's suffrage, and it became our nation's 19th amendment.
In the 1930s, Americans turned to Democrats and elected President Franklin Roosevelt to end the Great Depression. President Roosevelt offered Americans a New Deal that put people back to work, stabilized farm prices, and brought electricity to rural homes and communities.
Under President Roosevelt, Social Security established a promise that lasts to this day: growing old would never again mean growing poor.
1935: Social Security Act
One of the most enduring parts of FDR's New Deal, the Social Security Act provides assistance to retirees, the unemployed, widows, and orphans. By signing this act, FDR was the first president to advocate for federal assistance for the elderly. It was largely opposed by Republican legislators.
In 1944, FDR signed the G.I. Bill—a historic measure that provided unprecedented benefits for soldiers returning from World War II, including low-cost mortgages, loans to start a business, and tuition and living expenses for those seeking higher education. Harry Truman helped rebuild Europe after World War II with the Marshall Plan and oversaw the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. By integrating the military, President Truman helped to bring down barriers of race and gender and pave the way the way for civil rights advancements in the years that followed.
In the 1960s, Americans again turned to Democrats and elected President John Kennedy to tackle the challenges of a new era. President Kennedy dared Americans to put a man on the moon, created the Peace Corps, and negotiated a treaty banning atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
And after President Kennedy's assassination, Americans looked to President Lyndon Johnson, who offered a new vision of a Great Society and signed into law the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.
1964: Civil Rights Act
This landmark piece of legislation outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women and prohibited racial segregation. Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, it ended unequal voting requirements and segregated schools, workplaces, and public facilities.
President Johnson's enactment of Medicare was a watershed moment in America's history that redefined our country's commitment to our seniors—offering a new promise that all Americans have the right to a healthy retirement.
In 1976, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Americans elected Jimmy Carter to restore dignity to the White House. He created the Departments of Education and Energy and helped to forge a lasting peace between Israel and Egypt.
In 1992, after 12 years of Republican presidents, record budget deficits and high unemployment, Americans turned to Democrats once again and elected Bill Clinton to get America moving again. President Clinton balanced the budget, helped the economy add 23 million new jobs, and oversaw the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in history.
And in 2008, Americans turned to Democrats and elected President Obama to reverse our country's slide into the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression and undo eight years of policies that favored the few over the many.
Under President Obama's direction and congressional Democrats' leadership, we've reformed a health care system that was broken and extended health insurance to 32 million Americans.
2010: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
After decades of trying and despite unanimous opposition from Republicans, President Obama and Democrats passed comprehensive health reform into law in March 2010. The Affordable Care Act will hold insurance companies accountable, lower costs, expand coverage, and improve care for all Americans.
Democrats have a long and proud history of defending Civil Rights and expanding opportunity for all Americans. From the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 to including marriage equality in the party platform in 2012, Democrats have fought to end discrimination in all forms—including discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity or national origin, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability.
For too many though, this ideal is still far from a reality. That’s why in our fight to stand up for civil rights for all Americans, we are committed to protecting voting rights, enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ensuring marriage equality and equal federal rights for LGBT couples and achieving equal pay for equal work.
Democrats share with all parents the commitment to prepare our children to lead lives of happiness and success. That’s why we’re dedicated to ensuring the next generation has access to a first-rate education and the tools to drive our economy forward.
President Obama knows we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices or a quick-fix solution to our energy needs. That’s why he and Democrats are focused on developing all of America’s natural resources—domestic oil, gas, wind, solar and biofuels—and encouraging fuel efficiency so that we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil over time.
From protecting endangered species to restoring our ecosystems and investing in clean-energy solutions, the Obama administration and Democrats are committed to working to address our biggest environmental challenges.
In March 2010, President Obama fulfilled a promise that Democrats have pursued for nearly a century: making health care available to all Americans. Despite unanimous opposition from Republicans, Democrats were finally able to pass comprehensive health reform into law.
America has a long and rich heritage of immigration. Democrats have always embraced our country's diversity, but we also recognize that we need to fix our broken immigration system.
Jobs and the Economy
President Obama inherited an economy in free fall, with huge deficits, skyrocketing health care costs, dwindling employment, and banking and housing markets on the brink of collapse. Working with the President, Democrats stabilized the financial system and helped to prevent a second Great Depression. An economy that was losing 700,000 jobs a month is now gaining jobs. We still have a long way to go, but we are now moving forward on the road to recovery.
As the threats facing our country have evolved over the years, so too has our ability to respond to them. Our national security personnel are the most dynamic and well-trained in the world, and we must never forget the solemn duty that they fulfill for our nation. Democrats are committed to ensuring that our troops have the training, equipment, and support that they need when they are deployed and the care that they and their families need and deserve when they return home.
For Democrats, changing politics in Washington means ensuring that government is open, transparent, and responsive to the needs of the people. President Obama has implemented the most sweeping ethics and transparency requirements in history, building on steps taken by Democrats to limit the influence of special interests and ensure that government is accountable to the people.
Science & Technology
America has a rich history of technological innovation and scientific ingenuity. But after years of declining tests scores in math and science and a Republican administration that often turned its back on science, the United States risks losing its scientific dominance. Democrats are committed to reversing this trend by investing in the technologies and jobs of the future while increasing support for more advanced research, labs, and classrooms.
In 1935, Democrats and President Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security. In 1965, Democrats and President Lyndon Johnson created Medicare. Ever since, Democrats have continually fought to defend these cornerstones of the American Dream in the face of attempts to dismantle or undermine both.
Democrats have a long and proud history of fighting for voting rights that continues to this day. And while we've made significant progress in securing the right to vote for all eligible Americans, many voters still face difficulties in the voting process, from registering to casting a ballot to having their votes counted. Those often disproportionately affected are communities of color, young people, the elderly, low-income individuals, and disabled voters, as well as military members and veterans. In many parts of the country, voters are underserved by a lack of polling places, outdated voting machines, and unnecessarily complicated laws.
Below is a list of national leaders of the Democratic Party:
|President of the United States||Barack Obama||Illinois|
|Vice President of the United States||Joe Biden||Delaware|
|Chairwoman of the DNC||Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz||Florida|
|Congressional Committee Chairman||Congressman Steve Israel||New York|
|Governors Association Chairman||Governor Peter Shumlin||Vermont|
|Senatorial Committee Chairman||Senator Michael Bennet||Colorado|
|State Legislative Campaign Committee Chairman||Mike Gronstal||Iowa|
|U.S. House Democratic Leader||Nancy Pelosi||California|
|U.S. Senate Majority Leader||Harry Reid||Nevada|
Chairpersons of the DNC
|Benjamin F. Hallett||1848–1852||Massachusetts|
|Robert Milligan McLane||1852–1856||Maryland|
|David Allen Smalley||1856–1860||Vermont|
|August Belmont||1860–1872||New York|
|Augustus Schell||1872–1876||New York|
|Abram Stevens Hewitt||1876–1877||New York|
|William H. Barnum||1877–1889||Connecticut|
|Calvin Stewart Brice||1889–1892||Ohio|
|William F. Harrity||1892–1896||Pennsylvania|
|James K. Jones||1896–1904||Arkansas|
|Norman E. Mack||1908–1912||New York|
|William F. McCombs||1912–1916||New York|
|Vance C. McCormick||1916–1919||Pennsylvania|
|Homer S. Cummings||1919–1920||Connecticut|
|Clem L. Shaver||1924–1928||West Virginia|
|John J. Raskob||1928–1932||New York|
|James A. Farley||1932–1940||New York|
|Edward J. Flynn||1940–1943||New York|
|Frank C. Walker||1943–1944||Pennsylvania|
|Robert E. Hannegan||1944–1947||Missouri|
|J. Howard McGrath||1947–1949||Rhode Island|
|William M. Boyle||1949–1951||Missouri|
|Frank E. McKinney||1951–1952||Indiana|
|Paul M. Butler||1955–1960||Indiana|
|Henry M. Jackson||1960–1961||Washington|
|John Moran Bailey||1961–1968||Connecticut|
|Lawrence F. O'Brien||1968–1969||Massachusetts|
|Fred R. Harris||1969–1970||Oklahoma|
|Lawrence F. O'Brien||1970–1972||Massachusetts|
|Robert S. Strauss||1972–1977||Texas|
|Kenneth M. Curtis||1977–1978||Maine|
|John C. White||1978–19812||Texas|
|Charles T. Manatt||1981–1985||California|
|Paul G. Kirk||1985–1989||Massachusetts|
|Ron Brown||1989–1993||New York|
|Christopher J. Dodd||1995–1997||Connecticut|
|Donald Fowler||1995–1997||South Carolina|
|Edward G. Rendell||1999–2001||Pennsylvania|
|Debbie Wasserman Schultz||2011–present||Florida|
|Hawaii||Hon. Dante Carpenter|
|Illinois||Hon. Michael Madigan|
|Kansas||Hon. Joan Wagnon|
|Missouri||Roy Temple Jim Larson|
|New Jersey||John Currie|
|New Hampshire||Hon. Raymond Buckley|
|New Mexico||Sam Bregman|
|New York||Keith Wright|
|North Carolina||Randy Voller|
|North Dakota||Greg Hodur|
|Ohio||Hon. Chris Redfern|
|Pennsylvania||Hon. Jim Burn|
|Rhode Island||Hon. Edwin Pacheco|
|South Carolina||Jamie Harrison|
|South Dakota||Deb Knecht|
|Texas||Hon. Gilberto Hinojosa|
|Vermont||Dorothy (Dottie) Deans|
|Virginia||Hon. Charniele Herring|
|Washington||Hon. Dwight Pelz|
|West Virginia||Larry Puccio|
Democratic National Conventions
|1832||Baltimore, Maryland||Andrew Jackson|
|1835||Baltimore, Maryland||Martin Van Buren|
|1840||Baltimore, Maryland||Martin Van Buren|
|1844||Baltimore, Maryland||James Polk|
|1848||Baltimore, Maryland||Lewis Cass|
|1852||Baltimore, Maryland||Franklin Pierce|
|1856||Cincinnati, Ohio||James Buchanan|
|April 1860||Charleston, South Carolina||None|
|June 1860||Baltimore, Maryland||Stephen Douglas|
|1864||Chicago, Illinois||George McClellan|
|1868||New York, New York||Horatio Seymour|
|1872||Baltimore, Maryland||Horace Greeley|
|1876||St. Louis, Missouri||Samuel Tilden|
|1880||Cincinnati, Ohio||Winfield Hancock|
|1884||Chicago, Illinois||Grover Cleveland|
|1888||St. Louis, Missouri||Grover Cleveland|
|1892||Chicago, Illinois||Grover Cleveland|
|1896||Chicago, Illinois||William Jennings Bryan|
|1900||Kansas City, Kansas||William Jennings Bryan|
|1904||St. Louis, Missouri||Alton Parker|
|1908||Denver, Colorado||William Jennings Bryan|
|1912||Baltimore, Maryland||Woodrow Wilson|
|1916||St. Louis, Missouri||Woodrow Wilson|
|1920||San Francisco, California||James Cox|
|1924||New York, New York||John Davis|
|1928||Houston, Texas||Alfred Smith|
|1932||Chicago, Illinois||Franklin Roosevelt|
|1936||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Franklin Roosevelt|
|1940||Chicago, Illinois||Franklin Roosevelt|
|1944||Chicago, Illinois||Franklin Roosevelt|
|1948||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Harry Truman|
|1952||Chicago, Illinois||Adlai Stevenson|
|1956||Chicago, Illinois||Adlai Stevenson|
|1960||Los Angeles, California||John Kennedy|
|1964||Atlantic City, New Jersey||Lyndon Johnson|
|1968||Chicago, Illinois||Hubert Humphrey|
|1972||Miami Beach, Florida||George McGovern|
|1976||New York, New York||Jimmy Carter|
|1980||New York, New York||Jimmy Carter|
|1984||San Francisco, California||Walter Mondale|
|1988||Atlanta, Georgia||Michael Dukakis|
|1992||New York, New York||Bill Clinton|
|1996||Chicago, Illinois||Bill Clinton|
|2000||Los Angeles, California||Al Gore|
|2004||Boston, Massachusetts||John Kerry|
|2008||Denver, Colorado||Barack Obama|
|2012||Charlotte, North Carolina||Barack Obama|
- Democratic National Committee
- Democratic organizations
- Republican Party
- Republican National Committee
- Republican organizations
- Terms and definitions
- Democratic National Committee
- Democratic Senate Caucus
- Democratic House Caucus
- DSCC: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)
- Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)
- Democratic Governors Association
- Democratic Attorneys General Association
- National Federation of Democratic Women
- College Democrats of America
- Young Democrats of America
- Democrats Abroad
- Progressive Democrats of America
- C-SPAN, "History of the Democratic Party"
- Selfa, Lance. (2008). The Democrats: A Critical History, New York, New York: Haymarket Publishing
- Witcover, Jules. (2003). Party of the People: A History of the Democrats, New York, New York: Random House
- About.com American History, "Democratic Party," accessed March 30, 2014
- Democrats.org, "Party History," accessed December 4, 2013
- Democrats.org, "Our Party: DNC," accessed March 30, 2014
- Dictionary.com, "Democratic Party," accessed March 30, 2014
- Today I Found Out, "The Origin of the American Democratic Party," accessed March 30, 2014
- The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, "Democratic-Republican Party," accessed March 30, 2014
- PBS, "Democratic Party," accessed March 30, 2014
- Democrats.org, "Our History," accessed March 30, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Democrats.org, "Issues," accessed March 30, 2014
- Democratic National Committee, "Our Leaders," accessed March 30, 2014
- DCCC.org, "Leadership," accessed March 30, 2014
- Democratic Governors Association, "About," accessed March 30, 2014
- DLCC.org, "Chair bio," accessed March 30, 2014
- Rulers.org, "Government departments and offices, etc," accessed March 30, 2014
- Democratic National Committee, "Who we are in your state," accessed March 30, 2014
- About.com American History, "Democratic National Conventions," accessed March 30, 2014