Politics on Point: Political Parties.

RICK: WE’VE NOTICED A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS ELECTION IN OUR INBOX LATELY – LIKE THIS ONE FROM AIDAN AT SUMMIT ELEMENTARY, HE WROTE: “ON THE NEXT SHOW CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE IN THE DEMOCRATIC AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTIES? I THINK AT LEAST 98% OF MY CLASS DOESN'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.” WELL, IT’S TRUE, THIS WHOLE ‘PARTY’ THING CAN GET PRETTY CONFUSING. LUCKILY, WE’VE GOT NICK CASTELE TO BREAK IT DOWN FOR US…WAIT, WHAT’S HE WEARING?

NICK: IT’S TIME TO PARTY. OOOOOHHHHH, IT’S A POLITICAL PARTY!

WHAT? NOT THAT CAN OF PARTY?

ACTUALLY, A POLITICAL PARTY IS GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT SHARE MANY OF THE SAME BELIEFS ABOUT HOW THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD WORK. POLITICAL PARTIES ARE THE MAIN WAY WE ELECT PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES. USUALLY, WE PICK BETWEEN THE TWO MAJOR PARTIES: THE DEMOCRATS AND THE REPUBLICANS.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE COLOR BLUE – AND THE DONKEY, WHICH HAS BEEN THEIR SYMBOL SINCE PRESIDENT ANDREW JACKSON’S CAMPAIGN IN 1828. POLITICAL RIVALS SAID JACKSON, A DEMOCRAT, WAS STUBBORN AS A DONKEY, AND JACKSON LATCHED ON TO IT. SO DID POLITICAL CARTOONIST THOMAS NAST, WHO MADE THE SYMBOL FAMOUS. SINCE THEN, THE DONKEY HAS FOREVER BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

NAST ALSO HAD A HAND IN THE OTHER FAMOUS SYMBOL: THE REPUBLICAN ELEPHANT. IN ONE OF HIS CARTOONS, HE DREW A SCENE AT THE ZOO AND THE REPUBLICANS WERE DEPICTED AS AN ELEPHANT – AND THAT’S ALL IT TOOK -- REPUBLICANS EMBRACED THE CARICATURE – REMARKING THAT THE ELEPHANT IS POWERFUL, STRONG, AND DIGNIFIED. REPUBLICANS ARE ALSO ASSOCIATED WITH THE COLOR RED, AND SOMETIMES THE PARTY IS REFERRED TO AS THE GOP – THAT STANDS FOR “GRAND OLD PARTY.”

BUT THESE PARTIES ARE AT ODDS, NOT BECAUSE OF THEIR SYMBOLS, BUT BECAUSE OF THEIR BELIEFS. MOST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PARTIES COME DOWN TO AN OVERALL DISAGREEMENT ABOUT THE ROLE THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD PLAY IN OUR LIVES. ALTHOUGH NOT ALL REPUBLICANS AGREE WITH EACH OTHER ON EVERY ISSUE, GENERALLY, REPUBLICANS TEND TO BELIEVE A SMALLER, LIMITED GOVERNMENT IS BEST. THEY USUALLY BELIEVE IN PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, LOW TAXES, AND A STRONG MILITARY. REPUBLICANS ARE SOMETIMES CALLED CONSERVATIVES.

ONE FAMOUS REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT IS RONALD REAGAN, WHO IS KNOWN FOR CUTTING TAXES FOR EVERY AMERICAN IN 1981. BUSINESSMAN DONALD TRUMP IS THEIR NOMINEE THIS YEAR. HE HAS NEVER SERVED IN PUBLIC OFFICE, BUT BELIEVES HIS BUSINESS SAVVY WILL HELP HIM AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF. 

ON THE OTHER SIDE, WE HAVE THE DEMOCRATS. THEY ARE THE OLDEST PARTY IN THE U.S., AND THEY BELIEVE THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD TAKE A MORE ACTIVE ROLE IN PEOPLE’S LIVES, ESPECIALLY THOSE IN NEED. THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY TYPICALLY BELIEVES IN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT, AND HEALTHCARE FOR EVERYONE. DEMOCRATS ARE SOMETIMES CALLED LIBERALS OR PROGRESSIVES.

ONE EXAMPLE OF A DEMOCRAT IS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, WHO STARTED A BUNCH OF GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS TO CREATE JOBS DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION. HILLARY CLINTON IS THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE THIS YEAR. SHE HAS A LOT OF EXPERIENCE AT MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT – SHE’S SERVED AS A SENATOR, SECRETARY OF STATE, AND EVEN AS A FIRST LADY WHEN HER HUSBAND BILL CLINTON WAS PRESIDENT IN THE 1990’S. 

WE’VE SEEN THE TWO SIDES TRADE BARBS AND DEBATE OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS, AND, NOW, FIIIIIIIINALLY, IT’S ALL ABOUT TO COME TO AN END…AT LEAST UNTIL THE NEXT ELECTION.

RICK: THANKS NICK. YOU JUST HEARD A LOT ABOUT THE TWO MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES, BUT ON OUR NEWSDEPTH ELECTION BALLOT, WE’RE INCLUDING A COUPLE OF THIRD PARTY NOMINEES, BASED ON YOUR VOTES A FEW WEEKS BACK.

GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE JILL STEIN AND LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE GARY JOHNSON. THE GREEN PARTY IS A LIBERAL PARTY THAT PRIORITIZES THE HEALTH OF THE ENVIRONMENT OVER MOST OTHER ISSUES. CANDIDATE JILL STEIN IS A DOCTOR AND ACTIVIST WHO WANTS TO INVEST IN RENEWABLE ENERGY AND END CLIMATE CHANGE.

THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY IS A NEW PARTY THAT SEEKS TO LIMIT THE GOVERNMENT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – AND CUT TAXES. CANDIDATE GARY JOHNSON IS THE FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO, AND HE WANTS TO COMPLETELY REVISE AND REDUCE THE TAXES WE PAY AS CITIZENS.

Instructional Links

PDF: League of Women Voters, 2016 Voter Guide, Candidates for U.S. President

https://www.aauwaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2016-Presidential-Voter-Guide.pdf

Website Article: Scholastic, Junior Scholastic, What Do Parties Stand For

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4706

PDF: Republican Party Platform 2016

https://prod-static-ngop-pbl.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_FINAL[1]-ben_1468872234.pdf

PDF: Democratic Party Platform 2016

https://www.demconvention.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Democratic-Party-Platform-7.21.16-no-lines.pdf

Website Articles: Vote USA, Compare the Candidates – Biographical Profiles and Positions on the Issues

http://vote-usa.org/CompareCandidates.aspx?State=US&Election=US20161108GA&Office=USPresident

Website Article: ProCon.org, 2016 Presidential Election: The Candidates and Where They Stand on the Issues

http://2016election.procon.org/

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