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Voting 101: How to Choose a Political Party

How do you determine if you are a Democrat or a Republican? This is a question that many first time voters may ask themselves. Understanding politics can be challenging to any individual, not just a first-time voter. When a person registers to vote, they can register to join a political party. A political party is a group of people who share similar beliefs and ideas about the government and how it is run. Members of a political party work together to win elections. Additionally, voters can choose not to join a party and may vote independently. When voting, It is advised to spend time researching the issues you feel most strongly towards and finding a party or nominee who supports the same values. Here is an overview of the Democratic and Republican parties:

History

As the oldest political party in the U.S., the democratic party, also referred to as “the party of the people,” is said to have begun in 1792 by Jefferson. Later, the party grew when Andrew Jackson was elected president in 1828. The democratic party is symbolized with a donkey which dates back to Jackson’s presidential campaign. Jackson’s opponent referred to him as a donkey and Jackson decided to turn it around and used the animal as a symbol for his campaign, noting that donkeys were brave, smart, and strong-willed.

The Republican party, also known as “the grand old party,” is believed to have begun in 1854 when anti-slavery leaders came together. The party later grew stronger in 1874 when Lincoln became the first Republican president. The Republican party uses an elephant as the party symbol.

Differences

In general, members of both democratic and republican parties share similar values and ideas as it pertains to issues in the country and how the government should handle them. Still, not all party nominees will follow the typical set of ideas established by the party. Occasionally there will be overlap between parties, as nominees may support varied topics. Overall, the Democratic party tends to be more liberal in their stance, supporting issues that are progressive and focus on equality, social structure. The Republican party is known to be more conservative and religious. They tend to favor less government spending on social problems.

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