The Fundamental Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

Last year, former governor Sarah Palin famously campaigned on a theme of “real America.” This widely derided message implied that only “real Americans” vote Republican.

Yet there is something to Mrs. Palin’s theory. However unintentionally, it lays bare a fundamental truth of American politics.

Think about how most people picture Americans. In fact, take a moment to imagine an average American: detail everything possible about this person.

Here is how I picture this American – let’s name him Bob Smith. Bob is a happy white male, with a lovely wife (he is straight, of course) and one or two beautiful kids. Bob calls himself a Christian – a Protestant, actually – but goes to church less than he should. Like his American parents and grandparents, Bob lives in a  well-off suburb. Bob went to college but not graduate school; he makes a firmly middle or upper-class income but labels himself middle-class. Bob is the archtypal American, and he loves America very much.

Bob is a Republican.

It is the Bob Smiths of this country that compose the core of the Republican Party. American to their bones, they are fully assimilated into the country and happy with the way it is. Bob has never encountered resentment or hostility because of who he is, and he never will. People like him define the soul of the United States. They vote conservatively – for things to remain much the same as they are today – because they are content with the status quo.

The Democratic Party is composed of persons who have cause of complaint. They are not Bob – they do not have the luck of being  white, male, and middle-class. Their last names are not like Smith – they are names like Zai, Contreras, Chakicherla, Alazzeh, and Obama. Many do not call themselves Protestants, or even Christians. Some live in immigrant communities; others in inner-city ghettos. Nearly all have – or believe they have – been treated unfairly by America’s institutions. These folk want things to be different, and so they vote for liberalism (which, distilled to its purest essence, constitutes change of the status quo).

That is the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. It constitutes the defining chasm in American politics, even more than race.

So next election, when an agency like CNN pops out its exit polls of how this group voted and how that group voted, one doesn’t need complex statistical models to understand why one group voted Democratic and the other Republican. One merely needs to ask this simple question:

Which group would Bob Smith belong to?


Tags: Democrats, Elections, Politics, Real America, Republicans, United States (all tags)




and nostalgic. Your view is historically pretty accurate, but in the future the only important distinction between citizens and their politics will be whether they are a breathing Human or a heartless Corporation. Parties affilliation will be as meaningful as a Sports franchise - and for the same reason.

Go 'Fins!

by QTG 2010-02-12 09:26AM | 0 recs
Boxes and benign dictators

I have a friend that grew up in Tito's Yugoslavia.  He sometimes speaks wistfully about the days of Tito's rule.  Free healthcare for everyone.  Practically zero crime.  Everyone was taken care of extremely well.  An overwhelming sense of community.  This is under a Communist dictator, mind you.

The problem with Tito's Yugoslavia, as is the case in almost any dictatorship, is that there is a very bright, well-defined line.  And one you cross that line, you are an unperson.  You forfeit your rights, your family suffers, and you are forever an outsider to that nation or cause.

There is a similar line in this country, although the repurcussions for crossing it are not nearly as severe.  I view the fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives (virtually R's and D's) as being disagreements over where that line is what happens to you when you cross it (or are born on the other side of it).

Enemy combatants, three strikes you're out, no healthcare, migrant farm worker, drug addict, homeless, unemployed, atheist, union member, environmentalist, mentally ill, in an abusive relationship, divorcee, single parent.  All of these features, and many more, put you on the wrong side of that line to some extent.  Each comes with their own price tag.  I think conservatives want to make that price as high as possible so that fewer people cross it.  Some of it is prejudice.  Some of it is a recognition that they themselves are near that line and they're looking for a bigger barrier to crossing it.

But when you hear conservatives talk, they use words like "liberty" and "freedom from government" and "Obama is a fascist".  In actuality, what they want is a more authoritative voice keeping all of us in line.

by the mollusk 2010-02-12 03:54PM | 0 recs
I'm Bob Smith

And I'm a proud Lib'rul. Simple-minded stereotyping works better for the Pugs. Maybe we can stay away from these things on our side.

If we've gotta put each other in boxes maybe choose labels like equality, innovative, compassionate, or critical. I prefer to think of our party as composed of those that honestly love our country and all the people who choose to live here. 

None of these designations require a certain skin-tone, religious affiliation, gender or income bracket.  

by JerryColorado23 2010-02-12 07:04PM | 1 recs
I see it a little differently

My view is that the republicans view society in a decentralized way, Democrats tend to view it as more centralized. 

Our side prefers a government solution; they prefer a free market solution.  It is their contention that the free market solutions are much more successful than the centrally controlled economies.  It is our contention that the free market system is less humane,

You said:

The Democratic Party is composed of persons who have cause of complaint.

That sounds dangerously like a victim. 

We will not be successful if we try to impose our views much the same as the way that they were not successful trying to impose their views. 

Our President once said that there are no Red states, there are no Blue states, there is only the United States.  If we don't work with the ither side, we will lose all of our recent victories.

by greybeard 2010-02-12 11:29PM | 0 recs
RE: I see it a little differently

I think the difference vis.a.vis free market vs. government run used to be the case, but is not anymore, not since the rise of the New Left - which rather than a process seaks a goal say "better education" and follows a public-private partnership to achieve it.

Republicans or conservatives on the other hand view the role of government as providing a hand-out or support to the free-market system.

by vecky 2010-02-13 01:55AM | 0 recs
RE: I see it a little differently

I think we should look at personality differences. Some people are just mean. If you take someone like Limbaugh for example and his counter-part on the left, who is usually Michael Moore. Now I may not always agree with Moore politically or ideologically, but he's not a complete mean a**hole like Limbaugh is.

by vecky 2010-02-13 02:41AM | 0 recs
Incredibly simplistic diary

Your reliance on stereoptypes is pretty simplistic, and not very useful in analyzing either our politics or society today. I'm sure that the Ward Cleavers (sorry, I mean, Bob Smiths) represent one segment of the Republican Party, but there are more. Social conservatives, libertarians, economic/free market advocates.....all fall into the mix. To be fair, they are not a monolith.

And you paint Democrats as a pack of malcontents, which is also kind of strange; it's as if you envision a huge angry mob, just waiting to get even. The Democratic Party is historically a coalition party, and probably even more diverse than the Republicans. To say that they are united by having a "cause of complaint" leaves out a good many that simply believe that government has an important role to play in our lives, probably one more activist than most Republicans would prefer. And I sure don't see how can you can say that Democrats don't have "the benefit of being middle class".....most demographic surveys would probably disagree with your assessment. 

Beyond that, dividing things into Democrats and Republicans leaves out a huge chunk of the American landscape----independents. Where do they fall in this kind of analysis?


by BJJ Fighter 2010-02-13 12:37AM | 0 recs
RE: Incredibly simplistic diary

Inoljt's point fails on many levels, most notably it doesn't explain states like Vermont - which is very Democratic, solidly middle-class, with very very few who have "cause for complaint." Or Mississippi which has a lot of poor and lower middle-class who most definitely have a cause for complaint, but is solidly Republican.

But on a more general point he is partly correct - Middle classes around the world tend to be more conservative in general than lower-classes who are more prone to dissatisfaction and radicalization. But that's only a very broad general point. Clearly this a topic that needs more debating.

by vecky 2010-02-13 02:54AM | 0 recs


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