Differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties

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The two major political parties in the United States have become increasingly polarized. This was made apparent in the Presidential election of 2016, which saw Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, win the electoral college against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. Although the two candidates differed on many issues, the main policy differences between the two can be seen in the issues of immigration reform, health care, and economic policy.

The main issue regarding immigration reform concerns differing opinions on the impact of immigration, both legal and undocumented, on the overall safety, economy and culture. The Republicans favor limiting legal immigration and proactively attempting to minimize or halt undocumented immigration (Moore, 12). The main ideological reason for this policy is that the Republicans believe that undocumented immigrants strain the current economic system, as they take jobs away from U.S. citizens. Additionally, there is a concern that undocumented immigration poses security and safety risks, and therefore stricter measures such as a border wall should be in place. The reasoning here is that limiting immigration to the legal process currently in place, and enforcing laws against undocumented immigration, will have positive economic benefits. On the same issue, the Democrats favor maintaining current immigration policy, programs such as the Dreamers Act which provides a level of amnesty for current undocumented immigrants, and not limiting migrants or refugees. The main ideological stance taken by the Democrats in regard to immigration is that the United States has a long a rich history of immigration, and that diversity is what makes this country great. They argue that removing policies such as the Dreamers Act is excessive and will cause harm to many undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States since they were children, and have otherwise contributed to the economy. Democrats tend to favor minimizing border security, believing that immigration reform and policies such as a border wall are inherently biased against persons of color, and that focusing on immigration reform should not be pursued due to resources it would require.

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In regard to health care, the Republicans believe that health care should be accessible and affordable, but that it should not be mandated. In contrast, the Democrats believe that health care should be mandated, as persons without access to health care are not able to receive treatment or cause a drain on the economy (Jensen and Peterson, 70). The most prevalent issue in health care is whether the Affordable Care Act, which was passed under President Obama, should remain the current health care system in the country. Thus, the Republicans largely favor removing or modifying the ACA, which currently requires all citizens to purchase health insurance. Their main argument against the ACA is that the quality of care has gone down, and premiums have risen to the point where they are no longer affordable for many people, despite being mandated by the law. Many Republicans also believe the ACA presents a Constitutional problem, as they argue that mandating that an individual person be required to purchase anything, including health care, is fundamentally unconstitutional. The Democrats do not believe the ACA should be fundamentally changed, although increasing premiums over the last several years have made some Democrats favor changing the ACA in minor ways while leaving the main points intact. The primary issue between the two parties is that Republicans believe health care should fall under the private business sector, while Democrats believe the government should play a larger role in health care, such as mandating that it be purchased.

In regard to economic policy, Republicans believe that government regulations and high corporate taxes have stifled business growth, while Democrats believe that regulations ensure that corporations do not contribute too much to pollution, and that policies which favor corporations inevitably harm the common citizen (O’Connor and Sabato, 113). Republicans have traditionally believed in the free market, which is the concept that the economy under a capitalist system largely can regulate itself, and that government regulations against corporations are largely unnecessary, particularly those that focus on limiting pollution that is believed to cause climate change. On the other hand, the Democrats believe that corporations left unchecked will inevitably cause harm to the environment and exploit common workers, and therefore regulations serve to protect the interests of the American public. An additional issue related to economic policy would be in regard to minimum wage, as Republicans believe that raising the minimum wage would cause corporations to conduct layoffs as they would not be able to afford paying this increase, while Democrats believe that raising the minimum wage will benefit the lives of workers and improve the quality of life for the common individual.

Although Republicans and Democrats have consistently differed in ideology and policy for decades, the recent Presidential election was the most polarizing in recent history, and therefore these issues have become more divisive than ever. Republicans favor immigration reform, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and deregulating policies relating to the economy, while Democrats favor maintaining and even increasing immigration, keeping the Affordable Care Act in place, and maintaining economic policies that are designed to prevent pollution and exploitation. Many of the current shifts that can be seen in the media, such as an increased attention to immigration reform and health care policy, are due to Trump’s victory over Clinton last fall, as Clinton was seen largely as an extension of Obama era policies while Trump represented an outsider who campaigned under the promise to overhaul the government from within.

  • Moore, Kathleen M. “US immigration reform and the meaning of responsibility.” Immigration (2017): 12.
  • O’Connor, Karen J., and Larry J. Sabato. American Government: Roots and Reform-2016 Presidential Election. Pearson, 2017.
  • Jensen, Carsten, and Michael Bang Petersen. “The politics of health care.” American Journal of Political Science 61.1 (2017): 68-83.

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