Gee, that is a tough question, isn’t it? And one that a lot of people (but probably NOT enough) have asked over the years.
And it has answers that have changed a whole lot over the years – even the last 20-30 years. At all levels of society and government.
Over at Reference.com, their “staff writer” says, “The Democratic Party operates according to a philosophy that emphasizes positive rights and the notion that people are entitled to certain things and that government is obliged to create the conditions in which people can achieve these things. Thus, Democrats tend to favor the expansion of government and its involvement in most areas of human activity.”
At the same time, an unknown commentator (after the 2021 general elections), wrote, “…their entire theory of governance is based on paternalism, hysteria, conspiracy theories, censorship, moral superiority, virtue signaling, and a complete indifference to people’s material well-being.” Well, obviously NOT a fan of the Democratic Party, eh?
At first, the two definitions seem mutually exclusive, even contradictory. But let’s dig deeper. They are more complementary than mutually exclusive.
The rest of the Reference.com reads:
“According to Democrats.org, the Democratic Party believes that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure businesses and other institutions serve the interest of the people. Often, Democrats paint corporations in the light of robber barons trying to take advantage of the working class. As a result, the Democratic platform normally calls for high corporate taxes, minimum wage hikes and support for unions. The belief in government’s supremacy over other areas of society stems largely from progressives such as President Woodrow Wilson, who favored central planning. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies of unprecedented government involvement in the economy laid the foundation for the modern Democratic Party’s support for the welfare state.
“In the sphere of social issues, the Democratic Party advocates an individualism according to which people are entitled to lead a chosen lifestyle without regard for traditional social norms. Members of the party typically favor expanding the definition of marriage, loosening restrictions on recreational drug use and increasing access to abortion.”
First off, it is kind of hard to fit that into either the Nolan Chart or the Pournelle Chart:
Or is it? (I understand that readers may disagree with the location of the various symbols and descriptions above.
But let us look quickly at some specific matters (keeping in mind that what the Party and its leaders and members say about themselves and it may not match the reality).
Positive rights? I think so: the US Constitution and the Lockean philosophy of the 18th Century emphasized “negative rights” – things government cannot do to people. But Democrats want government to recognize (or create) and enforce positive rights – FDR’s four freedoms and more.
Paternalism? That does seem to be what Democrats want government to be and ties closely to the positive rights, doesn’t it? People can’t do things for themselves: they are (and must be) dependent on government.
Entitlements? From late 19th Century Progressivism and Populism right down to the Build Back Better scheme, Democrats (and too many Republicans who go along) demand and provide entitlements.
Hysteria? The evidence is before you in the daily news, political literature, and more: hysteria over guns, evil politicians, evil kids shooting people, China, Russia, global warming, and more.
Government expansion? Really? At all levels, in all fields and endeavors of life. More and more governments, more and more regulations, more and more costs and taxes. Democrats are certainly in the forefront of that effort. And defeating anything that is not a constant increasing of efforts.
Conspiracy theories? Is that not what Al Gore, Barack Obama, and dozens currently serving in Congress are saying about WHY we have global climate change? WHY we have poor people? WHY we have “systemic racism?” Why we have Confederate monuments? It is all a series of interlocking conspiracies by … someone. Time traveling Trumpistas, maybe?
Censorship? Highly selective, of course. No censorship of four-letter words, perhaps, but it seems to be a fundamental part of the Democratic philosophy of 2021 that offensive and derogatory words and ideas must be controlled to prevent social and mental harm to the snowflakes.
Moral superiority? (other than their rejection of traditional social norms?) Clearly most Democrats come across as being superior to the Republican opponents – and to libertarians and conservatives. And believe it is governments role to control, mitigate, and eliminate the actions of moral inferiors who are destroying the earth, destroying society, and seeking to restore minorities to de-facto slavery.
Virtue signaling? Well, maybe. But it is the pot calling the kettle black when the GOP claims that.
A complete indifference to people’s material well-being? Well, Democrats DO really really talk a LOT about material well-being. But when we look at their actions, that concern seems to be limited to a select group of people: SOME minorities, SOME immigrants, and SOME politicians and bureaucrats.
Can we summarize this? Well, let’s try:
The Democrat philosophy is built on a strong belief in powerful government, able to dictate to all parts of society. This includes the power of government to determine what are acceptable freedoms (or liberties) and what are not. Democrats reject many traditional aspects of American society and culture, and seek to replace those aspects with current ideas that purport to be acceptable virtues to be promulgated and enforced by government action. The will of the people – as expressed through their elected elite – is supreme: there is no other authority.
What do you think?
Next, lets look at the Republicans.