Analysis: Comparing and Contrasting the Republican and Democratic Party Platforms

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EDITORS NOTE – We thought it might be interesting and informative to compare and contrast the Democratic Party and Republican Party platforms for 2016. Here is our analysis of some key similarities and differences. We welcome your comments below.

By Glynn Wilson –


For starters, the Republican Party Platform Preamble begins with a categorical statement: “We believe in American exceptionalism.”

According to Wikipedia and other sources, the concept of American exceptionalism, while controversial, is a combination of three ideas that supposedly make the United States unique. Because of the American Revolution creating a new kind of democratic republic in a new land discovered by Europeans, there is something “inherently different from other nations.” Political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset called it ”the first new nation” with a unique ideology, “Americanism,” based on the principles of “liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, republicanism, democracy and laissez-faire for business.”

This ideology also holds that the U.S. has “a unique mission to transform the world.” In the Gettysburg address in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said Americans have a duty to see that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Where this idea becomes particularly controversial is when some commentators, especially the conservative, Christian wing of the Republican Party, talk about this country having some inherent “superiority over other nations.”

Clearly the drafters of this year’s platform felt it so important to push this ideology that they used it in the first sentence as a guiding editorial statement.


The Democratic Party platform, on the other hand, starts out with a much more humble statement: “Out of many, we are one.”

Beyond the opening statements, the Democrats talk about restoring economic security for the middle class by raising the minimum wage, protecting the rights of workers to organize, saving Social Security.

Both parties talk about creating jobs by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, but the Republicans seem to think this can be accomplished by drastically cutting taxes again. This is the same old campaign promise offered by conservative Republicans since Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. The Democrats say they have a plan to pay for it by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, which is what it will take to accomplish the job.

Corporations are not going to pay for rebuilding public roads, bridges, water and sewer systems and the like. Only government spending will do the job. It takes revenue to hire people to build these things, just like FDR did when he created the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s to get America out of the Great Depression.

President Barack Obama tried to do this in his two-terms in office, but he was blocked at every turn by the Republicans in control of Congress. If Hillary Clinton is elected in November, she plans to continue pushing ahead with this plan. It is not clear that she will have any more luck with Republicans on Capitol Hill than Mr. Obama did. She may be even more controversial than he has been.

The Republicans and Democrats are now expressing skepticism of international trade agreements. Clearly Bernie Sanders forces had a role in drafting the language adopted by the Democrats.

The Republicans are running on a strong “law and order” platform, which seems to indicate they would continue the national trend to build more private prisons and put more people in jail, doubling down in the “war on drugs.” The Democrats, on the other hand, talk about reforming the criminal justice system and ending “mass incarceration” and the “war on drugs.”

Both parties talk about immigration reform. The Republicans are demanding a wall on the southern border and sending all illegal immigrants back home, while the Democrats talk about a “path to citizenship” by “law-abiding families.”

The Democrats talk about continuing the fight for civil rights, while the Republicans want to repeal Roe vs. Wade giving women the “right to choose” and abolishing the prohibition of not-for-profit organizations and churches to engage in political activity. This is tantamount to abolishing the long-held American idea of “separation of church and state,” which is one of the founding ideas that made the country a strong democracy in the first place.

Of course the Republicans want to see more guns in the hands of all Americans, while the Democrats are willing to fight for reasonable gun control.

The Democrats vow to fight climate change due to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels and to protect wild public lands, while the Republicans vow to sell off public lands to private developers for profit and “drill baby drill” wherever the oil, gas and chemical companies think they can find black gold. Bernie Sanders forces tried to get stronger language in the Democratic Platform against fracking, but they lost that fight.

The Democrats want to protect voting rights and make it easier to vote. The Republicans want term limits and tort reform, limiting jury rights to penalize corporations that harm workers.

The Democrats would support public education. The Republicans would privatize education with their “choice” options.

Both parties talk about supporting the troops, but the Republicans would drastically expand military spending (without raising taxes) while the Democrats would fight to end waste and fraud and “seek a more agile and flexible force and rid the military of outdated Cold War-era systems.”

Both parties talk about a strong defense and fighting international terrorism. While the Democrats support the anti-nuclear agreement with Iran, the Republicans would cancel the agreement and are prepared to go to war if necessary.

Both parties talk about fighting cyber threats and for online privacy and both talk about standing fast with Israel. Bernie Sanders forces would have taken a less strident position on taking sides in the Middle East and argued for less troops and drone strikes in that part of the world. But they lost that fight so the platform of the party’s nominee Hillary Clinton will continue the wars in the Middle East.

There are other minor similarities and differences. We would welcome any other writers to weigh in or comments from readers.

© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

  1 comment for “Analysis: Comparing and Contrasting the Republican and Democratic Party Platforms

  1. JimW
    July 27, 2016 at 11:33 am

    It’s perhaps worth noting that the opening of the Democratic platform is a translation of the motto adopted for the Great Seal of the United States in 1776 — e pluribus unum. Probably not an accident. 🙂

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