My Crash Course in Politics for Dummies

Every election I read the same Facebook statuses and hear the same debates and I always have the same questions about what it all really means. There are some things I’ve always known about but other things where I definitely wanted to learn more. For any of you who were like me, I wanted to share some of what I found out and ask some interesting questions.

What is a Republican and Democrat? What are the differences between the parties, really?

The Republican party was founded in the 1850’s in support of anti-slavery movements. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president. They’ve always been a supporter of business, high wages, high profits for economic growth. Transition this to modern Republican politics that center on social conservatism, global democracy and economics that favor lower taxes and deregulating.

The Democratic party is one of the oldest political parties in the United States and the world, beginning in America, with Thomas Jefferson, an original supporter of States’ rights. Since the era of FDR they focus on social liberalism and progressive rights and now have the main influence of African-Americans. This includes affirmative action, balanced budget, “Third Way” economy (free enterprise system mixed with govt intervention to help poverty and social injustice with progressive taxation.)

A lot of big words and terms. Most of what I hear and read is that most people say they are fiscally conservative but socially democrat. Being a fiscal conservative according to Wikipedia means, “Fiscal conservatives often consider reduction of overall government spending and national debt as well as ensuring balanced budget of paramount importance. Free trade, deregulation of the economy, lower taxes, and other conservative policies are also often but not necessarily affiliated with fiscal conservatism.” Being socially democratic, for most people, tends to mean you support Gay rights, rights of minorities and ethnic groups and women’s rights. (This is all just a summary of some overall points.. for crash course purposes.)

For some reason it seems that it’s too difficult for everyone to work towards common goals or compromise. This is why I mainly avoid politics!

I’ve also found that there are a lot of groups from both sides that support certain issues and then everyone assumes ALL  democrats stand for this or ALL republicans stand for that. Or because some democrats said this, then by voting for Obama you’re against this or that, etc. We should all know better than that. We run into that in daily life between friends on ANY issue. People have opinions and there’s no ALL or ALWAYS or NEVER. Somehow we can’t bridge those communication gaps between each other or in politics. End result…… Nothing gets achieved.

In my opinion, these types of mixed messages are what has dominated politics in my lifetime. Now for some interesting questions!

  • I had seriously wondered about the black vote along the Republican and Democratic divide. People assume if you’re black you’re Democrat (and maybe you are) but I wondered if there were many black people that were Republican. I don’t know the exact answer to those statistics but it did really get me thinking. People assumed I was voting for Obama, and I did, of course I did! I’m black AND Puerto-rican, I came from a welfare home and struggled to get an education that was harder for me to achieve because of my ethnicities and socio-economic background. But, I also own my own business and am becoming more financially successful so was it just because I’m black/spanish? I don’t know. It was interesting to learn though that the black vote started out on the Republican side before FDR’s New Deal and the civil rights movement swung the group to the other side.

I think the answer is that, for more people it may not have to do with history or with how it affects the larger group of people in your demographic, whether that’s your ethnic group, women, business people, etc. I think people vote for themselves and what matters for them and their family individually.

  • Now for the one question I can’t seem to find a clear answer on from ANYONE is why people are SO private about who they vote for. Why is it such a secret? Seriously, it’s not even that it matters to me, I’m more curious about WHY you’d rather share the intimate details of your relationship than your presidential vote!

I’ve been told it’s to avoid getting dragged into an argument over it. For example, one friend told me that it’s just annoying to be supported or attacked over it by people that may not even fully know what they’re talking about or what they’re supporting or attacking. People start to use the blanket statements “well you must not support women’s rights!” or “you realize this is going to sink our economy and we’ll be the next Greece!” ….. Maybe it’s not worth the headache? (I did read on FB that someone was blocked because of something they posted in their status last night – really?!)

At the end of the day I see voting not as a stand for one thing or the other, but as the opportunity to have a choice and to have a voice. I think we take it for granted sometimes that it’s automatic that we can vote and have heated debates and fight on Facebook over these things. We all are allowed to choose, whatever we want, whoever we want and do so publicly. That’s an amazing thing and regardless of who you voted for, I think it’s awesome that you took advantage of that chance. #ThoughtsOfAThinker

I’d love to hear what you all think and if you have any answers to these questions?!