I am not American but I know one party represents the right the other represents the left. But, both parties have shown to be pragmatic and sometimes contradictory in their positions:

i.e. pro-life Democrats, pro-Obamacare Republicans, etc...

  • What are the key differences they will never agree and give identity to each party?
  • Is there any kind of difference that will cause the expulsion of a member of the Republicans or Democrats for holding view too close to the opposition?
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    This is a harder question than it initially seems; and depends on whether a party is defined by the stereotypes of their opponents. A distinction has to be made between what positions they say they have and what positions they are actually elected on. – LateralFractal Oct 12 '14 at 3:56
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    This question is way too broad. Anyway, S182, I recommend you read the respective party platforms. But there are a whole bunch of political issues in this country, and I don't think we can be expected to go through each one and say who sides with what, and list instances in which parties have censured their members, etc. Maybe there's a salvageable question here, but I don't know what it is. – Publius Oct 12 '14 at 4:38
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    The nature of the question is such that we're just going to end up with a stream of comments and no answer. Especially with the qualifier of "real" differences. – LateralFractal Oct 12 '14 at 21:41
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    @DA While a lot of politics have remained relatively stable for a few decades, that is correct. The party platform is updated regularly, and furthermore, does not always represent the voting pattern of party members. – Publius Oct 13 '14 at 23:12
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    Chomsky was/is fond of saying "We don't have a two-party system, we have two factions of the same party, the business party". I adhere to his comment. – Fox Mulder Feb 12 at 15:16

What are the key differences they will never agree and give identity to each party?

There aren't any. There are plenty of generalities, but every generality will have a significant amount of exceptions.

Furthermore, you'll get entirely different answers depending on whether you ask a republican or you ask a democrat.

And even then, you'll get entirely different answers depending on whether you ask now, or next year, or last year, or...

As for POVs that would trigger an expulsion from the party, that will depend on the specific of the particular time in history. It could change yearly in many cases.

So, in speaking of generalities:

  • Republicans would say they tend to be more pro-business, less regulation, smaller government.

  • Democrats would say they tend to be more pro-social issues, more regulation, more government where needed.

But you will find plenty of republicans and democrats that disagree with that. In fact, plenty of people that associate with one party or the other may be doing so for very niche reasons.

At times, it's like arguing who's better: the Packers or the Bears?

To expound on the fact that there are exceptions:

Factions in the Republican party: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factions_in_the_Republican_Party_(United_States)

Factions in the Democratic party: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factions_in_the_Democratic_Party_(United_States)

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    P.S. The Packers are obviously better. – user1530 Oct 13 '14 at 21:14
  • But if the two political parties don't differ, what makes one vote Rep/Dem? Based on what grounds does one becomes a member? And how loyal are voters? – Willem Van Onsem Nov 10 '14 at 3:38
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    @WillemVanOnsem It's all just a dog any pony show so that the politicians can just continue screwing everyone. – Andy Apr 8 '16 at 22:46
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    @Rathony those differences are still generalities. The differences are actually quite small even though the rhetoric makes them sound large. – user1530 Jan 15 '17 at 19:09
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    @Rathony Those issues were mentioned. Social issues, regulation. – DCShannon Mar 7 '17 at 23:33

The most fundamental difference between the two parties is that Republicans believe that equality should mean equality of opportunity, and Democrats believe that equality should mean equality of outcomes.

What this means is Republicans view everyone as equal when the government isn't restricting what a person can do, so long as everyone can vote, have free speech, bear arms, open a business, etc., then everything is good.

Democrats believe that it's necessary to take from the extremely successful because they only got that way because they exploited the unsuccessful, and it's the government's job to step in and mitigate that exploitation and give some back to the unsuccessful.

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    A reasonably decent go at it. I don't think most of us have the guts to answer this question as we can already see the looming comment chains and "move to chat" triggers. Still, I think the core difference is individualism vs collectivism as organizing axioms for dealing with the human condition. – LateralFractal Oct 13 '14 at 15:18
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    @Ryathal do you have any evidence for these statements, e.g. specific quotes from the party platforms or an analysis of legislation? Furthermore, how does this answer OP's questions about those policies for which there is no middle ground between the parties? If OP were asking to describe a fundamental difference between the parties, that would be an easy one: Republicans represent ideology whereas Democrats represent policy interests. But that's not what OP is asking. – Publius Oct 13 '14 at 16:57
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    @Avi - Yes but it would literally take a book. I might have taken a swing at it if I didn't observe that fact-based but politically polarizing answers on this SE get voted on by political alignment more than quality. Short-short version: Affirmative Action vs. official color blindness advocated by (surprise! Republican) Martin Luther King. Title IX and other "lift up the women" programs instead of official "no discrimination based on sex". Increased taxes and welfare state vs. pro-economic-growth policies. .... – user4012 Oct 13 '14 at 20:01
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    Actually, the more I read it, the more it sounds heavily biased. Which is normal for a question like this. But one could easily say that republicans are for taking from the unsuccessful (reduce taxes for the rich, increase for the poor). Or republicans are actually against equality of opportunity (against gay marriage). There's just no way to answer this with specific examples as I think it simply points out that there is no universally agreed upon differences. Just generalities, at best. – user1530 Oct 13 '14 at 20:56
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    @DA.: A conservative would suggest that Republicans believe that taking resources from those who use them to generate wealth and giving them to those who would not do so would reduce the quantity of wealth generated. Further, the essence of marriage (a typical female will mate exclusively with one male, and woe be to anyone else having relations with her) predates both government and religion; it is not an invention of the "religious right". People have the right to voluntarily recognize other kinds of relationships, but not to compel others to recognize them. – supercat Oct 29 '14 at 20:02

There are no fundamental differences.

Since their inception, both parties have oscillated back and forth with their ideologies based largely on monetary incentives from corporate sponsors.

The Republican and Democratic party are merely political actors controlled by behemoth sized financial actors to "divide and conquer" the american population in order to decrease their political energy and allow their agenda to unfold.

A forthcoming article in Perspectives on Politics by (my former colleague) Martin Gilens and (my sometime collaborator) Benjamin Page marks a notable step in that process. Drawing on the same extensive evidence employed by Gilens in his landmark book “Affluence and Influence,” Gilens and Page analyze 1,779 policy outcomes over a period of more than 20 years. They conclude that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”


Battle of the Giants - How a select group of Agro conglomerates squeeze consumers and small business partners to increase profits, while manipulating legislation to favor big business.


Without getting overly specific, the two party system is merely a form of control, an "American kabuki".

The American population has largely been manipulated with ancient Babylonian systems of slave control. - “He who controls the keys to the granary controls the food, the culture and the people.” ..... Federal Reserve anyone? - for clarification, I do believe a central clearing house/bank IS needed, just not the current institution run by and for the rich and powerful of the world.

The Federal Reserve Is A Perpetual Debt Machine

The Federal Reserve system was designed to be a trap. The intent of the bankers was to trap the U.S. government in an endless debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape

... I am sorry but since I am a new user I am limited to 2 links per post. As a result I think it is futile to explain further without providing more documentation.

However, if you would like more background and a more thorough introduction and understanding, google "Judge Dale, The Great American Adventure"

You can also upvote me for better a rep score which will allow me to post more info.

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    While not entirely incorrect, most of this tends to be an over generalization of the cynical belief that they're all pawns of their donors. That is true, of course, but not universal. There are still plenty of politicians in both parties that are there for reasons above and beyond their donor's desires. – user1530 Oct 16 '14 at 21:58
  • Agreed, there are plenty of well to do politicians e.g. Elizabeth Warren, Ron Paul and plenty of city mayors (De Blasio in NYC). My point also shouldn't be taken as a blanket statement condemning all serving in politics. Rather it was a direct answer to OPs question and the simple fact that the MAJOR political parties AS AN INSTIUTION are incentivized by donors and as a result those donors are able to influence policy. I did leave a specific ref to that point from the washington post. Also, there are clearly exceptions to EVERY rule, that shouldn't mean we keep our heads in the sand. – jackfree Oct 16 '14 at 22:48
  • Just came across this tidbit, nationalreport.net/… - these under the radar actions from select individuals can and do affect MACRO policy decisions. I also believe that by your dismissal/classification of my answer as "cynical" takes away from a productive discussion to take place as it is equal to another infamous measure of control... box-ing in views/perspectives which are not "mainstream" as "conspiracy theories" - as if anyone can take FOX, MSNBC & CNN at facevalue. @DA – jackfree Oct 16 '14 at 23:40
  • Cynicism is natural when it comes to politics. And like I said, you're not entirely incorrect. But to say both parties are simply political actors controlled by behemoth sized financial actors is to, well, oversimplify the complexities of politics as well. – user1530 Oct 17 '14 at 4:51
  • I believe this post confuses two entirely different phenomena. While Democrats and Republicans have held various positions historically, today they each hold very specific positions that actually do reflect what their voters want. However, they still need to use the existing Government institutions to try and implement their policy. It must be like trying to break in a giant slug to ride it over the mountain with a pile of cabbage nearby. You can do it, but it requires a lot of skill, and you're basically moonlighting in governance while your day job is the campaign. – John Woo Oct 21 '14 at 21:45

There isn't really any fundamental political difference between the two parties. The difference is mostly a difference of Identity. The Democratic and Republican points of view tend to shift and change over time.

It was very accurate of DA to say

At times, it's like arguing who's better: the Packers or the Bears?

Right now, the Democratic party is considered to be the liberal party, and the Republican party is considered to be the conservative party.

  • Democrats tend to be in favor of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Welfare, Republicans are against.
  • Democrats tend to be opposed to the death penalty. Republicans are against.
  • Democrats tend to be lenient on illegal immigrants. Republicans are not.
  • Democrats tend to be in favor of political correctness. Republicans are less so.
  • Democrats tend to be in favor of higher taxes and higher spending. Republicans are against higher taxes and spending.

But it hasn't always been this way. In fact, during the beginning of the 20th century, it was the Republican party that was the liberal party, and the Democratic party that was the conservative party.


Republicans want the government to defend the nation, protect property rights, and punish immoral behavior.

Democrats want the government to provide public services, reform antisocial behavior, and compensate for various forms of injustice.

Issues listed in order of resistance of the opposing party.

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    I'm not sure democrats resist defending the nation nor republicans resist providing public services. They certainly don't agree on how to do all of that, but I'm not sure those are diametrically opposed concepts. – user1530 Oct 14 '14 at 20:39
  • @DA Like when Judge Napolitano whole-heartedly endorsed Obamacare, and Amy Goodman passionately called for all patriotic young men to take up arms in the Global War on Terror? – John Woo Oct 21 '14 at 21:29
  • @DA All sarcasm aside, democrats do frequently go for military spending cuts, which is resisting national defence. And Republicans do frequently oppose or try try cut welfare payments or things like German style bonuses for having kids, which is resisting public services. – John Woo Oct 23 '14 at 8:48
  • Why the downvote? What's wrong with boiling things down to something simple? – John Woo Oct 24 '14 at 12:06
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    I think it's important to boil things down when possible. Often issues of politics are left too complex and people only focus on one facet of a bigger issue. That said, I believe one can also boil things too far and perhaps end up with an oversimplification. This particular answer, I feel, is over-boiled. Like I said, I don't think your examples are unique to each party. It's not a bad answer, just not meaty enough, IMHO. – user1530 Oct 24 '14 at 17:37

The Republican party believes in smaller government and further local control. That local communities are better affiliated to understand the needs of their community than the federal government. Also that laws should only be created as needed, and that laws that are redundent on each other take freedoms away that slow down growth of the nation. That each person is responsible for themselves, and that the more you tax and put the government in charge the less a person can be responsible for their own well being. This is a very basic platform, and one that should be noted is a good concept. The problem relies on the actuality of this processing as there are bigger issues that cannot be controlled by the community.

The Democrats believe that laws should be created in order to help those who cannot help themselves that as we live in a civilized society, that there are those that need protection because they are unable to "fend" for themselves. That not everyone can pick themselves up by their bootstraps so to speak, and that those in need should get help, as long as they use that help to turn it around.

Where it gets muddled in day to day context is that people of course abuse those privileges that taxpayers pay for essentially, which allows the other side to say, see we could have spent the money better. It's essentially the argument of privatization and public welfare. It used to be that there was a very superb balancing act between both sides that achieved both of these goals in a very forward thinking manner. However in the last decade or two that has fallen to the wayside of people more concerned about keeping their jobs then doing their jobs.


I am not an US citizen, but I give an answer.

Actually, none of Dem and GOP is a political party with a single policy. We must note that US is actually not a single nation, but is a federation. The democrats (or republicans) even can have completely different policy to the ones in another state.

Note that federal constitution has systems for preventing popular states from dominating congress or the white house by the great compromise or electoral voting system.

However, there is a clear difference between "supreme court justices" appointed by GOP and the ones appointed by DEM. Justices appointed by GOP usually admire democratic process itself and favor textual interpretation of US constitution and originalism, but justices appointed by DEM have stances with so called living constitution or other developmental interpretations. Of course there are exceptions of these categorizing like Anthony Kennedy or David Souter.

  • Party policies, whilst perhaps regionally opportunistic, are still generally homogeneous across states. This also helps present a uniform message across national media. The situation may have been different before TV and Radio. And judicial activism has been applied by both parties at different points in US history. – LateralFractal Oct 16 '14 at 9:51
  • Yeah, your comment "judicial activism has been applied by both parties at different points in US history" is right, because it is actually impossible to execute "literally reading" of the constitution or original thoughts of Jefferson and Madison and because justice Scalia and Thomas are criticized as activist judges. – turan Oct 16 '14 at 12:20
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    You said that party policies, whilst perhaps regionally opportunistic, are still generally homogeneous across states and that this also helps present a uniform message across national media. But I met a DEM in the south who criticizes Roe v. Wade opinion and liberal decisions about establishment clause of the 1st amendment. I also met a New England GOP who agree with the Lawrence v. Texas and disagree with the deth penalty. I think that a New England GOP is often more liberal than a deep south DEM about social and religious matters. – turan Oct 16 '14 at 12:27
  • That is possibly true - but is that the policy position of political parties or simply 3D real human beings are more nuanced than the two party choice available to them? – LateralFractal Oct 16 '14 at 12:38
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    @LateralFractal - I prefer 2D ones. They are easier to render :) – user4012 Oct 17 '14 at 14:55

The Republican party and Democratic party are not two separate parties. They only appear to be. The social network that ties the two together are tightly connected. Their core agenda is the same. They merely put on different facades to entice people into attacking each other rather than fighting against their tyranny.

We can start by looking at the Obama administration and comparing it to the Bush administration. The main flaws with the Obama administration are that it mirrors and expands upon Bush's, including endless warfare. We can also look at PPACA or so called "ObamaCare" which is largely based off of RomneyCare. That itself was constructed with the help of Ted Kennedy, who Romney called it's "parent". Ted was also a "good friend" of Romney, again highlighting the social connection between these "two" parties.

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    As a libertarian, I tend to be receptive towards your viewpoint more than average, but this sounds like a personal opinion not backed up by any evidence, not a good answer. – user4012 Oct 22 '14 at 3:22
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    The parties are two separate parties in name only. It is not only the lack in difference in terms of policy and actions, as I already discussed, they are members of the same social network. Maybe putting it into sports terms will help. Think of a practice match. The team splits in half and puts on different jerseys. Are they really two separate teams? No. – Politicoid Oct 22 '14 at 4:29
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    It can be tricky to determine if contiguity of policies is due to: 1) Bipartisan agreement; 2) Compromise dead-lock; 3) A policy area with insufficient reward to spend political capital despite policy differences; 4) Policy actually under the control of third-parties (lobby groups or regulatory capture); 5) Actual healthy concession and cooperation between representatives of the people... (oops. I was eating shrooms when I typed the fifth one). So we can't immediately say if policy contiguity is due to one monster with two sock puppet hands. – LateralFractal Oct 22 '14 at 5:31
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    But if that's true, then the U.S. is a single-party democracy, in other words, a dictatorship. Democracy on paper, but not in reality? – Willem Van Onsem Nov 10 '14 at 3:45
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    @CommuSoft That sounds about right. – Politicoid Nov 10 '14 at 15:24

I would say Republicans are conservative and Democrats are liberal. However as someone has already pointed out that will depend on the point in time that the question is asked. Of course, the time is now so that is the current state of affairs and has not always been. My understanding is that Dems used to be the Conservative party and Reps were liberal.

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