By Orts Lamroe ’17
Many Seniors and some juniors will be eligible to vote in time for the presidential election taking place on November 8. Before choosing a candidate, it’s vital to understand some of the general positions that the Democratic and Republican Party hold.
The fundamental difference between republicans and democrats is their view on the federal government’s role in people’s lives and the economy.
Republicans oppose strong federal government and praise the power of states. For example in the case of gay marriage, the party feels that it should be up to states to decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage or not.
Democrats hold the opposite view of Republicans. They believe that the federal government should be frequently involved in citizens’ lives.
Discussing gay marriage transitions the conversation into the social views of the Republican and Democratic Party.
The Republican camp attracts a conservative audience, conservatism is the preference for older traditions and practicesover new ones. This conservative political philosophy applies to gay marriage, abortion, and amnesty (gradual citizenship) which most republicans oppose. However, they support the death penalty for the guilty and the right to defend with arms according to studentnewsdaily.com.
The Democratic camp attracts liberals who believe in social and political change for progression. Liberalism embraces gay rights, abortion, eventual citizenship for illegals, and protection of the environment. Most democrats supported the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court Case which ruled for the legalization of gay marriage nationally according to pewforum.org.
Students and even teachers are probably concerned with the two parties’ attitude towards education.
The Republican Party has discussed reforming the education system that they believe is outdated. According to the 2012 Republican Platform, they want “expanded community colleges and technical institutions, private training schools, online universities, ” this includes for-profit colleges. Also, the Republican Party has a strong liking for school choice which aims at giving families alternatives to public schooling and thus encouraging competition between schools to improve performance. Finally, the Republican Party disapproves of direct federal student loans, instead they believe the government should insure the private sector like banks with money to give to students, according to the party’s 2012 platform.
Applying the Democratic Party’s belief in federal intervention, the party has for long supported federal aid to students with Federal Pell Grants according to studentaid.ed.gov. Federal Pell Grants give money to students without the need for them to be repaid. The party strongly supports public schooling and its expansion ( better facilities, smaller classes, and new teachers) as well as standardized testing according to the 2004 platform. In 2008 the party’s platform said that bad schools should be shut down and their students should be allowed to transfer to better schools.
Waseem Gazali ’17 said, “ I’m conflicted on the issue of federal loans to student but since student debt is so high I definitely think Republicans and Democrats need to compromise and reform for the better.”
A major deciding factor for voters could be the republicans’ and democrats’ views on social welfare programs.
Republicans don’t totally oppose government aid, but they believe it has some flaws and need to be reformed. According to the 2004 Republican Party Platform: A Safer World and a More Hopeful America, republicans claimed that people have the potential to abuse such welfare programs and others depend on them permanently, hurting the economy. Republicans have referenced to a 1996 testimony from LaDonna Pavetti titled Time on Welfare and Welfare Dependency which said that on average 90 percent of people left welfare after five years but within a year close to half returned.
Democrats generally favor government benefit programs like Food Stamps which aim to provide low-income families with federal assistance until they make enough money to be self-sufficient according to fns.usda.gov.
Deana Yu ’17, a Democrat said , “The welfare programs alone don’t provide enough money for people to just not work”, and continued “It’s not a way out and it’s not needed just because people are lazy; it’s needed because people are starving, and people are unable to provide for their families”
The outcome of the 2016 election is going to be important as it marks the end of a two-term administration. Hopefully people will make use of the countless available resources like ontheissues.org and vote wisely in November.