Note: This post is the result of a conversation I had a couple of nights ago that really made me examine and articulate the reasons I’m a Democrat.
There are fundamental differences between the assumptions made by the Democrats and Republicans. It is these assumptions that inform the policies of each party. Two of these differences are what I’ve always focused on in determining my party affiliation and what policies I support.
First, the Republicans believe that perfectly efficient markets are achievable; the Democrats on the other hand believe that, even in a free market, there are no perfectly efficient markets. These differences date back to, and are best defined by, the debates between Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes. Inefficiencies in the market are most often seen in the employment market, where they also have the largest impact. These inefficiencies in the labor market arise from two places: labor comes in whole units (i.e. you can’t employ half a person) and there are labor contracts, so companies can’t change wages or let people go as soon as the market changes. This is not to say that the amount of employed labor does not change with the market, there is simply a delay in realizing that change. This is, by definition, an inefficiency in the market.
This differing view of the world has huge implications on what economic policies work for controlling and moderating the economy. These two different assumptions lead to completely different theories on how money moves through the economy. In a perfectly efficient market, the Trickle-Down Theory works at stimulating the economy. However, it has been shown repeatedly that this is not the case. Even so, the Republican Party continues to believe in an economic theory that has been shown to be fallacious. The Democratic Party subscribes to a theory that works fairly well in predicting the outcomes different stimuli on the economy.
That is the first difference between the worldviews of the two parties. The second is also related to economics, but informs social policy to a greater extent. The Republican Party believes that the world is a zero-sum game, that if somebody else has something they are taking it away from me. Conversely, the Democratic Party believes that we can create more by working together than we would have working independently. In other words, Republicans are about getting a bigger slice of the pie, while Democrats are interested in making a bigger pie.
This difference greatly affects social policies. By helping the least fortunate in our communities, the Democrats attempt to help people become more productive members in our society and economy. The Republicans believe that without government help others in the community will come forth and voluntarily help those less fortunate. Unfortunately, in my experience, I’ve never met anybody who has made this argument and also put their money where their mouth is. Instead, they seem to want to just lower taxes so they can have more and do nothing to help others.
One common theme between these two differences is that Democrats, by and large, change their view based on facts and experience, while the Republicans continue pursuing their policies based on faith. This single difference runs through every major difference between the two parties. One party is based on empirical evidence and science, while the other rejects it.
It is for these reasons that I’m a Democrat. I don’t believe in every policy that the party supports. And I definitely don’t agree with the partisan politics that play on people’s emotions to convince them of voting one way or another that both parties pursue. However, I do agree with the basic assumptions that the Democratic Party makes and how they approach policy.