10 Simple Steps to Understanding Why Liberals and Conservatives Disagree So Much

There is no question that the 113th Congress is one of the least productive in history. It has passed only 15 bills so far this year, and only a few of them were significant pieces of legislation. Even bills with strong bipartisan support, like the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act or disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims, were accompanied by intense bickering. In these politically-charged times, issues such as gun controlimmigrationhealth care, and abortion have become stalemates. The two parties just can't seem to find a happy medium.

Just how different are the philosophies, ideas, and values of the two parties that dominate America’s political landscape? Perhaps it's time to take a look at how different the Democrats and Republicans really are, and why they're butting heads.

Americans are more interested in their party's platforms than they are in their party's candidates. And with good reason. A political party’s platform is perhaps the best reflection of its values and philosophies, as it illustrates the public policies that the party intends to promote. Even the keywords used throughout the two parties' platforms betray their differing perspectives. Take the use of the words “hope” and “change,” for example. Surprisingly, the word “hope” is mentioned four times as often in the GOP party platform as in the Democratic platform, and “change” appears twice as often in the GOP platform. In the Democratic platform, the word “fight” occurs 35 times; the GOP platform doesn't use the word. Likewise, the Constitution is referenced 60 times in the Republican platform, but only six times in the Democratic one.

Below is a detailed chart that compares language from the Republican Party Platform, titled "We Believe in America," and the Democratic Party Platform, titled "Moving America Forward."

1. Abortion

Republicans

“We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

Democrats

“The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”

2. Economy

Republicans

“We offer our Republican vision of a free people using their God-given talents, combined with hard work, self-reliance, ethical conduct, and the pursuit of opportunity, to achieve great things for themselves and the greater community. Our vision of an opportunity society stands in stark contrast to the current administration’s policies that expand entitlements and guarantees, create new public programs, and provide expensive government bailouts.”

Democrats

“We continue to fight for measures that would strengthen the recovery and create jobs now, including keeping teachers and first responders on the job, putting construction workers back to work by investing in our roads, bridges, schools, and water supply, helping families refinance their mortgages and save hundreds of dollars a month, cutting taxes for small businesses that invest and hire, and putting veterans back to work.”

3. Environment

Republicans

The Republican party platform does not use the term “climate change.” In contrast, he word “climate” appears in the Democrat's platform more often than the terms "Al-Qaeda," "nuclear proliferation," "radical Islam," or "weapons of mass destruction."

Democrats

“We know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation — an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making. We affirm the science of climate change, [and] commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change.”

4. Guns

Republicans

“We uphold the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the Second Amendment. We acknowledge, support, and defend the law-abiding citizen’s God-given right to self-defense.”

Democrats

“We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans’ Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation.”

5. Marriage

Republicans

“We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of states which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other states to do so.”

Democrats

“We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples.”

6. Respect for Flag

Republicans

“We condemn decisions by activist judges to deny children the opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance in its entirety, including “Under God,” in public schools and encourage states to promote the pledge. We condemn the actions of those who deny our children the means by which to show respect for our great country and the constitutional principles represented by our flag.”

Democrats

There is no mention of the American flag or anti-flag desecration in the Democratic party platform.

7. Religion

Republicans

The word “God” is used a dozen times in the 2012 Republican party platform, the word “faith” appears 20 times, and the word “Heaven”, appears twice.

Democrats

The word “God” is used once in the Democratic party platform (as "God-given"), and there is no mention of the word “Heaven.” On September 4, 2012 the word “God” was taken out of the document completely, only to be reinstated the following day after GOP complaints.

8. Immigration

Republicans

“We oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by intentionally violating the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it. Granting amnesty only rewards and encourages more law breaking.”

Democrats

“Democrats know there is broad consensus to repair that system and strengthen our economy, and that the country urgently needs comprehensive immigration reform that brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and requires them to get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship.

9. Budget

Republicans

“We suggest a tripartite test for every federal activity. First, is it within the constitutional scope of the federal government? Second, is it effective and absolutely necessary? And third, is it sufficiently important to justify borrowing, especially foreign borrowing, to fund it? Against those standards we will measure programs and terminate programs that don’t measure up.”

Democrats

“We reinstated the tough pay-as-you-go budget rules of the 1990s so that all permanent new spending and tax cuts must now be offset by savings or revenue increases. We are committed to defeating efforts that would return us to the failed economic policies of the past, in which tax relief for the wealthy explodes the deficit and asks the middle class to shoulder that burden.”

10. Health Care

Republicans

"We believe that all Americans should have improved access to affordable, coordinated, quality health care, including individuals struggling with mental illness. Our goal is to encourage the development of a health care system that provides higher quality care at a lower cost to all Americans while protecting the patient-physician relationship based on mutual trust, informed consent, and privileged patient confidentiality. We seek to increase health care choice and options, contain costs and reduce mandates, simplify the system for patients and providers, [and] restore cuts made to Medicare.”

Democrats

“We believe accessible, affordable, high quality health care is part of the American promise, that Americans should have the security that comes with good health care, and that no one should go broke because they get sick.”

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Alexandra Booze

Alexandra serves as the Media Relations and Policy Manager for a fiscally conservative government watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. She has handled press and policy issues in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate, as well as education and health care issues for numerous government relations firms in the D.C. metropolitan area. Her research has been featured on Fox News, Fox News Business, CNN, CBS News, Reuters, The Hill newspaper, Reason Magazine, The Washington Examiner, and Time Magazine. She received a Bachelor of Art degree in News Journalism in 2009, and a Master of Public Administration degree in 2010 from Western Kentucky University.

MORE FROM

President Donald Trump turns Boy Scout Jamboree into campaign rally

The president discussed health care, Hillary Clinton, Obama, big yachts and more to 40,000 Boy Scouts and volunteers

This child kept HIV in remission for 8 years without drugs. Here’s what that really means.

More than eight years after his initial treatment, the child is still in remission.

Driver charged with human trafficking after 30-40 people found locked in fatally hot tractor-trailer

The charge against James Matthew Bradley, the alleged driver of the vehicle, could carry a punishment as severe as the death penalty.

Charlie Gard’s parents end legal fight to continue treatment for terminally ill son

The parents have withdrawn their request for Charlie to receive treatment in the U.S.

10th person dies after 38 found locked in sweltering tractor-trailer outside Texas Walmart

8 were found dead at the scene; 2 more died after being rushed to the hospital in critical or serious condition.

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

President Donald Trump turns Boy Scout Jamboree into campaign rally

The president discussed health care, Hillary Clinton, Obama, big yachts and more to 40,000 Boy Scouts and volunteers

This child kept HIV in remission for 8 years without drugs. Here’s what that really means.

More than eight years after his initial treatment, the child is still in remission.

Driver charged with human trafficking after 30-40 people found locked in fatally hot tractor-trailer

The charge against James Matthew Bradley, the alleged driver of the vehicle, could carry a punishment as severe as the death penalty.

Charlie Gard’s parents end legal fight to continue treatment for terminally ill son

The parents have withdrawn their request for Charlie to receive treatment in the U.S.

10th person dies after 38 found locked in sweltering tractor-trailer outside Texas Walmart

8 were found dead at the scene; 2 more died after being rushed to the hospital in critical or serious condition.

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.