Alongside the Republican Party, the Democratic Party makes up the majorly two-party system in United States politics. Throughout its history, the party has had some significant triumphs while also having some major setbacks. Let’s take a look at both the highs and lows of the party since its founding in 1828, and how it either went wrong or right.
Success #1 – Civil Rights Act
After several steps toward full-fledged civil rights in the United States for African-Americans, the Democratic Party made sure that the full act was signed on July 2, 1964. This act prohibited discrimination in places of employment, schools, and other public places. This was also big for voting rights in the United States and passed easily through the House of Representatives and Senate before being signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson despite a 72-day filibuster.
Failure #1 – Not Fighting The 2000 Election Results
The 2000 United States election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was one of the most hotly-contested and monumental elections in US history. For the first time since 1888, a man who lost the popular vote ended up in the White House as Gore received over 500,000 more votes than Bush. Florida was the toss-up that was contended the most, but Gore ultimately conceded instead of furthering the count, opening up the door for the new Republican regime.
Success #2 – FMLA
Losing your job because a loved one was sick and needed care was one of the more difficult things that people could face before 1993. It was then that Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, doing so just a few weeks after he became President. The act allowed employees to have their jobs guaranteed upon their return, with the compromise being that the absence of up to 12 weeks was unpaid.
Failure #2 – Carter’s Re-election Campaign
Ronald Reagan’s presidency really set the tone for the modern United States, with many saying that it led to a massive gap in income equality. However, that wouldn’t have happened with better handling of Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign in 1980. Carter was polling rather well, but delayed getting into a one-on-one debate with Reagan until late in the campaign. He fumbled his numbers away and Reagan won easily, changing the course of Democratic history.
Success #3 – The New Deal
In the years leading up to World War II, the United States was undergoing some massive changes thanks to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was aimed at helping the country to recover from the Great Depression. The New Deal reformed Wall Street while also allowing for more benefits for the unemployed and farmers affected by the Depression. The rebound for the country allowed the United States’ involvement in World War II to end in victory.
Failure #3 – The Kansas-Nebraska Act
Prior to the shift in political policy, the Democratic Party had been on the pro-slavery side and stoked the flames of what would become the Civil War thanks to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which created both eventual states as US territories. Armed conflict resulted from this act, especially as the new settlers were able to vote on whether or not they wanted slavery instead of having it decided by Congress. The only true good to come out of this was the emergence of Abraham Lincoln.
Success #4 – Social Security
The New Deal covered a lot of issues that Americans were facing in the 1930s, but one that requires its own attention is Social Security. The Social Security Act of 1935 was signed into law on August 14 of that year and established a monthly payment to the elderly citizens of the United States. While Social Security’s future may be bleak, there is little argument that it was a great program for decades.
Failure #4 – Accepting Finalized Affordable Care Act
The original proposition of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act would have given the United States healthcare similar to the other developed countries of the world in which the insurance industry would have been shrunken significantly due to Americans receiving free healthcare without the worry of massive medical bills. However, too many concessions were made and the ACA became more problematic than helpful in its final form as insurance prices actually increased for millions of Americans as it became mandatory.
Success #5 – Medicare/Medicaid
While the Affordable Care Act has had a lot of hiccups along the way, Medicare and Medicaid have made it so that every American at least has access to healthcare despite their income. Both established in 1965, Medicaid provides health insurance for those who are at 138 percent of the poverty line or below while Medicare provides insurance for those who are 65 and older or disabled.
Failure #5 – Handling The 2016 Election
The Democrats had a lot of in-fighting leading up to the 2016 Presidential election as Bernie Sanders gained a lot more steam than Hilary Clinton’s camp thought he would. Many thought that she would then coast to the White House against the inexperienced Donald Trump, but that proved to not be the case as Clinton lost the election (despite winning the popular vote).