During the early years of the United States, there was a mishmash of parties who were represented in the White House. Democratic-Republicans and Whigs each got four members elected as President of the United States while the Federalists had one. James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, was the only US President not to have a party affiliation.
Since the late 19th century, though, there has been a back-and-forth between the Republicans and Democrats in the White House. For the latter party, many of them served during the 20th century after the ideologies of the two major parties in the US flipped. Here’s a look at the five most famous Democratic Presidents thus far.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Many say that the swap in ideology between the Democrats and Republicans began in earnest with Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States, and served from March 1933 until his death on April 12, 1945. The Democrats had gone from a party of small government to one of large government, and that was ramped up throughout Roosevelt’s presidency.
Under Roosevelt, the United States became involved in World War II while also promoting many social programs including Social Security, the Civil Works Administration, and Emergency Relief Appropriation Acts. Roosevelt is still the only President in United States history to serve for more than two terms, and will likely remain that way as the Constitution was changed to prevent it from happening again.
John F. Kennedy
It would be hard to find a United States President who was more “famous” than John F. Kennedy. There was a certain charisma and charm that Kennedy had over other US Presidents that made his personal life a topic of pop culture media more than any president before him. Even those on the other side of the aisle appreciated Kennedy, which led to him having the highest average approval rating for any President.
At his highest, Kennedy carried an approval rating of 83, and even his lowest was still at 56, meaning at no point in his short presidency did a majority of the country think he wasn’t performing well. Unfortunately, the popular President was shot dead just weeks before his third anniversary in the White House at just 46 years old. Still, he is remembered fondly by those who were around during his political career.
Lyndon B. Johnson
After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, there were some large shoes to fill. As the Vice President under Kennedy, former Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson was tabbed as the next-in-line and became the 36th President of the United States. While Johnson has a bit of a polarizing legacy, he did do a lot of good in the long term. This includes expanding civil rights while also leading the US through a large growth period.
Though not quite as charismatic as his predecessor, Johnson was fortunately effective at his job. Johnson decided to run for another term in 1964, easily defeating Barry Goldwater thanks to his continued success from the Kennedy administration. Johnson decided not to run in 1968 because of the Vietnam War, allowing Richard Nixon to become the next President.
John F. Kennedy had a type of charisma that was hard to match, and the Republicans found their version in the form of Ronald Reagan. After Reagan’s two terms came to an end and George Bush served for one term, the Democrats knew that they needed another Kennedy. They found him in the form of Bill Clinton, the two-time Governor of Arkansas.
Clinton was one of the youngest Presidents in history at just 46 years old when he was elected, and his youth allowed him to connect with the younger voters who had been ignored by previous candidates. Clinton knocked Bush out of the White House and served two terms before his time in the White House came to an end in January 2001.
Of course, we can’t continue to talk about charismatic Presidents without mentioning Barack Obama. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama became the first President to represent the 50th state while also being one of the youngest men to move into the White House at 47 years old, putting him just one year older than Bill Clinton. Obama also became the first African-American President in the country’s history, marking a monumental milestone in the country.
Obama didn’t have the highest approval rating on average, but he was incredibly popular on the Democratic side of the aisle. At his highest, Obama was still obtaining an approval rating in the high 60s while his lowest dropped to the high-30s. At the time Obama took over, there was a massive recession, and Obama helped guide the country through a rebound.