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Today’s Democratic Party believes government has an important role to play in society.
It fights against economic inequality.
It advocates policies that battle racial and gender discrimination.
But it wasn’t always this way.
The Democratic Party was once the party of white supremacy, supporting slavery and the Ku Klux Klan.
To understand how the party made such a huge shift, you have to go back to its origins in the mid-1820s,
when it sprung up supporting the presidential candidacy of a popular former general, Andrew Jackson.
Jackson was an outsider challenging the political establishment and elites of his day,
and his critics disparaged him as a “jackass.”
But Jackson embraced the animal as a symbol of determination, and donkeys started appearing
in newspapers to represent him and his followers.
In the 1828 presidential election, which saw record-breaking popular participation, Jackson
won a landslide victory.
So his supporters argued that they and not the old elites represented the popular will of the country
— and they started calling themselves the Democratic Party.
Jackson’s administration immediately began expelling Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River,
an issue that defined the new administration.
After he signed the Indian Removal Act into law in 1830, five large tribes were rounded up
and forcibly marched to territories and camps further west.
And Democrats’ ambitions didn’t stop there.
In the 1840s, the party adopted the doctrine of “manifest destiny” —
the idea that Americans — white Americans —
were divinely entitled to dominate the whole North American continent.
Democratic president James K. Polk put this idea into action, massively expanding US holdings
by annexing Texas, acquiring Oregon, and winning much of what’s now the southwestern US in a war with Mexico.
But soon afterward, national politics devolved into bitter controversy over whether new states entering the Union should be permitted to allow slavery.
Democrats said they should, since their support base was strongest in the slaveholding states.
Yet a new Northern party — the Republicans —
sprang up in opposition to expanding slavery any further.
When Republican Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, the South seceded, and the Civil War began.
Once the Civil War was over, the Republican party was bitterly unpopular among white Southerners,
who wanted to maintain their supremacy over former slaves.
So the Democratic Party promised to limit federal government intervention on behalf of black citizens.
Democrats became effectively the only political party in the South, aided by intimidation and suppression of black voters.
Democrats also won on the state and local level leading to constant abuses of the rights of black citizens.
As the 20th century began, the country was changing, and the Democratic Party was changing too.
A handful of individuals and corporations had grown enormously rich and powerful,
using their vast fortunes to influence politics.
As a reaction to this, some reformers began pushing an agenda of progressivism —
arguing that the government would take more of a role in regulating big businesses and improving ordinary people’s lives.
At first, these progressive reformers were present in both parties.
But it was Democrat Woodrow Wilson who won the presidency in 1912 and put much of this
agenda into action, over Republican resistance.
So the Democratic Party became the main home for progressives, and Republicans became more the party of business.
But it was the Great Depression of the 1930s that sealed the Democratic Party’s new identity as the party of government activism.
In an effort to combat the crippling economic situation, President Franklin Roosevelt signed
what was then the largest package of domestic government projects in American History, calling it the New Deal.
And in the process of doing it, his administration dramatically expanded the size of government.
Yet the party was still split over race.
By the mid-20th century, it contained Southerners who staunchly supported segregation, liberal
reformers trying to end it, and many politicians were just happy to look the other way.
But it was 1964 when the senate voted on the anti segregation civil rights act that shows
how the progressive reformers in the party had gained the upper hand, steering the party
away from its racists past towards equality.
But the democrats in the south voted against the civil rights act, remaining wedded to the idea of segregation.
This chart shows the presidential vote of black voters.
Around the 1960s the Black voters who had already been moving toward the Democratic party
would begin overwhelmingly support the Democrats from then on, and conversely the Republicans
would take a huge hit among black voters.
Meanwhile, white Southerners, moved away from the Democratic Party they had been loyal to for so long
— in part because of race, but also because of suspicion of big government
and a desire to defend “traditional values” against liberal activists.
Democrats would go from dominating the South, to losing almost all influence in the region.
Thanks in part to this drop in popularity among white voters, Democrats started losing elections,
often losing by huge margins.
But demographically, the US is becoming an increasingly non-white country,
and the democrats have had a comeback thanks in part to minority voters.
The huge influx of hispanic voters has especially benefitted democrats.
These demographic shifts helped the Democratic Party, once the advocates of white supremacy
and slavery to elect the first black president in 2008, showing just how much the party had changed over the years.
Yet it’s not entirely clear where the future of the Democratic Party will lie.
But as America becomes more diverse, it’s likely that the democratic party’s appeal
among minorities will continue to be its strength into the future.
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從白人至上主義到黑人總統:民主黨的血淚史 (From white supremacy to Barack Obama: The history of the Democratic Party)

1196 分類 收藏
Anita Lin 發佈於 2016 年 11 月 15 日    Anita Lin 翻譯    Sabrina Hsu 審核
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