Objective: Students will consider the terms Democrat and Republican and examine the political ideologies that evolved over time and how these policies created a polarized nation during the 1970’s.
It was not until the beginning of the 1800’s that the terms Democrat and Republican became the terms used to define political affiliation within the United States government. Even then, the terms Democrat and Republican held different meaning then what we have come to understand them to define in the 21st Century. Democrat used to mean “the party for the people”, tracing it origins to the Greek term demokratia which means a popular government and from demos we get the “common people,” kratos means “to rule”. Republic come from the Latin word res publica which translates to public interest and from res we get “affair” and publica means “public”.
Do these two terms equate to the same meaning in today’s world?
Through the course of American politics, the people who put forth political agendas have molded the minds of the American population towards a set of political ideologies. For the 1st 100 years of the United States of America, the political parties were defined as followed: Non Partisan, Federalists, Democratic-Republican, Democrat, and Whig.
By the end of the Civil War, the terms Democrat and Republican were solidified in identifying two main parties in America’s political system but as America inched towards global hegemony, these two parties have taken on very distinct characteristics along clearly oppositional lines.Throughout the late 18th and early 19th century the American people witness great turmoil as they became embroiled in two major world wars, subsequently launched an offense on Communism and also turned to the domestic front to deal with the internal struggles of a country that began to doubt the political and social agenda within the United States. The 50’s were known as a time of economic prosperity riddles with social discourse only to be heightened during the 1960’s. By the 1970’s, Americans has begun to lose faith in their government as one president was impeached and the other lead the country into an economic crisis marked by weak governance.
It is no wonder the American people turned towards political discord because the 70’s represent an emerging polarity between the political ideologies of Democrats and Republicans. This polarized view took shape within the political administration and among the American people, creating a great divide that still resonates today: Liberal, Conservative, The New Right, The New Left…
Learning Resources: For week 6 (omit the links on Nixon and Vietnam and Phillis Schlafty) also include the links provided: