If you’re a parent or teacher looking for an easy and impartial way to help your kid understand the two major American political parties, here are some ideas and examples to get you started. Explaining the Democrats vs the Republicans to your little one doesn’t have to be complex.
Basically, you got two sides who have different ideas about how the country should be run and they’re symbolized by a donkey and an elephant – Democrats in blue and Republicans in red. They disagree on taxes, health care, education, immigration, the environment, and more.
It’s totally normal to have different opinions and preferences, just like in any family or group of friends. But when it comes to the country, both parties want what’s best for the people. Even though they may not always agree on how to get there, it’s important to be respectful and listen to each other.
But firstly lets define these parties,
Who are the Republicans?
The Republican Party, also known as the GOP (Grand Old Party), was established in 1854 by anti-slavery activists who disagreed with the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which could have allowed slavery to expand to the western US.
Who are the Democrats?
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States. Founded in 1828, it was predominantly built by Martin Van Buren, who assembled politicians in every state behind war hero Andrew Jackson.
You can break down the differences between the parties by using a scale or spectrum. Draw a line and label one end “left” and the other end “right,” then put “Democrat” and “Republican” at the two ends. Basically, people who lean more towards the left prefer more government involvement and regulation, while those on the right side want less.
You can also use examples of issues that are relevant to your child’s life or interests, such as:
|Role of Government||Believe in larger role of government to solve societal problems and regulate private industry||Believe in smaller role of government and letting private industry regulate itself|
|Taxes||Generally support higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations to fund social programs and infrastructure||Generally support lower taxes for individuals and businesses to stimulate economic growth|
|Healthcare||Generally support a universal healthcare system that is provided by the government and covers all citizens||Generally oppose government-run healthcare and support a market-based approach with competition among private insurers|
|Education||Generally support increasing funding for public education and making it more accessible to all students||Generally support school choice programs such as vouchers, charter schools, and homeschooling|
|Environment||Generally support stronger government regulations and actions to protect the environment and address climate change||Generally oppose heavy government regulation of businesses and believe that individual actions and market forces can address environmental issues|
|Immigration||Generally support providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and creating a more lenient immigration system||Generally support stricter immigration policies and stronger border control|
|Social Issues||Generally support social liberal policies such as LGBTQ+ rights, women’s reproductive rights, and racial justice||Generally support traditional conservative values such as religious freedom, pro-life policies, and law and order|
It’s totally cool if your kid (or anyone else) doesn’t identify with a single party – some people are all about one party on some issues, not so much on others. Some people don’t identify with either party and just switch between them depending on the situation. Plus, people can vote for different candidates from different parties in different elections. To help your kid understand more about parties and their candidates, try reading books, watching videos, or visiting websites that provide info that’s appropriate for their age.
Basically, you should stress that you and other Americans have a right and responsibility to get involved in the political system. Every four years, people can vote for either a Democrat or Republican president, as well as other government officials like representatives, governors, and mayors. These elections are an essential part of democracy, so it’s important that everyone takes part.
Voting is just one way to get involved in the democratic system – there are lots of other options too! Writing letters, taking part in protests, lending a hand to campaigns or groups, or even running for office are all great ways to make your voice heard. Help your kid understand how important it is to stay informed and get involved in their community and nation.