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The Difference between Republicans and Democrats

The Difference between Republicans and Democrats


Together with many of my coworkers, I huddled around the computer screen watching as President Obama took the oath of office and delivered his inaugural address. He didn't disappoint—after all, no one ever questioned his oratory skills. One thing, however, was gnawing at me, yet I couldn't put my finger on it. Afterwards I printed out the address and read it, and then it hit me...

Here's a challenge: Read the speech, beginning to end. And find a paragraph or sentence that couldn't have been part of a speech delivered by McCain, had he won the elections. Or even a speech by George Bush, had he somehow been reelected for a third term.

Did you find one? I didn't. And I read it closely a few times.

It's all in how you "sing" the wordsThe story is told about a boy and girl who went out on a date. After the meeting, the matchmaker called the boy's father to find out how things went. Ehr vill zee nisht ("He wants her not"), was the response. A short while later the matchmaker called back. He had just spoken to the girl's parents, and they insisted that it was she who had decided that the boy was not for her! "That's exactly what I said!" the boy's father responded. "He wants. Her, not." (Trust me, the Yiddish is much smoother sounding than the English translation...)

It's all in how you "sing" the words. Which you choose to stress, and which you mumble over...

It seems to me that the difference between the two parties is about the same. I admit that the following assessment is a bit simplistic, but sometimes simplistic gets a point across quite well.

Let's identify the principal sticking issues separating the parties in domestic and foreign policy.

On the domestic front, the Democrats emphasize the value of social programs and the role government should play in ensuring that all the citizens receive basic benefits. Republicans stress the imperativeness of a free market, low taxes and the elimination of unneeded legislation and waste.

When discussing foreign policy, liberals expound on the importance of dialogue and negotiation, while conservative talking points revolve around the importance of a strong military and the readiness to forcefully strike out at evil and those that pose a threat to our national interest.

But ask almost any Democrat whether it is important to preserve the economic private sector, lower taxes, have a strong military, etc., and he'd surely agree.

And you'll be hard-pressed to find a Republican who will say that negotiation, artful diplomacy and responsibility for the less fortunate citizens of the land are not part and parcel of the American ideal.

(Yes, there are some issues, abortion is an example, that seemingly find the two sides of the aisle irreconcilably apart. But I think that these issues are the exception rather than the rule.)

So what is the real difference between the two parties? I'd venture to say that it is mostly a matter of emphasis and application.

The efficient management of a nation requires many – and sometimes contradictory – components. Kindness and discipline. Idealism and pragmatism. Flexibility and rigid commitment to principle. Each party chooses to champion one side of the coin—while not denying the validity of the other.

In this sense, partisanship is not a negative phenomenon. One person (or party) cannot have a passion for two sometimes opposing positions. It is important to have different people championing different platforms.

(In this sense, the American people are not at all "hypocritical" for their vacillations: sometimes voting in conservative candidates and at other times liberal ones. I don't think this represents a real shift in values, I think it's a matter of which values they want to see stressed at a given time.)

In this sense, partisanship is not a negative phenomenonThe real challenge is for the parties to view one another as complementary to each other, rather than opponents. To understand that there is a time and place for everything, and working in harmony, incorporating all the valid viewpoints in both foreign and domestic policy, is the recipe for wise, compassionate and effective governing.

If this is true regarding the political arena, it's also true in our interpersonal relationships—whether they be filial, marital or business.

How much pleasanter and more respectful would our homes and workplaces be if we could view opposing opinions as complementary rather than antagonistic?

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Discussion (21)
January 2, 2014
Both cannot be right.
In reality, there is no such thing as a moderate. People who flip back and forth from liberal to conservative really have no idea about the philosophical foundations of the two ideologies. If they did then they would never vote for the other side. In short, conservatives believe in freedom more than equality, but in order more than freedom. Liberals believe in freedom more than order, but in equality more than freedom. If you understand these philosophical foundations of these two ideologies then it is impossible to be a moderate. You either believe in freedom: the government not making a private business give a mandated wage to their workers, or you believe in equality where the government should mandate a certain minimum wage. "Moderates" do not truly understand politics, because if they did then the middle class would not jump back and forth between Republicans when they feel "rich," and then to Democrats when they feel "vulnerable" or "poor." A moderate is one who has no foundation.
March 9, 2010
I was disowned by my family
I was disowned by my family for being a Republican. They told me that no Jew should ever be a Republican, let alone vote for one.
Boynton Beach, FL
June 12, 2009
Both parties are losers
Apologize for my cynicism.

Both parties are losers let me put it that way, because in the end it is the elitists that implement the policies by bribing the politicians. Democrats and Republicans do differ even in foreign policies and no wonder we have the turmoil in the ME region. Even the media is swayed in the reporting tactics, because they belong to either parties and create havoc for the world, I should say.

The recent election of Obama was a perfect example of how the dems used big money to buy their positions in various organizations. Obama's rhetoric in Iran and other ME region is a straight shooting out of the dems mouth. Or what do we expect next? Kissinger's famous one world order line of change and that meant, we might dissolve two party system.

Until then, we have an entertainment show with the dems and repubs.
June 12, 2009
Chabad & Politics?
Mostly the left criticizes politics and therefore debate. Conservatives / Republicans being more cognizant of facts, don't shy away from debate. Liberals / Democrats too often idealistic, wish to avoid debate that "bursts their bubble", and therefore are quick to label politics in a bad light =(

In just about everything we read, there is always a bias. Understanding the bias of this author puts the article in a more clear light =)
Hollywood, Florida USA
June 12, 2009
Israel is an issue for both Democrats and Republicans. President Truman, Democrat was the first to recognize the state of Israel. President Eisenhower, Republican was not a true friend of Israel. President Kennedy was the first to allow the weapons sales of US modern armor to Israel.

Democrats have a vision of social justice. Republicans tend to favor big business and the wealthy. We need a strong government to watch over our complicated society. There is no going back to small government. This recession/depression is a startling reminder.
Bayside, NY
February 3, 2009
Response to Irving
You are oblivious. Very few American Conservatives depending on what faith they follow are supportive of Israel than American liberals. If they are American Israelis, not all of them are supportive of Israel, because their one foot is with the Arabs for economical purposes and the other foot is with the Israel. Not all are authentic Jews and some are apostate Jews that are hiding as sheep in wolves clothing.
Time will expose who is supportive or not.
February 3, 2009
The claim that American conservatives are more supportive of Israel than American liberals is like saying conservative Israelis are more supportive of Israel than liberal Israelis. Nonsense.
Gainesville, FL
February 3, 2009
Difference between democrats and republicans
A huge difference is that democrats(liberals) are far less committed to support of Israel than are republicans(conservatives).America has long been the friend of Israel against the rest of the world and I fear to see that friendship erroding.
John Berka
Grand Prairie, Texas
January 29, 2009
In Ethics of my Father I have read over and over, ---"The government is not your friend."
I believe it.
Silver Spring, MD, USA
January 27, 2009
No Difference
How true. Except for a very limited number of issues there is absolutely no difference between the two major parties. It is like in Israel where Labor and Likud predict disaster if the other one wins. After the election they form a coalition because there is really no difference at all between the two parties.
What's the latest news? For that information, check your local or national news outlet. In this blog we will discuss the "why?"

Not "why did this event occur?" but "why did I find out about it?" There must be a reason. It must contain a lesson I can use to better myself and my surroundings. Together we will find the lessons...
Naftali SilberbergRabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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