WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES AND HOW HAVE THEY CHANGED OVER TIME?
There are always new students each year in school. This year, your middle school has a new French student, and of course, she’s attracting a lot of attention. Usually new students come from a nearby town, not from Europe, not from France.
That student, Isabelle, loves the attention she’s getting. Every day, she entertains you and your friends during lunch with stories about how French people do, in fact, eat frogs and snails, but that french fries are actually from Belgium. Who knew?!
Isabelle also likes to talk politics. Today she said that the European political parties in each country there are very different from one another. But she thinks there’s hardly any difference at all between the two American political parties. “Democrats, Republicans, there’s hardly any difference between them. They’re practically the same.” This sounded strange to you. Every time you turn on the news, there’s a Democrat and a Republican arguing like their lives depend on it. If there’s no difference between the two parties, why do we have elections? And what in the world are these people disagreeing about every night?
You asked your Mom about it and she said that Democrats generally believe the federal government should take a more active role to help solve society’s problems, particularly those in need. Republicans, she said, are more likely to believe in a smaller government that leaves more space for individuals and companies to solve the problems. That sounds like it could be an important difference right there, but you want to do some more investigating. Sure, Isabelle knows where french fries come from (and she’s got an amazing accent), but is she really such an expert about the American political parties?
It’s time for you to explore some accounts of the Democrats and Republicans from the previous century. Investigate the primary sources. What do these past documents tell you about differences between the two major political parties as they existed in their day, and how political parties change over time? Make your case.
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
The two major American political parties are the Democrats and the Republicans.