Differences in Philosophy

Republican views lean more towards individual freedoms, rights, and responsibilities. In contrast, Democrats attach greater importance to equality and social/community responsibility.

While individual Democrats and Republicans may have different opinions on certain issues, what follows is a generalization of their stand on several of these issues.

Role of Government
One of the basic differences between Democratic and Republican party ideals is around the role of government. Democrats favor a more active role for government in society and believe that such involvement can improve the quality of people’s lives and help achieve the larger goals of opportunity and equality. On the other hand, Republicans prefer a small government — both in terms of the number of people employed by the government and in terms of the roles and responsibilities of government in society. They see "big government" as wasteful and an obstacle to getting things done. They believe that strong businesses should survive in a free market rather than the government influencing—through regulation—who wins or loses in business.

For example, Democrats tend to favor environmental regulations and anti-discrimination laws for employment. Republicans tend to consider such regulations harmful to business and job growth because most laws have unintended consequences. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a government agency that many Republican presidential candidates view as an example of "useless" government agencies that they would shut down.

Another example is the food stamps program. Republicans in Congress want cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP), while Democrats want to expand this program. Democrats argue that with a high unemployment rate, many families need the assistance provided by the program. Republicans argue that there is a lot of fraud in the program, which is wasting taxpayer dollars. Republicans also favor more individual responsibility, so they would like to enact rules that force recipients of welfare programs to take more personal responsibility through steps like mandatory drug testing and looking for a job.

Source: Differences in Philosophy
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