The Democratic Party stands as the oldest active political party in history. Researchers disagree, however, on the official date of its creation. Some argue that the establishment of the Democratic-Republican Party in 1798 marked the first beginnings of the party while others say it really began in 1840 when it got the Democratic label. Regardless, the Democrats have sustained themselves as one of the nation's major parties since their inception.
While its ideals and agenda have evolved over the years, the Democratic Party has always staked out turf as "the party of the common man." Today's Democrats tout their agenda as "moderate, achievable and common-sense." Their goals include expanding educational opportunities, creating more jobs, making health care more available, and improving the welfare of the working class. They support tax relief for the working class and for small businesses. While they believe that the size of the government should be diminished, they do not believe that citizens should be left to fend for themselves as a result.
Thomas Jefferson was the first candidate elected to the presidency in 1800 as a Democratic-Republican. In the years after his election, the Democrats had several splits in ideology and in 1824 four candidates ran on the ballot under the Democratic label. In 1828 Andrew Jackson was elected president as a Democrat after a split in the party Jefferson founded. Despite these occasional divides within the party in their first years of existence, Democrats have not relinquished their spot as one of the two major parties in the American political system.
The Democrats have had control of the presidency since 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected. Clinton, however, has not had the fortune to work with a Democratic Congress. In the 1994 mid-term election the Republicans took hold of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years and they retained the majority in 1996. The primary goal of the Democrats in 1998 is to take back Congress from Republican hands.
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