The Democratic Party is the longest continuously running political party in the United States. They are known to refer to themselves as the party of Thomas Jefferson. This is somewhat misleading, however. Thomas Jefferson’s political party was commonly referred to as the Republicans. He was very leery of any governmental policy or institution that even resembled monarchy. The opposing party at the time were called Federalists and supported a very centralized federal government that wielded vast legislative power. Jefferson opposed this vehemently. He felt very strongly that, to avoid tyranny, we must divide the power of government into many different hands. It wasn’t until 1828 that the party changed their name to The Democratic Party under Andrew Jackson. Jackson’s party supported the Jeffersonian principle of a weak federal government and states’ rights. Since the modern Democratic Party is against states’ rights and consistently lobbies for more and more federal power, it is somewhat disingenuous to associate the party with its Jeffersonian roots when it supports the Federalist policies of Jefferson’s opponents.
The “liberal” Democratic Party we recognize today did not emerge until the Great Depression. It was Roosevelt’s New Deal that established the welfare state and introduced heavy federal regulation of banks and the encouragement of labor unions. The party was in turmoil because southern Democrats were still very much against civil rights which was a growing platform issue in the north. The South was still holding on to the traditional values of the pre-Civil War era Democratic Party. Many were still pro-slavery at heart. The civil rights movement, began under Kennedy and written into law by Lyndon Johnson, saw a mass exodus of many southern Democrats who switched to the Republican Party.
From there, it has been full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes for the Democratic Party. They are now fully committed to “liberalism” and “progressivism.” They are pro centralized government and anti states’ rights. There are many different factions within the party that range from left leaning centrism to far left fascism. Party leaders, however, tend to focus on an increase of social programs, federal regulation of economics/business practices, and taxes. They advocate for a decrease of military spending, immigration restrictions, and gun ownership for citizens. Most recently, a very small faction of socialists in the party have begun lobbying for a massive national shift into universal healthcare and free secondary education.