Before understanding the economic agenda of the Democratic Party, it is important to first understand the political ideology of the Democratic Party. Traditionally, Democrats believe in social liberalism.
Liberalism is a political ideology that seeks to maximize individual liberty. Liberalism in the United States is known as social liberalism which should not to be confused with classic liberalism, as referred to in the rest of the world.
Social liberals believe in moral values such as empathy, compassion, trust, and cooperation. Generally, they believe that the State must provide the necessary socioeconomic support such as education and welfare for the poor and the helpless in order to achieve positive freedom and social justice. Such beliefs lead American liberals to support progressive income taxes, regulation of society, and more state enterprises. They support:
- Government spending on education, health care, child care, and often many state enterprises.
- National health insurance or universal health care in a variety of forms to address the rising costs of modern health insurance
- Regulatory bodies over private enterprise in the interests of workers, consumers and fair competition.
- Spending on social security.
- A moderate or heavy level of taxation.
- Decentralized decision-making.
Centrism, The Third Way
However, as the Democratic base traditionally dominated by labor unions and working class became more diverse to include the intelligentsia and college-educated professionals, the Democratic base today includes a significant number of conservatives in addition to liberals. In recent decades, the Democratic Party has adopted a centrist economic and more socially progressive agenda.
Today, Democrats advocate more social freedoms, affirmative action, balanced budget, and mixed economy. The party believes that government should play a role in alleviating poverty and social injustice, even if such requires a larger role for government and progressive taxation.