The Democratic Party is one of two major parties in the United States and the world's oldest active party in history since its 1828 foundation. It supports social liberalism, and it is rivals with the conservative US Republican Party; there was a significant conservative faction within the Democratic Party until the 1960s-1980s, during which time many Southern Democrats defected to the GOP. There have been 15 Democratic presidents, the most recent being Barack Obama. Democrats support issues like social justice, welfare, the right to choose, civil rights, and gay rights, and they held 44/100 senate seats in 2016 in addition to 188/435 house seats, 18/50 governorships, 832/1,972 senate upper chamber seats, and 2,344/5,411 lower chamber seats, fighting against the Republicans for control of the government. The Democratic Party has been divided into several factions, namely the conservative Southern Democrats/Boll Weevil Democrats/Blue Dog Democrats of the American South, the Moderate Democrats, the centrist New Democrats, and the liberal Progressive Democrats.
The Democratic Party used to be a conservative political party, and the Southern Democrats supported states rights and slavery before the American Civil War. The Democratic Party was associated with white landowners and businessmen in the south until William Jennings Bryan changed the party's platform in the 1890s and transformed the party into a populist party, supporting liberalism and welfare. The party lost the support of the businesses, and the Democrats moved to the left-of-center. Theodore Roosevelt's creation of the Bull Moose Party in opposition to the rise of conservatism in the Republican Party in 1912 marked the final step in the switch of the party doctrines, with William Howard Taft being the first conservative Republican president.
Modern Democratic PartyIt would not be until the 1970s, however, that the Democratic Party would lose the southern white vote, with the Republicans supporting civil rights until after Richard Nixon left office; his receipt of one-third of the black vote was the last time that the Republicans would achieve such a high percentage. The Democrats shifted to the north as many Southern working-class whites, segregationists, and businessmen became affiliated with the Republican Party, and the Democrats formed majorities in northeastern and western states and in cities. The Democrats would come to support social justice, civil rights, utilitarianism, international cooperation, gun control, labor unions, marijuana legalization, marriage equality, the right to choose, and multiculturalism, adopting anywhere from centrist to center-left views during the late 20th century as many Southern Democrats and conservative Christians joined the Republicans and as most immigrants and minorities (especially African-Americans and Hispanics) joined the Democrats. During the 20th century, the Democrats spawned famous presidents such as John F. Kennedy (who fought against the spread of Marxism-Leninism during the Cold War), Lyndon B. Johnson (whose Great Society reforms and civil rights laws led to American liberalism reaching its zenith), and Bill Clinton (who created a powerhouse economy during the 1990s). The Democrats began to appeal more to marginalized peoples as the Republicans appealed to the upper class, working-class whites, conservatives, evangelicals, and the armed forces, leading to the Democrats becoming the party of the middle-class, minorities, labor unions, gays, civil rights activists, economic reformers, and liberals.
In 2009, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama became the first African-American president, and the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, extending healthcare to several people who were in dire need of it. The Democratic Party would be torn apart during the 2016 elections, however, after the conservative Democrat Hillary Clinton was chosen as the party's presidential nominee over the social democrat Bernie Sanders. Many Democrats stayed at home during the elections or even voted for other parties after it was revealed that the Democratic National Committee had encouraged Democrats to vote for Clinton instead of Sanders, and Clinton would be one of the most unpopular presidential candidates in history. The "establishment" Democratic faction would ignore the views of the grassroots liberal movements, and the establishment Democrats came to represent the old and white elite that ruled the government. Sanders and the anti-establishment Democrats argued that the government needed to be led by the people and not the top one percent, while the establishment Democrats were into the political games played in Washington DC, including "flip-flopping" on views, having the support of Wall Street billionaires, and representing corporations. By 2017, the Democrats were in their worst shape since the 1920s, or perhaps even Reconstruction, losing many gubernatorial seats and several seats in the US Congress.