While many people use the words liberal and Democrat interchangeably, they actually have distinct definitions and histories. Whether you’re discussing your political beliefs or arguing about politics with friends, knowing how to distinguish the two terms will help you articulate your ideas more clearly and avoid confusion.
A Liberal is someone who believes in liberalism, a philosophy of equality and freedom. Liberalism encompasses a wide range of viewpoints, from gender equality to free speech, but the core belief is that society must be built on principles of equality and freedom. A Democrat is the name of one of the most prominent political parties in America, which shares similar beliefs to a Liberal.
The Democratic party focuses on modern liberalism principles and seeks to uphold economic and social equality by implementing policies that promote welfare, regulate the economy, support organized labor, provide universal healthcare, and protect consumers. The party is also dedicated to environmental protection and sustainable development.
Over the last four elections, the percentage of self-identified liberals in America has increased, but still only makes up about a sixth of the overall electorate. It’s worth noting that, among the various demographic groups that make up this group, nonwhite voters are moving away from identifying as liberal at the fastest pace, with those without college degrees slipping further into Republican territory than their educated counterparts.
However, it’s important to remember that these are generalizations and that many Democrats have more moderate or conservative views on some issues – like same-sex marriage and abortion rights – than their peers in the GOP. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see a Democratic politician who supports progressive views on some social issues but aligns with the Republicans on economic policy.