top of page

About the Project


Are American politics more divided than ever?  If you have ever entered the Twittersphere or listened to cable news, our politics appear almost irredeemably fragmented.  Conventional wisdom suggests that bipartisanship is dead, and that civil political discourse has evolved into constant political warfare.  However, with our hyperbolic media and our collective short memories, the past is often romanticized, and whether America is indeed more divided than ever, is not so readily apparent.

To assess our current political climate vis-à-vis those of previous generations, the Democratic and Republican Party platforms prove to be very useful.  Except in 2020, the Republicans have published a party platform quad annually since 1856, and the Democrats since 1840.  The platforms set forth each party’s priorities and identify the issues and problems then facing the country.  Having largely remained consistent in form and structure over time, the platforms are a useful constant when analyzing gradual shifts in party positions and political dynamics.

The party platforms also provide a unique perspective on major historical events, from women’s suffrage, to the Great Depression, to World War II, to the Cold War, to the Space Race, to 9/11, to the Internet Age, and to everything in between.  It is quickly evident from the platforms that many of today's problems are not unique to our generation.  By better understanding the past through the party platforms, our leaders would be better positioned to plan for the future.

This Project intends to showcase the party platforms as a tool for civic education and for understanding the American experience from a different historical perspective.  Through education, hopefully we can break down myths, crack stereotypes, and close our political divide.


Thank you to the UC Santa Barbara American Presidency Project for making the party platforms accessible online.  Without access to past platforms, this project would not have been possible.

bottom of page