The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party (nicknamed the GOP for Grand Old Party). Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest political party.
The Democrats' dominant worldview was once social conservatism and economic liberalism while populism was its leading characteristic in the rural South. In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt ran as a third-party candidate in the Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party, leading to a switch of political platforms between the Democratic and Republican Party and Woodrow Wilson being elected as the first fiscally progressive Democrat. Since Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal coalition in the 1930s, the Democratic Party has also promoted a social liberal platform, supporting social justice.
Today, the House Democratic caucus is composed mostly of centrists and progressives, with a smaller minority of conservative Democrats. The party's philosophy of modern liberalism advocates social and economic equality, along with the welfare state. It seeks to provide government intervention and regulation in the economy. These interventions, such as the introduction of social programs, support for labor unions, affordable college tuitions, moves toward universal health care and equal opportunity, consumer protection and environmental protection form the core of the party's economic policy. The party has united with smaller liberal regional parties throughout the country, such as the Farmer–Labor Party in Minnesota and the Nonpartisan League in North Dakota.
Well into the 20th century, the party had conservative pro-business and Southern conservative-populist anti-business wings. The New Deal Coalition of 1932–1964 attracted strong support from voters of recent European extraction—many of whom were Catholics based in the cities. After Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s, the pro-business wing withered outside the South. After the racial turmoil of the 1960s, most Southern whites and many Northern Catholics moved into the Republican Party at the presidential level. The once-powerful labor union element became smaller and less supportive after the 1970s. White Evangelicals and Southerners became heavily Republican at the state and local level in the 1990s. Racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, such as Jewish Americans, Hispanic Americans, Arabic Americans and African Americans, tend to support the Democratic Party much more than they support the rival Republican Party, giving the Democratic Party its current membership lead over the Republicans.