Informed Citizen

Political Terminology

“If you don’t do politics, politics will do you.”

“If you don’t do politics, politics will do you.”


Below are some terms that are often heard in the realm of political discussions, along with their definitions and some basic information and references.


a closed meeting of a group of persons belonging to the same political party or faction usually to select candidates or to decide on policy a presidential caucus

a group of people united to promote an agreed-upon cause

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Caucus. In dictionary. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from

Delegate (n)

a person acting for another

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Delegate. In dictionary. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from


Abbreviation for “Grand Old Party” (Republican)

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). GOP. In dictionary. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from


5a : caucus
b : an election in which qualified voters nominate or express a preference for a particular candidate or group of candidates for political office, choose party officials, or select delegates for a party convention

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Primary. In dictionary. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from

At Large

relating to or being a political representative who is elected to serve an entire area rather than one of its subdivisions

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). At-large. In dictionary. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from


1a : government by the people especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
2 : a political unit that has a democratic government
3 capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the U.S. from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy— C. M. Roberts
4 : the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
5 : the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Democracy. In dictionary. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from


1a(1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president
(2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government
b(1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law
(2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government
c : a usually specified republican government of a political unit the French Fourth Republic
2 : a body of persons freely engaged in a specified activity the republic of letters

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Republic. In dictionary. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from

Democratic Party

The Democratic Party is represented by the donkey, dating to Adams supporters calling Andrew Jackson a “jackass” in the 1828 presidential election. Jackson embraced the name, even including a donkey on campaign posters. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast began using the donkey to represent the Democratic Party as a whole in the 1870s.

In the 1840s and 1850s, the Democratic Party experienced conflict over the question of extending slavery to the Western territories. The unresolved dispute caused the party to split in the 1860 presidential election. The party’s fracture set the stage for the election of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Bitterness over the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction motivated Southern states to primarily support the Democratic Party for the next 100 years, during which time they wielded considerable control over the party.

Retrieved April 15, 2020, from

Republican Party

Though popularized in a Thomas Nast cartoon, the GOP’s elephant symbol originated during the 1860 campaign, as a symbol of Republican strength. Republicans envisioned ‘free soil, free speech, free labor.’ Under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, the GOP became the Party of the Union as well.

President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but it was the entire Republican Party who freed the slaves. The 1864 Republican National Convention called for the abolition of slavery, and Congressional Republicans passed the 13th Amendment unanimously, with only a few Democrat votes.

The early women’s rights movement was solidly Republican, as it was a continuation of abolitionism. They were careful not to be overly partisan, but as did Susan B. Anthony, most suffragists favored the GOP. The 19th Amendment was written by a Republican senator and garnered greater support from Republicans than from Democrats.

Retrieved April 15, 2020, from

Look it Up: Other Parties

Libertarian Party

Green Party

Constitution Party

Look it up: Belief Comparisons

Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs

Socialism vs. Capitalism