Political Ideologies are consciously held systems of beliefs about government and politics.
The Ideological Spectrum from Communism to Nazism
By tradition, dating back to the National Assembly during the French Revolution, ideologies are grouped from left to right. In those days, those who supported monarchy sat on the right and those who wanted a republic sat at the left. The supporters of absolute monarchy defended the privileges of the nobility and opposed popular democracy. Those on the left wanted limited government, popular elections, and political equality. In modified form, these political divisions continue to the present time.
Communism Socialism Liberalism Conservatism Authoritarianism Nazism
Whether ideologies are called left or right
depends on where they stand on the questions of equality and democracy.
Economic Equality Private Property
authoritarianism Communism Fascism
democracy Socialism Liberalism Conservatism
It should be noted Communism and Fascism are both anti-democratic. Indeed both are not only authoritarian but totalitarian in their approach toward government. These ideologies differ from each other in that Communism seeks economic equality whereas Fascism or Nazism favor private property and economic inequality.
The American Ideologies: Liberal and Conservative
Most Americans do not hold a clearly defined ideology Most of us are moderate. We pick and choose among different political ideas without any clear consistency. Our own self interest, pragmatism, and what works are usually more important than rigid ideologies.
Check out this Web site by Political Compass, which places ideologies in a coordinate system of authoritarian/liberatian on the y-axis and right/left on the x-axis, at http://www.digitalronin.f2s.com/politicalcompass/index.html. This program provides a self test and analyses the results. Where do you fit into this ideological spectrum?
To the extent that Americans do have ideological beliefs, they fall mainly within the liberal-conservative spectrum. In many other countries, the ideological spectrum is much broader than it is in the US. The Liberal/Conservative spectrum of American politics, is actually quite moderate. Liberals and Conservatives share many common values within the American political context. Both accept the U.S. Constitution, ideas about democracy, and respect for private property. Their disagreements, which can at times become quite strident, are actually more matters of degree than total substantive disagreements. The underlying consensus of American politics should be viewed as a strength of our system. Some of their differences on various issues are illustrated below.
American liberalism and conservatism both favor democratic forms of government and support private property rights. They disagree on how much economic equality is desirable and the extent to which governmental actions should help bring about greater equality.
Broad policy differences divide Liberals and Conservatives in the United States not only on economic issues but also on matters of national security, social policies, and family values. Some of these differences are outlined below.
Most Americans fall within
Economy Regulate Hands Off
Social Welfare More Benefits for Poor Self Reliance
Morality Issues Different Life Styles Traditional Family Values
Civil Rights Affirmative Action No Group Rights
National Security Prudent Defense Better Safe Than Sorry
US Role in the World Multilateral
Engagement Isolationist Tendencies
Purpose of Government Help the People Limited Role
Private or Public Solutions Government Solutions Private Charity & Actions
Federalism Questions National Solutions Local or State Solutions
More Policy Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives in the U.S.
Social Safety Net
Many types of families