Liberalism vs Conservatism
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By: Samantha White
Political parties are not political ideologies
Before we begin to dive into the core differences between the aforementioned political ideologies, it is important to differentiate between political parties and political ideologies. Most of the time, people will align themselves with a political party as a reflection of their political ideologies. Two prime examples of this practice in function are people’s affiliation with the Democratic or Republican party. The fundamental difference between political parties and ideologies is that the ideologies of these political parties can be switched; however, the beliefs aligned with political ideologies are unchanging. We have seen this switch in history in the 1830s during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency where he aligned with the Republican party. The beliefs of these parties have evolved over time to become what they are today while the political ideologies have remained the same.
Similar to political parties, there are a vast amount of political ideologies in our society. However, the two that seem to continuously take popularity among American citizens are liberalism and conservatism. Liberalism most commonly aligns with socialist practices. Liberals generally believe in government intervention especially for purposes regarding equity. There is a misconstructed belief that because liberals support socialist practices, they are in favor of communism, however, since communism is a radical form of socialism- this belief is completely false. Liberals support more government regulation over private sectors and affirm that it is the government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties and human rights. Democrats are typically viewed as more liberal and are considered to be to the left-wing of the political spectrum which differs drastically from their opposition.
Conservatives are said to be right-leaning on the political spectrum with their integral beliefs being that of the complete opposite of democrats in terms of government intervention. Conservatives are large supporters of the free market and are in favor of less government intervention and little government oversight. They generally believe that government intervention should be primarily used for military purposes and have a strong adherence to religion. Conservatives trust that if the United States has less government oversight and leave various economic factors up to the private sector, there will be less government spending. This decrease in government spending would directly correlate to taxes causing tax reductions.
There are various factors that often influence people’s political ideologies including social groups, family, economic self-interest, and political conditions. Social groups, whether it be race, gender, or sexuality, have a unique influence on people’s political ideologies due to them being conditions that are so closely tied to one's identity. Along with economic self-interest, it is unsurprising that people are self-serving in wanting to feel supported or accepted in their government.
Children are usually first exposed to politics and political affiliations at home, causing family to play an alarming role in youth political ideologies. This can be dangerous due to youth not feeling able to voice their political affiliation in their house in fear of disownment.
An influence entirely unique to one’s time period is political conditions. As time proceeds, our government circumstances are constantly changing whether it be a great depression, the civil rights movement, or a pandemic. These different factors that are solely shaped by the time period play a vital role in an individual's political ideologies which we are witnessing now.
Understanding this core part of politics is fundamental in fulfilling your civic duty. Becoming well-informed citizen assists in creating societal change while also ensuring that we take full advantage of our rights as American citizens.