Political Ideology DefinitionsQuestions often arise as to what is a liberal ? What is a conservative ? What does it mean to support the Left ? Or the Right ? What does a certain political party stand for? Although positions change over time and it's never good to make generalizations about what a certain group thinks, this section tries to clarifies some of the basic ideological definitions. Politicians have a wide range of opinions; thus, any particular leader doesn't necessary fit neatly into these categories.
The original definition of a liberal was someone who advocated change, new philosophies, and new ideas. A conservative was someone who avoided change, instead preferring to stick to the tried and true. In modern times, these definitions have expanded to include a wide set of political beliefs (which are defined below). To be Leftist or agree with the Left political point of view is synonymous with being liberal. To be Rightist or agree with the Right political point of view is synonymous with being conservative. The Left and Right terms were created because political ideology is viewed on a continuum; most people generally hold views somewhere in the middle. For example, if you agree more with liberal ideas, you're considered more Leftist in your thinking. The graphic below illustrates the continuum:
Liberal (Left) Conservative (Right)
Generally speaking , the Democratic party follows a more liberal platform; the Republican party follows a more conservative platform. The following table summarizes the current ideology of the parties (the section gives more detail on what each party stands for).
Liberal (i.e. Left)
Conservative (i.e. Right)
Increase regulation and worker protection
Ease regulation and keep government out of business
Protect the rights of the accused first and foremost
Provide maximum punishment and protect the rights of the victim first and foremost
Decrease or maintain
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Use federal funding for the research
Don't use federal funding for the research
Increase the government and use more socialistic policies
Reduce the government and use more capitalistic, free-market policies
Grant amnesty to illegal aliens; don't build a fence along the Mexican border; allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses; prevent the creation of a national ID card & database to track people in the country.
Sign this environmental treaty
Don't sign this environmental treaty
Government needs to protect people from themselves
People should be responsible and be held accountable for their own actions
Maintain separation of church and state; prevent faith-based government initiatives
Introduce more religion in schools; allow faith-based government initiatives
Decrease or maintain
Negotiate first and only take military action if sanctioned by the U.N. and other world organizations
Work with world bodies and use negotiation, but take unilateral pre-emptive action if necessary to protect America
For a more humorous look at the parties, check out this .
"Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least."--Robert Byrne.
"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."--Will Rogers
Last Updated: 01/07/2012
Written By: Joe Messerli