Political Spectrum What does it mean when a person says that Senator Smith is a liberal, or that Congressman Jones is a conservative? The terms “liberal” and “conservative” are very complex, and different people give them different meanings. The characteristics which follow will help you better understand the way people commonly use the terms today regarding domestic issues (not foreign policy).
y w x z v RADICAL MODERATE REACTIONARY LIBERAL CONSERVATIVE • Turn to government to solve • economic problems • Turn to business and the market • to solve economic problems • Favor government regulation • of business • Oppose government regulation • of business • Favor more equality over • more freedom • Favor more freedom over • more equality • Oppose larger defense • budgets • Support larger defense budgets • Oppose more government spending • Favor more government • spending to solve economic • problems • Oppose higher taxes on rich people • Favor higher taxes on rich • people • Favor political and economic • change • Oppose political and economic change
“Radicals “ (sometimes referred to as the left wing) tend to favor more government intervention, more equality and more extreme change than liberals. “Moderates” are between liberals and conservatives. “Reactionaries” (sometimes referred to as the right wing or radical right) tend to not only to oppose change but also to want to go back to earlier times. Go back and label each of the ten proposals in this lesson with the letter corresponding to its position on the political spectrum. That is, if you feel a proposal is radical, you would put an “v” on the line next to the proposal, and so on. Back to Political Spectrum