List some American beliefs? • Democracy • Equality • Individualism • Competition • Private Business • Conformity to Authority • Nationalism • Idealism Do you believe these are true or too idealistic?
What is the American Dream? The widespread belief that individual initiative and hard work can bring economic success, and that the United States is a land of opportunity. Does the American Dream exist? Do we have equality?
Liberalism Liberal – one who favors governmental involvement in the economy and in the provision of social services and who takes an activist role in protecting the rights of women, the elderly, minorities, and the environment Often associated with the Democratic and Green Parties Liberal in a classical sense (17th and 18th century): minimize government’s role (especially in business)
Central View of Liberalism • There is a belief in the positive use of government to bring about justice and equality of opportunity • Use government in a positive way to protect the rights of individuals and the right to own private property, yet are willing to have government, yet are willing to have government intervention • They seek protection by having government supply health care, education, and housing • Often supporters of: Unions, Affirmative Action, Progressive taxes, worker’s rights. • The government should stay away from legislating morals and family values.
Criticism of Liberalism • Too much reliance on government to solve problems • Government is inherently unable to solve social problems • Liberal programs result in higher taxes • Too many government restrictions hurt capitalism and economy • Creates more bureaucracy and results in more waste
Conservatism Conservative – One who believes that a government is best that governs least and that big government should not infringe on individual, personal, and economic rights Social Conservative – believes that traditional moral teachings should be supported by the government • Evangelical Protestants, Roman Catholics, some Jews, many Muslims (others are not affiliated with a traditional religion) Often associated with the Republican and Libertarian parties Conservative in a classical sense (17th and 18th century): Limited electorate, retention of social classes important and allows for law and order.
Central Views of Conservatism • There is a belief that limited government ensures order, competitive markets, and personal opportunity • Pro-business – Government should not intervene with the economy. • Opposes higher taxes, especially relative taxes (flat tax). Everyone should pay the same percentage of tax. • Military has a strong role in constantly protecting America from its enemies. • Supports “Free Trade” • The government should encourage morals and family values • There should be a reduction of government programs and an increase in privatization
Criticism of Conservatism • With little regulation in business, there is less protection of workers • Failure to deal with social programs such as Sexism, Racism, and Classism • Allows a widening economic gap between rich and poor • Creates more problems by not taking care of social problems (lacks the spend now, save later approach) • Overly aggressive in military use/more difficult to create international consensus and diplomacy • Too close to the Christian Right, Corporate America who see all issues from an extreme standpoint
What is “Ideology”? Definition: A patterned set of political beliefs about who ought to rule, their principles, and policies • Most citizens display little ideology (the “moderates” dominate)
Mixing Ideologies Some people may be a liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal issues (as well as many other combinations)
Who are the “moderates”? A moderate is a person who takes a relatively centrist or middle-of-the-road view on most political issues • Approximately 35% consider themselves moderates
…and then there are Libertarians Libertarian – one who believes in limited government and no governmental interference in personal liberties • There are many libertarians in the Tea Party movement
Determining Ideology • Pollsters ask respondents to “self-identify” • In the US (for more than 30 years), there have been more self-identified conservatives than liberals (but more people call themselves moderates)
Ideology Consistency • Consistency refers to a person’s tendency to be liberal or conservative on most issues. • Among those who are highly informed and active in politics, consistency is quite high • As information and political activity levels drop, so does the level of consistency
Ideology v. Party Political Ideology refers to one’s beliefs about political values and the role of government Political Party is an organized group of people with common values and goals, who try to get candidates elected to office
Parties are based on ideology, but very different and not mutually exclusive. Liberals are often Democrats and Conservatives are often Republican, but not always. You can be a liberal Republican or a conservative Libertarian, because ideology transcends political party. One is how you feel about issues and the other is the political organization you are registered with, which raises money, establishes primaries, and helps candidates run for office.
The Two-Party System • The Democrats and the Republicans: In the US, there are two major parties. This is very different from most western Democracies (for example, in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, etc. there are multiple parties that fit on various parts of the political spectrum) • As a result, in the US there are large gaps in ideology among even party members of the Democrats or Republicans.
Political Base This is the group of people which a political candidate or political party feels is most likely to vote for them. Generally, people in the political base are more extreme in their political views and more likely to vote (especially in primaries) For example, Republicans over the last few years have seen their base as fiscally conservative people and those who are highly religious, and will court them in the primaries by attempting to seem more socially and fiscally conservative
Dirty Word Politics:Left v. RightTax and Spend Liberals v. Christian Extremists
Federalist 10 and Factions • James Madison warns of factions (groups of citizens with interests contrary to the rights of others or the whole community) in Federalist 10. Madison writes that a nation dominated by factions would lead to a tyranny of the majority. • Nowhere is there mention of political parties or interest groups in the Constitution! Many of the framers would have been ideologically opposed to political parties and interest groups (although many of them divided themselves in the debate over the Constitution)
Political Efficacy • Is a person’s own belief that she or he can influence politics through their actions and expression of opinion. • If a person’s political efficacy is high, then they believe they have power over the decisions of their government. • If a person’s personal efficacy is low, then they believe they have little power over the decisions of their government
Political Landscape This is a term used by political scientists to describe the regional differences throughout a country. By using statistics through polling and determining where certain ideologies and political parties are predominant, we have a picture of specific areas of a nation