What’s The Big Ideology?

untitledYou’ll often hear politicians and pundits alike speak of “the right” and “the left” in political terms.  However, we might not understand what those terms actually mean.  These terms fall on what is sometimes called a “left to right” ideological scale.  In the United States, there are four predominant political ideologies.

Before we get into the scale itself, we must first understand what an ideology is.  An ideology is a clear, coherent, and consistent set of beliefs about the size and scope of the governmentl.  Those on the left side of the ideological scale tend to believe in more federal government involvement, while those on the right side of the scale believe in a federal government that is smaller in size and scope.  We will look at the four primary ideologies (socialism, liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism) from an economic perspective.  The crux of each is founded on economic principles and government’s reach within the economy.  When social issues (i.e. gay marriage, abortion) or the military are discussed, that consistency which makes up the fundamental makeup of an ideology gets clouded.  Here are some brief descriptions of the four ideologies:

Socialism:  This ideology is found on the left-hand side of the left-to-right scale. Socialists believe in curbing the excesses associated with private capital, but also they believe in a more active government intertwining itself within privately run businesses.  The end result being that privatization would no longer exist, and that which was once private becomes “public” in the form of a government controlled and regulated economy.  Socialism would provide more government programs to those in need, but would also need more taxes from the public to pay for those programs.

Liberalism:  Moving to the right of socialism is the liberal ideology.  Liberals tend to believe in the role of government as a “safety net”.  Government is designed to help those in need through social welfare programs.  This may sound like socialism in theory, but liberals do not believe in government controlled, or statist, society.  Private capital and businesses may be regulated and taxed by the federal government, but they would not be taken over and controlled by the government either.

Conservatism:  To the right of the liberal perspective is the conservative ideology.  In the case of the conservative, he believes in a smaller government which is cut down to size by reducing the number of social welfare and spending programs in the United States.  Conservatives also believe in cutting taxes.  This modern-day conservative is different from the classic conservative.  The classic conservative believed in the status quo.  Those who espoused such an ideological perspective believed in keeping things “as is”.

Libertarianism:  The ideology at the most right of the scale being described here is libertarianism.  Libertarianism, at its American core, was promoted during the American Revolution.  Classic liberalism, as it was called then, supported a federal government that had very limited powers.  The definition of limited powers would be derived from the United States Constitution.  Simply put, if there was  a question on the size and scope of the federal government, then the Constitution would be final arbiter in settling a governmental dispute between the federal government and the states.  Only that which is written specifically for the federal government in the Constitution can belong to the federal government.  That which is not a federal government power would then belong to the states.

If the United States had one dominant ideology, which one would it be?  Perhaps you believe that we live in a moderate or middle-of-the-road nation.  Remember, however, that the moderate position is not an ideology.  Moderation in politics is not clear, consistent, or coherent as the definition of an ideology suggests.

18 responses to “What’s The Big Ideology?

  1. From a British perspective, it’s definitely conservative! But in terms of American history, the modern nation is pretty liberal, I’d say. My thoughts.

  2. I would say the United States’ dominant ideology would be liberalism. Although the government has general control of the country, it doesn’t hold control over privately owned businesses however they do hold general taxes through taxing through purchasing, leasing etc. The government also does assist those in need through welfare programs throughout the country. Overall, the government holds power, just not enough power to overpower independent businesses.

  3. i believe that we cannot say what the United States’ ideology would be because all Americans have different opinions about government and how it should work. we also tend to pull different things out of different ideologies so it is hard to pin point if we would be one or the other. even though moderate is not and ideology i believe that is where we would fall as a nation because we were given the freedom of choice along with many others and that is why we have elections and are given the right to choose who we want in power.

  4. If the United States had only one ideology i would have to say it would be lilberal. A classical liberal is one who involves the government fully. They increase governtment spending and raise taxes, just as it is today in the US. This is why it would have to be classical liberalism.

  5. I think the most domininant ideology is Liberalism. Our government isn’t really enforcing all their power against the states. They might be taxing us, but they are not taking any authority from private capitals and businesses. I agree when calling them a “saftey net” because we basically need them to eliminate poverty and balance out the distance between the lower and higher social classes.

  6. Because the American government generally runs the Nation and its businesses, the most dominant ideology is Liberal. Furthermore, because private and small businesses don’t have total governmental control, it further proves that we are a dominantly Liberal country. However, most of the ideologies clash with each other and if Moderate was an actual ideology we would most likely fall under that category. We are still a free country, after all.

  7. While the United States may have started off as a more libertarian nation, it has recently been sliding to the left dwon the scale. With the Great Depression, and FDR’s New Deal program, the United States became a more liberal nation. She has occationally dipped Her toe in the pool of Socialism, from government bail outs, government buy outs, and most recently the new Affordable Health Care Act. But more often than not She is safely sitting on the liberal line. The government has a hefty “saftey net” program for those on welfare. Also, the government has large taxes placed both on Her people and Her businesses. Business no longer can opperate independantly from the government; they now have to fulfil certain stuiulations demanded by the government. Without implementing these policies, business can be facing huge fees. One such example of this is the chain of Hobby Lobby who appealed since they refused to supply their employees with the morning after pills because these are against the beliefs of the company. Within weeks the chain would have to shut down, if they do not supply these, since the government will change them “x” amount of dollars each day they do not implement this. People in the United States have jumped safely on the liberalism bandwagon without realized how such a thing is hugely detrimental to the United States and Her citizens.

  8. If the United States had one dominant ideology it would be liberalism. The federal government would have a general control over the country but will not take over small and privately owned businesses. I think that liberalism would be the dominant ideology because it has power but it is not overpowering.

  9. Shannon Siaperas

    Personally I do not believe there is one ideology that is dominant in the United States. However, if I had to pick one I would say America is more Liberal. Liberals believe that the Government is there to be used as a “safety net”. Providing programs such as welfare and financial aid. Today there are more and more people taking advantage of welfare and financial aid.

  10. There is no dominate ideology in the U.S. The U.S seems to pull ideas from all spectrum’s of the ideology scale. That said the U.S mostly resembles a moderate position ‘ideology’ , I use the term ideology very loosely in this definition though. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a large following of liberalism that plagues the U.S.

  11. I believe off a basic questionnaire you would find people to be dominantly conservative. People are often confused about the ideologies and with much of the media pointing towards liberalism try to identify with the one they hear positive things about. The medias bias of information keeps voters from knowing which party they believe in and create a gray area in many areas of voting

  12. Well there are times when I would think America is conservative, then there are other times the I think America is liberal. It swings both ways. I do believe right now we are in a liberal phase. Most of America’s history should line up with the conservative point of view.

  13. America is definitely in a liberal state of mind and I believe it is on the brink of socialism. The Federal government has their noses in just about everything and thanks to a rapidly declining economy, which mainly consists of minimum wage and service sector jobs, the people have clearly identified America’s current ideology. Expanding welfare programs, overtaxing and overregulating seems to be the answer to everything and the Federal government appears to be gaining influence at the state level. If Mayor Bloomberg had his way, he would regulate and ban anything that was dangerous or unhealthy. New York City can be a dangerous and unhealthy place. Hmm. I guess he would just overregulate his city. Banning it would put him out of a job.

  14. The moderate view is not an ideology. Although I believe that it should be. The federal and state government should work together to make the US a better place.There are way to many circumstances in different situations to just affiliate with one kind of ideology. There is a mixture of both conseraite and liberal views.

  15. Most of my life I have considered myself a follower of the Conservative ideology but given our current state of government and economy, I have to say that primary and dominant ideology of the United States should be Liberalism. Every other country on the planet has some sort of assistance for the ones in need. It should remain that way for the United States. Those in need right now is our working class. Although, the belief of cutting taxes as shared by the Conservative-minded population is something that I share as well. Specifically, I believe that cutting taxes from companies that keep our economy going is what’s going to help keep our middle class employed. This way, big companies would not have to resort to “out-sourcing” to foreign nations in efforts to “save money”, thus, reducing employment on US soil. If this were to happen, then I would say that Conservatism should be the main ideology of the United States. This way, the American working class population would not have to resort to government assistance.

  16. The United States ideology would be liberal beacuse it has power but it is not overpowering. Providing welfare is a way that the goverment helps but in todays day people are taking adavatange of it.

  17. Michael Hernandez

    I will have to agree with the majority of my classmates on this question. I believe that the majority of Americans are liberals. Since social security, financial aid and welfare are such a widely used resource. Since most people want to work towards the common good thats primarily good for the majority, we can see how Liberalism is described as Idealist in this sense, making it the majority of the United States.

  18. i would say America is more liberal. but i do believe that we pull from all ideologies not just one. All Americans have different opinions about government and how it should work.

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