American Ideologies

There are four primary ideologies espoused in the United States.  We usually discuss them from a left-to-right perspective, so that is how they’ll be presented here.  First off, an ideology is a clear, coherent, and consistent set of beliefs about the role of government and its relationship with the individual.  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 baseline interpretation of each ideology, for our purposes here, is founded on economic principles and government’s reach within the economy.  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.

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.

Of the four ideologies listed, which is the most prominently practiced in the United States?

15 responses to “American Ideologies

  1. I think that liberalism is the most practiced ideology in the United States. Most Americans are toward the middle of the ideology chart. They agree on views from both sides. Most Americans don’t want the government to get involved unless needed. So they like a government that will act like a safety net that will help when needed.

    • Hey Corey, I initially thought that about myself until I read the explanations of each. Liberals certainly have some great views but there are some very strong issues upon which they do not want to budge – especially as it relates to various programs for many Americans.

  2. Brittany McLaughlin

    I think Libertarianism is practiced most in the United States. While a lot of people disagree on aid programs on taxes, I feel as if most agree that government should be involved in less and things should go down to states rights. The rules have been set and I think many believe that we can’t just change those rules as we please. They should serve as a guide for the government.

  3. Muhammad Matariyeh

    I believe left-side ideology exists within the United States. Perhaps not extreme socialism, but the ideology is between socialism and liberalism. I believe this ideology negatively impacts the ability of individuals and companies to recover from the recent economic downturn. The American government consistently interjects itself in both corporate and individual bailouts, as evident by the GM and AIG bailouts orchestrated. In hindsight, these bailouts were wise, however, it still reflects a socialist/liberalism ideology.

  4. I would have to say closer to socialism than liberalism. First of all the government does intertwine itself with private businesses. Look at GM and other large companies that were going under. The government wants their hands on everything in one way or the other. Especially when it comes to the economy. They want to tax everything you do. They want to make all of these government programs for people in need, but have no money to fund them. Then they look at the middle class or lower than middle class to fund it with higher taxes. I work three jobs to support my family and these people sit on their butt’s not even looking for jobs. How about the government forcing them to look for work.

  5. I believe most people would like to believe that the nation stands at a Libreralism standpoint, which as of the past eight years the scope has very much moved towards this ideology. Although the media, and much of social context has become very liberal, I would have to argue that most of the nation is still rather conservative. We were founded under puritan ideals and this has become ingrained in our society. In all reality I believe that much of the nations stand point is completely dependent on which party is in office, which party controls majority of the house and senate as well. With the new health care reforms, the new tax that Obama is moving to put on companies, and the move to allow 90,000 immigrants pass over the boarder through executive amnesty the nation, although remaining fairly center, has changed from the bush administration from being a centered right nation, to being a centered left nation.

  6. You know it’s funny. When deciding how to answer this question, I first thought of my own viewpoints. It’s as though I’m in a bubble and the majority of the country thinks like me. 🙂 I wish. Well, I believe the country is closer to conservatism. There is nothing wrong with helping those in need, as long as they don’t abuse the power. Additionally, raising the taxes of others is an absolute NO NO!

    • I think it all depends what part of the country your in, but, I would choose liberalism. I believe we should tax those who 250,000 or more at 90 percent like we did after Word War II which objectively speaking is the best economic period in AMERICAN HISTORY. Conservatism is going the way of the home phone.

  7. Liberalism is probably the most used in the United States. Libertarianism should be the dominant way in the States. The Constitution should be the final say in all problems between the people and the government.

  8. I think Liberalism is the most used ideology in the United States. However, I feel like it is slowly becoming a Libertarianism country. For example, the 2nd Amendment is starting to become a right in certain states. The Constitution should be what is followed and what is used to solve problems that occur between the government and the people.

  9. I believe we have a very diverse range of ideologies within America, especially when compared to other countries like the United Kingdom. However, the main ideology that appears very popular under the current administration is liberalism. This can be seen with the mandated insurance policies and with Obama hoping to make community colleges free. However, those within Congress seem to prefer a more conservative viewpoint as the constant battle between Republicans and Democrats continue.

  10. samantha arnold

    Despite the advancement in some progressive movements, we are still very much a conservative country. I think nothing highlights this idea more so than the labels (socialist, liberal, leftist) President Obama is often saddled with. President Obama has been slightly left of center through his 6 years in office, yet he is often viewed as a radical liberal because the nation as a whole hold fairly conservative viewpoints. While a majority of the population seems to be just right of center the amount, who are just left of center certainly seems to be growing. Regardless, this leaves us with a country largely made of of centerists who elect moderate Republicans or Democrats.

  11. Liberalism is the most popular in America. This is due to the enormous population of middle and lower class Americans. Liberalism appeals to them because it doesn’t really do anything that is going to hurt them financially. The top 1% are typically not fans of liberalism.

  12. I believe that liberalism is the most popular in America. This is so, because many people rely on a social welfare system to allow them to have some sort of income. There is always going to be someone who needs a little bit of help and the welfare system helps many poor people in America. Also, liberalism leaves private businesses and companies alone for the most part, except for taxes. #PSC110

  13. The Liberalism should be more practical for the US government. In the US society, the social welfare system is the one of their important source of income. These practical income is able to keep food and clothing. The liberals do not believe that authoritarian society, this means that government can give more power and right to people.With the growing of floating population, diversified culture exist in the US. society, so the liberal system will be needed because of the promotes more freedom and human right and it strives for equality.Only social stability, the economic can be steady growth.

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