Tag Archives: Liberal

Federalism and Ideology

What is federalism?  There are several definitions for it, but I like to think that federalism is the sharing and distribution of power and resources between the federal government and the states.  You can also add “…and the local governments” when you discuss the separation of powers between the levels of government.  For the purposes of this discussion, let’s examine two different views.  The first view, the decentralist view contends that the Constitution is a compact among the sovereign states which gave the central government a limited framework to work from.  Those who oppose such a framework would be centralists.  Centralists see the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and that the states are not the representative of the people.  Centralists claim that the representative of the people is the national government.

Where do you stand on the idea of federalism?  Today’s centralists are more of the socialist and liberal variety while the decentralists are more conservative or libertarian in their thinking.

The Application of Ideology

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.  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.

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.

Can we apply ideological interpretations to the state and local levels?  Is there such a thing as “socialist garbage pickup” or “libertarian libraries”?  Do ideologies matter at the state or local levels or are we looking for politicians who apply pragmatism rather than ideology in their decision making?

Federalism: Where Do You Stand?

Federalism is the sharing and distribution of power and resources between the federal government and the states.  You can also add “…and the local governments” when you discuss the separation of powers between the levels of government.  For the purposes of this discussion, let’s examine two different views.  The first view, the decentralist view contends that the Constitution is a compact among the sovereign states which gave the central government a limited framework to work from.  Those who oppose such a framework would be centralists.  Centralists see the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and that the states are not the representative of the people.  Centralists claim that the representative of the people is the national government.

Where do you stand on the idea of federalism?

Media Bias

The Aftermath of the Boston Marathon

Pundits and political commentators have already begun to speculate as to who committed the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15.  Some have blamed Middle Eastern terrorists.  Others have pointed their fingers at right-wing extremists or militia groups.  While others have suggested that the bombings could be the work of someone who did not want to pay his taxes on Tax Day.  Each of these opinions comes with a liberal or conservative slant to it.  The question remains:  Is there ever a time for individuals to make political points when an event such as the one at the Boston Marathon occurs?

Parties and Ideologies

Would it be fair to call the Democratic Party, a “liberal party”?  Would it also be fair to call the Republican Party, a “conservative party”?  Probably not, because not all members of the Democratic Party are liberal and not all Republicans in their party are conservative.  In the United States, the major parties are “indistinct” in their makeup.  This means that the party’s label does not necessarily equate to a party’s ideology.  For instance, the Republican Party is made up of conservatives, libertarians, and liberals, while the Democratic Party is made up of liberals, socialists, and conservatives.  Many ideological perspectives fit under each party’s label.  Contrast that with the major parties in Canada or in the United Kingdom.  Each country has a Conservative Party, a variation of a Liberal Party (in the UK, it is called the Liberal Democratic Party), and a Labour Party, which leans in the direction of socialism.  You know where each party stands in regards to their ideology.  Parties that have definitive ideologies are called “distinct” parties.  There are those parties in the United States that are distinct in their ideology.  Among those include the Libertarian Party and the Socialist Party USA.

Why aren’t more political parties in the United States “distinct” in their makeup?

Federalism

In late 2007, a call amongst conservatives rang out for a Fred Thompson for President candidacy.  Thompson, a former Republican United States Senator from Tennessee and character actor from such television and movie ventures as Law & Order and Die Hard 2, answered that call and ran for the Republican nomination for President in earnest in late 2007.  Despite the ballyhoo surrounding his entrance into the race, Thompson’s campaign sputtered along and by the end of January 2008, his campaign ended.

The following video is one of a series of talking point vignettes that were designed to introduce Thompson to the public who might have been unfamiliar with his political views.  This video deals with  the topic of federalism.  Federalism is the sharing and distribution of power and resources between the federal government and the states.  You can also add “…and the local governments” when you discuss the separation of powers between the levels of government.  In the video, Thompson speaks from a decentralist point of view.  This view contends that the Constitution is a compact among the sovereign states which gave the central government a limited framework to work from.  Those who oppose such a framework would be centralists.  Centralists see the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and that the states are not the representative of the people.  Centralists claim that the representative of the people is the national government.  Take a listen to what Senator Fred Thompson has to say on the matter of federalism.

Where do you stand on the idea of federalism?  What are thoughts on what Fred Thompson had to say in 2007 about federalism?  How do they relate to what is happening in the United States today?