Tag Archives: Socialist

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.

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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?

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?

What is your political ideology?

Give Me A Way Out

I can remember visiting my grandparents in Parlin, New Jersey for several holidays and occasions each year.  My grandpa and I would sit and watch a television show called, “The Uncle Floyd Show” which was a New Jersey institution in the form of a low-budget comedy-variety program.  The show bounced around, year after year, from low frequency channel to low budget cable channel so many times that my grandpa would tease me and say that “Uncle Floyd” was on “Channel 52 and a Half”.  Inevitably, we would talk up some baseball stories, mainly focusing on who should and shouldn’t be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We wouldn’t get into stats too often, but I would question him about the merits of certain ballplayers, like Steve Garvey, for instance, who I thought should be in Hall and who my grandpa thought should not.  Our selections to the Hall were based on straight up and down votes.  Either he’s allowed induction into the Hall or he’s not.

Voting for someone into the Baseball Hall of Fame is not the same as voting for the next President of the United States yet many polling companies typically give the respondent two candidates to choose from.  Either you vote for the Democrat or you vote for the Republican.  There is little middle ground.  In the United States, voters are more likely to consider themselves, Independent, than Democrat or Republican.  Furthermore, there are extremes to both the left and to the right of our two major parties.  You have your Greens, Socialists and the newly formed Justice Party to the left of the Democrats and the Libertarians and Constitution Party supporter to the right of the Republicans.  However, when asked to choose a Presidential preference, many voters are left with one or the other.  Is it going to be Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?  I know we get a chance to say, “I Don’t Know” or “Unsure” or “Other”, but I want my “other” choice to be a specific name.  When I buy a drink from the store, I have a choice of Coke, Pepsi, and other cola brands, such as RC.  The labels never read, “Other Cola”.

Why not list, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Rocky Anderson as polling choices?  In Colorado, you could add the name of Roseanne Barr, who is also a third-party candidate for President in some states.  How about adding the Prohibition Party candidate to a poll in Louisiana, the only state where the party qualified this year?

Polls should list all candidates running for President, and for other offices, where applicable.  If it’s a nationwide poll, then all candidates who are running if enough states to qualify for the Electoral College should be listed.   State by state Presidential polls should include all qualified candidates from that state in the survey.  Polls for Gubernatorial, Senate, and House races should also not leave third party or Independent candidates off of their questionnaires.  It is the honest way to go to promote electoral choice in the United States.  Polling companies that offer multiple survey choices only inform the voter more about who is running for a particular office.  There is no harm in doing so.

My grandpa passed away a few years ago.  I miss those baseball discussions with him.  Looking back, it seems that our final decisions on who should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame were pretty rigid.  Making a choice for President in a poll, however, should not have to be as rigid.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below.