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7.4 Political Ideology

Most persons in a democracy hold a general point of view, a scheme of life, or a set of values or morals. The integrated set of views regarding politics and the role of government may be termed as political ideology. Thus people may belong to a political party and accept certain political principles and traditions. A person tends to test his thinking regarding political issues and problems against his ideological outlook. It is important to note that starkly different variables go into the making of public opinion.

The Americans have shown little interest in political ideologies of both the extremes of the political scale: the left extreme indicating absolute communism and the right extreme indicating absolute fascism. It has been found that American politics operates in between the liberal and conservative ideological standpoints.

7.4a Liberals and Conservatives

Politicians and editorial writers often tend to place people in broad categories ranging from the most conservative to the most liberal. After a citizen is classified as a liberal, his political attitude can be predicted along with his response to several issues. Thus, liberals feel that government should function for regulating public interest and helping those in need. Such people resent government intervention in areas of privacy. Conservatives feel that government, at the federal level, interferes too much in the economy. They thus favor lowering of the taxes, or completely overhauling the tax system. On the issue of crime, liberals focus on the socio-economic causes of crimes, while conservatives lay stress on measures to deter criminals through punishment.

As most of the Americans consider themselves moderate in outlook, it is not easy for politicians to remain straitjacketed in the limits of conservatism and liberalism. Political leaders are more likely to think and act in line with the liberal and conservative ideologies of people. However there is a group called populists who can accept government measures helping the disadvantaged and also those supporting strict law enforcement. The concept of libertarianism differs from liberalism and conservatism; it emphasizes individual freedom and restricts governmental functions to the protection of life and property.

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7.0 - Introduction
7.1 - How Public Opinion Is Measured
7.2 - Political Socialization
7.3 - Social Background And Political Values
7.4 - Political Ideology
7.5 - How Public Opinion Is Formed

Chapter 8

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