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
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.
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.