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Ideologies of political parties in the United States

PMI‑4.A (LO)
PMI‑4.A.1 (EK)
Explore the key differences between Liberal and Conservative ideologies in the United States, often associated with Democrats and Republicans. Dive into their contrasting views on hot-button issues like abortion, affirmative action, gun control, taxes, government spending, regulation, and military strength. Remember, individuals may hold a mix of these viewpoints.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] What we're going to do in this video is talk about the two major ideologies you will hear about in the United States, and that's the Liberal ideology and the Conservative ideology. And the Liberal ideology is often associated with the Democratic party, and the Conservative ideology is often associated with the Republicans. But be very careful. This does not mean that every Democrat will have a stereotypically Liberal view on every major issue, or that every Republican would have a stereotypically Conservative view on every issue. We're all individuals, and many of us will have different opinions on these issues, and might lean Conservative on some, and might lean Liberal on others. But just to get a sense of what Liberal and Conservative tend to mean in the United States, on issues that you will hear about, let's go through this list of issues. And I encourage you to pause this video, and have your own go at what do you think would be the Liberal or the Conservative viewpoint on each of these issues. So let's start with arguably one of the most contentious issues in the United States, and that's of abortion. A Liberal would view this as a reproductive rights issue. They view this as the right of a woman to choose what to do with her body. So they tend to be pro the right of a woman to have an abortion, to choose to have an abortion, and will self-label themselves pro-choice. Conservatives on the other hand, will often view this as a life issue, that they view the developing fetus as a life, and like any life, has certain rights. And so they would typically be against abortion, and would self-label themselves pro-life. Affirmative action is another contentious issue. This is the idea, and we've talked about it in other videos, that proactive measures should be taken in order to address wrongs of the past, or in order to address inequality today, or discrimination today. And it often takes form in, can race be considered as a part of admissions into, say, higher education? Liberals tend to be in favor of affirmative action, while Conservatives tend to be against it. The Liberal point of view is yes, we have a very unequal society, there's a lot of discrimination, race should be considered a factor in order to ease that discrimination. A Conservative today might argue, wait a second, we wanna be a racially blind society, and so we do not want race to be a factor. Guns is another very contentious issue. Liberals will often cite guns as a major factor in a lot of the crime and shootings in the United States, and they would tend to be pro gun control. Conservatives on the other hand, will often cite the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, and they would say, look, when we see mass shootings or crime, it's not a gun issue, there's other issues at play. And so they would be more pro gun rights. They would generally be against gun control, and want more rights for gun owners. On a related note, on crime, Liberals tend to view it as a social issue. What are the underlying causes, say, poverty or something else that is causing crime? They would also be very concerned with defendants' rights, citing examples where certain ethnic groups, certain races might be disproportionately accused, or disproportionately punished. Conservatives on the other hand, tend to favor tougher policing and tougher laws, saying that okay, it's interesting to look at the social issues, and yes we do need certain rights, but at the end of the day, you don't wanna be too easy on crime. So tougher policing, and tougher laws. Moving into the economic sphere, the Liberal view on taxes is generally that it's okay, and some Liberals will even view it as a tool for building social equality. They would say hey look, if someone's gotta pay for something, maybe it should be the rich. They can afford to pay more, and it'll help level the playing field a little bit. And so okay, especially on, and I'll put the rich in quotes, because different people would have different standards for what it means to be rich. And Conservatives generally are not okay with taxes. They would say that it is a disincentive to work. They would say that it's a friction on the economy. They would say that it would reduce investment that could create jobs. The Liberal and Conservative views on spending is related to that on taxes. A stereotypical view of Liberals is that, hey they might like to tax, especially on the rich, and then spend it, especially on social programs. Okay, especially on social programs. Maybe welfare system, or free healthcare, these would all be things that a Liberal point of view would more likely to support. A Conservative viewpoint is not okay with government spending, that the government should be as small as possible, and spend as little as possible. Perhaps the only exception, or one of the few exceptions, would be except on military spending. Except on military, where a Conservative might be in favor of more spending there in order to have a strong and muscular military. Now related to this idea on the size of government, is that of regulation. Liberals tend to be in favor of regulation, especially if they're in regards to things like preserving the environment. Conservatives tend to be against regulation, saying that okay, maybe some baseline regulation is okay, but it needs to be minimal, because the more regulations you have, once again, these are frictions on the economy. It makes it harder to start a business, it makes it harder to grow, it makes it more expensive to do things. So they tend to be against regulation. Last but not least, and this is just a survey of some of the big issues you will hear about in the United States, is the military. And I already touched on it. A Liberal is likely to want a military, but they would probably want something that does just the base services of what you would expect from a military. If people are invading our borders, that the military is there to protect us. So maybe we could call it basic military. While a Conservative would say, hey, you can't get complacent. Even if we're in a time of peace, even if people haven't crossed our borders in a long time, you don't know what's around the corner. Look at history, there's all sorts of complacent societies that eventually get overrun. And so they would want a strong and muscular military. And they'll make the argument that the stronger your military is, perhaps maybe the less likely that you would have to use it, because people would not even want to mess with you. They wouldn't even wanna think about messing with you if you have a strong and muscular posture. So I'll leave you there on these general ideas, and once again, these are stereotypical views. You will meet many people, including yourself, you might have a mix of these views. For example, it would not be too difficult to find a Democrat who for example might be pro-choice, but against affirmative action, who is pro gun control, who is maybe someplace in the middle here on crime, who is economically Conservative, who's not okay with taxes, who wants them to be as little as possible, who is not okay with government spending, who's maybe middle of the road on regulation, and maybe they like a strong muscular military. And likewise, you could find Republicans who similarly have a mix of viewpoints.