Stepping away from the left-right political axis

October 5, 2008

In determining ones political stance, it is often asked whether one is a conservative or a liberal. These two titles, while being the most common and oft repeated by the general populace fail to accurately describe the opinions and views of many who tend to break with their party lines on issues which seem to be otherwise “democratic” or “republican.”

The issue of homosexual marriage is one along which republicans and democrats seem to be nearly completely polarized, with democrats favoring and republicans opposing the legalization thereof. There are, however, a number of democrats who oppose the notion on a basis of morals and a number of republicans who favor it, or are at least opposed to a government ban on the act on the basis of opposition to a large, overreaching government. Likewise, on the issue of gun control, the republican party tends to favor a policy allowing for much more leeway in terms of owners rights and the kinds of arms available for purchase, while the democratic party tends to favor stricter gun control and more stringent laws governing the purchase thereof. As with homosexual marriage, there are card-carrying republicans and democrats who embrace what is typically the opposing party stance on these individual issues.

How then is a republican, who is opposed morally to the idea of gay marriage but also opposes a government ban on the act to describe their ideals? Or conversely, a democrat who believes in a less restrictive arms policy while aligning themselves generally with the party on other social matters?

It is the ideals of these voters that the conventional titles “liberal” and “conservative” fail to accurately describe. One who favors a fiscally conservative government (IE, lower taxes and less expansive social programs) and a socially liberal one (no government ban on gay marriages, abortion rights, etc.) will find themselves torn between the two, and may be often mistakenly described as a “moderate.” This is a fallacy, and can have severe implications when it comes time to cast a vote for an elected official who will forward that voters ideals.

To describe oneself as a “moderate” is to say that one seeks a “middle ground” on issues fiscal and social.  This is a completely different stance than would be taken by one opposing government interferences in said matters. The chart below best presents the differences between the ideals of those who favor heavy fiscal and social regulations (high taxes, more taxpayer/government funded programs and social regulations such as controls on marriage, speech and press, favoring authoritarianism,)   One identifying with libertarian ideals would tend to favor a government with less restrictions and regulations both on a social and fiscal level.  A liberal ideology (as understood by the standards of our modern American system) is more likely to favor higher taxes (more government involvement/interference fiscally, coupled with a larger system of taxpayer funded programs) and less social regulation (such as legalization of homosexual marriage and abortion.)  Conservatives most often favor a government which encourages moral ideals (implying restrictions on homosexual marriage and abortion, most notably,) and allows for a greater amount of freedom fiscally (favoring more equal tax policies or the lowering of taxes therein.)

And, that I may best avoid bias and remain objective, I encourage my readers to explore the definitions and interworkings of all the above ideologies more in depth, and use that knowledge to determine which candidates best represent and are most closely aligned with their respective beliefs and ideals.

– The Author


One Response to “Stepping away from the left-right political axis”

  1. Often overlooked in the discussion of ideologies are the millions of populist voters that are liberal on economics and traditionalist on social matters. Both parties have devoted a great deal of effort to attracting upscale fiscal conservative-social liberal voters but there are large numbers of working class-middle class populists with the opposite outlook. A Pew Center survey shows that there are far more populists than libertarians. F

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