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Liberals, Conservatives and Moderates in America Divisions in America Lecture Outline Social Issues Abortion Gay Marriage Immigration Prayer in School Public Safety versus Civil Liberties Domestic Spying in War Civil Liberties for Accused Terror Suspects Gun Control Death Penalty Bigger Govt versus Smaller Govt Higher v. Lower taxes Social Security America during War Use of force/war Patriotism (during war) Ideology Simple Definitions Ideology a (strong) belief about how government should manage society Political Culture the general ideology of a society (averaged across all people and all issues) Today, the political culture of America is moderately conservative The ideological trend in America over the last 40 years is toward the right (more conservative) The Ideological Spectrum For purpose of simplicity, political scientists typically measure ideology on one dimension (one line)
America Today Left Liberal Center Moderates Right Conservative C o ns r a iv TwoDimensional Ideological Spectrum Ideology Conservative It's probably more accurate to measure ideology on two dimensions, rather than on one dimension Horizontal Axis Social Issues Vertical Axis Economic Issues Pure Capitalist USA President Bush Personal Freedom Advocate Family Values Advocate Europe Economic Issues Liberal Muslim-Majority World Pure Socialist Social Issues
Liberal Conservative Divisions over societal norms Social Issues What are societal norms? Rules of "acceptable" behavior In every country, there are divisions within the political culture over what society should and should not tolerate America Today, liberals and conservatives are clashing over the issue of gay marriage Iran Today, liberals and conservatives are clashing over the issue of public affection Other Issues: In America, there are ideological differences on a host of other societal issues: abortion, immigration, prayer in school, just to name a few Should men and women be free to hold hands in public, kiss in public, etc? Should gay marriage be legal (and should it be accepted as normal by society)? Abortion
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue A woman has a right to control her body; government should not regulate privacy matters Primary Reasons for Position Personal freedom/civil liberty: the right to control one's own body Conservative The fetus is a human being and its right to life should be protected by government Religious principles: only God can take life Fundamental right (civil liberty): all human beings have a right to life Moderate Abortion is legal; let's keep it that way and not re-fight the issue Pragmatism: Let's find a compromise: keep it legal, but also allow for some regulations (24 hour waiting period, parental consent) Gay Marriage
Ideology Position on the Issue Primary Reasons for Position Liberal Marriage is a civil liberty that should be available to gays; homosexuality is not wrong and should be tolerated and accepted by society Personal freedom/civil liberty: consenting adults should have a right to form a life-long legal contract Conservative Marriage has always been between a man and a woman; the purpose of marriage is to raise children; homosexuality is wrong and should not be condoned by society Tradition, morality, religion: tradition supports marriage as it currently exists; the Bible condemns homosexuality Moderate Marriage has always been between a man and a woman and should remain that way. Pragmatic: why change what has worked for so long Immigration
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue People come to America to make a better life for themselves, which is a good thing; illegal immigrants come here to work and should be granted amnesty; most of the 9/11 terrorists immigrated legally, not illegally We should restrict immigration and crack down on illegal immigrants; there is a legal way to enter this country and those who don't should be punished; otherwise, we will encourage more illegal behavior; immigrants tend to remain loyal to their home countries but they should show more appreciation for America; and terrorists could cross a porous Mexican border Honest immigrants mind their own business and don't hurt anybody; terrorists who immigrate should be identified and then deported or jailed Primary Reasons for Position Land-of-opportunity principle: We are all immigrants Conservative Nationalism: America first principle Moderate Pragmatism: allow honest immigrants in, crack down on dishonest ones Prayer in School
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue Religion should be kept out of schools; children can learn religion at home or in church Primary Reasons for Position 1st Amendment: separation of church and state principle (This has been the majority position of the US Supreme Court since the 1960s) Conservative Religion teaches morality; children need moral guidance; taking prayer out of schools has contributed heavily to the moral degradation of society (e.g., breakdown of the family, divorce, drug use, condoning homosexuality) 1st Amendment: does not prohibit prayer; praying does not establish a religion in a school (This has been a minority position of 1 or 2 justices on the US Supreme Court since the 1960s) Morality: Religion teaches an ethical code (right v. wrong) Moderate Prayer is a good thing; it doesn't hurt anybody Morality: children need a moral code in their lives A delicate balance: freedom v. police power Civil Liberties v. Public Safety Our government has an obligation to protect the public from criminals and from foreign enemies but it also has an obligation to protect the civil liberties of honest, lawabiding people America would no longer be a free country without civil liberties (which are fundamental freedoms) But America would also no longer be a free country if the public had to live under a constant threat of attack by criminal gangs or by foreign terrorists Domestic Spying The civil liberty/public safety struggle is particularly relevant today because of the recent revelation of President Bush's domestic spying operation Other public safety/civil liberty issues: civil liberties for accused terror suspects, gun control, and the death penalty Domestic Spying
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue Domestic spying initiated by the President in a time of peace or war should be approved by the courts; US residents should be protected from "big brother," there should be suspicion of a crime before a court allows the executive branch to spy on US residents In a time of war, in order to protect the public, the president should have the authority to tap phone conversations from terrorist suspects overseas to people within the US Not clear. Polls are split on this issue: Moderates are on both sides of the issue This issue will be resolved in 2006 Primary Reasons for Position Civil liberties: in the absence of suspicion of a crime, people have a right to privacy Separation of Powers: Checks on executive power are necessary to prevent a dictatorship Conservative Public Safety: government must protect the public from the next terrorist attack Moderate Not clear. Moderates typically side with conservatives on public safety issues, but this issue is new and moderates haven't settled on a position Accused Terror Suspects
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue Even terrorists have a right to an attorney, a right to know the charges against them, and a right to a jury trial; all persons, not just US citizens, should have basic civil liberty protections Terrorists are enemy combatants and should be detained for the duration of the war on terrorism; a terrorist will be less likely to reveal information about plans for future terrorist attacks if that terrorist has access to a lawyer or to the courts Win the war by whatever means necessary Primary Reasons for Position Civil liberties: The accused must be protected from the potential abuse of government power; and indefinite detentions are an abuse of government power Conservative Public Safety: government must protect the public from the next terrorist attack by squeezing information out of detainees Moderate Pragmatism: do what works to defeat the enemy Gun Control
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue Handguns are only used to kill people; there are far too many irresponsible people with guns, therefore government should regulate gun ownership among the public The 2nd Amendment protects an individuals right to bear arms, which includes handgun ownership for law-abiding citizens; people should have a right to defend themselves; the police cannot protect every person from criminal attack Primary Reasons for Position Public Safety: Gun laws are necessary to protect the public from themselves Conservative Fundamental right (civil liberty): right to self defense Moderate Assault weapons continue to be banned; handguns are legal and should remain that way Pragmatism: find a compromise between liberals and conservatives Death Penalty
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue Even vicious murderers can be rehabilitated; there are too many flaws in the system; the likelihood of killing an innocent man is too high; governments that go bad can kill millions of their own people; it is too dangerous to allow government to legal power to kill Vicious murderers are so heinous they deserve to be put to death; does a Saddam Hussein or a serial killer really deserve to live? Primary Reasons for Position Civil liberty: the accused are entitled to certain protections from government, protection against death is one of them Conservative Public safety: protect the public from murderers Appeal to Fairness/Morality: why should a heinous murderer live when the victim dies? Appeal to Fairness/Morality: the victim is dead, so why should a brutal murderer live? Moderate Vicious murderers should be put to death. Bigger versus smaller government The Size of Government The issue involves how much government should do? Should government provide health care to the public--or should people be responsible for their own health care, by paying for it themselves or by purchasing insurance? Should government fund the development of an alternative energy source (to oil)--or should the energy companies, automobile companies and consumers determine America's energy future? Economics in a broader since, the "size of government" debate is about capitalism and socialism Bigger government leans toward socialism, more government control of society...smaller government leans toward capitalism, less government control of society Government Always Grows: No politician dares to cut the size of government because doing so would take a benefit away from someone who is currently receiving that benefit, making it seem as if politicians are hurting people Taxation
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue We need taxes to pay for programs that help the children, the poor and elderly; we need taxes to pay down the federal deficit/debt; higher taxes will help balance the budget and thus reduce interest rates and stimulate the economy (Rubin economics) We need lower taxes so that people can have more money to support themselves, their families and their favorite charities; lower taxes will stimulate the economy, ultimately bringing in more money to pay down the deficit/debt Lower taxes help people support their families Primary Reasons for Position Govt activism/bigger govt: government should provide basic necessities to the public (socialism/equality), programs for children, the poor and elderly that provide health care and income support are a few such examples Conservative Smaller govt/ capitalism: money is spent more productively by people and businesses than by government; greater productivity creates more opportunity/jobs in society Moderate Pragmatism: everyone could use more money; government wastes so many tax dollars Social Security
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue Social Security is the most successful program in American history; the income support it gives seniors has relieved poverty among our elderly citizens, and SS fulfills a basic obligation a government has to take care of its elderly citizens When the baby boomers (postWWII children) enter retirement in the next 10 years, there will be 3 workers paying taxes to support every 1 retiree. When Social Security was first created, there were 27 workers supporting every 1 retiree. Social Security must be reformed before the tax burden on the younger generations become too great Social Security is a successful program that has helped millions of elderly citizens; let's find a way to keep fully funding the program Primary Reasons for Position Govt activism/bigger govt: government has an obligation to its elderly citizens (through socialistoriented programs), to see that they are comfortable in their later years and social security makes this possible. Conservative Smaller govt/ capitalism: reform Social Security to allow younger workers to contribute their tax dollars to personal accounts, a first step in allowing younger workers to opt out of the SS program Moderate Pragmatism: don't tamper with successful programs Competing national visions America During War George Washington hoped that there would be one national interest, that there would be unified support at home for US foreign policy Unity only lasted for the first 6 years of George Washington's administration Competing ideologies (liberal v. conservative) produce two different visions for America's role in the world This is why there is almost always opposition at home and open dissent (protest) when America is at war WWII (19411945) was America's only longterm war where there was no dissent The SpanishAmerican War (1898) also had unified support here at home but the war only lasted 3 months There was unity in the early years of the Cold War (1946late 1960s) but that unity broke down during the Vietnam War (1965 1973) There are intense divisions today over the Iraq War Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue Use of Force/War Primary Reasons for Position "Good Will" diplomacy --or-- the "Good Neighbor" doctrine 1) Use all means of diplomacy before considering military action against another country, 2) assemble a multi-lateral coalition of nations when force becomes necessary, 3) work with the United Nations (UN) whenever possible 4) in war, find opportunities to deescalate the conflict, move to end hostilities 1) Diplomacy must be backed up with an open willingness to use force, 2) act unilaterally to maintain America's freedom of action in the world (don't be hostage to a coalition), 3) ignore the UN when it opposes U.S. interests, 4) in war, escalate conflict, capitalize on the mistakes the enemy makes under pressure, end hostilities once the enemy is defeated Do what is necessary to protect U.S. interests; act unilaterally or multilaterally, whichever best suits U.S. goals Conservative "Clutched Fist" diplomacy or the "Peace Through Strength" doctrine (TR's "speak softly but carry a big stick") Moderate Pragmatism/Nationalism: America first principle Patriotism
Ideology Liberal Position on the Issue It is not unpatriotic to question the government's motives for war, to want our leaders to pursue different policies; and it is hard to wave the flag when there is so much to improve about America here at home (the glass is half-empty view) We should all support the war effort; dissenters are undermining U.S. efforts by opening up a battle for public opinion at home; America is the greatest country in the world and we should all cherish this country (the glass is half-full view) America is the no. 1 target of terrorists; we should support the war effort Primary Reasons for Position Civil Liberty: Dissent is healthy for democracy; dissent is a fundamental right for all citizens Conservative Nationalism: Always support the country in a time of war Moderate Nationalism: We should support the government in time of war Which Issues Favor Which Ideology in America?
Issue Abortion Gay Marriage Immigration Prayer in School Liberal Conservative Reason for Advantage Abortion will likely remain legal, even it Roe v. Wade is overturned States increasingly passing bans on Gay Marriage Open immigration today; Conservatives split on the issue Supreme Court banned prayer in school in 1960s, going against majority of the public ? (slightly favors conservatives) Domestic Spying Accused Terrorists ? Issue will be resolved in 2006 Supreme Court has sided only slightly with civil liberties but still the public tends to support police power in war Strong "self defense" culture in America "Tough on crime" culture in America No one likes to pay taxes A successful program Gun Control Death Penalty Taxation Social Security Use of Force/War Strong "national security" culture across US history A Summary of Ideology What defines a Liberal in America? Protect civil liberties first (over public safety) Promote personal freedom Engage in "good will" diplomacy Build multilateral coalitions in dealing with world affairs Promote government activism (socialism) to produce more equality (mitigate inequality) in society Protect public safety first (over civil liberties) Morality and religion should be part of politics and law Engage in "clutched fist" diplomacy Act unilaterally in world affairs if necessary Some nationalistic tendencies (America first) Promote smaller government (capitalism) to create opportunity in society What defines a Conservative in America? A Summary of Ideology What defines a Moderate in America? Do what works (pragmatism over principle) Compromise liberal and conservative ideas to find a "middleof theroad" practical solution Some moral and nationalistic tendencies (in agreement with conservatives) Ideology of the Political Parties
Left Liberal Democratic Party Republican Party Green Party Libertarian Party Reform Party Libertarian Party Center Moderates Right Conservative Political Party Democrats Elected Representatives? Yes Party Actions in Practice Promote bigger government/government activism; favor civil liberties over public safety; moderately anti-business Limit bigger government/government activism; favor public safety over civil liberties; moderately pro-business Strongly favor environmental regulations; anti-business Balance the federal budget (single issue party in '92 and '96) Favor civil liberties over public safety Republican Yes Green Reform (19922000) Libertarian No No No How does ideology work in America? Moderates dominate American politics Why? Public Opinion the public tends to be moderate, and in a democracy, politicians try to accommodate a majority of the public to maintain their political power and to win the next election Separation of Powers the powers of government are divided among three branches, no one branch can dominate politics, cooperation and compromise are necessary for all branches of government to agree on policy (i.e., to agree on what government will do) Conclusions Change in American politics is inspired by the ideas of ideologues (i.e., liberals on the far left and conservatives on the far right) Moderates take these ideas, water them down, and turn compromise solutions into government policy Ideologues always feel cheated by the compromise of their ideas ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/18/2008 for the course POLS 1336 taught by Professor Mcfaden during the Spring '08 term at University of Houston.
- Spring '08
- Civil Liberties