American Political Parties 6

Posted by ryan Fri, 21 Apr 2006 22:24:00 GMT

Despite the fact that "Republican" and "Democrat" are political parties in the USA, while "Conservative" and "Liberal" are social/cultural viewpoints, the term "Republican" has become seemingly synonymous with "Conservative", and "Democrat" with "Liberal". Can anyone out there with a better grasp on American politics than I explain this phenomenon? It annoys me, because I agree with what I know of the core Republican philosophy (about as much as I agree with any single philosophy, anyways), but I definately do not consider myself to have conservative viewpoints. As a result, although I'm a swing voter, I tend not to vote Republican as a result of the strong conservative nature of most of the candidates.

From what I've been able to discern, the Republican philosophy is grounded in a belief that "the private sector and/or the individual are better suited than the government to control their own lives" (Wikipedia). According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "[t]he term Republican was adopted in 1792 by supporters of Thomas Jefferson, who favoured a decentralized government with limited powers." In contrast, the Democratic philosophy posits that "that government should play a role in alleviating poverty and social injustice, even if that means progressive taxation and a larger role for government" (Wikipedia) Nothing in either of those descriptions seems to indicate a liberal or conservative predisposition.

To further analyze the situation, let's define "liberal" and "conservative." The WordNet Search provided by Princeton University "liberal" as "a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties" as well as "a person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets." It was hard to find a definition of "conservative" that doesn't sound negative, but the best that I could find is "a loosely defined term indicating adherence to one or more of a family of attitudes, including respect for tradition and authority and resistance to wholesale or sudden changes" from the Glossary of Philosophical Terms. Another fairly good definition of "conservative" is "... to favor things as they are and to be cautious. To be conservative politically is to respect traditional institution and distrust government solutions to problems." This definition, oddly enough, comes from the Warrensburg School District of Missouri's iAdventures program.

Given these definitions, I'm sure someone could hammer out a link between the terms and their associations, but I think it'd be a weak link at best.

On a side note, I would just like to point everyone to a ground-breaking revelation, made by an AOL subscriber, that I encountered while doing research for this article: Proof that The Democratic Party Mocks God!! By the way, this guy's a medical doctor. I'll be sure to avoid anyone named Frank Joseph if I ever need an operation on something.