What are the two main ideologies in the United States? What are the differences between them?

There are many nuances in the two main ideologies of the United States, liberalism and conservatism. Liberalism believes in an active government that will bring its power to bear against poverty, racism, gender discrimination, affordable healthcare, inequitable tax laws, etc. Conservatism is not opposed to fighting those ideas, but it wants individual citizens and private organizations to regulate themselves.

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Like many other countries, the United States can be divided into two competing ideologies: liberalism and conservatism. Nuances exist everywhere and vary country by country. In the US at least we can broadly state that a liberal believes in a strong central government that protects the rights of American citizens....

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Like many other countries, the United States can be divided into two competing ideologies: liberalism and conservatism. Nuances exist everywhere and vary country by country. In the US at least we can broadly state that a liberal believes in a strong central government that protects the rights of American citizens. Conservatives also believe in protecting rights, but they favor a de-centralized government that yields to states or individuals.

There is plenty of variety in the two schools of thought, however. The progressive side of liberalism wants more aggressive government intervention in areas such as healthcare, education, and gender equity. On the extremely conservative side of things, there is little or no appetite for government interference in most avenues of life.

Moving away from the extremes, we will find moderates in both camps. A moderate liberal will see the need for some compromise. It’s not realistic to suggest, for example, the United States will reduce its military budget as much as extreme liberals might demand. On the other side of the aisle, a moderate conservative will admit that liberals have a point and might look for something to trim in the military budget.

In general, we could say that liberalism is interested in leveling the playing field. Liberals recognize that we do not have equal advantages given to us at birth; therefore, we need a strong government to enact laws and policies that give everyone the opportunity to succeed.

Conservatives believe America to be a land of opportunity; therefore, they think we all have the same access to those opportunities. To them, programs such as Affirmative Action is not necessary because anyone who works hard and puts their mind to it can succeed. It’s not that liberals don’t believe that people can succeed—they just think the government should help ameliorate social wrongs more. Both ideologies want to reach the same destination—that of a prosperous nation where every individual has the same chance to succeed or fail—but via different roads.

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