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Social Studies

Political Thinking

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It is useful to know the "five basic positions" in political thinking. Of course, in the middle of the political continuum are the people who believe in avoiding the extremes of either side. These are the Moderates. The other four swing on both sides of the "Moderates."

  • Radical- one who advocates sweeping changes in laws and methods of government with little delay.
  • Liberal - one who advocates change, especially social improvement through governmental action.
  • Conservative - one who advocates maintaining the existing social order and believes that change, if any, should be gradual.
  • Reactionary - one who resists change and usually advocates a return to an earlier social order or policy.

Political parties provide a useful function in the democracy of the United States. There are two main political parties: the Democrats and the Republicans. These parties have been good for the democracy because they act as another check in our governmental system of checks and balances.

The differences between the Democrats and the Republicans center around all of the issues: domestic, economic, social issues, and foreign policy. One main difference in the two parties is their view of how government should solve problems.

In general, the Democratic Party favors a strong federal government at the expense of the taxpayers. They advocate strong government regulation of big business; endorse labor unions; and champion the rights of the disadvantaged and minorities. They believe that people are the government, and government is not to be feared.

On the other hand, the Republican Party favors stronger state and local authority at the expense of the federal government. They advocate free enterprise, support checks on labor unions, and believe in maintaining the status quo (keeping things as they are). They generally believe in low taxes, regardless of income. They believe that government should stay out of people's lives on the federal level and that too much government is a bad thing.

Of course, these are broad generalizations. Much has changed over the years, but look at the graph of the political continuum again. Which political party would be considered "liberal"? Which political party would be considered "conservative"?

Democrat Republican
  • pro-labor
  • pro-choice
  • gun regulation
  • tax brackets that tax the wealthiest
  • government regulated health care
  • pro-immigration
  • small federal government
  • pro-business to stimulate economy
  • pro-life
  • little gun regulation
  • low federal taxes on wealthy
  • private health care
  • immigration reform

Based on this chart, who is more likely to benefit from policies created by a Federal government controlled by Republicans?

Tip

Political arguments are always full of opinions. Although the opinions are always about facts, they are not always based on sound reasoning. Remember that political opinions usually are presented as if they are facts. It is up to you to decide if the statements made can be proven or if they are only one person's judgment about events or ideas.

Propaganda is a type of communication designed to influence a person’s attitude. Often, propaganda is used in politics to sway public opinion.

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