America: A Nation Divided

Topics: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Republican Party Pages: 9 (2925 words) Published: April 4, 2013
America: A Nation Divided.

In George Washington’s Farewell Speech on September 19, 1796, he warned against political parties as follows:
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty (J.E. Quidam, 2008). This ideology seems to have evolved and held truth for the past 227 years as now Americans are even more divided by political parties than any other stature. According to Edward S. Greenberg and Benjamin I. Page’s “The Struggle for Democracy”, political ideology is defined as a system of interrelated and coherently organized political beliefs and attitudes, which include conservatives, liberals, populists, and libertarians (145). Greenburg and Page further describe that the “two dimensions” that Americans generally divide along are government’s roles in economy and society (147).

Conservatism can be defined as the disposition to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change (2013). There two different types of conservatives, economic and social. Economic conservatives believe more in economic liberties and freedoms from government interference, and that a free market offers the best path to economic efficiency and a decent society. They strongly believe in private enterprise and are opposed to big government regulation of business (Greenberg 147). Social conservatives prefer government enforcement of order and traditional values on issues such as abortion, prayer in the schools, homosexuality, pornography, crime and political descent (Greenberg 148). Liberals can be defined as those who favor free choices and the rights of the accused (Greenberg 148). There are also economic and social liberals. Economic liberals feel it is the role of government to ensure that underprivileged individuals have an equal opportunity, with safety nets in place to regulate potentially damaging business practices so they can be competitive in the job market (Greenberg 148).

Economic liberals and social liberals usually go hand in hand and the same with economic conservatives and social conservatives. Some examples of economic and social liberals are President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi. They favor ideas such as the right to abortion, separation of church and state, and more progressive taxes. Examples of economic and social conservatives are Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. They are against abortion, favor less government involvement in the economy and society, and support traditional family and gender roles. Although the economic and social liberals and economic and social conservatives are usually identified as one in the same, this is not always the case. Many people are liberal in some ways but conservative in others. A few examples of the latter are Milton Friedman, who is a social liberal but an economic conservative and Mike Huckabee, who is a social conservative but an economic liberal.

Populism is typically defined as those that support the rights of the masses and give power to the people in the struggle against the privileged upper class. This person is usually liberal on economic issues but conservative on social issues. According to Greenberg, the Populist Party grew out of the Western and Southern farm protest movements in the late nineteenth century (266). An example of a Populist movement was in the 1890’s when they aimed...

Cited: 2012 Democratic National Platform. (2012). Retrieved from platform/2012-National-Platform.pdf
2012 Libertarian Party Platform. (2012). Retrieved from website: Platform 2012.pdf
Chenoweth, E., & Young, J. P. (n.d.). Consent of the governed: Essential principles. Retrieved from
Democratic National Committee. (2011, December 01). Democrats. Retrieved from In (2012). Republican National Committee. Retrieved from
Greenberg, Edward S. and Benjamin I. Page. “The Struggle for Democracy”. Longman, 2011. Print.
Republican Party. (2010, February 10). On The Issues. Retrieved from
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