the two major ideologies you will hear about in the United States,and that’s the Liberal ideology and the Conservative ideology. And the Liberal ideology is often associated with the Democratic party, and the Conservative ideology is often associated with the Republicans. But be very careful. This does not mean that every Democrat will have a stereotypically Liberal view on every major issue, or that every Republican would have a stereotypically Conservative view on every issue. We’re all individuals, and many of us will have different opinions on these issues, and might lean Conservative on some, and might lean Liberal on others. So let’s start with arguably one of the most contentious issues in the United States, and that’s of abortion. A Liberal would view this as a reproductive rights issue. They view this as the right of a woman to choose what to do with her body. So they tend to be pro the right of a woman to have an abortion, to choose to have an abortion, and will self-label themselves pro-choice. Conservatives on the other hand, will often view this as a life issue, that they view the developing fetus as a life, and like any life, has certain rights. And so they would typically be against abortion, and would self-label themselves pro-life. Affirmative action is another contentious issue. This is the idea, and we’ve talked about it in other videos, that proactive measures should be taken in order to address wrongs of the past, or in order to address inequality today, or discrimination today. And it often takes form in, can race be considered as a part of admissions into, say, higher education Liberals tend to be in favor of affirmative action, while Conservatives tend to be against it. The Liberal point of view is yes, we have a very unequal society, there’s a lot of discrimination, race should be considered a factor in order to ease that discrimination. A Conservative today might argue, wait a second, we wanna be a racially blind society, and so we do not want race to be a factor. Guns is another very contentious issue. Liberals will often cite guns as a major factor in a lot of the crime and shootings in the United States, and they would tend to be pro gun control. Conservatives on the other hand, will often cite the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, and they would say, look, when we see mass shootings or crime, it’s not a gun issue, there’s other issues at play. And so they would be more pro gun rights. They would generally be against gun control, and want more rights for gun owners.On a related note, on crime, Liberals tend to view it as a social issue. What are the underlying causes, say, poverty or something else that is causing crime? They would also be very concerned with defendants’ rights, citing examples where certain ethnic groups, certain races might be disproportionately accused, or disproportionately punished. Conservatives on the other hand, tend to favor tougher policing and tougher laws, saying that okay, it’s interesting to look at the social issues, and yes we do need certain rights, but at the end of the day, you don’t wanna be too easy on crime. So tougher policing, and tougher laws. Moving into the economic sphere, the Liberal view on taxes is generally that it’s okay, and some Liberals will even view it as a tool for building social equality. They would say hey look, if someone’s gotta pay for something, maybe it should be the rich. They can afford to pay more, and it’ll help level the playing field a little bit. And so okay, especially on, and I’ll put the rich in quotes, because different people would have different standards for what it means to be rich. And Conservatives generally are not okay with taxes. They would say that it is a disincentive to work.They would say that it’s a friction on the economy. They would say that it would reduce investment that could create jobs. The Liberal and Conservative views on spending is related to that on taxes. A stereotypical view of Liberals is that, hey they might like to tax, especially on the rich, and then spend it, especially on social programs.Maybe welfare
system, or free healthcare, these would all be things that a Liberal point of view would more likely to support. A Conservative viewpoint is not okay with government spending, that the government should be as small as possible, and spend as little as possible. Perhaps the only exception, or one of the few exceptions, would be except on military spending. Except on military, where a Conservative might be in favor of more spending there in order to have a strong and muscular military. Now related to this idea on the size of government, is that of regulation. Liberals tend to be in favor of regulation, especially if they’re in regards to things like preserving the environment. Conservatives tend to be against regulation, saying that okay, maybe some baseline regulation is okay, but it needs to be minimal, because the more regulations you have, once again, these are frictions on the economy. It makes it harder to start a business, it makes it harder to grow, it makes it more expensive to do things.So they tend to be against regulation. Last but not least, and this is just a survey of some of the big issues you will hear about in the United States, is the military. And I already touched on it. A Liberal is likely to want a military, but they would probably want something that does just the base services of what you would expect from a military. If people are invading our borders, that the military is there to protect us. So maybe we could call it basic military. While a Conservative would say, hey, you can’t get complacent. Even if we’re in a time of peace, even if people haven’t crossed our borders in a long time, you don’t know what’s around the corner. Look at history, there’s all sorts of complacent societies that eventually get overrun. And so they would want a strong and muscular military. And they’ll make the argument that the stronger your military is, perhaps maybe the less likely that you would have to use it, because people would not even want to mess with you. They wouldn’t even wanna think about messing with you, if you have a strong and muscular posture. So I’ll leave you there on these general ideas, and once again, these are stereotypical views. You will meet many people, including yourself, you might have a mix of these views.. Some concepts to keep in mind: •Conservatism and the Republican Party are not the same; Liberalism and the Democratic Party are not the same. In fact, the two par9es have gone through party “realignments,” shifting from right to left and vice versa over their long histories. In other words, today the Republican Party (GOP) is conservative. But it wasn’t always. During the Reconstruction era, the GOP was more progressive than the Democratic Party which was more conservative. Since the 1950s, a majority of Americans had broadly agreed that “free enterprise” was a good thing and should be encouraged both in the U.S. and abroad. in the 1950s a growing number of libertarians argued that unregulated capitalism and individual autonomy were the essence of American freedom. And although they were staunchly anti-communist, their real target was the regulatory state that had been created by the New Deal. You know, social security, and not being allowed to, you know, choose how many pigs you kill, etc. Other conservatives weren’t libertarians at all but moral conservatives who were okay with the rules that enforced traditional notions of family and morality. Even if that seemed like, you know, an oppressive government. For them, virtue was the essence of America. But both of these strands of conservatism were very hostile toward communism and also to the idea of “big government.” And it’s worth noting that since World War I, the size and scope of the federal government had increased dramatically. And hostility toward the idea of “big government” remains the signal feature of
contemporary conservatism. Although very few people actually argue for shrinking the government. Because, you know, that would be very unpopular. People like Medicare. But it was faith in the free market that infused the ideology of the most vocal young conservatives in the 1960s. They didn’t receive nearly as much press as their liberal counterparts but these young conservatives played a pivotal role in reshaping the Republican Party, especially in the election of 1964. The 1964 presidential election was important in American history precisely because it was so incredibly uncompetitive. I mean, Lyndon Johnson was carrying the torch of a wildly popular American president who had been assassinated a few months before. He was never going to lose. And indeed he didn’t. The Republican candidate, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, was demolished by LBJ. But the mere fact of Goldwater’s nomination was a huge conservative victory. I mean, he beat out liberal Republican New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. And yes, there were liberal Republicans. Goldwater demanded a harder line in the Cold War, even suggesting that nuclear war might be an option in the fight against communism. And he lambasted the New Deal liberal welfare state for destroying American initiative and individual liberty. I mean, why bother working when you could just enjoy life on the dole? I mean, unemployment insurance allowed anyone in America to become a hundredaire. But it was his stance on the Cold War that doomed his candidacy. In his acceptance speech, Goldwater famously declared, “Extremism “in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Which made it really easy for Johnson to paint Goldwater as an extremist.in the end, Goldwater received a paltry 27 million votes to Johnson’s 43 million, and Democrats racked up huge majorities in both houses of Congress. This hides, however, the significance of the election. Five of the six states that Goldwater carried were in the Deep South, which had been reliably democratic, known as the “Solid South,” But the Democrats, especially under LBJ, became the party associated with defending civil rights and ending segregation, and that definitely played a role in white southerners’ abandoning the Democrats, as was demonstrated even more clearly in the 1968 election. the Republican nominee, Richard Milhous Nixon, who was one of the few candidates in American history to come back and win the presidency after losing in a previous election. he was anti-communist, but didn’t talk a lot about nuking people. And the clincher was probably that he was from California, which by the late 1960s was becoming the most populous state in the nation. Nixon won the election, campaigning as the candidate of the “silent majority” of Americans who weren’t anti-war protesters, and who didn’t admire free love or the communal ideals of hippies. And who were alarmed at the rights that the Supreme Court seemed to be expanding, especially for criminals. This silent majority felt that the rights revolution had gone too far. I mean, they were concerned about the breakdown in traditional values and in law and order. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar. Nixon also promised to be tough on crime, which was coded language to whites in the south that he wouldn’t support civil rights protests. The equation of crime with African Americans has a long and sordid history in the United States, and Nixon played it up following a “Southern strategy” to further draw white Democrats who favored segregation into the Republican ranks. Conservatives who voted for Nixon hoping he would roll back the New Deal were disappointed. I mean, in some ways the Nixon domestic agenda was just a continuation of LBJ’s Great Society.
This was partly because Congress was still in the hands of Democrats, but also Nixon didn’t push for conservative programs and he didn’t veto new initiatives. Because they were popular. And he liked to be popular.in fact, a number of big government “liberal” programs began under Nixon. I mean, the environmental movement achieved success with the enactment of the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were created to make new regulations that would protect worker safety and make cars safer.That’s not government getting out of our lives, that’s government getting into our lives.Nixon did abolish the Office of Economic Opportunity, but he also indexed social security benefits to inflation and he proposed the Family Assistance Plan that would guarantee a minimum income for all Americans. And, the Nixon years saw some of the most aggressive affirmative action in American history. LBJ had begun the process by requiring recipients of federal contracts to have specific numbers of minority employees and timetables for increasing those numbers. But Nixon expanded this with the Philadelphia plan, which required federal construction projects to have minority employees. He ended up attacking this plan after realising that it was wildly unpopular with trade unions, which had very few black members, but he had proposed it. And when Nixon had the opportunity to nominate a new Chief Justice to the Supreme Court after Earl Warren retired in 1969, his choice, Warren Burger was supposed to be a supporter of small government and conservative ideals, but, just like Nixon, he proved a disappointment in that regard. Like, in Swan v. Charlotte-Mecklenbug Board of Education, the court upheld a lower court ruling that required busing of students to achieve integration in Charlotte’s schools. And then the Burger court made it easier for minorities to sue for employment discrimination, especially with its ruling in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. This upheld affirmative action as a valid governmental interest, although it did strike down the use of strict quotas in university admissions. Now, many conservatives didn’t like these affirmative action decisions, but one case above all others had a profound effect on American politics: Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade established a woman’s right to have an abortion in the first trimester of a pregnancy as well as a more limited right as the pregnancy progressed. And that decision galvanized first Catholics and then Evangelical Protestants. And that ties in nicely with another strand in American conservatism that developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Many Americans felt that traditional family values were deteriorating and looked to conservative republican candidates to stop that slide. They were particularly alarmed by the continuing success of the sexual revolution, as symbolized by Roe v. Wade and the increasing availability of birth control. Statistics tend to back up the claims that traditional family values were in decline in the 1970s. Like, the number of divorces soared to over one million in 1975 exceeding the number of first time marriages. The birthrate declined with women bearing 1.7 children during their lifetimes by 1976, less than half the figure in 1957. Now, of course, many people would argue that the decline of these traditional values allowed more freedom for women and for a lot of terrible marriages to end, but that’s neither here nor there. Some conservatives also complained about the passage in 1972 of Title IX, which banned gender discrimination in higher education, but many more expressed concern about the increasing number of women in the workforce. Like, by 1980 40% of women with young children had been in the workforce, up from 20% in 1960. The backlash against increased opportunity for women is most obviously seen in the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1974,
although it passed Congress easily in 1972. Nixon didn’t have much to do with the continuing sexual revolution; it would have continued without him .he was successfully reelected in 1972, partly because his opponent was the democratic Barry Goldwater, George McGovern. McGovern only carried one state and it wasn’t even his home state. But even though they couldn’t possibly lose, Nixon’s campaign decided to cheat. In June of 1972, people from Nixon’s campaign broke into McGovern’s campaign office, possibly to plant bugs. No, Stan, not those kinds of bugs.Now, we don’t know if Nixon actually knew about the activities of the former employees of the amazingly acronym-ed CREEP, that is the Committee for the Reelection of the President. But this break in at the Watergate hotel eventually led to Nixon being the first and so far only American president to resign. What we do know is this: Nixon was really paranoid about his opponents, even the ones who appealed to 12% of American voters, especially after Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971. during the congressional investigation of Watergate, it became known that these tapes existed, so the special prosecutor demanded copies. Nixon refused, claiming executive privilege, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in U.S. v. Nixon that he had to turn them over. And this is important because it means that the president is not above the law. So, what ultimately doomed Nixon was not the break in itself, but the revelations that he covered it up by authorizing hush money,payments to keep the burglars silent and also instructing the FBI not to investigate the crime. In August of 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that articles of impeachment be drawn up against Nixon for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. But the real crime, ultimately, was abuse of power, and there’s really no question about whether he was guilty of that. So, Nixon resigned.In fact, Watergate was followed by a Senate investigation by the Church Committee, which revealed that Nixon was hardly the first president to abuse his power. The government had spied on Americans throughout the Cold War and tried to disrupt the Civil Rights movement. And the Church Commission, Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, Vietnam all of these things revealed a government that truly was out of control and this undermined a fundamental liberal belief that government is a good institution that is supposed to solve problems and promote freedom. And for many Conservatives these scandals sent a clear signal that government couldn’t promote freedom and couldn’t solve problems and that the liberal government of the New Deal and the Great Society had to be stopped.