What is Liberalism?

what is liberalism john f kennedy

Modern liberalism evokes a set of ideals that looks ahead and not behind

Liberalism is the belief that government should step in during certain instances where capitalism fails to produce equality before the law or if capitalism fails to protect the people. This is not a dig at the market economy or capitalism, it’s just that in simplistic terms, the market economy watches out for itself, not the people. Bureaucracy, group-think and red tape cloud the judgement of any system that doesn’t undergo some kind of reformation once in a while. Hence, I purport that one of the over arching differences between liberals and conservatives is how often and under what terms those reformations should happen. The courage to change may be easy for a select few, but for the masses it is near impossible. It takes early adopters and integration over time lest there be panic. A long pull here but, I believe conservatives believe they have a “good bead on things” while liberals believe a person is smart and “people are panicky dumb dangerous animals” that need direction especially in contexts where people find unfair loopholes for self preservation.

Many modern practical examples can be found that showcase where (liberal or not) the government needed to at least provide some outside influence to get the evolutionary ball rolling and protect the people. The auto industry provides a prime example. It can be argued that the advancement of automobile engines went virtually nowhere for fifty years and fuel economy only became an issue when gas prices were high. It wasn’t until the federal goverment stepped in with fleet wide mile per gallon standards that the auto industry even thought about looking into alternate methods to propel automobiles. The same with leaded fuel, which was touted as safe for years by the auto industry until it was proven toxic and banned. The same with federal motor vehicle safety standards that specify the design, construction, performance, and durability requirements for motor vehicles. Auto companies thrived on their own in a capitalist economy, but left unchecked, they didnt necessarily produce products that were “for the good of the people” and hence, federal oversight is born in a specific narrative that doesnt take away freedoms, but rather protects the people. Liberalism is a mindset for forward thinking with the courage to enact change in a society that is afraid of it.

In more macro-political terms the American modern liberal philosophy strongly endorses public spending on programs such as education, health care and welfare.  Modern American liberals generally believe that national prosperity requires government management to keep unemployment low, inflation in check and growth high. Liberals believe liberty exists when access to necessities like health care and economic opportunity are available to all and they champion the protection of the environment. We can’t talk about the definition of liberalism without quoting a couple of Americas most famous liberal Presidents:

John F. Kennedy defined a liberal as follows:[19][20]

If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people—their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties—someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal”.

In 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt defined a liberal party as such:

The liberal party believes that, as new conditions and problems arise beyond the power of men and women to meet as individuals, it becomes the duty of Government itself to find new remedies with which to meet them. The liberal party insists that the Government has the definite duty to use all its power and resources to meet new social problems with new social controls—to ensure to the average person the right to his own economic and political life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Conservatives vs. Liberals

What is the difference between conservatives and liberals? In a nutshell, the main difference is conservatives believe in a more limited government and free markets. Conservatives tend to hold true to the ideal that there should be less of a leash on the market economy and conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems. To use my earlier example of the auto industry: Elon Musk would be a hero to conservatives having transformed the auto industry almost single-handedly (power of the individual) (electrification) in a world where the liberal government created that push by enacting multiple movements for automobile efficiency.

The Top 10 Issues Dividing Liberals and Conservatives

The most hotly debated topics between conservatives and liberals are annoyingly easy to find. Here is a rundown of the issues dividing liberals and conservatives in stark straight forward terms:

  1. Abortion
    • Liberals – A woman has the right to decide
    • Conservatives – Human life begins at conception
  2. Gun control
    • Liberals – Additional gun control laws are necessary to stop gun violence
    • Conservatives – The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms
  3. Death penalty
    • Liberals – The death penalty should be abolished
    • Conservatives – The death penalty is a punishment that fits the crime of murder
  4. Energy
    • Liberals – Oil is a depleting resource that’s bad for the environment
    • Conservatives – Oil, gas and coal are good. Drill away!
  5. Global warming
    • Liberals – Laws are needed because we are destroying the planet
    • Conservatives – Proposed laws to reduce carbon emissions will do nothing to help the environment and will cause significant price increases for all. More science please.
  6. Healthcare
    • Liberals – We support free or low-cost government controlled health care.
    • Conservatives – Free market health care all the way
  7. Immigration
    • Liberals – Support legal immigration
    • Conservatives – More of an emphasis on securing the borders and immigrants shouldn’t have the same rights as citizens.
  8. Same sex marriage
    • Liberals – Yes
    • Conservatives – No
  9. Welfare
    • Liberals – Support welfare to protect the poor and support equality.
    • Conservatives – Encourage people to become self reliant. Short term welfare.
  10. Taxes
    • Liberals – Higher taxes (primarily for the wealthy) and a larger government are necessary to address inequity/injustice in society while still letting the market economy thrive
    • Conservatives – Support lower taxes so people themselves can spend money, not the government.

Just calling it like I see it. We are open to comments as the world of politics always is! Lets come together in our ideals and fight through our tough times together.

What is Liberalism?

Liberalism is the belief that government should step in during certain instances where capitalism fails to produce equality before the law. This is not a dig at the market economy or capitalism, it’s just that in simplistic terms, the market economy watches out for itself, not the people.

FAQ: What do liberals believe

Liberals believe in generous civil liberties, strong social support systems, and a regulatory government.
While liberals believe civil liberties should be limited when they threaten the safety or well-being of others, they believe that overall, people should be able to choose how they live. However, they also believe the government should regulate businesses and the economy to minimize inequality and maximize the well-being of its citizens. These regulations may lead to a higher tax burden and limits on the free-market economy.

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