In today’s world, everyone is eager to tell you their opinion: from local newscasters and politicians to businessmen and barbers. The weatherman may be wrong half of the time and your barber probably shares too much gossip, but the truth remains: opinions can be found everywhere. For example, this most recent election was replete with fake news, controversy, and contention. I left the political debates confused and disheartened. Is this really what our country has come to? I asked myself. Making up facts and name-calling?
As a teenager, I struggle to sort through this surplus of opinions and often ask myself, “What do I believe?” I have always claimed to be a conservative, but have never examined the liberal perspective. By examining political platforms with an open mind, I hope to discover what I believe and gain a deeper understanding of why others believe the way they do. Once I know what I believe, I can make well-informed decisions and know for which political leaders to vote.
For future reference, I will refer to Democrats as liberals (or “Left”) and Republicans as conservatives (or “Right”). However, it is important to note that not all Democrats are liberals and not all Republicans are conservative. I will also not limit myself to political platforms of the major political parties but search for fair representations of the minor political parties and other diverse opinions wherever possible.
I will start by exploring the basic principles of the Republican and Democratic platforms. I will also study specific controversial issues of the liberal and conservative viewpoints. It is not my goal to prove that one side is right and the other side wrong. Rather, it is my intent to better understand the underlying reasons for each side’s beliefs. Based upon this understanding, we will be better able to confirm or change our present beliefs and make better-informed decisions.
Conservatives believe that God is the source of human rights, the government should be as limited as possible, and good and evil is based upon universal absolutes. Liberals, on the other hand, claim that the government grants us our rights, the government should be as powerful as possible and good and evil is relative to the individual and the society. The stark contrast between these two political perspectives explains why our nation is so divided and divisive.
The conservative’s beliefs are based upon Judea-Christian values. Therefore, they believe that we are created by God and are given divine, unalienable rights. They also believe that the more power granted to the government, the more liberties that are taken away from the people. Finally, they claim that good and evil is based upon universal absolutes such as the ten commandments. In contrast, liberals believe our rights come from the government. They also claim that it is a good thing for a big government to be heavily involved in the people’s lives. Finally, they believe that good and evil is relative and changes based upon the individual and society.
Conservativism is based upon the concept that “all men are created equal but not necessarily good”, while liberalism originates from the idea that “all men are good but not necessarily equal.” Universal equal rights were implemented in the Spanish colonies when Dominican missionary Bartolome’ de Las Casas begged for legal protection for the Indians. Because of philosophers such as Hume and Locke, universal equal rights were a major part of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson.
Original sin states that all human beings have a tendency to stray from the straight and narrow path. This is why no one can be unquestioningly trusted with power. John Adams explained, “It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power.” Both universal equal rights and original sin drive conservatives to the conclusions that freedom is the most valuable blessing we have and no single person or organization can be trusted to safeguard it for us.
Liberals also believe in universal equal rights, but negate the doctrine of original sin. They instead believe in evolutionism, a belief that humanity is guided by a driving force that will lead to a higher form of life and intelligence. Liberals believe that if they follow the right path, they will achieve world peace. They also believe in the theory of “the survival of the fittest” and that some are more equipped to be leaders than others.
In short, the Conservative’s perspective is quite grim and they believe we must fight for our freedoms. Liberals promise world peace if we will only follow their principles.