capitalism, an economic system characterized by the private ownership of wealth-creating assets and also by free markets and freedom of contract.
Patterns Unique to U.S. Politics
Liberalism vs. Conservatism
Conservatives tend to favor limited governmental involvement in the economic sector. Economic freedom is seen as a necessity for the good of the society. On social issues, conservatives advocate governmental involvement to preserve traditional values and lifestyles.
Liberals tend to favor governmental regulation of the economy to benefit individuals within the society. On social issues, liberals advocate a limited governmental role. Social freedom is seen as a necessity for the good of the society.
The Traditional Political Spectrum
socialism, a political ideology based on strong support for economic and social equality. Socialists traditionally envisioned a society in which major businesses were taken over by the government or by employee cooperatives.
libertarianism, a political ideology based on skepticism or opposition toward almost all government activities.
Liberal once meant limited government and no religion in politics. The term evolved into its modern American meaning along with the political evolution of the Democratic Party, which was once the party of limited government but has become the party of (relative) economic equality.
A Four-Cornered Ideological Grid
The Ideological Grid
We can break down the electorate into cultural and economic liberals, cultural and economic conservatives, cultural liberals/economic conservatives (libertarians), and cultural conservatives/economic liberals.
Classifying the Voters. All four viewpoints have substantial support based on polling data.
Conservative Popularity. However, the term conservative, as a self-applied label, is more popular than any other label except “moderate.”