Ideology – a (strong) belief about how government should or should not manage society Political Culture – the general ideology of a society (averaged across all people and all issues). Today, the political culture of America is moderately conservative. The ideological trend in America over the last 40 years is toward the right (more conservative) There is a centering effect in American politics, which limits how far political culture can move to the right or to the left. Today, most of the public generally leans slightly to the right (conservative). The country is moderately conservative, though the vast majority are still very close to the center of the political spectrum.
Sources: www.freedomhouse.org (horizontal axis: 1 to 7 scale) & www.freetheworld.com (vertical axis: 0 to 10 scale). On the Freedom House scale, a “1” means that that the country protects freedom to the highest degree (on the left of the horizontal axis), and a “7” indicates that a country’s government completely restricts the freedom of its people (on the right of the horizontal axis). On the Free the World scale, a “0” is a 100% socialist country (on the bottom of the vertical axis), where the government completely controls the economy, and a “10” is a 100% capitalist country (on the top of the vertical axis), where the government barely if at all interferes in the economy. More explanation is given below. The horizontal axis measures the degree to which a country protects civil liberties or personal/social freedoms (such as the right to free speech, to free expression, to a free media, to rights against government oppression and unjustified imprisonment, etc.). On the left of the horizontal axis, these freedoms are honored by government. On the right, government restricts these freedoms. The vertical axis measures the degree to which a government allows business to run the economy. In the upper half of the spectrum (above the horizontal line), government allows more capitalism (e.g., government allows business to decide what to produce, how much to sell and for what price). In the lower half of the spectrum (below the horizontal line), government controls more of the economy; society is more socialist (i.e., government tells business what to do, such as controlling the price at which products can be sold). To better understand the two-dimensional spectrum, let’s compare the placements of the USA and China. The USA is located in the upper-left quadrant, meaning that America tends to be more capitalist-oriented (conservative) on economic issues (that means more freedom for business to determine how to run their respective businesses) and more liberal on civil liberties and personal/social issues. In comparison, China is located in the upper-right quadrant, meaning that China is slightly more capitalist than socialist on economic matters (that means about equal amounts of government control and business freedom), and the Chinese are much more conservative on civil liberties or social/personal issues. For instance, there is no freedom of speech in China (or very little) and internet is censored by the government. For instance, if a Chinese citizen tried to conduct an internet search on Tianimen Square (an incident where the Chinese government massacred pro-democracy student protesters in 1989), the search would produce no results. Also, there is no democracy in China, meaning the people don’t get to vote to choose their leaders. Voting rights are a fundamental civil liberty. There may be some confusion over how I have labeled the vertical axis. Liberal implies more socialism on economic matters, and conservative indicates more capitalism. This is how we associate ideology and economics in America. But in the context of world politics, liberal implies more capitalism, and conservative means more state (or government) control of the economy (more socialism). For the purposes of this class, we’ll interpret the 2-D ideological spectrum as I have labeled it on the graph for both America and the world. More explanation of the scales: “ Free the World” (funded by the Fraser Institute) measures economic freedom by the following criteria: 1) Size of government (expenditures, taxes, enterprises), 2) Legal structure and security of property rights, 3) Access to Sound Money, 4) Freedom to trade internationally, 5) Regulation of credit, labor, and business Interestingly, socialized health care doesn’t make much of a difference in Economic Freedom of the World Index (apparently, health care is just one component of a larger economy). In 2006, for instance, Great Britain and Canada was ranked as having more economic freedom than the US, despite that GB and Canada have socialized health care while the US does not. On a 0 to 10 scale, the US is rated 7.8 (78% capitalist; 22% socialist), while GB receives a score of 8.1 and Canada a rating of 7.9. Here are a few economic ratings from 2006: Hong Kong (8.9), Singapore (8.5), USA (7.8), France (7.1), Great Britain (8.1), Saudi Arabia (7.5), UAE (7.6), Iran (6.7), China (6.2), Russia (5.9), Venezuela (4.5), Zimbabwe (2.3). Singapore (an authoritarian city-state) and Hong Kong (a city in China) have more economic freedom than the US. On the Fraser Institute Freedom of the World index, Switzerland, New Zealand, GB, Canada, Chile, Australia, and Ireland each has a higher economic freedom score than the US The Heritage Foundation also has an economic freedom index (see www.heritage.org). Heritage measures “economic freedom” by the following criteria: 1) Business freedom, 2) Trade freedom, 3) Fiscal freedom, 4) Freedom from government, 5) Monetary freedom, 6) Investment freedom, 7) Financial freedom, 8) Property rights, 9) Freedom from Corruption (Transparency Index), and 10) Labor freedom. The top 5 rankings are: 1) Hong Kong, 2) Singapore, 3) Australia, 4) United States, 5) New Zealand and United Kingdom. Some differences between the Heritage scale and the Fraser Institute’s scale (Free the World scale): Iran is ranked lower on the Heritage scale, from a 6.1 to a 4.4. Saudi Arabia is also ranked lower, from 7.5 to 6.3. France to is ranked lower, from 7.1 to 6.5. Australia is ranked higher on the Heritage scale, from 8.0 to 8.2. Freedom House measures civil liberties by the following criteria: 1) Civilian control of the police, 2) freedom from police terror, 3) unjustified imprisonment, exile, torture, 4) Absence of economic exploitation (i.e., sweatshops), 5) Corruption of government, military, or organized crime in business, 6) Right to own private property and businesses
Notice the difference between the US and Iran on social issues involving public affection and acceptance of homosexuality. Public affection in America may at times be viewed as inconsiderate by those who witness it, but for the most part, it is a socially accepted behavior. And government (federal, state or local government) certainly wouldn’t consider banning public affection. In Iran, on the other hand, conservatives worry about the “slippery slope”: if kissing and holding hands is allowed, then that will lead to sex, which in turn will lead to teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and other social problems. So, the conservatives in Iran want to “nip the problem in the bud,” so to speak. The point here is that Iran has a much more socially (religiously) conservative society than that which exists in America (see the horizontal placements of the US and Iran on the 2-D ideological spectrum). A debate about the legalization of gay marriage would not be discussed in Iran today because it is such a conservative society that no one would consider even bringing up the subject of gay marriage.
This issue favors liberals in American politics, though Bush appointed the two newest Supreme Court justices, and how these new justices will rule on abortion cases is still unknown at this time. Obama would be expected to appoint pro-choice justices, but his first pick (Sonia Sotomayor) has been mum about her veiws on abortion. She’s Catholic, meaning that it is possible she may be opposed to abortion. Struggling for an edge on the abortion issue, conservatives are changing their rhetoric. They have argued for the life of the fetus for more than 35 years now, but that argument has not been effective changing abortion policy in America. The public tends to weight the rights of the mother over the rights of the fetus, and so now pro-life forces are arguing that abortion psychologically harms women. They are hoping their focus on the interests of women rather than on the fetus will persuade the public to join the pro-life cause. This is an interesting case study in political rhetoric (see video on abortion). Abortion has been legal nationwide since 1973, and it would be difficult to overturn a precedent that has been in place for 35 years. A majority of the public wants abortion to be legal, and it is always hard for politicians to go against public opinion. (A related issue is stem cell research. Conservatives oppose this kind of research because the embryo is destroyed, which conservatives view as killing a human being, but liberals support the research because stem cells hold the promise to be grown into any type of cell, for instance, stem cells could be grown into liver cells which could then be transplanted to rebuild a damaged liver. Adult stem cell research is promising, and if it produces results, then a skin cell could potentially be grown into a liver or kidney or some other organ. If successful, adult stem cell research could eliminate the debate over killing the fetus, since a fetus is not destroyed when adult stem cells are used.) In the debates over nominees to the US Supreme Court, nominees who are in support of abortion, such as Justice Ginsberg who was confirmed in 1993, are not hurt by taking a pro-choice position. Conservative Senators won’t necessarily vote against a pro-choice nominee. However, no nominee would openly take a pro-life position (i.e., be an advocate to overturn Roe v. Wade (1973)). If one did, Democratic Senators and some Republican Senators would certainly vote against the nominee. Abortion is the most important issue in the confirmation hearings of nominees to the US Supreme Court. In the hearings for John Roberts and Samuel Alito, the two newest members of the Supreme Court, abortion was the first topic discussed. John Roberts, who was confirmed by the US Senate in 2005, implied that he would not overturn Roe v. Wade but he was very vague. Samuel Alito, who was confirmed in 2006 by a relatively close 58-42 vote, was also vague about abortion. Liberal-leaning Senators were worried about where Alito might stand on abortion; that’s why 42 voted against him. The “slippery slope”: Liberals are on the “slippery slope” on the abortion issue. Even though they have the advantage on this issue, they are insecure about losing that advantage. Consequently, liberals make no concessions on the issue. For instance, liberals fought against the national ban on partial birth abortion (the ban was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2007), which is a very late-term abortion when the fetus is within days of birth. If liberals were more secure that abortion would remain legal and its legality never threatened again, then liberals would probably support a ban on partial birth abortion. Background : The US Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in its Roe v. Wade (1973) decision. This kicked off the latest evangelical movement in America. Religious conservatives have since worked hard to help elect Republicans to the presidency, hoping that Republicans will choose pro-life justices to the US Supreme Court. In the 1980s and 1990s, Reagan and Bush41 (the father) had 5 justices confirmed to the US Supreme Court, and in 1992, the Supreme Court heard a major challenge to Roe v. Wade. But in Casey v. Pennsylvania (1992), the Supreme Court upheld Roe v. Wade, thus keeping abortion legal (however, the court did allow states more power to regulate abortion, such as imposing 24 hour waiting periods and requiring parental consent before a minor can get an abortion). Bush43 (the son) appointed John Roberts (the current Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court) and Samuel Alito. It’s unclear if these nominees will tip the balance of the court on the abortion issue. However, some states are considering anti-abortion laws that will certainly be challenged in court. For instance, in March 2006, South Dakota’s legislature passed and the governor signed the most restrictive abortion measure in the country; it would have banned abortion even in the case of rape, but in the November 2006 referendum on the proposed law, the voters of South Dakota voted down the ban, meaning the abortion ban did not become law. In a 2008 referendum on abortion, South Dakotan voters again rejected a less restrictive measure to ban abortion (except to save the mother’s life or if the mother is raped (including incest) and only if the abortion would take place in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy). Social conservatives hoped the proposal would win approval of the voters so that it would then be challenged in court, and eventually to the Supreme Court. Only then could Bush’s appointments to the Supreme Court potentially tip the balance in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. Bush’s two justices ruled with the conservative half of the court in a case on partial birth abortion (Gonzalez v. Carhart (2007)). The case challenged the federal law that bans partial birth abortion, and the court in a 5-4 decision upheld the federal law, meaning that partial birth abortion will remain illegal nationwide. Congress passed a partial birth abortion ban in 2003. Partial birth abortion is a very late term abortion, usually after the period when a fetus would be viable outside the womb. If Roe v. Wade is overturned at some point in the future, then each state would determine the legality of abortion within its respective state borders. My guess is that most of the more conservative states, such as Texas and South Dakota, would keep abortion legal but provide incentives for women to carry the fetus to term. The more conservative states would also make it very difficult for minors to get abortions. More liberal states, such as New York and California, would have legal abortions with few restrictions. This is only a guess on my part, but I think it’s pretty close to what would happen if Roe were overturned by a more conservative Supreme Court.
This issue favors conservatives today, and since most conservatives identify with Republicans, Republicans have the advantage on the gay marriage issue. Evidence of the Republican advantage was revealed in the 2004 presidential election, when Bush supported a proposal for a constitutional amendment (to the US Constitution) to define marriage between a man and a woman only. This issue motivated religious conservatives to vote for Bush in large numbers. Also, John Kerry (Democratic challenger to Bush in 2004 presidential election) came out against gay marriage in 2004, even though that position probably goes against his convictions. Obama also opposed gay marriage in the 2008 presidential campaign, though he supported civil unions (a legal union between a same-sex couple that is not called marriage), and as president, he has pledged to change change in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the military and to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (1996), but these are dangerous issues for a Democrat, so Obama has been slow to act. Deep inside, Obama probably supports gay marriage, but politically, he worries about the effect an endorsement of gay marriage would have on his political power. Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, repealed a law in July 2008 that forbid couples from getting married in Massachusetts, if their home state also forbid that type of marriage. For instance, since gay marriage is illegal in Texas, a same-sex couple could not go to Massachusetts to get married. But now that Massachusetts repealed the law, same-sex couples from other states theoretically could get married in Massachusetts, though there is some legal confusion over the effect of repealing this law. There has not been a rush of same-sex couples to Massachusetts to get married, after the repeal of this law, so obviously the implication of the repeal is still not clear. Nevertheless, this could set up a constitutional challenge to bans on gay marriage, under the provisions of the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” (of the US Constitution). The clause requires states to recognize the legal judgments of all other states. Over time, these have come to include legal decisions regarding marriage licenses, divorce decrees, child custody, and debt settlements. One reason Bush publicly supported a constitutional amendment proposal (in 2004 and again in June 2006) is because he and other religious conservatives worry that gays will go to a state where gay marriage is legal, get married, then bring the marriage license to their home state and demand the gay marriage be legally recognized. Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, it is possible the US Supreme Court would rule in favor of recognition of gay marriage licenses and force states to recognize gay marriages from other states because recognizing marriage licenses from other states is included under the clause. If a constitutional amendment were passed at the federal level, then states (with bans on gay marriage) would not have to recognize a gay marriage from a state where gay marriage is legal. A federal law (one already exists: the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996) that protects states with gay marriage bans could be struck down as unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court at some point in the future (under the Full Faith and Credit Clause); a constitutional amendment cannot be struck down by the US Supreme Court. To date, the proposed US constitutional amendment has failed to pass through the US Congress. Background : In 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized gay marriage within the state of Massachusetts. Previously, in 2000, Vermont passed a civil union law, which recognized same-sex unions but did not call it marriage. Connecticut also has a civil union law. Also, in 2004, gay marriages were allowed in some cities, such as San Francisco (the California Supreme Court later invalidated the gay marriages in San Francisco). In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court (Lewis v. Harris) ordered the New Jersey legislature to give gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, and the New Jersey legislature passed a civil unions law in Feb 2007. Gay marriage is legal in the following New England states: Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (May 2009), Vermont (Sept. 2009), and Maine (Sept. 2009). Civil unions of some form are legal in a few other states: NJ, NH, Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Maryland. Vermont and Connecticut first started with civil unions. These laws recognize a same-sex union as legal, though it is not called marriage. Massachusetts passed legislation in (July) 2008 that allows same-sex couples from other states to come to Massachusetts to legally marry. In May 2008, the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in the state of California, but the people of California passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Nov 2008, which overturned the decision of the California Supreme Court. The outcome of the referendum was challenged, but the California Supreme Court upheld the ban (though did legalize 1000s of civil unions that took place prior to the ban). Still the trend toward legalization in California is clear. In 2000 (Prop 22), by a 61% to 38%, California recognized marriage as only being between a man and woman. In 2008, the vote was 52% to 48%. A majority still oppose gay marriage, even in a very liberal state like California, but that majority is shrinking over time. Also in May 2008, the State of New York decided to recognize same-sex unions from other states and from Canada (even though gay marriage or civil unions are illegal in New York State), meaning that a same-sex couple who is married in Massachusetts could move to New York, and their marriage would be recognized there. On balance, there has been a backlash against gay marriage. About 30 states, including Texas, have passed amendments to their respective state constitutions defining marriage between a man and woman only (in other words, these states have placed bans on gay marriage). Arizona voters first voted down a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in 2006, but then approved the same measure 2 years later in 2008. Much of the other states are considering some form of ban on gay marriage. Gay marriage is an issue in other westernized countries also. Six countries have legalized gay marriage: The Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2005), and Norway (2009). Approximately 16 countries allow for civil unions. The Bible addresses homosexuality. In the Old Testament, homosexuality is considered a sexually deviant behavior along with about 20 others, such as bestiality and adultery. All of these behaviors carry harsh punishments, usually death. The punishment for homosexuality is death by stoning. See Leviticus 18:22; 20:13.
The illegal immigration issue is beginning to favor (social) conservatives, who want the US-Mexican border secured in order to stop the flow of illegal immigration into the country. Despite this slight advantage, conservatives (Republicans) are split on the issue and are currently fighting amongst themselves. The competing sides are sometimes referred to as “open borders” conservatives (Republicans) versus “border security” conservatives (Republicans). President Bush was more of an “open borders” Republican, but as president he felt the pressure from social conservatives and a large majority of the public, who want to secure the US-Mexican border, and supported an initiative to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. In the 2008 presidential campaign, both John McCain and Barak Obama were more liberal on the immigration issue, so neither candidate made an issue of immigration. McCain catered to his conservative base some. Conservatives want to secure the border first, and McCain reluctantly adopted this position also. Like Bush, he advocated building a wall along the US-Mexico border (which is currently being built) before a path to citizenship is offered to any illegal immigrant. As it turned out, illegal immigration was not a decisive issue in the 2008 presidential election, though Hispanics voted heavily for Barak Obama (63% of hispanics voted for Obama; 31% voted for McCain). As president, Obama has yet to address the immigration issue. He has too much on his plate at this time. Evidence of the growing power of social conservatives on this issue is illustrated by how politicians treat the word “amnesty.” No politician openly calls for granting amnesty to the 12 million or so illegal immigrants in the country today. President Bush ran from the word “amnesty” and so do Democrats. More than twenty years ago (1987), President Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants in the country at that time. Reagan, a conservative Republican, was not punished by his conservative base for granting amnesty. The social conservatives were not strong enough at that time to make Reagan pay a price, but had Bush called for amnesty as president, he would have faced much stronger opposition from today’s conservative base. In addition to amnesty, the legislation 20 years ago also called for cracking down on future illegal immigration and imposing fines on employers who hired illegal immigrants; these provisions made it easier for conservatives then to accept amnesty. In the more than 20 years since, the enforcement measures never took place, so social conservatives today are wary that promises of enforcement may not happen; that’s why they are so opposed to amnesty today and want to see border security occur first. They believe that if there is a comprehensive plan that includes border security and some path to citizenship, which conservatives consider to be amnesty, then only amnesty will occur, just as what happened 20 years ago. Some conservatives have organized into a new interest group called the Minuteman Project. This group is now patrolling the border, reporting illegal traffic across the border to the border patrol. They are also building fences along the border from their own funds. Their purpose is to bring attention to the illegal immigration issue, and they have been successful in getting their activities publicized. Another growing force in American politics are hispanics. Both parties want to win the Hispanic vote in future elections. In 2006, Hispanic leaders organized massive rallies in protest of some of the proposed immigration legislation coming out of the US Congress at that time. Democrats hope that immigrants will vote for Democratic candidates once they become legal citizens. Most minority groups and most lower-income earners vote for the Democratic party, and poorer Hispanic immigrants would fit this profile of a potential voter. Some Republicans are also worried about losing future Hispanic voters, which is why some Republicans take a more “open borders” position. Interestingly, the “future voter” angle to the illegal immigration issue is “hush hush,” meaning no one is really talking about this publicly. An almost silent force in the immigration debate is business. Illegal immigrants work in a number of important sectors of the US economy: agriculture, hotels/restaurants, construction (building roads and homes), landscaping and others. Business leaders (in these sectors) want the illegal labor, and illegal immigrants want the work. In contrast to the social conservatives, business leaders don’t see illegal immigration as a problem. Illegal immigration contributes to a growing economy, and business leaders want to see the economy continue to grow. Business is working behind the scenes within Republican circles, threatening to withdraw campaign donations in future elections to pressure politicians. Business is very powerful in American politics, and on this issue, powerful within the Republican Party. Bush was pro-business (and so was Reagan more than 20 years ago). That’s why Bush wanted a temporary worker program for illegal immigrants in the country. A worker program would allow illegal immigrants to work legally in America (Bush wanted a 3-year time limit for each guest worker). The Mexican government is another, almost silent, player in the immigration debate. Mexico has no incentive to stop illegal immigration into the US. The money sent back to Mexico from legal and illegal immigrants (called remittances) is the second largest source of income for the Mexican economy (oil revenue is first). Also, the US provides health care and education to illegal immigrants and to their children, which is an expense the Mexican government can pass on to the US. Corruption is a serious problem in Mexico, which is the primary reason Mexico does not produce jobs for its poor (40% to 50% of Mexicans live in poverty). 85% of illegal immigrants come to the US from Mexico, and their incentive to come is economic in nature. Illegal immigrants can make much more money in the US than they can make in Mexico or in any Latin or South American country. If Mexico addressed its problems with corruption, then Mexico could have a growing economy that would offer jobs to Mexico’s poor. But its easier politically for the Mexican government to allow the US to take care of Mexico’s poor rather than for the Mexican government to assume that responsibility. Local governments are weighing in on the immigration issue. For instance, in 2006, the city council in Farmer’s Branch, Texas approved a proposal to make English its official language, to impose fines on landlords who rent to illegal aliens, and to allow local law enforcement to check for legal status when someone is pulled over for a traffic violation or some other alleged violation of the law. In a city-wide referendum (2007), the people of Farmers Branch, Texas, approved the city council’s immigration proposal. After the murder of a Houston police office (Rodney Johnson), Houston will also check for the legal status of those who are pulled over for traffic violations.
This issue favors liberals because prayer in public school was banned by the US Supreme Court, beginning in 1962, and it remains illegal to this day, even though prayer takes place everyday in many rural schools in this country. The public supports prayer in school, but the courts do not have to follow public opinion. Prayer in school is one example where the US Supreme Court has gone against public opinion. It’s rare for the US Supreme Court to go against the public but it happens occasionally. Another example is the 2005 Supreme Court decision on Eminent Domain, which was very unpopular. The Supreme Court ruled that local governments can seize private property to promote development and a higher tax base. For instance, a city could seize a bunch of homes (the homeowner would be paid for the property) so that a developer could build a condominium or a hotel which would bring in more tax revenue to the city. Many states have passed laws to limit the power of Eminent Domain since the court ruling (and the court decision allowed for states to pass such restrictions). Judicial activism is related to this issue. The 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals (one level below the US Supreme Court) ruled that “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. Religious conservatives see this as an assault on Christianity. The Supreme Court struck down the 9 th Circuit Court’s decision on a technicality. It did not address the pledge issue. “God” was put into the Pledge in the 1950s, in the first stages of the Cold War, which was a struggle between the US and Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was officially atheist, and leaders in this country wanted to make a statement against a Godless Soviet Union. The argument for taking “God” out of the Pledge is the separation of church and state principle, which some interpret “God” in the pledge as a promotion of religion by government. Restrictions on prayer or on recognizing God in a church (or other houses of worship) or in the privacy of one’s own home would be a violation of the “freedom of religion” clause of the first amendment. The debate over religious expression in this country is not over what can be done in private establishments (a church or a home) but rather what can be done in public establishments (at a school or a court house).
This issue favors conservatives but only slightly. Typically, in a time of war, the public tolerates some curtailment of civil liberties in the interest of public safety. Given this, conservatives tend to have the advantage. But civil liberty advocates are also very strong in this country, and there are civil liberty advocates in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Nevertheless, polls show that moderates lean slightly toward the public safety position, thus tipping the balance slightly in favor of conservatives. More evidence of a slight conservative (or public safety) advantage was revealed during the confirmation hearings of General Michael Hayden to the post of CIA director (May 2006). In a previous post, Hayden was director of the National Security Agency (NSA), and in that position, Hayden oversaw the domestic spying (terror surveillance) program. Initially, civil liberty advocates in the Senate (both Republicans and Democrats) considered opposing Hayden’s nomination to the CIA, but in the end, they backed off and Hayden was confirmed (78 in favor, 15 against). The civil liberty advocates didn’t want to make the domestic spying program an issue, fearing that they would lose if they did. In Aug 2006, a Federal District Judge ruled that Bush’s domestic spying/terrorist surveillance program was unconstitutional. The Bush administration immediately appealed the decision to a higher federal court (the 6 th Circuit Appeals Court), which ruled in Oct 2006 that the domestic spying program could continue until it (the appeals court) reached its decision. It’s unclear whether this case will be settled by the US Supreme Court, given that Congress and the president agreed on a new law (see next paragraph). In July 2008, Congress passed and the president signed amendments to the FISA law (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978). It gave immunity to telecom companies (e.g., ATT), who had assisted the government in tracking terrorists but who may have also spied on innocents as well. The amendments also legalize warrantless wiretaps for up to 7 days before approval of the FISA court becomes necessary. This was a major victory for President Bush and additional evidence that this issue favors conservatives over liberals. The Democrats tested the waters in Jan 2008, by allowing the authorization for domestic spying to expire. They fought the program for 7 months but ultimately caved on the domestic spying issue because they did not want to be perceived as being against national security. As a member of the US Senate at the time, Barak Obama voted in favor of the FISA amendments; he probably wanted to vote against reauthorizing the domestic spying program (given that he is a civil liberty advocate), but Obama most likely did not want to hand the Republicans a national security issue that they could have used to their advantage in the 2008 elections. As president, Obama has decided to continue the domestic spying program. Being responsible for the national security of the country, Obama wants this tool as a means of stopping potential terrorist attacks. Critics of the domestic spying (terror surveillance) program say that the Bush administration broke the law because a court did not approve the phone taps. Since the initiation of the Iraq War in 2003, there were calls for Bush’s impeachment (mostly on the internet), but the standard for impeachment is a violation of law and Bush never violated a specific law, which was especially true after the warrantless wiretaps were made legal (for 7 days) in July 2008. Also, the public safety argument is strong in this case. Our country was attacked on 9/11, and Bush could have argued that his goals were to stop the next terrorist attack. It would be difficult to impeach a president whose goal is to protect the country. When Democrats took control of Congress in Jan 2007, the Bush administration agreed to use the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) court to approve/reject all cases of domestic spying/terrorist surveillance. (This was done even before the law was updated in July 2008). One argument liberals make is that there is no oversight of the executive branch on this issue. If the FISA court is part of the approval/rejection process, then there would be some oversight. This was an effort on part of the Bush administration to appease its critics in Congress, to assuage their concerns about domestic spying and to encourage Congress not to further pursue this controversy.
This issue favors liberals but only slightly. Both moderates and conservatives tend to favor public safety (over civil liberties) in a time of war, but the Supreme Court has consistently upheld civil liberties in cases it has so far heard, which marks a victory for civil liberty advocates and a curtailment of former Bush administration policies. Obama wants to make a bold statement on this issue by closing the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention facility. This move would symbolize Obama’s opposition to the alleged civil liberty abuses of terror suspects during the Bush administration (e.g., alleged torture of detainees, kidnapping terror suspects (called rendition) and then transporting those suspects to secret prisons in countries where torture would be allowed). Still, Obama realizes that we will need to detain very dangerous people who are captured in the war on terror, and that he will need to put in place a system that can accommodate these prisoners. He has decided to continue using military commissions as a means of trying terror suspects, the same military tribunals that Congress and President Bush agreed to in 2006 (under the Military Commission Act). President Obama has appointed a non-intelligence man, Leon Panetta, to the post of Director of the CIA. Part of the symbolism of this move is to send a message to the intelligence community that an outsiders is taking over to oversee its operations, one that may not be sympathetic to some of the alleged abuses (e.g., the rendition program) that took place during the Bush administration. Panetta has been loyal to the agency, at least with respect to one controversy involving the potential release of photos from Guantanamo Bay allegedly showing US personnel engaging in the torture of prisoners. Panetta opposed the release of these photos. Obama planned to release them but later changed his mind, arguing that the photos would be used by Al Qaeda and other radical groups for recruiting purposes. Throughout US history, in a time of war, the government has cracked down on civil liberties, in the interest of public safety. Some of our nation’s greatest presidents have cracked down most. For instance, Lincoln jailed anti-war protesters for the duration of the Civil War, and he suspended Habeas Corpus so that prisoners could not petition for their own release (which was unconstitutional; only Congress can suspend Habeas Corpus in a time of war). And FDR interned Japanese-Americans for the duration of WWII. But civil liberty standards have strengthened over time, and a president today cannot commit the same civil liberty violation of which Lincoln and FDR were guilty. Supreme Court Decisions The US Supreme Court can go against the majority of the public, but in a time of war, the Court has traditionally deferred to the policies of the president and Congress. In this latest war on terrorism, however, the Supreme Court has sided against the president in the Guantanamo Bay and Yaser Hamdi cases (2004), ruling that prisoners in this war are entitled to the right of habeas corpus, which means they can petition a court for their release from detention. These rulings essentially forces the Bush administration to charge detainees with crimes and try them in court, which is what civil liberty advocates want. In the Salim Hamdan case (2006), the Supreme Court again modified Bush administration policy. The Hamdan ruling forced the administration to seek congressional authority to try prisoners by military commissions and it imposes international standards for the treatment of prisoners held by the US (article 3 of the Geneva Convention). Historically, it is an unusual move for the Supreme Court to go against the executive branch in a time of war. The Hamdan case makes clear that the Supreme Court doesn’t consider the war on terrorism as a real or all-out war, as the Bush administration does. The Supreme Court has tipped the balance slightly in favor of liberals on this issue. In compliance with the Hamdan Supreme Court ruling, Congress passed and the president signed the Military Commissions Act (2006) in Oct 2006. The legislation denied prisoners the right of habeas corpus, though. Bush and Congress did not want the courts to be clogged up with challenges by detainees; that’s why habeas corpus was denied, but civil liberty advocates protested and challenged this in court. The Supreme Court heard the case, which was filed by two Guantanamo Bay prisoners. The case was decided in (June) 2008 in Boumediene v. Bush (2008); the Supreme Court once again affirmed the right of habeas corpus for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They can petition for the release to a civilian court. The Geneva Convention, which the US Supreme Court applied to the US in the war on terror, is designed to protect detainees from the following: torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, performing biological experiments, murder, mutilation or maiming, rape, causing serious bodily injury, and sexual assault or abuse, and taking hostages. Clearly, rape or murder needs no further clarification. But what about torture? Or cruel and inhumane treatment? These need definition. The 3 rd article of the 3 rd Geneva Convention was originally meant to apply to civil wars, where a rebel group fights the government. The government might be a party to the Geneva Convention but the rebel group would not be. The Geneva Convention still binds the government in this case. The article also stipulates that the war not be international in character and must be fought on the territory of the signing party to the convention. In the Hamdan decision, the Supreme Court considered Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to effectively be US territory, where Al Qaeda prisoners are being held, and it did not consider the war on terrorism to be an international war. Otherwise, this article would not apply to the US. The Supreme Court did not apply Article 2 of the Geneva Convention to the US. It stipulates that a signatory to the convention must abide by it even if it is fighting a non-signatory to the convention, but only if the non-signatory voluntarily abides by the convention. Obviously, Al Qaeda does not abide by the convention. Sawing off heads of prisoners, which is routinely done by Al Qaeda, does not conform to the Geneva Convention. So, the Court did not apply Article 2. Article 3 was a compromise.
This issue favors conservatives. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of America’s most powerful interest groups, and this group has been successful in campaigning against Democrats, who tend to favor restrictions on gun ownership (i.e., gun control). Conservatives also make a public safety argument on this issue. They argue that if more people owned and carried guns, then criminals wouldn’t be able to distinguish between those who are vulnerable and those who are not, and consequently crime would drop. Still, the argument that is made most by conservatives involves second amendment rights. Conservatives typically make a civil liberties argument on the gun issue, while liberals make a public safety argument. Usually, on other issues, the two argue in reverse, with conservatives arguing for public safety and liberals for civil liberties. Since the issue tends to favor Republicans, Democratic presidential candidates (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama) always point out their support for the rights of hunters and that they only want sensible gun control laws. For the NRA and its followers, the gun issue is not about hunting but rather about self defense. And since Democratic presidential candidates don’t make the self-defense argument, the NRA does not trust Democrats and thus campaigns hard against them. The gun issue was not an issue in the 2008 presidential election, however, so Obama was unaffected by his position on gun control. More evidence on the conservative advantage on this issue became clear after the incident at Virginia Tech (2007), when a mentally-disturbed student (named Cho) shot and killed 32 people on campus in what turned out to be a suicide killing spree. Cho had a history of mental illness and should not have been able to purchase a gun in Virginia. When Cho purchased his weapons, the instant background check did not account for Cho’s mental health record, and thus he was cleared to buy guns. Those records had not been provided by state health officials to those who manage the database for instant background checks. After this, Democrats in Congress approached the NRA to work on legislation that would provide money to states to update their instant background databases. Democrats did not want to burned on the gun issue again, and their cooperation with the NRA on this legislation was helpful to that end. After becoming president, Obama signed a bill into law that involved regulation of credit card providers. At the last minute, Congress attached a non-related amendment to the bill, which would allow gun owners with concealed weapons licenses to bring a concealed weapon into a national park. Obama signed the bill, even with the unrelated gun amendment attached. This is further evidence of the power of the gun lobby. Obama does not want to take on the gun lobby, like Bill Clinton did (see history below). Obama worries that the gun issue could help Republicans in the 2010 and 2012 elections, so his strategy is to go along with the gun lobby so as to neutralize the Republican advantage. Supreme Court Decision In 2008, for the first time in US history, the US Supreme Court ruled on whether the 2 nd Amendment grants an individual right to own guns. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), a 5-to-4 decision, the Court defined an individual right to own a handgun and use it in defense of one’s own home. It was a rare definitive ruling by the Supreme Court. Though they lost, the minority on the US Supreme Court also submitted a definitive opinion. Had the minority argument (4 justices) prevailed, the Second Amendment would have been abolished as an outdated relic of the 18th Century. The majority (5 justices) acknowledged that the right to keep and bear arms was for a specific purpose—so that states could raise militias (which are no longer necessary given that the National Guard has replaced state militias)—but that the purpose was not restrictive of a right of the people generally to keep and bear arms. In the beginning of our country, only younger, healthier (white) men would be able to serve in a militia, and the majority argued that if the original meaning of the Second Amendment was to restrict gun ownership to this limited class of people, then the phrase, “the right of the people,” would have been written in a more restrictive way. The minority (4 justices) tied the phrases, “the right of the people” and “a well regulated Militia” together, concluding that keeping and bearing arms had a specific military purpose which did not include the right to hunt or to own or use a gun in self-defense, and since militias are no longer relevant in our society, there should be no restrictions on states (or on the District of Columbia) to regulate or even ban gun ownership. More Background : One of the reasons Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 elections was because of the gun issue. Clinton and the Democratic Congress passed the Brady Bill (1993), which placed a 5-day waiting period on handgun purchases (i.e., when someone bought a handgun that person would have to wait 5 days before actually taking the gun home). This energized the NRA; it’s membership soared. The NRA campaigned hard against Democrats in 1994 and that helped Republicans win majorities in the Congress (among other issues not related to the gun issue). NRA membership soared again after Clinton pushed for more gun control following the Oklahoma City bombing (1995). And NRA membership once again soared after 9/11. There is clearly a strong gun-owning, self-defense culture in America. Other countries see America as backward because of its gun-owning culture. Canada is one such examples. Many of the illegally owned guns in Canada come from America, and a mayor of Toronto placed some blame on America for the criminal gang activity that had happened in that city earlier in the 2000s. Many European countries also view America as backward because of the American public’s affection for guns. Slippery Slope : Conservatives are on the slippery slope on this issue. Even though they have the advantage on this issue, they are insecure about losing that advantage. They worry that if they concede anything to liberals on this issue, liberals may gain the momentum and successfully ban handguns. This is why the NRA opposes bans on “cop-killer” bullets (i.e., bullets that can penetrate a police bullet-proof vest) and on 6-foot long military-style rifles. If gun owners were secure that handguns would never be banned, no matter what, then they may feel more secure about allowing bans on things like cop-killer bullets and military-style rifles.
This issue favors conservatives today, but in the long-run (25 to 30 years), the death penalty may be on the way out. Why is the death penalty possibly on the way out? In recent years, the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in cases involving the mentally retarded and minors (those less than 18 years of age). Also, in Texas, which is the death penalty capital of the United States, the Texas Legislature (2005) passed a law that would allow juries to choose life in prison without parole in lieu of the death penalty. Before the 2005 law was enacted, juries had to choose between 40 years in jail and the death penalty. If a 20 year old commits a heinous rape and murder and is sentenced to 40 years in jail, then the 20-year old would be released from prison at age 60. Many jurists believe that would be wrong and instead would chose the death penalty rather than the 40-year jail sentence. In other states where juries have the choice of life in prison without parole, that’s the choice that is made (instead of the death penalty). Texas should then see fewer death penalty executions in the future. Lethal injections as a means of inducing death in states where the death penalty is used were challenged as cruel and unusual punishment, but in Baze v. Rees (2008), the US Supreme Court ruled that lethal injections are legal—in other words, they do not violate the 8 th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The death penalty has not been an issue in the last two presidential elections, 2004 and 2008. That John Kerry (in 2004) and Barak Obama (in 2008) were opposed to the death penalty did not hurt their candidacies. The 2004 and 2008 presidential elections were decided on other issues—foreign policy in 2004 and the economy and “change” in 2008. The death penalty has, however, been a big issue in other presidential campaigns, and it has worked to the advantage of Republicans. For instance in 1988, Michael Dukakis (Democrat) was opposed to the death penalty and as governor of Massachusetts, he allowed prisoners out of jail on weekend furloughs. One such prisoner, Willie Horton, committed a rape and murder while out on furlough. This program was intended to slowly integrate prisoners back into society before their release from prison (a rehabilitation measure). But the furlough program made Dukakis look “weak on crime,” a label that hurt Dukakis in 1988 (he lost the presidential election) and one that has hurt Democratic presidential candidates dating back to 1968. In 1992, Bill Clinton was determined not to be labeled “weak on crime,” so he came out in favor of the death penalty. During the 1992 campaign, he went back to Arkansas to oversee an execution (He was still Governor of Arkansas at the time). And it worked for Clinton. The death penalty issue did not work against him in 1992, and Clinton went on to become president (because of this and many other issues). Since most conservatives and Republicans support the death penalty, they are viewed as “tough on crime” and “toughness” works in American politics. As with the gun issue, our European allies view America as backward on the issue of the death penalty. All European countries have banned the death penalty. The French Prime Minister (Dominique de Villepin) made a speech at the Harvard School of Government (in 2007), in which he said the death penalty goes against Democratic principles.
This debate goes back to the beginning of the country; it was an issue even in the 1830s, when the federal government was a fraction of the size it is today. Back then, the debate was about whether the federal government should fund the building of roads and canals (public infrastructure). The state and local governments did these things, but the federal government had not. So, improving the public infrastructure was considered an expansion of the role of the federal government and it was hugely controversial in the 1830s. Today, the federal government provides billions of dollars to building roads across America. But whenever there is a proposal to expand federal government power in a way that’s new, it will be controversial, just as funding road construction in the 1830s was. When the housing market crashed and the financial crisis hit (2008), the Bush administration turned to government for answers. Early in 2008, the Federal Reserve intervened to save Bear Stearns from collapse (Bear Stearns is a huge investment bank that apparently was so integral to the US economy that its collapse would have threatened a steep recession). This was the first time the federal government intervened in the investment banking sector of our economy (the feds have been involved in commercial banking since the 1930s). The president and Congress then considered empowering the Federal Reserve with new regulatory powers over the investment banking industry, where there were none before. In Summer 2008, the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (two home mortgage lenders with special ties to the government) and AIG (an insurance giant), and it began to purchase stock in the commercial banking sector. The federal government now controls 80% of AIG. In September 2008, the Congress made available $700 billion to bailout failing banks and to encourage banks to lend money. These are all moves in the direction of bigger government. Since becoming president, Obama pushed an $787 billion stimulus package through Congress. The federal government also intervened to avert the collapse of GM and Chysler, two of America’s “Big Three” automakers (Ford is the third). The government now owns 60% of GM. These are also moves in the direction of bigger government.
This issue favors conservatives. Over the last 20 years or so, liberals have often been labeled as “tax and spend” liberals, which is a label that works against liberals in elections. As president, Obama promises to cut taxes for 95% of Americans, some of which will be a payment to the working poor who do not pay federal taxes. He will, however, either allow the Bush tax cuts to expire in 2011 or he will have Congress repeal them, which means that those who buy and sell stocks, those who earn interest and dividend income will pay higher taxes, and those who make more money will pay higher taxes. It is a gamble for Obama to roll back the Bush tax cuts, but if he emphasize the tax cuts for 95% of Americans, then maybe that will neutralize any potentially negative political ramifications for raising taxes on others. Because the issue favors conservatives, Democratic presidential candidates often run promising some form of tax cut, to try to neutralize the issue. Bill Clinton promised a middle class tax cut in 1992, but once in office realized the budget deficit was so large, he then backed off the tax cut proposal. In 2000, Al Gore ran promising a tax cut for the middle class also, but Gore didn’t win the election in the end. In 2004, John Kerry was open about wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for wealthier taxpayers, and his position really didn’t hurt him (the 2004 election was a foreign policy election…most domestic issues were not a factor). The tax issue was not a factor in the 2008 presidential election either, but perhaps it wasn’t because Obama successfully neutralized the issue by proposing a tax cut for 95% of Americans. In one poll late in the 2008 campaign, Obama was the preferred candidate on the tax issue; to my knowledge, over the last 30 years or so, a Democratic candidate for president has never held an advantage on the tax issue. Obama had tied McCain’s tax cut proposal to health care, and under McCain’s plan (which did not include a tax break for health care costs), the average American would pay more for health care. The issue (favoring tax cuts) has helped elect Republican candidates for president: Reagan, Bush41 (Bush’s father, the 41 st president), and Bush43 (the son, 43 rd president). McCain advocated lower taxes in the 2008 campaign, but this was to placate his conservative base. McCain really wanted to cut government spending, which conservatives want also. Still, McCain never built a reputation in Congress as an advocate of lower taxes. Bush43 successfully pushed Congress to cut taxes about four times in his first 5 years in office. And even though Democrats characterized the cuts as tax cuts for the wealthy, the tax cuts helped Bush43 politically rather than hurt him.
This issue favors liberals, but not strongly. Universal health care has been proposed in 1948, 1965, 1978, and in 1993, and yet we still don’t have universal health care coverage in America. Obama is pushing for a “public option,” which would be a government (taxpayer funded) health care plan that anyone can join (though there will be still be the option of private insurance also), but there is strong resistance to a public health care option, particularly from drug manufacturers, who believe they need to make profits to pay for the research and development of new drug therapies. Only 1 in 50 experimental drugs are ever sold to the public, so the 1 drug that is sold has to cover the cost of the other 49 that die somewhere in the development process. Another factor that works against universal health care is that 80+% of Americans have health insurance, and a great many of the insured are happy with their coverage. It is very hard to make a major change to the system when so many people are satisfied with their health care status. In Summer 2009, there was (has been) a national debate on health care. Many members of Congress have held “town hall” meetings, where they have been shouted down by opponents of the health care proposals in Congress. Some have charged that these are organized protests, that they are political activists rather than non-activist citizens. Either way, the opposition to the health care proposals in Congress have strengthened and it is not clear at this point what will pass Congress and become law. Today, we have Medicaid which provides health care for the poor (those who live at or below the poverty level) and Medicare which provides health care for the elderly (65+ years). There are other health care programs that help those with disabilities of various kinds. Still, there are millions who do not have health care coverage. Some of them work for small businesses (a business with fewer than 50 employees does not have to provide health care coverage to its employees, and some who work for small businesses don’t seek out individual coverage). A few are younger people who feel like they don’t need health care. The issue is, should government guarantee these people be covered? Each of the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates proposed health care plans, and many of the Republican presidential candidates did also. This illustrates the advantage liberals have on this issue. Republicans worried that they would look insensitive to those who can’t afford health care if they didn’t offer some sort of plan. In 1992, the Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton, proposed a health care plan, and his Republican opponent felt obligated to do so also. Clinton won the election, and his health care initiative was headed by Hillary Clinton. It was eventually defeated, not by the Republican opposition in Congress, but by powerful interest groups like the American Medical Association, which convinced doctors that the plan was not in their interests. Doctors in turn conveyed their sentiment to their patients and public opinion turned against the Clinton health care plan. Today, unlike in 1993, the American Medical Association (AMA) supports a government program to ensure that the uninsured can obtain health care coverage (though the AMA still opposed Obama’s “public option”). The Business Roundtable (a business group) also favors some form of universal coverage. So, in 2009, the opposition to universal health care is softer than it was in 1993. Still, the drug manufacturers are strong and will oppose Obama’s health care agenda. Obama believes the public option proposal will introduce competition and force the private insurers to improve their plans so as not to lose patients to the public option plan. The opposition charges that Obama is moving our country one step closer to socialized medicine. Though we have plenty of socialist-oriented institutions (e.g., the public school system) and policies (e.g., Medicaid and Medicare) that are popular with the American people, ironically the word “socialism” is a bad word in American politics, and Obama’s critics have repeatedly charged that he and his policy proposals are “socialist.” Obama says the “public option” will give people more “choices” and add “competition” to the health care system. The words “choices” and “competition” are usually associated with capitalist-oriented policies, and this is probably why Obama is using these words. He does not want the “public option” to be associated with “socialism.” I could substitute a number of issues (e.g., social security, education, the environment, or others) for health care and still make the same point, which is that the public wants lower taxes but it also wants expensive programs like health care, social security, education, and environmental protection. This is almost a contradiction in thinking. Programs that provide health care and social security cost a lot of money but lower taxes tends to put constraints on government spending (at least in the short term). To move toward smaller or bigger government, the public would have to be more consistent in its views by supporting higher taxes and social security or by supporting lower taxes and a slow phasing out of social security. That government cannot be moved in a big way in either direction today produces a high degree of frustration among our politicians; this is one of the reasons for such intense polarization in our system today. In this sense, the political polarization that exists today is caused, in part, by the public’s desire to have it all—very expensive programs that satisfy a need in society and lower taxes, so that people can have more money to spend (or save) on themselves and on their families. In late 2008 (under Bush) and in 2009 (under Obama), our country will move significantly in the direction of bigger government. It will be interesting to see if this big move reduces the polarization in our system, by satisfying liberals and leaving conservatives passively resigned to accept the change. Conservatives argue that if taxes were lowered, then the economy would be infused with more private money and it would grow more rapidly, and if people are making more money, even at a lower tax rate, they would be paying more in taxes. This theory is called “supply-side” economics. If this theory is correct, then maybe we can have “our cake and eat it too” (i.e., have expensive programs and lower taxes). This is an endless debate in American politics.
Ideology drives these two national visions, not political parties. During dominant one-party rule in the early 1800s, there was still pro-war and anti-war factions within that dominant party. The point here is that even in times of one-party rule in America, the party divides into competing ideological factions.
This issue favors conservatives. An image of “strength” always plays well in American politics, and strength is often equated with a willingness to use force. Since the height of the Vietnam War, liberals have been labeled “weak on our enemies.” The conservative Democrats have been transitioning to the Republican Party since the late 1960s, early 1970s, and the conservative Democrats were more willing to use force but they are almost all Republicans now. Since the issue favors conservatives and Republicans, Obama took a harder line than McCain on Pakistan and in dealing with Al Qaeda and the Taliban (since both have safe havens inside Pakistan), first hoping to neutralize Hillary Clinton’s harder position on foreign policy in the Democratic primaries and then McCain’s in the general election. Obama made no concession on Iraq. He opposed it from the beginning and never wavered; he wouldn’t even acknowledge the success of the surge operation, which helped bring some stability to Baghdad and the surrounding areas. This ingratiated Obama with the liberal base, and since liberals were so happy with Obama’s position on Iraq, it gave him flexibility to take a harder stand on other areas of foreign policy. Even had foreign policy, specifically dealing with terrorism, been a major issue in 2008 (which it wasn’t), I think Obama would have been able to neutralize McCain’s natural advantage on the issue. John Kerry did not come out against the Iraq War in the 2004 presidential election, despite that he probably opposed the war deep inside. Instead, he proposed to fight a smarter war, a more competent war. He even embraced the concept of “preemptive war,” which is what Bush43 used as his justification for going into Iraq (actually, the proper description would be “preventive war”: to stop something from happening before it actually happens…in the case of Iraq, Bush’s stated reason for war was to stop Saddam Hussein before Hussein passed a WMD to Al Qaeda, which it could then use against America). Liberals tend to be opposed to “preemptive or preventive war” because of respect for “state sovereignty,” which implies that a country’s borders are sovereign and should not be invaded by another country unless it has attacked another or threatened to attack. Iraq did not attack or threaten to attack the US. In his heart, Kerry was probably opposed to the Iraq War, as most liberals are, but he worried that he would be labeled as “weak on our enemies” had he done so. The “weak” label has hurt other Democratic presidential candidates: McGovern (1972), Carter (1980), Mondale (1984), Dukakis (1988). Republicans benefit from the image of being “strong.” The initial debate about Bush’s “surge” strategy to control the violence in Baghdad was interesting (this goes back to Jan 2007). Opponents described the “surge” as an “escalation,” which brings back memories of Vietnam, where a gradual escalation of hostilities did not lead to victory. Because of the Vietnam experience, “escalation” is a bad word in American politics. No one can openly advocate escalation. But ideologically, conservatives believe in escalating a conflict, believing it will pressure the enemy into making a mistake on which the US can capitalize. US foreign policy has been dominated by the conservative ideology through most of US history, beginning with the Monroe Doctrine (1823). US leaders have always been insecure about the threat of other nations and other potential enemies (like Al Qaeda today), and consequently, America has been very aggressive with its power, all in the name of national security. US leaders (both liberal and conservative) across US history have had the perception that America is “different” in a way that threatens others in the world. European Monarchs, Soviet communists and other communist nations, and now Al Qaeda terrorists are threatened by the pressure to be more “free” and America symbolizes that threat. There are rare exceptions to conservative ideological dominance over US foreign policy, but one such exception was FDR’s “good neighbor” policy in the 1930s, which promised that America would not intervene in the affairs of Latin American countries, as it had for about 100 years prior to FDR’s tenure as president. But the “good neighbor” policy lasted for only about a decade. In the late 1970s, Jimmy Carter promised to give the Panama Canal back to the Panamanians, which in compliance with the agreement, took place many years later in 2000. This is another example of a “good neighbor” foreign policy. Though Obama does not call it such, the Obama Doctrine is essentially the “good neighbor” policy. This especially true in his orientation to the Muslim world, where he believes that paying Muslims more respect will produce more cooperation on a number of issues (e.g., the war on terror, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, etc.). The good neighbor policy is based on reciprocity: if I am good to you, then I expect you to be good to me. Still, across the gamut of American history, examples of a more liberal vision of US foreign policy taking precedent are far and few between.
Moderates are opposed to the Iraq War. In some polls, 67% of the public (most of whom are moderates) oppose the war. The slide on patriotism is not a statement about Iraq; rather, it is designed to illustrate a nationalist strain in American political culture, and moderates and conservatives coalesce in support of America first. Nationalism in America is weak in comparison to what we’ve seen in history, for instance in Nazi Germany before and during WWII, or in many other countries today. Strong nationalism can be dangerous, but that type of nationalism does not exist in America. Even after the public soured on the Iraq War, the opposition to the war did not grow strong enough to force a withdrawal of US troops. Both houses of Congress voted down resolutions to withdraw US troops from Iraq (May/June 2006). And the president vetoed a war-funding bill that would have placed timetables for US troop withdrawals from Iraq (2007). Congress then passed a war-funding bill without the timetables. Interestingly, with improved security in Iraq, troop withdrawals may be possible in the near future, but at the height of the violence in Iraq (2004-2006), withdrawal would have been very difficult. It’s hard to withdraw when the enemy appears to be winning, which was the case when the drumbeat for withdrawal first gained momentum. As long as US troops are fighting war, liberals are vulnerable to the charge of being “unpatriotic” for not “supporting the troops.” The “patriotism” issue strongly favors conservatives. Ideology produces two national interests, which results in divisions over policy, particularly in war. Dissent (protest) is a way to express opposition to the policies of the leaders in office. Dissent is a fundamental freedom in a free country; only dictatorships shutdown dissent (completely). But dissent also comes across as unpatriotic because in a time of war, the country is in great peril (at least in theory), and the pressure is for people to rally around their leaders so that they can more easily lead the country to victory against the enemy. Because they are labeled unpatriotic for not fully supporting the war effort, this is a very difficult issue for liberals (and Democrats).
The mix of issues shown above favors conservatives, but I could add quite a few issues, not listed above, that favor liberals. Moderates (public opinion) tip the balance on the issue advantages, unless the Supreme Court goes against the majority, as in the case of prayer in school and civil liberties for accused terrorists. Interest groups can also tip the balance, as in the case of the NRA on the gun issue. The president and Congress have their own independent sources of power (derived from the Constitution and that which has evolved through practice over time). For instance, Bush resisted public opinion on the Iraq War. The president has a lot of power in matters of war and thus can ignore public opinion to a degree. Typically advantage of one ideology over the other is calculated this way: if moderates side with conservatives, then conservatives have the advantage. If moderates side with liberals, then liberals have the advantage. In an election, it matters which issues are salient (i.e., which ones are getting the most attention). In 2008, a change from Bush was a strong sentiment, and we experienced the crash of the housing market, which then brought down companies which had invested heavily in the housing market. A poor economy is usually blamed on the sitting president, whether he deserves it or not, and since John McCain was affiliated with Bush’s Republican Party, Obama also held a strong advantage on which candidate would be best handling the economy. The most salient issues in 2008 favored Obama, and he won easily. Of course, voters evaluate candidates on other criteria besides the positions candidates take on the issues. Personality (likeability) and character matter also. “Change” is sometimes appealing to the public, which was certainly the case in 2008. Many voters voted for Obama because he was the candidate that they believed would bring “change” to the country.
3 rd party supporters, like Ralph Nader (Green Party), tend to view the major parties as being exactly the same, not giving the American people a real choice. The Reform Party was a player in the 1990s in presidential elections. The Reform Party has faded away in the 2000s.
The graphic above was provided by the Pew Research Center. Pew Research published the results of their biennial study on trends in political attitudes and core values on May 21, 2009. The survey was conducted in March and April of 2009; more than 3000 adults participated in the survey.
Why is the public moderate? People have things to do with their lives other than paying attention to politics on a full-time basis. People have their careers, their families, their hobbies. Most voters tune into politics for major elections and are bombarded with arguments from both sides of the political spectrum. It’s hard to sort out which side is right, so compromise and moderation between the two (liberal and conservative) poles is appealing and seems reasonable.
Ideology Liberals, Conservatives and Moderates in America
Lecture Outline <ul><li>Divisions in America </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Abortion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gay Marriage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Immigration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Prayer in School </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Safety versus Civil Liberties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Domestic Spying in War </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Civil Liberties for Accused Terror Suspects </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gun Control </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Death Penalty </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bigger Govt versus Smaller Govt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Higher v. Lower taxes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Health Care </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>America during War </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use of force/war </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Patriotism (during war) </li></ul></ul></ul>
Ideology <ul><li>One-Dimensional Spectrum </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Ideological Spectrum -- For purpose of simplicity, political scientists typically measure ideology on one dimension (one line) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Today, America is moderately conservative </li></ul></ul></ul>Left Liberal Right Conservative Center Moderates America Today
2-D Ideological Spectrum <ul><li>Differences on Economics and Civil Liberties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Horizontal Axis – Freedom House scale on civil liberties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vertical Axis – Fraser Institute scale on economic freedom </li></ul></ul>Co Venezuela GB USA Economics Police Power/ Civil Liberties Public Safety Civil Liberty Socialism Capitalism Zimbabwe China Russia (Yeltsin) Russia (Putin) Singapore Saudi Arabia Mexico Iran Canada
Social Issues <ul><li>Divisions over societal norms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are societal norms? Rules of “acceptable” behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In every country, there are divisions within the political culture over what society should and should not tolerate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>America – Today, liberals and conservatives are clashing over the issue of gay marriage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Should gay marriage be legal (and should it be accepted as normal by society)? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Iran – Today, liberals and conservatives are clashing over the issue of public affection </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Should men and women be free to hold hands in public, kiss in public, etc? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other Issues : In America, there are ideological differences on a host of other societal issues: abortion, immigration, prayer in school, just to name a few </li></ul></ul>
Abortion Pragmatism : Let’s find a compromise: keep it legal, but also allow for some regulations (24 hour waiting period, parental consent) Abortion is legal; let’s keep it that way and not re-fight the issue Moderate Religious principles : only God can take life Fundamental right (civil liberty) : all human beings have a right to life The fetus is a human being and its right to life should be protected by government Conservative Personal freedom/civil liberty : the right to control one’s own body A woman has a right to control her body; government should not regulate privacy matters Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
Same-Sex (Gay) Marriage Pragmatic : why change what has worked for so long Marriage has always been between a man and a woman and should remain that way. Moderate Tradition, morality, religion : tradition supports marriage as it currently exists; the Bible condemns homosexuality Marriage has always been between a man and a woman; the purpose of marriage is to raise children; homosexuality is wrong and should not be condoned by society Conservative Personal freedom/civil liberty : consenting adults should have a right to form a life-long legal contract Marriage is a civil liberty that should be available to gays; homosexuality is not wrong and should be tolerated and accepted by society Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
(Illegal) Immigration Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology Pragmatism : 1) Enforce the law, the country is being overwhelmed by illegal immigration; 2) business wants to maintain status quo, do nothing, illegal immigration is not a problem 1) Most moderates want something done to stop illegal immigration; but 2) Business wants illegal workers because they work hard for low pay Moderate Nationalism : America first principle: a country with porous borders will lose its sovereignty and identity…promote what it is to be American (such as speaking English, obeying the law, etc.) Public Safety : crack down on illegal behavior (breaking immigration laws) Economic Cost : Illegal immigrants cost the taxpayers more in social services than they contribute in taxes 1) There is a legal way to enter this country and those who don’t should be punished; otherwise, we will encourage more illegal behavior; 2) Immigrants should assimilate (i.e., learn English) and show loyalty to America; 3) Secure the border: stop illegal human trafficking (illegal immigrants & potentially terrorists); 4) Costs to taxpayers are skyrocketing (education, welfare, health care) Conservative Land-of-opportunity principle : America provides a place where people can come to make a better life, and this should be promoted Economic Benefit : Illegal immigrants contribute to our society and economy 1) Most illegal immigrants come here to work: they pick the fruit we eat, build our roads, etc.; they should not be viewed as criminals; they should have an opportunity for citizenship Liberal
Prayer in School Morality : children need a moral code in their lives Prayer is a good thing; it doesn’t hurt anybody Moderate 1 st Amendment : does not prohibit prayer; praying does not establish a religion in a school (This has been a minority position of 1 or 2 justices on the US Supreme Court since the 1960s) Morality : Religion teaches an ethical code (right v. wrong) Religion teaches morality; children need moral guidance; taking prayer out of schools has contributed heavily to the moral degradation of society (e.g., breakdown of the family, divorce, drug use, condoning homosexuality) Conservative 1 st Amendment : separation of church and state principle (This has been the majority position of the US Supreme Court since the 1960s) Religion should be kept out of schools; children can learn religion at home or in church Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
Civil Liberties v. Public Safety <ul><li>A delicate balance: freedom v. police power </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our government has an obligation to protect the public from criminals and from foreign enemies but it also has an obligation to protect the civil liberties of honest, law-abiding people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>America would no longer be a free country without civil liberties (which are fundamental freedoms) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But America would also no longer be a free country if the public had to live under a constant threat of attack by criminal gangs or by foreign terrorists </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Domestic Spying – The civil liberty/public safety struggle is particularly relevant today because of the domestic spying (or terror surveillance) program, started under Bush after 9/11 and so far continued under Obama </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other public safety/civil liberty issues : civil liberties for accused terror suspects, gun control, and the death penalty </li></ul></ul>
Domestic Spying Public Safety (slightly) : government must protect the public from the next terrorist attack Moderates lean slightly toward the conservative position, which is typically the case when the country is at war Moderate Public Safety : government must protect the public from the next terrorist attack In a time of war, in order to protect the public, the president should have the authority to tap phone conversations from terrorist suspects who call people within the US Conservative Civil liberties : in the absence of suspicion of a crime, people have a right to privacy Separation of Powers : Checks on executive power are necessary to prevent a dictatorship Domestic spying initiated by the President in a time of peace or war should be approved by the courts; US residents should be protected from “big brother,” there should be suspicion of a crime before a court allows the executive branch to spy on US residents Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
Accused Terror Suspects Pragmatism : do what works to defeat the enemy Win the war by whatever means necessary Moderate Public Safety : government must protect the public from the next terrorist attack by squeezing information out of detainees Terrorists are enemy combatants and should be detained for the duration of the war on terrorism; a terrorist will be less likely to reveal information about plans for future terrorist attacks if that terrorist has access to a lawyer or to the courts Conservative Civil liberties : The accused must be protected from the potential abuse of government power; and indefinite detentions are an abuse of government power Even terrorists have a right to an attorney, a right to know the charges against them, and a right to a jury trial; all persons, not just US citizens, should have basic civil liberty protections Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
Gun Control Pragmatism : find a compromise between liberals and conservatives Assault weapons should continue to be banned; handguns are legal and should remain that way Moderate 2 nd Amendment : right to keep and bear arms Fundamental right (civil liberty ): right to self defense The 2 nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms, which includes handgun ownership for law-abiding citizens; people should have a right to defend themselves; the police cannot protect every person from criminal attack Conservative Public Safety : Gun laws are necessary to protect the public from those who are irresponsible with guns; fewer guns in society would translate to less crime Handguns are the weapon of choice in most violent crime; there are far too many irresponsible people with guns, therefore government should regulate gun ownership among the public; 2 nd Amendment is outdated, suited for the 18 th Century, not the 21 st Century Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
Death Penalty Appeal to Fairness/Morality : the victim is dead, so why should a brutal murderer live? Vicious murderers should be put to death. Moderate Public safety : protect the public from murderers Appeal to Fairness/Morality : why should a heinous murderer live when the victim dies? Vicious murderers are so heinous they deserve to be put to death; does a Saddam Hussein or a serial killer really deserve to live? Conservative Civil liberty : the accused are entitled to certain protections from government, protection against death is one of them Even vicious murderers can be rehabilitated; there are too many flaws in the system; the likelihood of killing an innocent man is too high; governments that go bad can kill millions of their own people; it is too dangerous to allow government the legal power to kill Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
The Size of Government <ul><li>Bigger versus smaller government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The issue involves how much government should do? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Should government provide health care to the public—or should people be responsible for their own health care, by paying for it themselves or by purchasing insurance? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Should government fund the development of an alternative energy source (to oil)—or should the energy companies, automobile companies and consumers determine America’s energy future? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economics – in a broader since, the “size of government” debate is about capitalism and socialism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bigger government leans toward socialism, more government control of society…smaller government leans toward capitalism, less government control of society </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government Always Grows : No politician dares to cut the size of government because doing so would take a benefit away from someone who is currently receiving that benefit, making it seem as if politicians are hurting people </li></ul></ul>
Taxation Pragmatism : everyone could use more money; government wastes so many tax dollars Lower taxes help people support their families Moderate Smaller govt/ capitalism : money is spent more productively by people and businesses than by government; greater productivity creates more opportunity/jobs in society We need lower taxes so that people can have more money to support themselves, their families and their favorite charities; lower taxes will stimulate the economy, ultimately bringing in more money to pay down the deficit/debt Conservative Govt activism/bigger govt : government should provide basic necessities to the public (socialism/equality), programs for children, the poor and elderly that provide health care and income support are a few such examples We need taxes to pay for programs that help the children, the poor and elderly; we need taxes to pay down the federal deficit/debt; higher taxes will help balance the budget and thus reduce interest rates and stimulate the economy Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
(Universal) Health Care Pragmatism : do what is necessary to control costs yet maintain high quality service Health care costs are soaring higher and something should be done to correct that Moderate Smaller govt/ capitalism : The incentive to earn profits (money) is what drives the private sector (i.e., businesses rather than government) to produce products and services at higher quality and for lower prices. In a purely capitalist system of health care, religious organizations, charities, doctors, and drug manufacturers would help pay for the uninsured America has the highest quality health care coverage in the world because doctors and drug manufacturers are free to make profits (money). Universal health care systems in other countries provide poor quality and some health services are not provided for cost-saving purposes (i.e., rationing) Conservative Govt activism/bigger govt : government should provide basic necessities to the public (socialism/equality), and universal health care is one such necessity. Appeal to fairness : Is it fair for a some people to have access to health care services while others do not? 47 million Americans don’t have health care coverage, and in the wealthiest nation in the world, that is unacceptable. In a universal universal health care system, everyone would be covered and the profits of the drug manufacturers could be contained to more reasonable levels Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
America During War <ul><li>Competing national visions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>George Washington hoped that there would be one national interest, that there would be unified support at home for US foreign policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unity only lasted for the first 6 years of George Washington’s administration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competing ideologies (liberal v. conservative) produce two different visions for America’s role in the world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This is why there is almost always opposition at home and open dissent (protest) when America is at war </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>WWII (1941-1945) was America’s only long-term war where there was no dissent </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Spanish-American War (1898) also had unified support here at home but the war only lasted 3 months </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There was unity in the early years of the Cold War (1946-late 1960s) but that unity broke down during the Vietnam War (1965-1973) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Iraq War intensely divided the country </li></ul></ul></ul>
Use of Force/War Pragmatism/Nationalism : America first principle Do what is necessary to protect U.S. interests; act unilaterally or multilaterally, whichever best suits U.S. goals Moderate “ Clutched Fist” diplomacy –or– the “Peace Through Strength” doctrine (TR’s “speak softly but carry a big stick”) 1) Diplomacy must be backed up with an open willingness to use force, 2) act unilaterally to maintain America’s freedom of action in the world (don’t be hostage to a coalition), 3) ignore the UN when it opposes U.S. interests, 4) in war, escalate conflict, capitalize on the mistakes the enemy makes under pressure, end hostilities once the enemy is defeated Conservative “ Good Will” diplomacy --or-- the “Good Neighbor” doctrine 1) Use all means of diplomacy before considering military action against another country, 2) assemble a multi-lateral coalition of nations when force becomes necessary, 3) work with the United Nations (UN) whenever possible 4) in war, find opportunities to deescalate the conflict, move to end hostilities Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
Patriotism Nationalism : We should support the government in time of war America is the no. 1 target of terrorists; we should support the war effort Moderate Nationalism : Always support the country in a time of war We should all support the war effort; dissenters are undermining U.S. efforts by opening up a battle for public opinion at home; America is the greatest country in the world and we should all cherish this country (the glass is half-full view) Conservative Civil Liberty : Dissent is healthy for democracy; dissent is a fundamental right for all citizens It is not unpatriotic to question the government’s motives for war, to want our leaders to pursue different policies; and it is hard to wave the flag when there is so much to improve about America here at home (the glass is half-empty view) Liberal Primary Reasons for Position Position on the Issue Ideology
Dissenters accused of being unpatriotic Patriotism Strong “national security” culture across US history Use of Force/War Unfair some cannot afford health care Health Care No one likes to pay taxes Taxation “ Tough on crime” culture in America Death Penalty Strong “self defense” culture in America Gun Control Supreme Court has sided with civil liberties even though the public tends to support more police power in war Accused Terrorists Democrats have backed off on the issue Domestic Spying Supreme Court banned prayer in school in 1960s, going against majority of the public Prayer in School Open immigration today, but social conservatives are slowly succeeding at pushing political leaders to the right Immigration States increasingly passing bans on Gay Marriage Gay Marriage Abortion will likely remain legal, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned Abortion Reason for Advantage Conservative Liberal Issue Which Issues Favor Which Ideology in America?
A Summary of Ideology <ul><li>What defines a Liberal in America? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Protect civil liberties first (over public safety) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote personal freedom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage in “good will” diplomacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Build multilateral coalitions in dealing with world affairs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote government activism (socialism) to produce more equality in society (e.g., mitigate differences in income) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What defines a Conservative in America? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Protect public safety first (over civil liberties) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Morality and religion should be part of politics and law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage in “clutched fist” diplomacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Act unilaterally in world affairs if necessary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some nationalistic tendencies (America first) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote smaller government (capitalism) to create opportunity in society </li></ul></ul>
A Summary of Ideology <ul><li>What defines a Moderate in America? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do what works (pragmatism over principle) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compromise liberal and conservative ideas to find a “middle-of-the-road” practical solution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some moral and nationalistic tendencies (in agreement with conservatives) </li></ul></ul>
Ideology of the Political Parties Left Liberal Right Conservative Center Moderates Democratic Party Republican Party Green Party Reform Party 1992-2000 Libertarian Party Libertarian Party Favor civil liberties over public safety and promote capitalism No Libertarian Balance the federal budget (single issue party in ’92 and ’96) No Reform (1992-2000) Strongly favor environmental regulations; anti-business No Green Limit bigger government/government activism; favor public safety over civil liberties; moderately pro-business Yes Republican Promote bigger government/government activism; favor civil liberties over public safety; moderately anti-business Yes Democrats Party Actions in Practice Elected Representatives? Political Party
Positions of Independents Independents are closer to Democrats than to Republicans on most salient issues This is one reason Democrats are dominating national politics today
Conclusions <ul><li>How does ideology work in America? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Moderates dominate American politics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Public Opinion – the public tends to be moderate, and in a democracy, politicians try to accommodate a majority of the public to maintain their political power and to win the next election </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Separation of Powers – the powers of government are divided among three branches, no one branch can dominate politics, cooperation and compromise are necessary for all branches of government to agree on policy (i.e., agree on what government will/will not do) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change in American politics is inspired by the ideas of ideologues (i.e., liberals on the far left and conservatives on the far right) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Moderates take these ideas, water them down, and turn compromise solutions into government policy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ideologues always feel cheated by the compromise of their ideas </li></ul></ul></ul>