People interested in government and governmental affairs tend to throw around a lot of terms to describe not only their perspective, but also what they think others believe/support.
IMO, the terminology some people use is often inaccurate (especially when describing others who hold a different viewpoint than theirs), so I did a little “outside research.” Listed below (in alphabetical order) are definitions of several popular positions. I think readers may be surprised at some of the meanings.
Feel free to share the terms that fit your personal outlook.
- Absolutism – The belief that the government should have all the power and be able to do whatever it wants.
- American Conservatism – The belief that freedom trumps all other political considerations; the government should play a small role in people’s lives.
- American Liberalism – The belief that the government should promote equality in politics and economics.
- Classical Conservatism – A view that arose in opposition to classical liberalism; it claimed that tradition was very valuable, human reason limited, and stability essential.
- Classical Liberalism – A view that arose in the early modern era in Europe; it argues for the value of the individual, the necessity for freedom, the importance of rationalism, and the value of the free market.
- Communism – An extreme form of socialism that advocates violent revolution to create a socialist state.
- Constitutional Democracy – A type of government characterized by limitations on government power spelled out in a constitution.
- Environmentalism – The belief that humans have an obligation to protect the world from the excesses of human habitation, including pollution and the destruction of wilderness.
- Federalism – A system of government in which power is shared by national and state governments.
- Internationalism – The view that the United States should play an active role in world affairs.
- Isolationism – The view that the United States should largely ignore the rest of the world.
- Libertarianism – The belief that government should be small and most decisions left up to the individual.
- Limited Government – A government that places few restrictions on its citizens’ choices and actions, and in which the government is limited in what it can do.
- Nazism – Political ideology from Germany that stressed the superiority of the German race, authoritarian rule by one party, military expansion, and a longing for a mythical past
- Neoconservatism – A recent development in American conservatism that believes the power of the state should be used to promote conservative goals.
- Patronage – Government jobs and contracts given out to political allies in exchange for support. (Does this remind you of anyone?)
- Political Efficacy – The belief that the government listens to normal people and that participation can make a difference in government.
- Representative Democracy – A system of government in which the people elect officials to represent their interests in the government.
- Republic – A regime that runs by representative democracy.
- Socialism – Political view that the free market breeds servitude and inequality and should be abolished.
- Supply-Side Economics – An attempt to improve the economy by providing big tax cuts to businesses and wealthy individuals (the supply side). These cuts encourage investment, which then creates jobs, so the effect will be felt throughout the economy; also known as Trickle-Down Economics.
I also came across a couple of words that aren’t in common usage, but I felt they were relevant to today’s political environment.
Caesaropapism – The belief that the powers of church and state should be united in one person.
Demosclerosis – The inability of the U.S. government to get anything significant done because interest groups block all major change.
And finally … one that many people in this country seem to be lacking:
Multiculturalism – The idea that Americans should learn about and respect the many cultural heritages of the people of the United States.
These and other definitions can be found here.