Much ado is given these days to political leanings, and rightfully so. Political leanings, assuming people actually bother to vote, are probably the deciding factor on the shape of society. Since modern society is so complex, it is near-pointless to attempt to define either end of the spectrum, but people do so anyways. The modern definitions of conservative and liberal incorporate peopleÃÂs ideas about the role of government in society, desires for direction of public policy, and ideas about which groups in society should be in power.
According to American Government: Brief 2006 Edition, most people who identify themselves as liberal tend to support political and social reform. They tend to support government intervention in the economy, but oppose government intervention in peopleÃÂs personal lives. Liberals tend to support an active role for the government in the lives of the poor, minorities, and any other disadvantaged groups. Consequently, a typical liberal would oppose the current gay marriage ban on a basis of personal choice, support social security on a basis of helping the unfortunate, and oppose NAFTA and other similar trade agreements.
This contrasts nicely with conservatives.
Conservatives tend to support the status quo (American Government, 220-221). They are suspicious of efforts to introduce new legislation, and favor a smaller government, as they feel that a larger government endangers personal freedom. They are strong proponents of private sector solutions to economic and social problems. Since the 1970s conservatives have become increasingly associated with religious issues, such as opposing abortion. Conservatism in modern times seems to indicate support for the military. Thus, a typical conservative would support the gay marriage ban on religious grounds, oppose social security on a basis of excess government, and support NAFTA and other trade agreements for their stimulating effects on trade.
Although each of these philosophies...