Parties No Longer Provide Ideological Choice
However, the extent to which the Democrats and Liberal Democrats, supposedly Liberal parties, and the Republicans and Conservatives, who promote themselves as such ‘conservative’ right wing-ers, adhere to these philosophies is arguable. Legislation passed by these parties is one way of deciphering the ideologies of each party, and whether each bill promotes either Liberalism or Conservatism. Primarily, the Democrats have been associated with Liberalism since FDR’s New deal from the 1930’s.
Although the ‘tax and spend’ policies have become unfashionable in recent years, most Democrats would still identify themselves as liberals, with similar philosophies. Recent policies do support this argument, shown by the Democratic president Obama who, in January 2009, alongside a Democratic Congress, passed a $700 billion economic stimulus package. This is clearly identifiable as a liberal policy, reinforcing the states’ role in the economy. Moreover, it was the very same congress and president who passed Obama-care, which regulates heavily the health insurance industry.
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These are both clearly liberal policies, with the latter extending healthcare to over 20 million low-income Americans’ who almost certainly voted Democrat, showing the Liberal policy of ‘protecting the vulnerable’. From this we can see that the Democrats, certainly in congressional policy, pass liberal legislation. The case within the United Kingdom is a somewhat different one. Historically, the Labour party has been Liberal, yet in recent years it has become somewhat centralized, maintaining the stance of being the ‘socialist’ party.
The recent 2010 election resulted in a hung parliament, and so a co-alition between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives was formed. However, it can be argued that the ideological policies of this coalition are still rather right wing, as the Conservatives have a larger proportion of seats than the Liberal Democrats. The legislation has also been rather less Liberal than the Lib Dems would have hoped, with them conceding on raising Education fees, and also the reform of the House of Lords. Similarly to the Democrats, the Republicans have shown much in recent years to call themselves an ideologically conservative party.
The last Republican president, George Bush Jr. , extended tax cuts to millions of high and middle earners. The ‘Bush tax cuts’ communicates a key belief in conservatism that the federal government should be more limited, and that taxes should be slashed in order to stimulate a free market economy, clearly a conservative policy. In addition to this, Bush relieved the role of the Federal Government in some public utilities to voluntary and private sectors as part of his ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ policies. Again, this is an example of republicans showing their ideological conservatism as they push to reduce the power of the government.
We can therefore see large differences between the beliefs held between the two main US parties, with the democrats attempting to pass liberal rooted policies, whilst the Republicans’ aim to pass conservative ones. It is arguable to state that Political Ideologies are aimed towards different classes, with Democrats, New Labour, and Liberal Democrats’ Liberalism policies typically being aimed towards the lower and middle classes, with the Conservatives’ and Republicans’ Conservatice ideologies being found more appealing by the upper classes.
However, within todays society, it is noted that the class system is eroding, leading to an ideological confusion between the parties. This is shown through the 2010 British election results, in which a Liberalist Centre party (Liberal Democrats) and a Conservatice right wing party (Conservatices) had to join together in coalition due to the result of a hung parliament. This demonstrates an unclear ideological difference between the choice of 3 Major parties due to the lack of consensus within the
Electorate as to who should be in parliament. This could be used to illustrate thus that there is no clear ideological choice through the parties, as there was no clear consensus upon a particular popular policy route. Thes parties have also been able to merge their ideologies (albeit with some compromise) in order to facilitate this co-alition, adding further weight to the knowledge that party ideologies, at least within the UK, are weak, and provide no clear choice.