Wednesday, January 06, 2016
The American news media like to use simple labels to describe the political philosophy of voters, usually grouping them under three broad categories: Liberal, Moderate and Conservative. However, within each category there are actually sub-groups that are distinctly different from one another. For example, some Liberals may have a positive view of socialism, others do not. Some moderates lean more toward liberal views than conservative ones. Within the group that is generally described as Conservatives, there are actually several distinct subgroups:
This group is also sometimes referred to as "the religious right" or "social conservatives" These are voters who put their personal religious faith, usually Christian, foremost in choosing which candidates to endorse. They are not much concerned about the separation of church and state, instead stressing the promotion of traditional values.
These Conservatives put fiscal responsibility ahead of cultural issues. They are primarily concerned with the problems posed by the national debt and what they see as excessive government intrusion into the marketplace. Many Libertarians fall under the category of fiscal conservatives.
These voters tend to favor a pro-American and pro-Israeli foreign policy, tax cuts and promoting greater efficiency in delivering social services rather than abolishing them. They reached their political peak during the administration of President George W. Bush, whose foreign policy advisers had a strong neo conservative outlook. Writer and TV commentator Irving Kristol is perhaps the most influential neo conservative.
These are old school Conservatives in the mold of the late William F. Buckley. They stress family values, traditional morality and a restrained U.S. foreign policy. They are often referred to as "establishment conservatives" and represent the mainstream views of many "Wall Street" and "country club" Republicans.
These voter's conservatism is based upon key hot button issues such as immigration or abortion, but who are not necessarily tied to any unified conservative philosophy. They can be mobilized to vote if they see one of their pet issues trending strongly in the media, especially online social media, but are not otherwise drawn to political activism. Their critics sometimes refer to them as "low-information voters."
The Big Tent
Believe it or not, these groups of Conservatives can be further broken down into still smaller subgroups. This diversity within the conservative movement is why Republicans are sometimes referred to as "the party of the big tent."