The Political Spectrum: Where Do You Stand?

The Political Spectrum: Where Do You Stand?

The political spectrum is a tool used to identify where individuals and politicians stand on political issues. This continuum is made up of various labels that are not pure categories, but rather, create a

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Slide1The Political SpectrumWhere do you stand?

Slide2What is a Continuum?• A person’s views on the issues help determine where they fall on the political spectrum. • The labels used on the spectrum are not pure categories, but they make up a continuum, or value line, and citizens and politicians fall somewhere on that line depending on what they believe.

Slide3Factors That DeterminePlacement • Two major factors shape political views. • The first is how much change a person is willing to have within their society and government. • The second deals with how much government involvement in the economy a person calls for. • Others also bring in the question of how much freedom from government authority a leader is willing to give the people.

Slide4Political Labels• To see where you stand, you would have to figure out where you stand on a number of social (people-related), economic (money-related), and political (governmental) issues. • First you need definitions of the terms radical, liberal, conservative, and reactionary. Some authors include the terms authoritarian and libertarian.

Slide5What is a Radical?• Seen as being on the far left of the political spectrum, radicals call for wide- sweeping rapid change in the basic structure of the political, social, or economic system. • They may be willing to resort to extreme methods to bring about change, including the use of violence and revolution. V.I. Lenin: Mastermind of the Russian Revolution and Father of the Soviet Union

Slide6What is a Liberal?• Liberals believe that the government should be actively involved in the promotion of social welfare of a nation ’ s citizens. • They usually call for peaceful, gradual change within the existing political system. • They reject violent revolution as a way of changing the way things are, often called the status quo. Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King

Slide7What is a Moderate?• Moderates may share viewpoints with both liberals and conservatives. • They are seen as tolerant of other people ’ s views, and they do not hold extreme views of their own. • They advocate a  “ go-slow ” or  “ wait-and-see ”  approach to social or political change. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) is generally seen as a moderate.

Slide8What is a Conservative?• People who hold conservative ideals favor keeping things the way they are or maintaining the status quo if it is what they desire. • Conservatives are usually hesitant or cautious about adopting new policies, especially if they involve government activism in some way. • They feel that the less government there is, the better. • They agree with Jefferson’s view that “the best government governs least.” Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) is widely regarded as the father of the modern conservative movement

Slide9What is a Reactionary?• Sitting on the far right of the ideological spectrum, reactionaries want to go back to the way things were — the “ good ol ’  days. ” Often reactionaries are willing to use extreme methods, such as repressive use of government power, to achieve their goals. • The term “reactionary is generally negative. A positive way to say the same thing is “arch-conservative.” Hitler’s  Mein Kampf  is a typical reactionary manifesto

Slide10The Political Spectrum

Slide11American Politicians on theSpectrum • Here is how one website places important American political figures on the spectrum. You can take the quiz at