I have realized something interesting regarding American politics. The two biggest parties in America being Republicans saying they are conservative and Democrats who are mostly liberals. Interesting enough if you look at the two ideologies of these two movements they really have nothing to do with what the American politicians say it means. I'll start off with a description of the two (Mostly gotten from the excellent site Wikipedia).
Conservatism is a universal ideology or philosophy: conservatives consider their values to be valid for all persons, not just for themselves. Consequently, there is no great tradition of conservative separatism, and conservatism is a political force, seeking to implement policy. Since not everyone is a conservative, now or in the past, conservatism is historically associated with repression of non-conservatives. In Europe the catholic-nationalist-conservative regimes of Salazar and Franco are notorious examples. The Franco regime came to power in the Spanish Civil War and executed thousands of its political opponents, tortured and persecuted many others, imposed rigid censorship, and promoted a mono cultural Spanish identity.
Conservatives have a strong orientation to values, which they consider universal. Consequently, they tend to reject the validity of other political ideologies. Conservatives don't see anarchism, for instance, as different: they see it as wrong. The formal presumption of ideological neutrality, in liberal-democracies, is a source of friction with conservative groups, who believe that their values precede or override the political process. Conservatives often claim that their values are the 'national values' or 'community values', which are beyond political discussion and must be enforced. This belief in shared, and inherently necessary, constitutive values is a feature of communitarianism, but that is not a synonym for conservatism.
Different forms of conservatism emphasize different values, including among others these value preferences
- Order over chaos
- Orientation toward the past rather than the future
- The rural over the urban
- Unity and homogeneity, over discord and fragmentation
- The natural over the artificial and technological
- Existence over possibility
- Slow and incremental change over Utopian projects
- Hierarchy over egalitarianism
- Acceptance of inequality over redistribution
Under liberal principles, the form of society is determined by the outcome of competitive processes in a defined framework. The state, according to liberal ideology, should guarantee the process, but not interfere with the outcome: most liberals therefore see a limited role for government. However, liberal political parties also seek to use the state to impose liberal principles on non-liberals, for instance by liberalization of economic policy. In the economic sphere, liberalism advocates the free market as the ordering principle, and the production of goods and services by competing entrepreneurs. Liberal societies assign social status and advantage, by competition among talents. In politics, the early liberal principles of free expression and religious tolerance have evolved into the liberal-democratic principle of competitive multi-party political pluralism. Pluralism, in this context, is restricted to those who respect democracy and human rights. The rise of militant Islamism in western Europe - which often rejects both - illustrated the limits to liberal pluralism.
Liberalism is inevitably in conflict with non-liberal philosophies and ideologies, and to a certain extent with non-liberal societies. Most liberals believe that liberal democracy is superior to all other systems, and consider illiberal governments "unfree". The liberal idea of freedom is usually expressed in the form of fundamental rights, although it can be expressed directly as liberties. Some liberals think that no person can be free in a non-liberal society, and that there is a moral imperative for global 'liberalization'. Early European liberalism was a revolutionary movement, which sometimes brutally repressed its opponents, especially the Roman Catholic Church. The revolutionary liberal tradition - sometimes referred to as neo-Jacobin - never disappeared in Europe, and has recently re-emerged to confront Islamism. Liberal revolutions, however, are now primarily expected in non-western countries, in the form of concurrent regime change, democratization and liberalization. Some liberal thinkers see a historically inevitable global triumph of liberalism - the end of history thesis.
So what's wrong with this picture
Let's start with conservatism. It seems strange that such a huge part of the biggest democracy in the world would prefer "Unity and homogeneity, over discord and fragmentation", especial since the US is such a very heterogenous country. The ideal of the "The natural over the artificial and technological" also seems to cling very strange for the ruling party of such a dynamic and high tech country in as the US. But on the other hand, you do have the natural human instinct of always fearing any kind of change which is probably why this has always been so popular pretty much everywhere in the world.
Then we come to liberalism. Interestingly enough here you have the phrase "Bleeding heart liberals" which is usually used to refer to people who want to raise taxes and improve social services here. Nothing could be further from liberalism. Liberalism taking to its extreme means that the goverment only have one thing to do: They should excercise a monopoly of using violence to implement its laws and politics. That's it. You can't get a smaller government than what liberalism states. Here in the states Republicans are suposedly the party for small government (Even though it has never increased at a more breakneck speed than since George Bush took office, but that's a different issue), and nobody preaches bigger government than the suposed Liberals (Well, the Socialists would be even bigger but they are so marginalised they hardly even count.