Left vs right stereotypes

 

Issue

Liberals

Conservatives

Role of government
Government provides essential public services (roads, welfare, social security) of wide benefit, should protect citizens from threats (e.g., pollution, unsafe working conditions, financial fraud, unsafe products). More is better
Government is generally wasteful— taxpayers know better how to spend their money, and the private sector is a more efficient provider of services at a cheaper cost. Social programs are overly generous, and regulations stifle business growth. Less is best.

Poverty

Structural forces limit individuals’ ability to escape poverty (globalization & ‘outsourcing,’ attacks on labor unions, jobs that don’t pay living wage, race/ethnic/gender/class barriers)
Lack of work ethic, decline of marriage as an institution (individual explanations of morality and motivation–poverty is a result of ‘character flaws’ or ‘bad choices’). Children fare worse in single-parent households. Welfare creates dependency.
Environment
Support government regulation of industry, protection of habitats/species, policies on issues like global warming, reductions in pollution, greater fuel efficiency.
Tend to focus on economic development and markets–encouraging use and extraction of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), less stringent regulations on pollution.
War
More likely to support diplomacy than get involved in a protracted military endeavor (e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan, Vietnam). War as a last resort, not a foreign policy tool to protect US economic interests..
Generally more likely to use military intervention to achieve foreign policy objectives. Recent conflicts and controversies seem to be focused on the area of the world with petroleum reserves (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran).
Crime
Preventive measures—prisons socialize criminals — address drug abuse, poverty, racism by other means –treat causes. Treat white collar crime as a crime.
Crimes against people, beef up sentencing, build more prisons, law and order is critical. ‘Framing’ often leaves out the prevasiveness of ‘white collar crime.’
Morality
Civil rights have improved, divorce is a choice now for men and women, pro-choice, gays and lesbians have rights, too, separation of church and state–more likely to embrace changes that address perceived discrimination.
Decline of marriage, divorce on the rise, gays and lesbians are making ‘choices’ that don’t merit constitutional protections. Pro-life, religion in public life should be permissable (including the government)–conservatives less open to rapid social change.
Some terms, expressions used, issues
progressive; neocons; American empire; Iraq War (versus ‘war on terror’); GMO (genetically modified organisms); fair trade; torture; spying; pro-choice; feminism; globalization; corporate;
free markets‘ or ‘free enterprise'; ‘security'; ‘rule of law'; liberty and freedom; ‘war on terror'; liberals; capitalism, socialism; free trade; terrorist surveillance; pro-life / culture of life; government bureaucracy; family values