Conservatives and liberals clash on the central ideas of politics.
Conservatives and liberals clash on the central ideas of politics.

Conservatives and liberals make up the two major ideological poles in American politics today. While all citizens may have the same goals of peace and prosperity, they have different ideas about how to achieve them. Conservatives emphasize the importance of individuals being allowed to set and achieve their own goals, and liberals believe this is impossible and that governments must use their power to actualize the goals of society.

Private Property

Private property is important to conservatives because they view it as the most fundamental requirement for individual power. Liberals, on the other hand, view private property as a privilege given by the state that can be taken away from individuals to benefit society as a whole. The Student News Daily says that liberals believe the government has the right to use eminent domain to accomplish some public goal for society. Eminent domain is when the government confiscates private property to use it as a public resource; the individual is compensated financially for the property.

Welfare

While some conservatives oppose all forms of government welfare, others support short-term welfare programs that empower recipients to become self-reliant, no longer requiring assistance. Liberals view welfare as an indispensible device for protecting poor people in society. They support long-term welfare programs for those people who cannot support themselves. Conservatives oppose such long-term programs because they offer no incentives for recipients to ever become self-reliant.

Taxes

Liberals support the idea of a large government that is powerful enough to enforce policies of inequality and injustice. This requires high taxation of the citizens, especially wealthier individuals. Taxation allows the government to provide jobs without following direct market incentives and to provide a social safety net for those without jobs. Conservatives support lower taxes and smaller government. They believe that money is spent in the most efficient way possible by individuals rather than the government because they are responding to real market needs with every buying decision.

Social Security

Liberals support the current Social Security system in the United States and oppose the reduction of benefits because it would harm the poorest people in society. Conservatives advocate the privatization of Social Security to allow individuals to manage their own savings and investment portfolios. They argue that the current Social Security system is financially unsustainable and certain changes must be made if the system is to survive. Some changes conservatives support are a reduction in benefits and an increased minimum age for drawing benefits.