Most people think they understand the differences between conservatism and liberalism. They are correct in a general sense, but the differences are more profound than most believe. They have each had specific influences on modern politics and society.
Modern liberalism is basically defined as a “political ideology that seeks to maximize individual liberty, defined as the provision of both negative rights, that is freedom from coercion, and positive rights, such as education, health care and other services and goods believed to be required for human development and self-actualization.” Some of the more famous liberalists are Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt.
Liberalists have made a stand on many hot-button topics in the past, such as: a woman’s right to choose an abortion, elimination of the death penalty, support for same-sex marriage, gun control, and labor unions. Liberalists, as a whole, appear to believe that there is no one human greater than another, no matter what their bank account or title reads. They are interested in the common good. Studies show that liberals are highly educated. Between 19% and 26% of Americans claim to be liberal. Of those, 49% have a college degree and 41% have household incomes averaging higher than $75,000 anually.
By taking a look at the liberalists listed above, once can guess that they have had a strong influence in politics. Liberalist scholar Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., says that the "process of redefining liberalism in terms of the social needs of the 20th century was conducted by Theodore Roosevelt and his New Nationalism, Woodrow Wilson and his New Freedom, and Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. Out of these three reform periods there emerged the conception of a social welfare state, in which the national government had the express obligation to maintain high levels of employment in the economy, to supervise standards of life and labor, to...