The Moral Focuses of Conservatives and Liberals

Entire libraries of material have been written on the American political structure and that structure is often in flux. Nonetheless, we can get a good understanding of the differences between liberals and conservatives by analysing their views in the context of the six moral foundations that drive political viewpoints.

America is basically a two party system: Democratic and Republican. Broadly speaking, those with conservative political views associate with the Republican Party and those with liberal political views associate with the Democratic Party.

Let’s take a quick look at two key political issues: healthcare and the economy. Regarding healthcare, liberals support free or low-cost government controlled healthcare whereas conservatives favor a competitive, free market healthcare system. Regarding the economy, conservatives favor more of a free market system whereas liberals favor more government regulation of the economy.

Let’s discuss how liberal and conservative political ideologies are formed by the six moral foundations, as presented by the following chart:

Liberal ideology places an emphasis on the Care foundation with support from the Fairness and Liberty foundations. This emphasis on the moral foundation of Care gives rise to the general liberal approach of creating a bigger government to provide more care for its citizens.

Conservatives tend to rely most heavily on the Liberty foundation with support from the other five foundations of Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity. This emphasis on the moral foundation of Liberty gives rise to the general conservative approach of less government intervention in the affairs of its citizens.

In our next installment, we will discuss how to use the moral foundation framework to create more productive and meaningful political discussions between conservatives and liberals (yes, that’s possible!).