Conservatives vs. liberals has been a topic of conversation all over the United States in recent years. As someone who has only been registered to vote for a year, I have not been one hundred percent clear on what these terms actually mean. “Liberals believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all” (Student Daily News, 2010). This would mean letting the federal government have more control over decisions that affect everyone and limited the states’ individual authority. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe more strongly in each person taking responsibility for their own circumstances. As such, they would have the federal government step back and let the states handle all issues on their own that concern the citizens of that state.
Under the US Constitution, there are certain areas where the federal government has complete power. Liberals believe this is the right direction for the US and it’s citizens to proceed in. They believe the federal government should be making all of the important decisions that affects all citizens including healthcare and environmental regulation. A good example of liberalism is former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Congress passed the Act and it was signed into law by the President in 2010. This Act gave the federal government control over healthcare of every US citizen.
Rates were determined by the federal government and those who could not afford to pay for the insurance were fined for not enrolling. According to liberals, the only way to make sure every citizen has access to health care was to go this route. Contrarily, conservatives believe health care is an issue that should be handled by each state. “In 2010, more than 20 states filed suit against the federal government claiming the Affordable Care Act exceeded Congress’ power” (Gaylord, Scott). Conservative states believe that federal regulation of healthcare will cause a decrease in the standard of care each patient receives and a higher cost to those paying for insurance.
The topic of environmental regulation has become increasingly sensitive between conservatives and liberals in the past year. “President Donald Trump’s deregulatory agenda has pushed at least 26 environmental regulations issued during the Obama administration out of the queue” (Horn, Marissa). Some of the regulations have been revoked while others others have been lessened. Liberal states agree with these regulation changes. States such as West Virginia believe that the regulations strangled the coal industry so much that most all coal mines have been closed.
This has left thousands of people without jobs. The belief is that loosening the regulations federally will allow this industry to get back to where it once was and allow the people to prosper. Conservatives have an opposing view on environmental regulation. They believe that federal regulation will never actually help to fix environmental problems. Conservatives believe that everyone should choose how they live, but also believe they should be held responsible for their actions. In their view, if states were allowed to regulate environmental concerns on their own, they would be more effective in seeing the changes we need for a positive impact on the environment.
Education is also a widely debated topic between liberals and conservatives. State and local governments having the power to handle education is the conservative point of view. They believe states, not the federal government, should have the authority to govern their education system. When the federal government is involved in education, standards and mandates are forced on each state that they may not be able to implement or afford. When they cannot meet the requirements, the federal government can withhold aid that is desperately needed by states. In contrast, liberals believe that the US education system needs a huge overhaul because the level at which our students perform has decreased significantly.
In the liberal view, if the federal government had control over education, the result would be a better educated population. Teachers would have set lessons and plans that allow them to help each student excel. Small and large schools and underprivileged and privileged schools would all be on the same level which would lead to advancement for all people. A strong liberal belief is that if teachers, schools and curriculum were universal in the United States, there would be less students failing and dropping out of school. Every student would be on a level playing field.
As previously mentioned, I have only been a registered voter for a little over a year. Having not had a working knowledge of the true meaning of liberal vs. conservative, I began this research by taking an online quiz provided by the Pew Research Center. I was asked several questions about my political views on several topics. When the quiz was completed, based on my answers it was determined that I am neither liberal or conservative, however I lean more toward liberal. I am not convinced that the results are accurate. On the topic of healthcare, I am firmly divided.
I know that prior to the ACA being enacted, insurance premiums were extremely high. Although the ACA was supposed to help combat that, it did not. The premiums for people who have obtained policies through the ACA have steadily increased annually. Additionally, the ACA required a penalty to people who could not afford insurance. It makes no sense to me to charge people money who cannot afford the money it cost for the insurance policy. I do not know if allowing each state to handle their own health care issues is the solution either.
I can foresee issues with monopolies and price gouging of the most needy people. I think the answer lies somewhere in between. A federal and state combination to ensure that all citizens have access to reasonable and affordable healthcare should be something that is discussed at length. Political party affiliation should play no part in the discussions. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Conservative or Liberal you can still die without proper health care.
Environmental regulations have been in the news frequently lately. I am not anti-environment but my issue with all the legislation and laws is that we are not the only people on the planet. The United States and/or each individual state can do everything possible to help the environment. We can conserve and save and manage better. We may even make a small dent in the horrible global impact. The fact remains however that we are not the only people in the world. Other countries are contributing to the global impact on the environment as well.
I believe is something is specifically causing harm to our citizens, it should be regulated. For example, I do not believe factories should be able to release cancer causing agents into the environment. That is harmful and potentially fatal to our citizens. Where plastic bags in stores are concerned, I do not believe the state of federal government should be wasting their time regulating such nonsense. People should be held responsible for making better choices for the environment. We have become a society of people with no morals or common sense. We need to get back to a time when people respected their homes, schools and communities. When people had more respect, they took pride in their surroundings and did not do things like throw plastic bags and garbage out of their car windows.
Regarding education, I do not believe the federal government should be involved. As someone who lived through the transition to Common Core, I can say that it did nothing to help us be better students. Schools are part of a local community. Your teachers, lunch monitors, bus drivers and other staff are usually people you know. Therefore, the correct agency to handle educational issues would be local and state level government. Local and state government are more accessible and understand the needs of a community much more than a bunch of men in suits sitting in Washington DC.
I live in the North Rockland School District and until this year, they did not have full day kindergarten. The federal government had been providing funds for years for full day Pre-K but not for kindergarten. When Common Core came along, these kids were at a huge disadvantage. They went to kindergarten for 2.5 hours per day. The teachers did their best to teach them what they could. They usually did not even learn all of the letter sounds. My sister went to half day kindergarten and when the school year was over, she was just learning the SH sound. When first grade arrived, Common Core math standard required that 1st graders be able to read and solve word problems. To that point, she had not yet been taught to read words.
First grade was a terrible struggle for her. Their were women in our district that formed a committee to try to get funding for full day kindergarten. Of course they contacted Washington DC representatives but rarely got any response. Finally, the contacted local representatives who were much more concerned and willing to help with the issue. James Skoufis, who is a New York State Assemblymen, took up the cause alongside the parents in my district. He fought non-stop for the kids to get full day kindergarten and finally he and the parent won. Without the local representation, I don’t believe our district would have full day kindergarten and the kids would still be suffering greatly. Another issue with the federal government controlling education is the concern for kids of different ability levels. Although a level playing field for all kids sounds wonderful, standardized curriculum is not fair to students who may learn slower than average. I think it sets more kids up for failure than the way the system is structured when ruled by states.
I think I can agree and disagree with the policies of both conservatives and liberals. I like to think that I do not make decisions based on party or labels. I review information and try to choose based on who I think has the best plan of action that will lead to a positive outcome for all US citizens. I think that is what is completely lacking in our country right now. If we were American first, so many issues would be so easily resolved. To quote the late senator John McCain, “We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always” (Estepa, Jessica).