Politics in Minutes (2016)

US liberalism

Perhaps more than any other nation, the USA is founded on the principles of liberalism, with its commitment to equality and the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But ‘liberalism’ has in the USA taken on a variety of meanings since that declaration of independence. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, American liberalism was associated with the values of individualism, independence and self-responsibility that had become ‘the American Way’, with a dislike of too much government interference, especially in economic matters. Classical liberalism’s emphasis on self-reliance meant an opposition to government spending on welfare, but the Great Depression of the 1930s forced liberals to soften their stance on social policy. F.D. Roosevelt’s New Deal marked the beginning of a new kind of US liberalism, with increased government involvement in both social and economic matters. This strand of progressive liberalism continues to the present in the policies of the Democratic party, contrasted with the conservatism of the Republicans.