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Joshua Vega-Rodriguez

Professor Perparim Gutaj

Government and U.S. Politics

26 April, 2018

Ideology

The world works in many different ways and we each have our own perspective of how

the world currently functions versus how we think it should. This is not limited to the context of

geopolitics but also within the realm of domestic affairs. The ability to analyze and conclude

information to form our own opinion, is the best form of generating dialogue with another

individual who holds an opposing view. Individuals with varying backgrounds are able to bring

forward a unique perspective on a variety of issues, with hopes of finding common ground in

contrast to our ideology.

An ideology is a system of ideas and beliefs that are held within a collective or as a single

individual and allow us to pertain a certain worldview or at the very least, leave us with a desire

to implement our ideology to the system at large. Certain factors contribute to the development

of our ideologies within personal experiences such as: geological location, culture, events,

education and, possibly the most important, the adults that raise the youth. Of course, countless

other variables contribute in the creation of one but to account for every single variable would be

next to impossible. When ideologies are applied to the political realm, we are given a variety of

options to choose from. This does not include economic views but the idea of economics is

engrained or at the very least a part of a certain ideology e.g., capitalism is favored among

Republicans and their pro-business approach to legislation. One can say that socialism pertains to
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those on the left side of the political aisle, of which, who typically hold a negative view on

capitalism.

Many types of political ideologies exist such as: Conservatism, Liberalism, Marxism,

Communism, Socialism, Libertarian, Fascism, and possibly the most villainous of them all,

Nazism. Each of these terms correspond to a spot on the political spectrum with some being

more extreme than others such as Nazism.1 The few that are listed have been able to influence

government and legislation/ policy to the culture of a society down to the level of an individual

within a nation. Personally, this strikes me as a powerful tool, which is commonly used for

political gain, as ideologies with a strong influence and a large number of followers have the

capacity to change the world. Whether it be for better or for worse.

To understand the role ideology plays in many aspects of our lives, this research paper

will follow 3 particular perspectives. We will first explore the influence of ideology at the level

of government and how it shapes legislation/ policy. We will then transition to how ideology

could potentially impact a society and finally, we’ll take a look at ideology at the level of the

individual in today’s political climate in the United States.

What role do you believe the government should play in our day-to-day lives? Do you

believe that the government is heavily relied upon and ends up as a burden for the common

business man? Perhaps, you believe the role of government should be an entity that provides

services to its citizens, at little to no cost. Each one of us carry a belief of how government

should function within a nation. When sharing that same belief with others as a collective, we

form a political party with regards to the ideology. Once a collective has been established, the

1
Nazism is abbreviation for National Socialism. A dreadful ideology that caused the death of millions in
WWII.
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individuals within the collective move forward with intentions of implementing their political

ideology into the existing system of government.

It would be wise to understand the significance of an ideology with respect to the current

period in time and how ideas can be put into practice to generate change in the world. This being

said, we must understand that certain movements either within or outside of the United States

were driven, without a doubt, by ideology. World changing events could have simply started out

as a revolution to overthrow a monarchy or by the determination of an authoritarian figure to

establish a “superior race.”2 Ideologies drove the Bolshevik Revolution and gave rise to the

Communist Party, in what was then the Soviet Union; while Nazism dominated German in the

early 1930’s which led to what is known as World War II and mass genocide i.e., the Holocaust.

What can simply not be understated is the amount of influence and power a particular ideology

can hold over a collective that is actively seeking to establish itself within government in order to

achieve their political agenda.

Moving on, within the United States there are two major parties: the Democratic Party

and the Republican party. Democrats are viewed as liberals while Republicans identify as more

conservative in their ideology.3 Each party has their agenda that they would like to implement in

regards to issues such as immigration, abortion, economics, gun control, tax reform and welfare

just to name a few. Both parties may commit to a particular goal but differ on the means by

which they wish to fulfill that goal. Certain policies with intentions of fixing wrong doings of the

past appear to be very noble in the sense of providing opportunities for everyone in the United

States, even if at the expense of others. When attempting to implement a theory, one is often

unable to foresee any possible outcomes of a situation whether they are positive or negative.

2
Specifically referencing events such as the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of Nazi Germany albeit in a
very nuanced fashion.
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Democrats are displayed on the left side while Republicans fall to the right side of the political spectrum.
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Only after we’ve allowed time for the policy to mature are we able to analyze the outcome of

said policy.

During the 1960’s, affirmative action was sprung as an attempt to combat the ongoing

discrimination in a time of tension between the majority and the minority of the U.S. population.4

Affirmative action was intended to provide a boost to individuals that were marginalized in

American society. Academically, those that were deemed unfit or unable to secure a spot in a

university were given a “leg up” in order to provide them with equal opportunity. What is

knowns as “mismatch” occurs in cases of affirmative action due to the inability of the individual

unable to keep pace with the curriculum.5 This comes as a result of implementing a policy that

focuses primarily on the ethnicity of the individual and not at all on their ability. This is just one

particular example, out of many, that is able to reveal that legislation comes in the form of

ideology and those with ample authority hold the ability to pass policy that could potentially

affect society either with a positive impact or a more negative and harmful way. Only with time

will we be able to tell.

Certain ideologies can produce adverse effects inside of a given culture. These ideologies

don’t necessarily have to pertain to politics, they can revolve around religion or even financial

institutions. The role of institutions in preserving a particular ideology within a given society can

be fundamental in the decisions a nation is considering taking. Whether the ideology falls on the

right or left side of the political spectrum depends on the leaders of any particular state. For

example, Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi political party in the build up to WWII, was seen upon

as someone who could bring Germany out of the ruins of the first World War. Now, we are able

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Following the implementation of affirmative action, the Civil Rights Act was signed by then President,
Lyndon Johnson.
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Mismatch is a term used in cases where an individual is placed in a setting where he/she does not belong
based on their academic abilities and those of their environment.
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to reflect upon the destruction that came out of the National Socialist ideology and the impact it

had not only on a global scale but also within their borders.6

Bringing focus on certain events that took place inside the United States, we are able to

see the severe injustice that took place among African-Americans in the 1800’s. The injustice

that took place is known as slavery. A certain ideology took place around the time the United

States was forming into a nation. An ideology that also dehumanized a population by order of

their darker skin tone which deemed them to be inferior to anyone that was not. It should be

mentioned that slavery long existed before the United States succeeded from Great Britain and

certain institutions within a society whether it be serfdom, debt bondage, debt servitude. This

specific ideology paved way for open discrimination of African-Americans up until the

enactment of the Civil Rights act of 1964. Many will argue that this discriminatory ideology

towards black Americans continues just as rampantly and openly today, therefore causing

movements such as Black Lives Matter but this can be up for debate depending on your

perspective.

Ideologies can become a divisive took within the context of American politics because it

can be used to divide us rather than unite towards a common goal. Our political identity has

become ingrained within our lives that it is difficult to separate the two. Especially when

individuals group together under the umbrella of an ideology; all the while negating to

compromise with anyone. By this case I am referring to a notion known as “tribalism.” 7

It appears that we are determined to blow the competition out of the water rather than come to an

agreement. In an attempt to grasp political power, Democrats and Republicans attempt to

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Nazi ideologies such as genocide of the Jewish population and eugenics. Among them socialism and
fascism.
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Tribalism, in the context, of politics occurs when people group together in order to pursue their agenda
without any intentions of compromising to achieve their goal(s). “It’s my way or the highway,” would be a nice
definition.
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demonize each other based on ideological perspectives without any regard of respect towards

their opponent and looking at each issue objectively and with rationality. We find that the

relationship between these two existing ideologies has become particularly impaired to the point

where individuals isolate themselves within their echo chambers while simultaneously exhibiting

ill held sentiments towards those they differ with politically.

According to a study done by Pew Research Center, the American public has been

greatly divided within the last 25 years.8 Both dominant ideologies, liberal and conservative,

have shown to have doubled from 10% to 21%. It must also be noted the number of moderates,

between both liberals and conservatives, has shrunk. What was once a fairly sized moderate

middle, has now downsized in the midst of political partisanship between Democrats and

Republicans. Thus, creating a polarized America where negative views of the opposition is

commonly expressed by their followers; 38% of Democrats hold a negative view while

Republicans come at 43%.

Among liberals and conservatives, both groups make conscious decisions to seek out

like-minded people while avoiding those they highly disagree with. Every person, whether

liberal or conservative, allow their ideology to dictate particular choices in different aspects of

their lives. Choices such as: housing location, marriage partners, friends/ peers; down to the very

news network they watch. We can take notice of the growing polarization that is taking place

inside of American society. This phenomenon has been taking place for many years but it seems

as if the recent 2016 election has elevated tensions significantly. Additionally, the trend of

dislike for each cannot be a positive situation not only in a political sense but also for society as a

whole. Voluntarily submitting to our beliefs to the point where the only opinion one is willing to

8
Taking samples from 1994 up until 2014.
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hear are those that resonate with our own. This being said, our own political bias submits us into

making decision that are within the parameters of our personal echo chamber.

Ideology is a complex topic to discuss as it is riddled with various components and

nuances that compile together in the formation of one. They are the core component in a society

with institutions in place such as, but not limited to, government, religion, economics etc,

enacted with the role of preserving or shaping an ideology that is to be followed by the masses

i.e., society. Whether the ideology in question comes in regards to provide for the greater good of

a population or the world at large, it would be up for history to judge events that take place under

a particular ideology. Even then, our current time period could possibly be viewed by an entirely

different perspective (ideology), than the one currently circulating today.9 Certainly, there are

many issues that must not only be addressed but dealt with objectively as possible; setting aside

ideology/partisanship for the sake of real progress within American society and politics.

Ideology can be a powerful mechanism to propel a population to strive for greatness but if we are

not careful, it can certainly lead to the downfall of a civilization.

Works Cited

Halpin, John, and Karl Agne. “State of American Political Ideology, 2009: A National Study of
Political Values and Beliefs.” Center for American Progress,
www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/reports/2009/03/11/5775/state-of-american-
political-ideology-2009/
Hoyt, Alia. “How Communism Works.” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 25 Feb. 2008,
https://people.howstuffworks.com/communism.htm

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Neoliberalism
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Jilani, Zaid. “A New Study Shows How American Polarization Is Driven by a Team Sport
Mentality, Not by Disagreement on Issues.” The Intercept, 3 Apr. 2018,
https://theintercept.com/2018/04/03/politics-liberal-democrat-conservative-republican/
Marhoefer, Laurie. “How Should We Protest Neo-Nazis? Lessons from German History.” The
Conversation, 27 Apr. 2018, https://theconversation.com/how-should-we-protest-neo-nazis-
lessons-from-german-history-82645
Meinecke, William. “Nazi Ideology and Victims of the Holocaust and Nazi Persecution.” United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
www.ushmm.org/educators/online-workshop/guest-lecture-nazi-ideology-and-
victims/overview
Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. “The Painful Truth About Affirmative Action.” The
Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 2 Oct. 2012,
www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/the-painful-truth-about-affirmative-
action/263122/.
Stringham , Edward, and Jeffrey Rogers Hummel. “First, Ideological Change; Second, Social
Change | Edward Stringham, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel.” Mises Institute, 1 Sept. 2010,
https://mises.org/library/first-ideological-change-second-social-change
Suh, Michael. “Political Polarization in the American Public.” Pew Research Center for the
People and the Press, 12 June 2014, www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-
polarization-in-the-american-public/.
N/A. “Political Ideology .” The Saylor Foundation , www.saylor.org/site/wp-
content/uploads/2012/08/POLSC2312.1.4.pdf.