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This section cites the candidates’ underlying philosophies, principles for decision-making, and the values that underlie their stances on the issues and their voting records. In practical terms, this section is where the candidates explain their campaign slogans.
Background: Principles & Values
Elsewhere in Issues2000, we have a policy of quoting strictly issues-based material, omitting the political components of each candidates’ speeches. In this category, we relax the rules substantially so that candidates can explain their political philosophy.
Political philosophy in the US can be better defined based on one's stances in two dimensions, social and economic, rather than the typical one-dimensional right-left axis.
This is most commonly enunciated by candidates in terms like "Socially liberal and fiscally conservative." The combinations of the two-dimensional philosophy are:
- Libertarian view: typically focusing on non-governmental solutions and private decision-making in both the social and economic dimensions. "Libertarian" is the philosophy that summarizes "socially liberal and fiscally conservative," although Libertarian Party members dislike that phrase.
- Liberal or leftist view: typically focusing on helping needy members of society, and using government to achieve societal good; government intervention only in economic matters.
- Conservative or rightist view: typically focusing on fiscal frugality, strength abroad, and moral integrity; ; government intervention acceptable in social and personal matters.
- Populist or progressive view: typically focusing on local solutions instead of federal action, on decentralizing power, and on religion as the basis for societal good;
- Conservative or rightist view: typically focusing on fiscal frugality, strength abroad, and moral integrity; ; government intervention acceptable in both economic and moral matters.
- Centrist or mixed view: typically focusing on reforming or amending existing institutions rather than replacing them.
The party structure in those philosophical terms is as follows:
- Republican Party: Generally conservative, but the "Religious Right" is much more populist. Republicans from the Northeast and the West Coast tend towards libertarianism, while those from the South and Midwest tend towards poplulism. The Republican Party currently controls the Presidency and the House of Representatives. 2000 Presidential nominee was George W. Bush.
- Democratic Party: Generally liberal, but President Clinton redefined the party as "New Democrats," which is much more centrist, especially on econommic issues. Democrats from the South and West are known as "Blue Dog Democrats," which implies fiscal conservatism and moral populism. The Democrats currently control the Senate, by a one-vote margin. 2000 Presidential nominee was Al Gore.
- Green Party: Generally liberal or leftist, especially on economic matters, where most Greens are populists. The Green Party holds no national offices in the US, but the international Green movement has been successful at electing offiicals in Europe. 2000 Presidential nominee was Ralph Nader.
- Reform Party: Generally populist and centrist, but the Reform Party split into three factions during the 2000 elections. Pat Buchanan led one faction to a more conservative platform, and Ross Perot maintained control of a second faction. The only nationally elected Reform Party candidate, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, split from both of those factions as well. 2000 Presidential nominee was Pat Buchanan or John Hagelin, depending on faction.
- Libertarian Party: Libertarian, as its name suggests. One member of Congress, Ron Paul of Texas, formerly was the party's nominee for President, but he was elected as a Republican. This is the largest of the "minor parties," with some elected officials at the local level. 2000 Presidential nominee was Harry Browne.
- Socialist Party: Leftist and populist. One member of Congress, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, calls himself a Socialist, but is not associated with this party. 2000 Presidential nominee was David McReynolds.
- Natural Law Party: Populist and centrist. 2000 Presidential nominee was John Hagelin, who also represented one faction of the Reform Party.
- Constitution Party: Religious Right. 2000 Presidential nominee was Howard Phillips.