Liberals and conservatives have varying views on different issues. Liberals advocate for a government regulated markets and government protection against large enterprises. Since 1980s liberal economists have stood up for interdependence, mutual self-interest, and social equity. This could have influenced the Obama administration to advocate for an increase in tax levied on rich individuals while giving tax reprieve to the middle class. Liberals have blamed conservatives for the recent past frauds such as Enron scandal due to their advocacy for free markets (“Social policy and the American….”, n.d.). Unlike liberals, conservatives fight for free markets which allow competitive capitalism to thrive. Since 1980s conservative economists have advocated for economic insecurity. They have argued that such policies could spur entrepreneurship. This was the basis of the enactment of the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill. Conservatives also demanded tax cuts for the wealthy in order to increase investment. This influenced Reagan administration to cut taxes for the rich, but the policy did not result in increased investment. Tax reprieve for the rich is blamed for budget deficit increase from $50 billion in 1980s to over $352 billion in 1992 (“Social policy and the American….”, n.d.). Tax cuts and welfare cuts were also promoted during Bush administration. The gap between liberals and conservatives, who feel that government should support needy people, has increased from 17 points in 1987 to 35 points in 2012.
Climate change has caused debate pitting between conservatives and liberals since 1980s. For instance, the Kyoto protocol was highly contested. Whereas conservatives claimed that human activities were not responsible for global warming, liberals argued that human activities contributed significantly to global warming. By 1990s, environmentalists in the U.S. had recognized the need to have policies for combating global warming. In the 1990s the conservatives mobilized scientists to challenge climate change legitimacy. This has underscored the mainstream scientific findings on climate change. The Republican Revolution in the 1990s enhanced the conservative ideas on climate change. Studies conducted in early 2000s indicated that few Americans were knowledgeable in climate change issues and hence few supported Kyoto protocol. This was attributed to widespread conservative movements. Politicization of climate change was compounded when Bush was elected the President. The Bush administration was opposed to climate policy and science. The conservative movement lobbying has escalated during Obama administration which has been argued to be receptive to climate policy and science. The gap between liberals and conservatives, who feel that tough environmental laws should be enacted, has drastically increased from 7 points in 1987 to 58 points in 2012.
Pertaining cultural and social issues, i.e., abortion, feminism, and gay rights have dominated in debates between liberals and conservatives. Whereas conservatives oppose abortions, liberals argue that abortion should be a woman’s decision. In recent years prolife activists have become more violent. Three clinics were bombed in 1984 by Operation Rescue members who were prolife. Termination of late pregnancies has been the latest debate. Pro-choice representatives including liberals support such abortions for medical purposes, while prolife followers including conservatives oppose such moves. With regard to gay rights liberals consider that same-sex marriage should be legalized, while conservatives are opposed to such marriages. In1996 Support Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was introduced, which gave the right to the authorities of the states to oppose same-sex marriages. The Act was passed by the House of Representatives which was dominantly conservative. Concerning feminism, the liberals’ views on social, economic, and political equality concur with those of feminism (Sternberg, 2011). However, conservatives are interested in preserving the traditions. A partisan difference between conservatives and liberals has been growing in relation to support of traditional family and marriage values from 6 points in 1987 to 28 points in 2012.
Another controversial issue that has been in the public debate for long is the problem of immigration. The liberals feel that undocumented immigrants should be granted educational and health assistance. Unlike liberals, the conservatives oppose any amnesty to illegal immigrants. This can explain why the DREAM (the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) has continuously been rejected by the Congress since 2001. The immigration issue has significantly contributed to widening