The United States of America has majorly been a liberal society where the will of people is given priority. It is believed that people should be left free to work and enjoy the fruits of their labor. In addition, individuals come first than society and therefore any government should place the people first.
In this regard, the right to own property and the principles of capitalism are given great emphasis whenever leaders stand to speak to the public. However, agreement is not unanimous and there has been arguments regarding the role of the state. The republicans and the democrats have different views regarding where the principles of “Minimal State” and “Active State” should apply.
Democrats believe that it is the role of the government to protect its people from exploitation by others. As a result, they usually propose implementation of tax that would in turn be used to give vital services to the less privileged. On the same note, democrats believe that economic inequality is a social evil and thus advocate for government intervention to ensure equality is attained (Rossides, 1998).
They are also accommodative and believe that over time, the principles of governance will have to change. Consequently, democrats tend to be “Active State” liberals as far as the economy is concerned but advocate for a moderate state in social freedom.
On the other hand, republicans are conservatives who believe that there are some issues in society that cannot change. They are very strict in matters of social morality and thus oppose in totality issues like gay marriages. Conversely, they have special regard in property rights and less government interference in economic affairs of the nation (Rossides, 1998).
In other words, republicans stand for less social freedom and increased economic freedom. Therefore, they are known to advocate for minimal state in economic matters but active state in issues affecting morality, national defense and crime.
The Immigration Issue
An example of an issue that can depict how differently the republicans and democrats look at issues is the immigration debate. The American government has made significant strides in ensuring that its border, especially with Mexico, is impervious. However, people still illegally find their way into the U.S. In this regard, the Dream Act was proposed to put into check these issues.
Democrats support this Act which seeks to provide legal status, education and jobs to individuals who came to the United States when under sixteen years of age but are yet to attain the age of 30. On the contrary, republicans propose stiff measures like sending all illegal immigrants back to their home countries (Rossides, 1998).
On this issue, democrats are depicted as “Minimal State” liberals and republicans as “Active State” liberals. Libertarians on the other hand argue that those already in the U.S. whether illegally or not should be left while measures should be taken to curtail illegal immigration in future.
Each party has different thoughts on different issues. While one party supports freedom in economic issues, the other encourages social freedom. Therefore, one cannot conclusively say that a given party qualifies to be called “Minimal State” or “Active State” liberals.
In this regard, depending on the nature of the issue being addressed democrats or republicans can fit either description. Nonetheless, both parties believe in protecting private property and some freedom for people.
Rossides, D. W. (1998). Social Theory: It’s Origins, History, and Contemporary Relevance. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.