Libertarians seek to maximize human freedom and eliminate coercion in personal or economic matters. They advocate “self-government,” that is, people who govern themselves. Government, to the extent it exists at all, should be limited to protecting individuals from harm. Otherwise, libertarians embrace individual responsibility, voluntary community and private charity. They also tolerate diverse lifestyles, defend civil liberties, and support the free exchange of goods, services and ideas.
Famous libertarians include economist and philosopher Friedrich Hayek, journalist Rose Wilder Lane, and entertainer Penn Jillette.
“The number one responsibility for each of us is to change ourselves, with hope that others will follow.” — Ron Paul, Congressional Farewell Speech
Moderates tend to prefer a “middle ground” regarding the use of coercion and government control, whether of the economy or of personal behavior. Depending on the issue, moderates think government intervention is warranted based on pragmatic considerations. Moderates pride themselves on keeping an open mind and oppose what they consider to be political extremes. Instead, they emphasize what they regard as practical government solutions to social problems.
Famous moderates include former President Bill Clinton, Senator Susan Collins, and actor Matthew McConaughey.
“Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.” — Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
Conservatives tend to favor economic freedom, but frequently support laws to restrict personal behavior that violates “traditional values.” They generally oppose government control of business, but advocate for government action that defends their ideas of morality and the traditional family structure. Conservatives support a strong military, but otherwise oppose bureaucracy and high taxes. They otherwise believe firm law enforcement is necessary to maintain social order.
Famous conservatives include former Vice President Mike Pence, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and actress Candace Cameron Bure.
“I am a conservative in large part because I believe that politics should intrude on life as little as possible. Conservatives surely believe that there are times when the government should meddle in the daily affairs of the people, but they normally reserve those times for large questions of right and wrong, good and evil.” — Columnist Jonah Goldberg
Progressives usually embrace freedom of choice in personal matters, but advocate for significant government coercion to control the economy and redistribute wealth. Progressives tolerate alternative lifestyles and generally favor a government-funded “safety net” to help the disadvantaged, or to reduce wealth inequality. Most advocate rigid regulation of business as well as strict environmental regulations. Progressives support government action to promote equal opportunity, but can be divided on questions of free expression, particularly when expression is thought to traumatize victims of past injustice.
Famous progressives include Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Bernie Sanders, and filmmaker Michael Moore.
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States
Authoritarians want the government to have a great deal of power over the economy and individual behavior. They are willing to use coercion to realize their ideals–and advocate for a strong military and police powers to do the job. Authoritarians doubt whether economic liberty and individual freedom are practical options in today’s world. They tend to distrust open markets, seek centralized planning of the economy, and rarely tolerate diverse ways of living. Civil liberties often stand in the way of social order and/or equal outcomes. Conformity unites.
Famous authoritarians include Kim Jong-un, Augusto Che Guevara, and Joseph Stalin.
“It is the State which educates its citizens in civic virtue, gives them a consciousness of their mission and welds them into unity.” — Benito Mussolini, founder of the National Fascist Party and Prime Minister of Italy, 1922 – 1943
Over the past decade I've gone from Libertarian: Personal 80 / Economic 90 to Libertarian: Personal 70 / Economic 70, just barely above the Moderate line.
—G. K. Chesterton