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What is a civic stance? Broken down into two separate words civic and stance, the word civic, according to Webster means, of or relating to a city, citizenship or civil affairs. The word stance means a way of standing. So, more or less it means the way you stand on civil affairs. The next question is what kinds of civic stances are there?
Civic stances are generally broken down into three categories: liberal, conservative, and libertarian. A liberal is someone who is not narrow in his or her opinions or judgments. A conservative is someone who is disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions. And finally a libertarian is someone who upholds the principles of unrestricted liberty. Of the three, liberalism is a better stance because it is better to have an open mind when forming opinions and making judgments, especially in politics liberalism is a better stance to take than conservatism and libertarianism.
First and foremost, the most important issue is that freedom is the most important, but also how to achieve a maximum amount of freedom. Milton Friedman best describes keeping freedom by stating, "How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect"(275). Today the conservative view may be seen as a response to social and economic programs initiated by the liberals in the past thirty years. Conservatives generally agree that the "government has grown too become to large and bureaucratic, too removed from the local control; its intrusion into our lives is creating resentment, trampling on our rights, reducing personal responsibility, and stifling the economic growth that will do more for the good of our citizens than any government programs can do" (236). In short the smaller, more local the government is, the better. For example, a town in Kansas that has a population of 750, was told that they would have to build a new ramp entering the city hall, because of the new Americans with Disabilities Act. The town has had this ramp for 20 years and it has served the disabled with no problems. The town does not have the money to pay for the $15,000 ramp, and should not be forced to come up with it when the old ramp has given everyone access to the city hall.
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This small town should be able to spend its money as it chooses. The town knows that the people cannot afford to pay more taxes to build a new ramp that does not need to be built. A conservative might argue, "government is a necessary evil" (226). Although it has become too large, and has gained too much power, we need the government, through our tax dollars to improve roads, give college loans, help with federal disaster relief, or give farm subsidies. Somehow though, we have ended up with a system that micromanages our lives and our economy. "Whatever happened to the tax code designed only for raising federal revenue (Brownback 237)?"
We have gotten off track by forgetting our purpose one conservative might argue. This is a country where people are free to pursue their own happiness. The role of the government is to protect our rights and our freedoms. Many conservatives focus on family breakdown and crime. This may even be through applying limits on private behavior. Individuals have a certain responsibility to being moral, and if limits are required to enforce these moralities they are willing to do make that sacrifice on personal freedoms.
The libertarian on the other hand is likely to disagree with the conservative in the aspect of putting limits on personal moralities. The libertarian believes that each person has the right to live life in any way the he so chooses, as long as he respects the rights of others. The libertarian is an advocate of freedom from regulations in such areas as illegal drugs, cigarette smoking, youth curfews, pornography, prostitution, gun use, electronic mail, and so on, where as the conservative may be in favor of limiting these freedoms. Libertarians believe that all actions should be voluntary, and the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those who have used force on those who have not themselves used force in such cases as murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.
Today there are signs that we may be limiting the size of government and increasing liberties among the individual. A libertarian might argue that the government has no role in creating jobs, that taxes should be abolished, and that government should be reduces to a minimum. If the government is kept out of our lives, we will be more prosperous.
It is a widely held belief that politics and economics are two separate entities, however this is untrue. Actually they are very closely related. "Economic arrangements play a dual role in the promotion of a free society. On the one hand, freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end itself. Ion the second place, economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom" (Friedman 276). The first of these aspects are very important in regards to freedom because people, intellectuals mainly, have a bias against this aspect, regarding materialistic items as higher value. For most citizens in this country economic freedom is an indirect importance to political freedom. "Economic arrangements are a dispersion of power. The kind of economic organization that provides economic freedom directly, namely, competitive capitalism, also promotes political freedom because it separates economic power from political power and in this way enables the one to offset the other" (277-78).
The liberal is likely to take a more active role in government. Liberals view that government as having a responsibility to reducing economic inequalities through management of the economy and through welfare programs. "Liberalism is rooted not only in the Declaration of Independence but also in the social and economic programs that began in the 1930's. . ." (250). Liberals believe that the federal government should protect individual liberties as well as promote the general welfare of society providing a safety net for the less fortunate. Liberals are known for their involvement in big government, but at the same time have promoted the several rights to women and minorities. Obviously this was due to a large number of people wanting government in their lives.
While liberals aim to use government it reduce economic inequality, they distrust government in their personal lives. Liberals today believe that economic policies and conditions are the most important cause of social problems. The rights of the individual should be valued and liberals are wary of restrictions personal behavior.
Coming from a liberal stance, it is obvious that liberals use the government to help the economic status of the country. While all three stances are somewhat wary about government interference on their personal lives, they are all concerned about the freedom of the individual. Being a female I am more likely to take the liberal stance because of the freedoms that have been granted not only to women in this country, but also to minorities. A liberal tends to be more open minded about the government and its policies. As I stated at the beginning of this paper is it better to have an open mind in judgments, rather than a narrow and selfish mind.
Brownback, Sam. A New Contract with America. 234. Cooper, Charles R. and Susan Peck MacDonald. Writing the World. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000.
Cooper, Charles R., Susan Peck Mac Donald. Writing the World. New York: Bedford/St. Martins. 2000.
Friedman, Milton. Capitalism and Freedom. 274. Cooper, Charles R., Susan Peck Mac Donald. Writing the World. New York: Bedford/St. Martins. 2000.