Liberal politics refers to the movement or philosophy focusing on the overall development of individual freedom through the welcoming of new ideas. Liberalism assumes that people have the ability to act in a rational manner, while recognizing and solving problems to improve the world in which they live.
Liberal politics is often times looked at as the opposite of conservatism. In politics, conservatism is the desire to maintain the same way of doing things and avoid reform at all costs.
Those with liberal beliefs support the same ideas, some of which include: liberal democracy, free and fair elections, constitutionalism, free trade, human rights, and freedom of religion.
The two “categories” of liberalism are classical and social. The classical variant first became popular in the 18th century, with social liberalism catching on during the 20th century.
Both in political and intellectual terms, liberalism is more or less a modern way of thinking with its history dating back to the 17th century. John Locke is often times credited as being the creator of liberalism. In short, he believed that absolutism in government should be replaced by the rule of law; that citizens had a right to liberty, life, and property; and that those in charge should be held accountable by the consent of the governed. Although Locke died in 1702, his beliefs and political stance on liberalism has lived on.
During the French Revolution and American Revolution the use of liberal beliefs came to the forefront. During the 19th century liberal governments were established in many parts of the world including North America, Latin America, and Europe.
Today, there are several “political opponents” to liberalism including: military dictatorship, conservatism, and fundamentalism.
Although there are other political beliefs, liberalism has been established across the globe and has played a big part in the growth of civil liberties and civil rights.
In the US, liberalism can be traced back to former president Franklin Roosevelt. While he was the first president to strongly believe in this form of politics, many followed in his footsteps. For example, John F. Kennedy was a well known liberal. This statement from Kennedy shows his thoughts on liberalism: “Someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions…someone who cares about the welfare of the people.”
Since its inception in the 17th century, liberal politics and this way of thinking has grown by leaps and bounds.
Political scientist Alan Wolfe put it best when he wrote, “liberalism is the answer for which modernity is the question.