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How to Spot Political Bias in a Text
Liberal and Conservative Bias
by Grace Fleming from thought.com
Updated July 10, 2017
Our political views stem for out notions of what is normal, responsible, moral, and reasonable. This poses a problem when we realize that opinions often differ from person to person and from year to year. There are also cultural differences to consider; while one society might consider a certain behavior as normal and decent, another society (or person) will consider it to be "out of step."
Your job, as you assess a piece of writing or a speech for its political slant, is to determine your understanding of normal or neutral.
As a budding political thinker, you will need to determine your "zero" point and decide what beliefs and opinions fall to the "left" or "right" of that point.
Conservative and Liberal
In the political arena today, (in the United States) there are two main schools of thought and two opposing political camps that comprise much of the voting population. Their categories are conservative and liberal. Conservative thought is sometimes called "right wing" and liberal/progressive thought is called "left wing."
As you read or listen to textbooks, speeches, news programs, and articles, you will come across statements that feel out of line with your own beliefs. It will be up to you to determine if those statements are leaning (biased) to the left or right. Keep an eye out for statements and beliefs that are commonly associated with liberal or conservative thought.
And What is Conservative Bias?
The dictionary definition of conservative is "resistant to change." In any given society, then, the conservative view is one that is based on historical norms.
Dictionary.com defines conservative as:
- Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
Conservatives in the United State political scene are like any other group: they come in all varieties and they don't think uniformly.
Guest writer Justin Quinn has provided a great overview of political conservatism.
In this article, he points out that conservative find the following issues most important:
- Traditional family values and the sanctity of marriage
- A small, non-invasive government
- A strong national defense focused on protection and the fight against terrorism
- A commitment to faith and religion
- The right to life for every human being
As you may know, the most familiar and influential national party for conservatives in the US is the Republican party.
Reading for Conservative Bias
Using the list of values stated above as a guideline, we can examine how some people might find political bias in a given article or report.
Traditional Family Values and the Sanctity of Marriage
Conservatives put great value in the traditional family unit, and they sanction programs that promote moral behavior. Many who consider themselves to be socially conservative believe that marriage should take place between a man and a woman.
A more liberal thinker would see a conservative bias in a news report that talks about marriage between a man and a woman as the only proper type of union. An opinion piece or magazine article that suggests gay unions are harmful and corrosive to our culture and standing in contrast to traditional family values could be considered conservative in nature.
A Limited Role for the Government
Conservatives generally value individual accomplishment and resent too much government intervention. They do not believe that it is the job of the government to solve the problems of society by imposing intrusive or costly policies, such as affirmative action or mandatory health care programs.
A progressive (liberal) leaning person would consider a piece biased if it suggested that the government unfairly implements social policies as a counter-balance for perceived social injustice.
Fiscal conservatives favor a limited role for government, so they also favor a small budget for the government. They believe that individuals should retain more of their own earnings and pay less to the government. These beliefs have led critics to suggest that fiscal conservatives are selfish and uncaring.
Progressive thinkers believe that taxes are a costly but necessary evil, and they would find bias in an article that is overly critical of taxation.
Strong National Defense
Conservatives advocate a large role for the military in providing security for society. They tend to believe that a large military presence is an essential tool for safeguarding society against acts of terrorism.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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