Many people use the terms liberal and Democrat interchangeably. However, these are distinct ideologies with very different goals and objectives. For instance, liberalism is a political philosophy that emphasizes individual rights and equality and seeks to have government play a larger role in society. In contrast, the Democratic Party is a political organization that supports a variety of policies and positions, some of which may align with liberal ideology.
According to Gallup’s data, liberal identification among Democrats has increased across all demographic groups. The most significant increase has been among White Democrats, whose liberal identification has risen by 37 percentage points since 1994. However, the majority of Democrats are not liberals. In fact, even within the broader group of self-identified Democrats, more than six in 10 identify as liberals but less than half believe government should be greatly expanded to provide more services.
It is important to understand these distinctions when discussing politics because it can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretation. For example, some people who describe themselves as conservatives believe that government should be involved in every aspect of a nation’s economy and that societal problems cannot be solved without intervention from the federal government. However, others who are described as liberals believe that the opposite is true: government should only get involved when there are clear needs for it to do so in order to solve a problem. These are very different beliefs that are reflected in the policies they support.