Basic Talking Points:
A Political Terms Primer

liberal  adj. 1. Free by birth; hence, befitting a freeman or gentleman; refined; noble; independent; free; not servile or mean;  2. Bestowing in a large and noble way, as a freeman; generous; bounteous; open-handed; 3. Bestowed in a large way; hence, more than sufficient; abundant; bountiful; ample; profuse;   4. Not strict or rigorous; not confined or restricted to the literal sense; free; 5. Not narrow or contracted in mind; not selfish; enlarged in spirit; 6. Not bound by orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; independent in opinion; not conservative; friendly to great freedom in the constitution or administration of government; having tendency toward democratic or republican, as distinguished from monarchical or aristocratic, forms.

conservative adj 1: resistant to change;  2: opposed to liberal reforms;  3: unimaginatively conventional.

[Editor's note: Take the World's Smallest Political Quiz to find out where you fall on the political map. Or if you have a few minutes, try the Political Compass.]

de·moc·ra·cy  n. 1.  Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.  2.The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.  3. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.

republic n.  1. Common weal. [Obs.]   2. A state in which the sovereign power resides in the whole body of the people, and is exercised by representatives elected by them; a commonwealth.

Note: In some ancient states called republics the sovereign power was exercised by an hereditary aristocracy or a privileged few, constituting a government now distinctively called an aristocracy. In some there was a division of authority between an aristocracy and the whole body of the people except slaves.

plu·toc·ra·cy    n.   1.  Government by the wealthy.  2.  A wealthy class that controls a government.  3. A government or state in which the wealthy rule.

ol·i·gar·chy  n.   1.  Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.  2. A state governed by a few persons.

monarchy  n.;  1. A state or government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of a monarch.  2. A system of government in which the chief ruler is a monarch.

aristocracy  n 1: a privileged class holding hereditary titles;  2: the most powerful members of a society.

fas·cism   n. 1. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.  2.  A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.