Liberalism in the U.S. is a broad political philosophy centered on the unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, press, religion for all belief systems, and the separation of church and state, right to due process and equality under the law are widely accepted as a foundation.
Liberals on average are more open to experience, more inclined to seek out change and novelty both personally and politically (McCrae, 1996).
In terms of political philosophy, the essential element of all forms of liberalism is individual liberty (Gutmann, 2001). Liberals have historically taken an optimistic view of human nature and of human perfectibility; they hole what Sowell (2002) calls an "unconstrained vision" in which people should be left as free as possible to pursue their own courses of personal development
Liberals argue that the universal condition of world politics is globalization. States are, and always have been, embedded in a domestic and transnational society, which creates incentives for economic, social and cultural interaction across borders. State policy may facilitate or block such interactions.
What characterizes American liberalism's various strands, at the most basic level, is a continuing confrontation with a series of ironies, among them how the promotion of freedom abroad (understood as self-determination) can lead to the flourishing of unfree cultural enclaves; how the promotion of the nation's interests abroad can undermine them, as when America is seen to be motivated by the desire to accumulate its own wealth and power, and how allowing free rein for the pursuit of individual interests at home can undermine them, as when the market generates perverse social externalities such as environmental pollution or financial collapse. What's key is that unlike conservatives of the Enlightenment era, who exploited the ironies of liberalism as outsiders, for liberals today, who confront them as insiders, they pose vexing, preplexing, and even paralyzing tradeoffs.
Each of American liberalism's two interventionisms, its foreign-policy stance that shrinks from "imperialistic" interference in the self-determination of other nations and its domestic-policy stance that recoils from imposing moral strictures on the lives of individuals, is driven to accept the irony that other nations, or other individuals, may well use the resulting freedom to in fact undermine freedom. A belief that other nations should be free to determine their own regimes according to their norms and cultures, the linchpin of liberal foreign-policy noninterventionism, entails their being free to adopt the despotism of a Chavez, or the theocracy of a Khameini. Similarly, a belief that other individuals should be free to pursue their own lifestyles according to their own beliefs and values, the keystone of liberal domestic-policy noninterventionism, necessarily implies their being free to pursue "multicultural" values that may be at odds with America's creedal freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, association, physical well-being, choice of mate, the determination of one's occupation, and even the selection of one's clothing.
Liberals believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights. Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need.Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems.
Liberal multiculturalism is an inclusive strategy of teaching practices and course content that identifies difference, like its conservative counterpart, through visual and physical as well as cultural attributes. Liberal multiculturalism situates that difference within the United States, usually through the historical study of immigration but also through the study of assimilation and intermarriage.
Liberals recognize the real problems facing the poor, the hardships resulting from economic globalization and the socially destructive force of increasing inequality. Liberals do not dismiss or treat as ideologically motivated scientific findings, especially the sharpening scientific consensus that human beings contribute significantly to climate change. Liberals stand with those most in need, and believe in the inclusion of such previously marginalized groups as blacks, Hispanics, women and gays.
The liberal view on the social safety net: There are people in this world who need help. They struggle to put food on the table, or can’t afford medical care—and many of them live in the United States. A civilized society would try to help them, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves. (Someday, the one who needs a helping hand may be you, or someone you love. All it takes is a serious illness, an injury, a lay-off, or a death in the family.)
Ideational liberal theories link state behavior to varied conceptions of desirable forms of cultural, political, socioeconomic order. Commercial liberal theories stress economic interdependence, including many variants of "endogenous policy theory." Republican liberal theories stress the role of domestic representative institutions, elites and leadership dynamics, and executive-legislative relations.