As someone whose political views are... questionably defined, I spend a lot of time trying to define them. :P Many people mix the terms "Republican," "Democrat," "Leftist," "Rightist," "Conservative," and "Liberal", and it's amazing how many people have no idea what the original definitions are. I will attempt to post their definitions (from actual dictionaries, lol) here, and let you define yourself, or others, accordingly.
The first thing you should realize is that modern Republicans and Democrats actually have little in common with their predecessors. These definitions are very, very, very simplified. That being said,
A "Republic" is, "A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them." (American Heritage Dictionary), and therefore a Republican's basic belief is that we should elect representatives to make decisions for us.
A "Democracy" is, "The common people, considered as the primary source of political power. Majority rule." (American Heritage Dictionary), and therefore a Democrat's basic belief is that the people should be as directly involved with government as possible, and that the majority should rule.
(Personally I find Republics to be corrupt in that elected representatives very rarely represent the actual interests of the people, and Democracies to be nothing but mob rule. So I am neither a Republican nor Democrat.)
Next are the terms "Conservative" and "Liberal" which are used far too often to portray concepts they don't represent.
"Conservative" is, "reluctant to accept change: in favor of preserving the status quo and traditional values and customs, and against abrupt change." (Encarta)
"Liberal" is, "broad-minded: tolerant of different views and standards of behavior in others. progressive politically or socially: favoring gradual reform, especially political reforms that extend democracy, distribute wealth more evenly, and protect the personal freedom of the individual"
(According to this definition, I am a Liberal, as I am very pro-change and pro-liberty. However I will only go so far in identifying with the "extending democracy" and "distributing wealth more evenly".)
Next are the terms "Leftist" and "Rightist".
The political Left is, roughly, "advocating political and social change: supporting liberal, socialist, or communist political and social changes or reform." (Encarta)
The political Right is, roughly, "a conservative or reactionary position, esp. one varying from moderate capitalism to fascism, or a party or group advocating this: often with the: from the position of the seats occupied in some European legislatures." (Webster)
(This seems to be more Socialism/Capitalism... in which I do not identify with either.)
So basically, all I can tell you is that I'm a political Liberal, and that only goes so far. :P The problem with these definitions is they represent mainstream extremes, and I am neither mainstream nor extreme. Oh well, that's the beauty of labels. :P
What about you?
(P.S. I used onelook.com to find dictionaries. The reason I didn't reference the same dictionary is that some have frustratingly ambiguous definitions, proving also that our dictionaries cannot always be relied upon.) Augh!