Many political differences can in my opinion be traced back to different ideas of what a state and government is good for.
My idea is that governance for a group (nation) has to serve the group as a whole. The exact meaning of this still depends on the philosophical stance concerning the weighing of interests of different people. I prefer to accept the ignorance about their preferences and to let them express their preferences through plebiscites and elections. This is basically the "rule of the majority + protection for the minority" thing, except that I suppose the majority or its representatives should still attempt to serve the whole group because majorities are changing. People from countries with locked-in majorities (Southern United States, Africa) are unlikely to have this same idea if they consider themselves as part of this majority.
Another idea is partisan; politicians and their followers strive for power in order to strip the defeated minority of what it wants and take or establish what they want instead. The majority gets the perks, the minority gets to suffer even when it's obviously unfair. This partisan approach does usually not pay much attention to neutral scientific conclusions, and does often not respect ethnic or religious minorities. I also think they're more prone to radicalism (politicians seek to mobilize their followers instead of winning over undecided voters) and less respectful to foreign powers. The latter may be an extension of the domestic 'us vs. them' attitude to the rest of the world.
A country with a generation of hyperpartisan politics may easily lose its way because the strategists behind these cynical policies* leave the stage and their successors are naive true believers who were stupid enough to actually buy into their partisan propaganda themselves. This is one way how a country could transition into the next category:
There is in some countries the idea that the state or governance should serve an ideology. Most ideologies are simplifications of reality, meant to more easily convince and fire up the masses rather than striving for accuracy. Theocracies and feudal or monarchic rule with much focus on dynastic succession and accumulation of power belong into this category as well, but are rare nowadays. The problem with ideology-serving governance is plain and simple that ideology is but an illusion, and the governance all-too-often doesn't serve the people much, if at all.
Some governments which insist on the appearance that they're true to an ideology don't really serve the ideology, though. It's usually stupid anyway. Such states do instead serve only the powerful, and this may be one patriarchal absolutist ruler who doles out favours in exchange for the necessary support of this governance. Oppression and propaganda are often most extreme in such regimes because the population would otherwise be difficult if not impossible to rule. This kind of rule coupled with a relatively powerful country yielded the most troubles historically, and was usually contained by a concerted effort of multiple other powers (example Napoleon, Hitler). Small countries with such a rule tend to be of little concern for their neighbours, of course.
It's a mess with these different ideas of what a state is supposed to do: The "right" and "wrong" of a policy depends on this idea, and some seemingly "right" moves only become "wrong" because the idea of government is "wrong". Or so you think.
You may encounter elaborate reasoning and justifications for an action, and it may be comprehensive and make perfect sense - within its own framework of what a government is good for. You may even debate someone else on a topic and both you and the other person are right in the respective opinion and reasoning, but only within the respective framework. This makes for very boneheaded debate behaviour.
Preferences may differ to the extent that someone may actually prefer to serve an ideology or get great psychological relief from oppressing a despised minority. Preferences in themselves require no legitimacy; they simply exist, and are themselves the source of legitimacy of actions (or determine their illegitimacy). Preferences may even be the sole source of legitimacy there is, but more religious people may consider their deity or deities as an equal if not superior source of legitimacy.**
Anyway; whether a policy is "right" or "wrong" is often subjective and based on one's preferences. There are few outright nonsensical, incompetent policies which are wrong on every account. Such accidents happen, though.
The usual notion of democracy vs. dictatorship (or tyranny) is much too simplistic, but most Westerners know this. What's lacking in my opinion is awareness about how countries at times slide from one idea of governance to another. Both hyperpartisanship (an affinity towards policies of "us vs. them") and ideology (a usually codified extreme simplification of reality, giving the impression of sufficient knowledge where there's none***) are most troublesome.
The way to go is a strict pursuit of the common good. This doesn't mean that a policy must not leave anyone left behind as a loser; it rather means that not only constitutional minimum requirements, but also fairness in general should be observed by the rule of the majority.
A domestic political culture of this kind does in my opinion not tend to produce aggression against other countries any more, since the common good can rarely be served through the voluntary entry into an orgy of destruction such as modern warfare. And this political culture helps domestic freedom, of course.
**: This is in my opinion impossible to settle with reasoning until one or some of the thousands of deities known to mankind shows up in some decisive way (again). Right now I don't even know how exactly the various monotheistic religions determined which prophet was real and which was fake.
***: The intellectually lazy path, quite similar to conspiracy theorists: They make up bullocks or adopt it and then get the feeling of superior knowledge on the cheap. Then again, we all need to make up our mind without knowing everything about a subject; there are merely degrees of ignorance, everybody is at least partially ignorant on everything. Some of us are more easily satisfied with their level of ignorance than others, though..