Conservative: disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
Liberal: favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
Definitions provided by Dictionary.com
I am confused. Part of my confusion comes from labeling myself a Libertarian while being registered to vote as an Independent. Part of my confusion comse from the fact that our political parties seem to be tagged with labels that are the opposite of what each party allegedly stands for. Part of my confusion is that politics, like sexual orientation, is not necessarily either THIS or THAT but often can be fifty shades of gray (or more).
What am I talking about? I had a conversation with a man at work one day and by the end of our conversation he was laughing. When I asked what was so humorous he answered, “Because you’re so far off to the right that you’re coming around on the left.” By “right” he meant conservative/Republican; by “left” he meant liberal/Democrat. In truth, the reason I registered as an independent voter is because the Libertarian party doesn’t sway enough votes yet in national elections to do anything but harm either party by reducing their total vote count.
To continue this discussion, let’s take a look at a few contemporary national issues, the primary policies of each party and identify whether that seems in line or at odds with the actual definition of the words used to identify them.
Conservatives/Republicans are generally viewed as Pro-Life, against abortion. Since Roe v. Wade decided that a Pro-Life mandate is unconstitutional, it would seem that trying to create a Pro-Life mandate would be insisting on change; not limiting it. This appears go against the definition of conservative.
Liberals/Democrats are generally viewed as Pro-Choice, allowing abortion. This would seem to support the concept of maximum individual freedom to the pregnant woman making the choice, matching the definition as far as I can tell.
Conservatives/Republicans are generally viewed as pro-gun, anti-gun-control. The 2nd Amendment has been a foundational concept of America since before she was “born.” I view this position as in line withe definition of conservtive – preserving a traditional position.
Liberals/Democrats are generally viewed as anti-gun, pro-gun-control. This seems antithetical to their label. A party that is supposed to favor maximum individual freedom should support every individual’s right to keep and carry, with as little restriction as possible, a firearm.
Conservatives/Republicans are generally viewed as strong proponents of enforcement against illegal immigration. Recognizing that our country was built by immigrants and has grown its population by the addition of more immigrants for centuries, it might seem counter to the label to be against immigrtion; however, the devil is in the details. Conservatives/Republicans are not against immigration but against illegal immigration. The focus on legalit is paramount.
Liberals/Democrats are generally viewed as being in favor of forgiving illegal immigrants for the crime of having entered our country illegally and granting them citizenship by virtue of their presence within our borders. That seems in line with the philosophy of recognizing the maximum individual freedom of each person. The question becomes whether or not America should extend all of her rights and freedoms to non-citizens.
Conservatives/Republicans are generally viewed as against increasing taxes. Since one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, once said that any tax over 3% was criminal, I think we can view a push for lower and/or fewer taxes as restoring a traditional outlook. Ths seems in line with the definition of conservative.
Liberals/Democrats are generally viewed as in favor of increased taxes, more taxes, etc. This seems directly opposite of the philosophy of maximum individual freedom since taxation is an infringement on economic freedom. The burden created on an individual by government taxation (and there is no other kind) hinders indiviual economic growth and limits economic freedom.
Conservative/Republicans are generally viewed as being in favor of a strong military and using that military strength, even if only in appearance, to project an image of a strong United States. Given that our country was born out of military strength used against a tyrant, this seems to be one of our country’s oldest traditions and would be in line with the definition of conservative. NOTE: HAVING a strong military and USING a strong military are two different things. Quite often the Republican desire to strengthen our military becomes the center of discussions about involving the U.S. in war(s). Being prepared for war and being involved in war are two different things.
Liberals/Democrats are generally viewed as being in favor of reducing military strength and favoring compromise above war at all costs. Given that our military exists to protect and defend our country frmo those who would attack us, and given that our concept of civil liberties cannot exist without our country, both geographic and philosophic, it would seem that a strong military would be a priority based on the definition of liberal. So the standing perceived philosophy seems opposite to the definition.
I think our challenge in labeling politicians or belief structures, and the limitations we sometimes run into as we try to understand opposing points of view, is brought about in part by commonly used imagery that limits our thinking. Most often a line is used to show political leanings: the extreme left end is the liberal/Democrat end, and the extreme right end is the conservative/Republican end. Often Libertarians and Constitutionalists are identified as being even MORE extreme right with communists and socialists being even MORE extreme left. Again, I think this “line” concept is wrong. It limits our visual thinking.
I like to think of political beliefs as more of a circle. Like my friend said, I’m so far to the right that I’m coming around on the left. Many of my beliefs are in line with the cotemporary political philosophies of the conservative/Republicans, but some of them aren’t. Then again, if I label myself based on the definitions provided above, I’m a Liberal Conservative… or a Conservative Liberal.
I believe our challenge in America is this: to find representatives who tell the truth about their outlook and whom we can identify as being motivated about honoring our country’s traditions WHILE maximizing individual freedoms. I believe that should be our goal for the 2016 elections. Your thoughts?
Did you find this information helpful? If you did, consider donating.