The other morning, my children asked me a question that launched me into a discussion of the political parties. Although I felt that the discussion that ensued was balanced and fair as well as put both conservatives and liberals in their respective doghouses, I am sure that those on the opposite side of the isle would say that I was a conservative Republican wonk at best and a twit at worst.
Here is the jest of my conversation with my three inquisitive, budding historians and political scientists…
LIBERALS versus CONSERVATIVES
Instead of going through the long drawn out definitions, I will use some that an 11 year old will understand, which do not necessarily jive with what political parties in the U.S. would allow –
Liberals believe that we as a people should help our fellow man. Conservatives believe that we need to help our fellow man.
Liberals care about people to the exclusion of all else. Conservatives believe that we should help people within the confines of our ability.
Liberals ignore the Status Quo (also known as “the way things are“). Conservatives believe that past and historical lessons can show us how to handle current issues.
Liberals have a heart. Conservatives are heartless – they let their brains dictate how they help their fellow man.
Wikipedia has this definition of “Liberalism“:
Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The former principle is stressed in classical liberalism while the latter is more evident in social liberalism. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas and programs such asfreedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and international cooperation
And this definition of “Conservatism“:
Conservatism as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of the culture and civilization. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others, called reactionaries, oppose modernism and seek a return to “the way things were”. The first established use of the term in a political context originated with François-René de Chateaubriand in 1818, during the period of Bourbon restoration that sought to roll back the policies of the French Revolution. The term, historically associated with right-wing politics, has since been used to describe a wide range of views. There is no single set of policies that are universally regarded as conservative, because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time.
And this very interesting article on their contrasts from 2005 on Student News Daily.
So here was my point with the kids, and I use my sister who I consider liberal and her friends consider conservative (thus illuminating the end of the conservative definition above in that no one definition of conservatism is shared), as my example. I will use Obamacare as my example –
- True Liberals want everyone to have near universal access to healthcare. Americans, who in general want to do good and help their fellow man, flock to the cause and elect someone with the slogan “Hope and Change” so that they can put this into action.
- Pseudo – Liberals who are interested in nothing else other than their own POWER co-op the liberal cause and enact the bill. This enlarges their POWER.
- The American public elects True- and Pseudo- Liberals to CONGRESS.
- True Conservatives see the healthcare bill as unsustainable and that it will “break the bank” of the country. They agitate for repeal of the bill and a return to modest changes to achieve the same aim.
- Pseudo – Conservatives who could care less about anything other than POWER accept the role of standards bearer for repeal of the bill.
- Obamacare shows some great aspects! Liberals are overjoyed. Conservatives secretly are optimistic that it will help but still voice opposition. The Pseudo- versions of each are locked in ferocious battle, really over POWER.
- Obamacare costs spiral out of control (my viewpoint, a given), and overall the administration spends TRILLIONS of DOLLARS. This debt is sold to, you guessed it, THE RICH.
- The public now feels like they were sold a bill of goods on the bill and elect more True- and Pseudo- Conservatives to CONGRESS who promise to repeal the bill. They don’t have a good alternative though.
- Using the True- Conservatives’ battle cry of fiscal responsibility, the True- and Pseudo- Conservatives begin to dismantle the bill and cut taxes (the battle cry of Conservatives of all ilks since Reagan), which as you guessed it, causes the economy to swagger like a drunk man after a binge.
- Now, the POOR, who the True- Liberals wanted to help in the first place are hurt because of the Conservative approach to righting the ship. Who reaps the early benefits of the changes put into the economy now – you guessed it, THE RICH.
And thus the cycle continues before the either of the changes could really take effect – either the original goal of near universal access to healthcare or doing that in a sustainable budgeted manner.
THE PSEUDO- LIBERALS and PSEUDO- CONSERVATIVES WHO CARE FOR NOTHING BUT POWER.
So who are these Pseudo- guys?
As you can tell from my description above, I believe that there are large groups on both sides of the divide that really don’t care and would rather consolidate POWER than really focus on either agenda. So who are these guys anyways?
Well, that is for each of you to choose. I personally will not divulge my list of these Pseudo- Liberals and Conservatives, but i believe that most of us have a list. I am sure there are some that most of us feel care nothing for us, THE ELECTORATE.
Mapping Liberals and Conservatives to our American political parties
Now this is the question – who is a Liberal and who is a Conservative? In general, the following formula is assumed:
LIBERAL = Democrat
CONSERVATIVE = Republican
But that is a terribly out of date notion, at least I believe. Many of my own views don’t fit into either party – wow, does that make me an INDEPENDENT? Does that make me a LIBERTARIAN? Tell me what you think, and next posting will delve into this notion.