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The REAL differences
Liberals & Conservatives

Pages   [ 1 ] ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4  


Before we begin, if the shoe
doesn't fit, don't wear it !

Not everything that is said on this site about "Liberals" and / or "Conservatives", applies to every person who goes by these labels.  Nor, when we speak of "Democrats" and / or "Republicans", are we talking about every member of those parties. When we use these terms here, we are referring to those who are representative of their group, those who either set the tone for their group or who at least follow the leadership of those who do.  If you are a Democrat or a Republican who is at odds with the leadership and / or the mainstream of your party, then don't take it personally, when we say something about your party that doesn't apply to you, precisely because you are an exception to the rule.

Throughout all of pages of my web site, when we speak of "liberals" vs. "conservatives" and/or "Democrats" vs. "Republicans", we are referring to the leaders and official representatives of those groups, not to "nobodies" who may claim affiliation to a group, but have no responsibility whatsoever for that group's policies or actions.
        It's silly for conservatives, for example, to view every nutcase whom they don't view as one of their own as a "liberal", and to cite such people as examples of liberal insanity. And the same is true for the other side.

When, for example, we say that "Republicans favor the super rich over poorer Americans", we know perfectly well that the majority of Republican voters are not super rich.  But the fact is that the decision-makers of the Republican Party are far more concerned about meeting the wishes of its richer members than the needs of its poorer members.  So long, therefore, as rank and file Republicans continue to elect as its leaders people who regularly promote policies that benefit the super rich – – such as the reducing if not actually eliminating Capital Gains taxes, Dividend taxes, Income tax rates on the rich, the Estate taxes – which only the super rich pay –, and Corporation taxes – which only the owners of corporations pay –, it will be true that "Republicans favor the super rich". And it will be true that Republican policies result in working class Republicans as well as Democrats being forced to either shoulder the tax burden which the rich avoid paying, or getting stuck with the loss of benefits which can no longer be funded by the reduced tax base.  Thanks to all of that "tax cutting" there will be fewer decent schools for the young, fewer opportunities of higher education for all who have the ability and desire to take advantage of it, fewer hospitals for people in all regions of the country, less health insurance for people who can't get good jobs, less care for veterans who cared for the rest of us, less coverage of medication costs for the elderly, less decent affordable housing to avoid homelessness, less correction of injustice of our "justice system" regarding minorities, less improvement of the prison system, less relief of world hunger, etc., etc., etc.)

Here is the road map
of this web page :

  1. Before we can spell out what "liberalism" is, we must begin by dispelling several of the common misconceptions about the meaning of the terms "Liberal" vs. "Conservative" that are promoted by the conservative rivals of liberalism, (whether they actually created those misconceptions or not).
  2. Only then will we be able to show what the true meaning of the terms "liberalism" and "liberals" is on the one hand, and the meaning of the terms "conservative" and "conservatism" on the other.

Common misconceptions about the meaning
of the terms "Liberal" vs. "Conservative"

1) Liberalism vs. Conservatism
are not about "the status quo"

When people try to distinguish the terms conservative vs. liberal in terms of their being in favor or opposed to the "status quo", you can be sure they are confused, because this Latin expression simply means "the current state," in contrast to a proposed change. It's a useful expression, when one knows how to use it.  But it's a purely relative expression with absolutely no meaning of its own.  To illustrate how useless relative terms can be, imagine contrasting people as "westerners" vs. "easterners" without identifying any reference point.  Everybody is east of something and west of something else. So what would those terms mean to you, if you had no idea what the reference point was, i.e. Europe, the U.S.A., or some other geographical area?

When any "status quo" is overturned, it is replaced with a new, and possibly opposite, "status quo". Let's take the French Revolution as an example. If you described the revolutionaries as "liberals" because they were opposed to "the status quo" before the revolution, would you call them "conservatives", after the revolution, just because they represented a new "status quo"? If so, would you call the former monarchists who staged a successful "counter-revolution" as 'liberals" because they opposed the "status-quo" over which the radical revolutionaries had presided for a time?

Here's a perfect illustration of my point, an actual quote from a post I ran across on the internet, where the author actually embraces this absurd view :

"In reality, given the current state of the US, I'd say that the G.O.P.  is more "liberal" than the DNC ( "Democratic National Committee") simply because it's the G.O.P.  that's trying to change much of the 'status quo' here in the U.S., by banning abortion, bringing prayer back to schools, cutting taxes, etc.  I would have to label that as quite "liberal" given that the DNC is trying to maintain more of the status quo."

One of the most influential conservative leaders of our time, Paul Weyrich, put it well when he said: "We (conservatives) are different from previous generations of conservatives. We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country."   (Do you see how silly it would be to consider such people "liberals" because they oppose the 'status quo'?)

Pushed to its logical conclusion, this understanding of the terms should lead people to use "conservative" as a synonym for "those siding with the party in power" and "liberal" as a synonym for "those siding with the party out of power".

2) Neither is liberalism about
favoring "big government":

There are problems, too, with the idea of "liberals" being contrasted to "conservatives" on the basis of their favoring or opposing "big government".
        In situations like the middle ages, and modern dictatorships, it is normally conservatives who have identified with the "big government",  while it has been "liberals" who have lead revolutions to overthrow such governments.

In our own history, for example, Our founding fathers (and mothers) who opposed the big government , the British empire were the liberals of their day, while the conservatives who supported King George were called "loyalists".  So it is foolish to say liberals are inherently "in favor of big government".  Conservatives were always the ones who supported "big governments" until the monarchies and dictatorships of the past were replaced by "democracies", i.e. governments designed to better meet the needs of the general population and to keep rich and powerful individuals and corporations in check.  .  ("Demos" is the Greek word for "people" and the "cracy" part means "govern").  To the extent that such governments have lived up to that promise, liberals (as we will define them below) have tended to favor such "big governments" and conservatives have tended to oppose them. 

Ever since our nation was born there has been a struggle over the way power, authority and taxation is distributed between the family, the local community, the state and the federal government.  Conservatives argue very abstractly about "big" being bad in and of itself.  But one of the reasons conservatives dislike the "big" i.e. federal government is the civil war they fought and lost with "the Union" over their preference for "state's rights".  Liberals see that very war as a perfect example of the need for a big and strong federal government, to defend weak individuals against the corrupt individuals who seem to exercise much more abusive and corrupt power in small jurisdictions and states than at the federal level.

3) Liberal isn't incompatible
with everything religious

Another misconception is that liberalism is the antithesis of religion

Many liberals have problems with religion as practiced in many times and places. But it's a misrepresentation to say that "liberals" are by their nature against morality, against responsibility, against religion.  Liberals are indeed against traditional morality and / or religion, because of the way "conservatives" have taken over and contaminated those moral and religious values and institutions.  In just about every revolutionary movement in which the weak have tried to liberate themselves from the yoke of their oppressors, established religions have most often ignored the dictates of their own religion and instead of identifying with and supporting the oppressed, they have sided with the oppressors.  By identifying so often with the rich and the powerful, the church has persuaded the liberal friends and allies of the poor to oppose some religious institutions. 

4) "Right" vs. "Left" is
NOT the same as

One of the greatest occasions for misunderstanding regarding these terms is the deceptive use that political regimes have made of them. Although people know that they shouldn't judge a book by its cover, or trust a used-car dealership just because it's called "Honest George's Used Cars", many view the "Communism" of the Soviet Union as the embodiment "liberalism" and the "Fascism" of Nazi Germany as the embodiment of "Conservatism".   But the world of politicians is the last place one should look to for clarity in ideas. Everybody knows that it is in their interest to be "all things to all people".  No matter how liberal they may actually be in their hearts, they will want to appear to be conservatives when addressing conservative audiences, and vice versa when it comes to conservative politicians 

Although Hitler, for example, disagreed with most of what of the Socialists of his day stood for, because of the popularity of their ideas at the time, the leadership of what had been called "the German Workers' Party", changed their name to "the National Socialist German Workers' Party" - which was somehow reduced to the nickname "Nazi". The Nazis actually showcased some "Socialist" proposals in their official platform.  But that didn't mean that they really identified with those ideas and intended to act on them!  They proved by their actions (i.e. by eliminating as many of Germany's leading liberals, socialists and communists as they could) that their were not socialists.

By the same token, just because  the dictators who led the Soviet Union, came into power by  proclaiming the very liberal ideal "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs"  that doesn't mean that they ever intended to act on that principle once they had completed the transfer of power and privilege from the former dictators to themselves. On the contrary. They proved by their actions (i.e. by instituting a dictatorship that they were the very antithesis to true Socialism, which is all about distributing society's wealth and power as evenly and equitably as possible among all of its citizens, which "the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" never did.

Every political regime is a mishmash of conservative vs. liberal ideas and policies. and that balance is constantly changing.  Although one would be justified in saying that the Soviet Union was more liberal than Nazi Germany,  it would be difficult to find more inappropriate examples of what the  model liberal vs. the model conservative state would look like.   And yet,  millions of people confuse "liberal" with "the communist left" and "conservative" with "the fascist right".

The countries that have tried to implement true Socialism have been first and foremost the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.
        The real difference between "liberals" and "conservatives" is that liberals strive to get wealth and power distributed as evenly as possible to as many as possible (for the benefit of the masses), while conservatives strive to accumulate as much wealth and power as they can to themselves (which sometimes extends to their family, class, country, or the like - at the expense of the masses).

5) "Liberal" doesn't equal "licentious"

Many people, including both liberals and conservatives, confuse the terms "liberal", "libertine", and "licentious".

Many conservatives have been led to believe that the word "liberal" is a synonym for some or all of the following :

"abandoned, corrupt, debauched, degenerate, depraved, dissipated, hell-bent, lax, lewd, loose, playboy, profligate, reprobate, slack, unconstrained, unprincipled, unrestrained, vicious, wanton, wayward, and wicked"

those are all synonyms for the words "libertine" and "licentious", not "liberal". To be libertine, or licentious, is not a way of thinking but a way of acting, a way which most serious people view as immoral. To be liberal, on the other hand, is a way of thinking, a philosophy, an ideology. Now people who think liberally may also act licentiously, but so can conservatives. In fact, we document a great many examples of conservatives in positions of leadership in the Republican Party who have shown themselves to be more licentious and immoral than their counterparts in the Democratic Party. ( See Republican corruption galore.)

If you want to see what a truly licentious "church" is, check out "the Children of God", later known as "The Family of Love" or "The Family" and currently ../a_Religious_Issue/the"The Family International". Although it was founded by a very fundamentalist Baptist preacher and has a very conservative theology in most respects, unlike we "Liberals Like Christ", this church is extremely licentious when it comes to heterosexual morality.

( Playboy magazine commissioned a poll in mid 2006 which revealed that 36% of its readers are Republicans compared to 25% Democrat, 25% independent and 14% other parties.)

We will spell out what it really means to be a liberal below.

6) Liberalism isn't about giving
benefits that you deserve
to others who don't !

The following observations are not from a liberal, but from the ultra-conservative radio talk show host, Neal Boortz, regarding :

"From each according to their ability,
to each according to their needs

"Though there is good evidence that Marx actually lifted this little ditty from the Torah (an important part of the Old Testament), it has become recognized as perhaps the pre-eminent motto of Communism.

I bring this up today because it is becoming increasingly clear that the international Communist movement needs to get one of its lawyer pals to hurry out there and trademark its precious motto.

If it doesn't act fast, "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" is going to become the de facto motto of the Democratic Party, quickly becoming known as the Socialist Democratic Party."

Everyone has heard of "guilt by association". In this case conservatives reject the teaching of the bible because they associate that teaching in their minds with Karl Marx, while ignoring the fact that Boortz himself recognizes in the passage above that Marx stole the very core principle of his philosophy from the Bible!

7) What about "tax and spend",
and "bleeding heart" liberals?

Conservatives have no problem with government taxing and spending so long as the spending is done on their own businesses and industries, so that they add to their own bottom lines.  Liberals, on the other hand, believe in taxing "the haves" – which often includes themselves –  in order to distribute wealth back to "the have-nots."  They do so in part for perfectly selfish reasons, believing that when poor people do not have reliable and sufficient income, they are much more likely to resort to crime to get what they need to support themselves and their families.  But another reason they do so is the inspiration they have gotten from the teaching of the great prophets of the Hebrew Bible on the one hand, and from Jesus of Nazareth on the other.  See LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/ GODvsGreed.
        Conservatives try to intimidate people like me by referring to us as "bleeding-heart liberals", because of the many instances in which we are concerned about the suffering of needy and helpless people.  Have we ever seen or heard the media refer to "bleeding heart conservatives"?  "What is that?" you ask.  Why it's conservatives who   – instead of commiserating with the suffering of the poor –    "feel the pain" of the super-wealthy.  Conservatives cringe at the thought of multi-millionaires being required to pay taxes on their million dollar income from dividends and capital gains, just like common laborers are required to pay taxes on the income they earrn from their labor.  It's conservatives who "feel the pain" of the children of those millionaires, who have to pay estate taxes on whatever they inherit from their parents through no merit of their own, after the first million dollars or so is entirely exempted from that tax. The only time we will hear criticism of these views in the media is every two to four years, when a liberal candidate has paid thousands of dollars to buy a few seconds of air time from the conservatives who own just about all of the major media in America these days.
       A liberal woman I met once told me about a date she had with a Republican:  "When I asked this guy why he was a Republican,  he said, and I quote exactly, "Because I believe that there are the haves and the have-nots in this world, and being one of the haves, I vote to keep it that way."   Rarely do you find such candor, especially from a conservative Republican!

A day in the life of
Joe Average Conservative:

"Joe gets up at 6:00 am to prepare his morning coffee.  He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards.  He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee.  His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure they are safe and work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too.  He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day.  Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.  Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath.  The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

Joe walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees.  You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation days because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.  Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.  If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn't think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It's noon time, Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills.  Joe's deposits are federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.

Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country.  He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards.

Joe arrives at his boyhood home.  He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.  The house didn't have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.  (Those rural Republican's would still be sitting in the dark).

Joe is happy to see his dad who is now retired.  His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.  After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.

Joe turns on a radio talk show, the host's keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good.  (He doesn't tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day)  Joe agrees, "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I'm a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have".
by John Gray, Cincinnati, Ohio – JGray7@cinci.rr.com -
Published July, 2004 – permission obtained
See even more reasons to thank liberals.

Why do Conservatives hate
(fear) the "L-word" so much?

It's hard to find any difference between the meaning of the terms "Progressive" and "Liberal". Yet Conservatives aren't bothered by the one, while they can't pour enough contempt on the other. That alone should make people who call themselves "Progressive" wonder why they are using a name that is so innocuous, and so meaningless to most people, that it doesn't bother their opponents. The purpose of this page is to restore the pride that liberals should have in a name that means "liberators of as many different people as possible from the forces of those who would conserve as much power, wealth and privilege as possible in the hands of the 'haves'."

What's so bad about being "Liberal"?

Some Conservatives seem to think that they have the power to define words any way they like.  So ignoring what dictionaries and other authoritative source say, they make "liberal" out to be a dirty word.  But for the sake of those who do believe that dictionaries – not conservatives – are the authorities on the correct spelling, pronunciation and meaning of words, this is the what Roget's Thesaurus, and what dictionaries like ( www.yourdictionary.com say the word "liberal" means.


  1. "Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry".
  2. "Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded".
  3. "Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism".
  4. "Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States".
  5. "Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor".
  6. "Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes".
  7. "Not strict or literal; loose or approximate: a liberal translation".
  8. "Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education."
  9. Archaic: "Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman."
  10. Obsolete: "Morally unrestrained; licentious."
  1. "A person with liberal ideas or opinions," or
  2. "A member of a liberal political party."

Roots (i.e. etymological history) =c.1375, from Old French libe'ral "befitting free men, noble, generous," from Latin liberalis "noble, generous," lit. "pertaining to a free man," from liber "free," . Earliest reference in English is to the liberal arts (Latin artes liberales, the seven attainments directed to intellectual enlargement, not immediate practical purpose, and thus deemed worthy of a free man (the word in this sense was opposed to servile or mechanical). Sense of "free in bestowing" is from 1387. With a meaning "free from restraint in speech or action" (1490) liberal was used 16c.-17c. as a term of reproach. It revived in a positive sense in the Enlightenment, with a meaning "free from prejudice, tolerant," which emerged 1776-88. Purely in ref. to political opinion, "tending in favor of freedom and democracy", it dates from c. 1801, from French. libe'ral, originally applied in Eng. by its opponents (often in Fr. form and with suggestions of foreign lawlessness) to the party favorable to individual political freedoms. But also (especially in U.S. politics) tending to mean "favorable to government action to effect social change," which seems at times to draw more from the religious sense of "free from prejudice in favor of traditional opinions and established institutions" (and thus open to new ideas and plans of reform), which dates from 1823.

liber-al-ly adverb; liber-al-ness noun.
Synonyms :   liberal, bounteous, bountiful, freehanded, generous, munificent, openhanded, broadminded.
These adjectives mean willing or marked by a willingness to give unstintingly: a liberal backer of the arts; a bounteous feast; bountiful compliments; a freehanded host; a generous donation; a handsome offer; a munificent gift; fond and openhanded grandparents.
Antonyms: stingy, narrow-minded, intolerant, niggardly, selfish

the word "conservative"
on the other hand,  is defined as:

  1. "Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change."
  2. "Traditional or restrained in style": "a conservative dark suit".
  3. "Moderate; cautious": "a conservative estimate".
  4. "Of or relating to the political philosophy of conservatism."
  5. "Belonging to a conservative party, group, or movement."
  6. "Tending to conserve; preservative": "the conservative use of natural resources."
  7. Archaic:  "A preservative agent or principle".

The REAL difference between
"Liberals" and "Conservatives"

What IS "Liberalism"?

        We would dare say that there's not a single person in these United States of America who doesn't identify with the words of Thomas Jefferson in The Declaration of Independence, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created Equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Since that is one of the best definitions of liberalism ever expressed, to whatever extent they embrace that statement Americans are all liberals, whether they know it or not!

Liberalism is simply the belief that we humans need to stick together and to fight the few powerful individuals and groups who would exploit those less powerful than themselves. We need to fight to constantly make progress together, and not to allow any of our more vulnerable brothers or sisters to be left behind.

People sometimes claim that liberalism has changed a great deal over time. Some conservatives even claim that they are the heirs of great liberals of the past! But the truth is that it's not liberalism that has changed, but the people who have needed to be liberated. While the first generation of great American liberals liberated the male European colonists of their day, the liberalism of some of those "founding fathers" wasn't great enough to extend - as it should have - to the Native American population, to the African American population, to their own wives and daughters, or to the homosexual members of their families and community. In their heart of hearts, they knew that Thomas Jefferson's words couldn't be limited to "their own kind". Abraham Lincoln said it best, "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it."

We believe it is far more insightful and useful to view "Conservatism" not just as an abstract ideology, but as an ideology at the service of a passion, namely the passion of those who already have or who strive to achieve some advantage over others, i.e. in terms of what its adherents are really intent on conserving (and/or acquiring in the future).  And that is power, wealth, advantage and/or privilege, all of which are intertwined.  Over the course of history, we view the "conservatives" as the people who defended the privileges of the few, over against the efforts of the "liberals" to distribute society's wealth and power more fairly and evenly among all of society's members.  While "Communism" has been considered "leftist" and "liberal", it was only liberal to the extent that it claimed to redistribute wealth and power among the population.  In actual fact, to the extent that the policies of those who took charge of "Communist" countries were designed to preserve the advantages of the few in power over the masses, those countries were no more "liberal" than professedly "conservative" ones.  Cuba is "liberal" to the extent that it guarantees public education and health care to all of its citizens, just as the U.S.  is "liberal" to the extent that it guarantees public education and "social security" to all of its citizens.  But to the extent that both countries protect unfair advantages of some citizens over others, they are "conservative"

An interesting question is whether the effort of Marxist countries to suppress religion is a manifestation of their conservatism or their liberalism. The latter is what many have assumed, but we would argue that it depends on the religion.  If the religion in question was conservative and an ally of the former oppressive aristocracy, then we understand why Communism's liberal side would have opposed it, but if a any government has a problem with a religion that has a record of being liberal and an ally of the oppressed, then that is evidence of that government's conservatism, regardless of its reputation of being "left" or"right".

Long, long ago, Plato observed, "For every city (or state), however small, is, in fact, divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another."

It might be more accurate to contrast the "haves" to the "have-nots", and to include in that contrast,political power and influence, rather than just wealth, since some communities may not have much wealth, but still tend to be divided between those who have power over others, and those who are dominated by those in power. More on this below.

The conservative vs.  liberal struggle will always exist so long as there is an unjust distribution of power, wealth and/or privilege.  But it manifests itself in different times and places in different ways, depending on how those benefits are distributed among the various parties of a particular situation. In America these days, white, Christian, heterosexual, middle-income, English-speaking, native born, males of European heritage who are in good health, well-educated, employed and living in a decent neighborhood are very likely to be "conservative". as they have a dozen major advantages over others that they might want to "conserve" and exploit. While the victims of discrimination or oppression are naturally viewed as liberals, some of these demonstrate when they have succeeded in gaining some degree of power, wealth and/or other advantage over others that they can be conservative too. (The way some African Americans look down on the struggles of homosexuals comes to mind.) True liberals are people with the power and/or wealth to dominate others who instead use their advantages to work to empower and/or enrich those less fortunate than themselves.
        Whenever there is a chance to make progress in the perpetual struggle between those who control power and/or wealth and "the disadvantaged" of any kind, "conservatives" are the one's who identify with the "haves" and "liberals" are the ones who identify with the "have-nots".

    In summary,
  • The true essence of Conservatism is the emotional as well as intellectual attachment to the policy of acquiring and protecting (or conserving) as much power, wealth and/or privilege for oneself and one's group as possible (and keeping others out), while
  • The true essence of liberalism is the opposite, the emotional as well as intellectual attachment to the policy of achieving as great a balance of power, wealth and/or privilege as possible among the individuals, groups and nations of the world.
  • The conservatives are the ones who identify with "the privileged", "the advantaged", the strong, the "ins", the "haves", the "fortunate",   while the liberals are the ones who identify with "the underprivileged", "the disadvantaged", the weak, the "outs", the "have-nots" the "unfortunate", 
  • Conservative whites favor their own kind and try to keep racial minorities "in their place", and out of the jobs and neighborhoods that they would like to conserve for their own kind. 
  • Conservatives who have been in America a generation or two strive to keep (newer) "immigrants" out. 
  • Conservative males strive to keep women in their place. 
  • Conservative adults strive to keep a tight grip on their children (as well as everybody else's). 
  • Conservatives heterosexuals don't want homosexuals to gain any ground to catch up with them. 
  • Conservative Christians want their religion to be as close to the "official" religion of America as they can get away with. 
  • Healthy conservatives who have insurance don't want "their taxes" spent to pay for the health care of the sick who don't have insurance. 
  • Conservatives who are not oppressed by "officers of the law" have little concern about the criminal behavior of police and prison guards against victims powerless to defend themselves, and already presumed to be the guilty party in any contest between themselves and their guards.
  • Conservatives who may not be all that virtuous themselves are constantly engaged in claiming to be morally superior to others ("holier than thou"), because unlike these "god-less, immoral liberal degenerates", they oppose homosexuality, god-less public education, abortion, birth-control, teen-pregnancy, sex outside of marriage, pornography, laziness (i.e. welfare), and the like.

Some of our nation's greatest liberals
have been "Republicans" :

One of the greatest U. S. presidents was the Republican, Abraham Lincoln, who once set forth the liberal principle: "Government should do for people what they cannot do for themselves."

After Theodore Roosevelt, another great Republican president, had served two terms, ending in 1908, and he was running in 1912 as a third party Progressive candidate,  here is the way he described the role of government :

" The only way in which our people can increase their power over the big corporation that does wrong, the only way in which they can protect the working man in his conditions of work and life, the only way in which the people can prevent children working in industry or secure women an eight hour day in industry, or secure compensation for men killed or crippled in industry, is by extending, instead of limiting, the power of government." ( from "The Theodore Roosevelt Web Book")
        "There was once a time in history when the limitation of governmental power meant increasing liberty for the people.  In the present day the limitation of governmental power, of governmental action, means the enslavement of the people by the great corporations who can only be held in check through the extension of governmental power." (from Address at San Francisco, September 14, 1912" in Harbaugh, The Writings of Theodore Roosevelt, pp. 288-291.)
        "[A] simple and poor society can exist as a democracy on the basis of sheer individualism.  But a rich and complex industrial society cannot so exist;  for some individuals, and especially those artificial individuals called corporations, become so very big that the ordinary is utterly dwarfed beside them, and cannot deal with them on terms of equality."  ( Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography, 276)
        "The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life." – ( from letter to S. Stanwood Menken, dated 1917-01-10). Theodore Roosevelt –

Conservatives who imagine that the difference between "successful" people and "the needy" is hard work should consider Helen Keller their patron saint because of the way she overcame her many handicaps to be a very successful person. Yet this is what Helen Keller had to say about this matter:

Helen_Keller "I had once believed that we were all masters of our fate-that we could mould our lives into any form we pleased . . .   I had overcome deafness and blindness sufficiently to be happy, and I supposed that anyone could come out victorious if he threw himself valiantly into life's struggle.  But as I went more and more about the country I learned that I had spoken with assurance on a subject I knew little about.  I forgot that I owed my success partly to the advantages of my birth and environment . . .   Now, however, I learned that the power to rise in the world is not within the reach of everyone." (H.K., Midstream:My Later Life (N.Y., Greenwood, page 156)

"The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor."

What she learned when her eyes and ears were opened, so to speak, led her to become not just a basic liberal, but a passionate advocate of all kinds of socialist causes, like worker rights, women's rights, civil rights and pacifism.   She was one of the authors whose works were targeted by the Nazis for burning.

Are today's conservatives
"classical liberals"?

When confronted by the inescapable fact that most of our nation's greatest heroes of the past were definitely not conservatives, but liberals, many conservatives claim that "liberalism" meant something very different in earlier times.

The truth is that it's not liberalism that has changed over the years, but its targets or beneficiaries. Those who benefitted first and have always benefitted most from the liberating efforts of America's founding fathers were the well-to-do, white, heterosexual, Christian, males. It's great that today's conservatives have such a high regard for the concept of liberalism that they want to claim it for themselves by claiming to be "classical liberals", but these people aren't like the true liberals among our founding fathers, i.e. the best of them who believed in liberty and equality for its own sake, and who wanted these benefits extended to women and to African Americans as well as people like themselves. No, today's so-called "classical liberals" are like those founding fathers who were content, like good conservatives, to enjoy the benefits of freedom and "equality" for themselves but resisted extending those same benefits to women and blacks, just as their conservative counterparts in our day resist extending such benefits to other minorities. Meanwhile, the true liberals of our time are not content with having won the battles to win freedom and equality for well-to-do, white, heterosexual, Christian, males, and then for African Americans, for women, for common laborers, for the aged, for the handicapped. They continue to battle the conservative "classical liberals" of our day to extend the benefits of justice and equality to immigrants, to the imprisoned, to those accused of crimes, for women's reproductive health and to those in the GLBT communities.Thursday, December 08, 2011

"There are two ways of viewing the government's duty in matters affecting economic and social life.  The first sees to it that a favored few are helped and hopes that some of their prosperity will sift through, to labor, to the farmer, to the small businessman.  That theory belongs to the party of Toryism, and I had hoped that most of the (conservative) Tories left this country in 1776.

But it is not and never will be the theory of the Democratic Party.  Ours must be a party of liberal thought, of planned action, of enlightened international outlook, and of the greatest good to the greatest number of our citizens.

Franklin D Roosevelt (1932 acceptance speech)

Some issues aren't Liberal or Conservative :

There are some political issues, that have relatively little to do with "liberalism" or "Conservatism".  These only serve to muddy the waters, if they are not seen for what they are, i.e.  "neutral" issues.  When liberals are in office, for example, it's not their ideology, but their control of the government that makes them favor war, law and order, taxation, government spending, raises in government salaries and the like, while conservatives will oppose these precisely because they are the ones out of power.  But when conservatives get into power, they may very well support many of the government policies which they opposed when they were on the outside looking in.  For the same reasons, both are far more enthusiastic supporters of political reform, when they are the ones trying to gain the seats of power, than when they are the ones firmly esconced in those seats of power.
        If liberals and conservatives want to be avoid the charge of hypocrisy and/or dishonesty, they should avoid taking positions on such issues on the basis of their ideology and simply argue the merits of their positions on prudential grounds, i.e. the current circumstances require these tactics, etc.

Why are liberals tolerant,
and conservatives doctrinaire?

Beginning with the easier part of that question, because conservatives identify with a group or groups of people whom they at least perceive to be superior to others, they are easily persuaded that they in possession of the "truth" (in politics, religion, morality, or whatever area about which they are conservative). And so, they tend to be orthodox, doctrinaire, intolerant, judgmental, arrogant, elitist, mission-minded, pushy, haughty and the like, very much like Paul of Tarsus.

Liberals, on the other hand, don't want to view others as inferiors, but strive to bring everyone up to the same level of equality.  So they don't want to feel superior to others or to force their views upon others, nor to have others force their views on them.  If anyone may have been justified in feeling superior to others, it may have been Jesus of Nazareth, and yet .  . .

        "Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, I think the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives."   { author unknown }

See also the hilarious explanation of "Why I'm joining the GOP  (leaving the left for fun and profit)", by Jeff Gillenkirk, a speechwriter for former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo..

Why are conservatives so tolerant
of dishonesty and ignorance?

Is it because of the powerful influence of the opinion leaders that they follow, i.e. people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin, Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Karl Rove? The ignorance and/or dishonesty of these conservative mouthpieces is so blatant that one has to wonder if the reason their followers don't want to admit the plain truth is that they aren't the victims in this situation, but rather the patrons calling the tunes.

The terms "liberal" vs. "conservative" have varied some over the years, but if you could boil them down to their essence, we think you would find the contrast below.  There may be few people who are totally liberal, or totally conservative, but the more liberal they are, the more they will exhibit the traits in the Left-hand column below, while the more conservative they are, the more they will exhibit the traits in the Right-hand column :

The contrast between
"liberals" & "conservatives"
in general :

tend to identify with
and have concern for
whole classes of people,
for "society", or "mankind"
tend to identify with oneself
and to have concern for
one's immediate family,
one's neighborhood, or one's race.
tend to look forward,
with confidence in the future,
and dissatisfaction with the past.
tend to look backward,
with satisfaction over the past
and suspicion over the future.
tend to view the rich and the powerful
as the source of most of their
societal problems.
tend to view the poor and the weak
as the source of most of their
societal problems.
Scientists tend to be Liberals
and liberals respect
and use science.
Scientists are rarely conservative
and conservatives have
little respect for science.
tend to embrace All groups
(not just one's own or the
dominant race, religion, class, gender,
age, sexual orientation, etc.)
Inclusive only of those of
one's own class, group,
neighborhood, religion, country, etc.,
tend to view people in need as
a challenge for which a
permanent system-wide
solution should be found.
tend to view people in need as
opportunities for "entrepreneurs"
to create profit-making enterprises
(see my whole page entitled
and the "Acre of Diamonds"
section in particular.)
Emphasis on being responsible
for the whole community,
and for it's past & future,
as well as present.
Emphasis on being responsible
mainly for oneself, and focus
mainly on the present.
Every human being is entitled to many basic human rights just because they have been born into the human family. We are born with nothing but the hair on our heads and no right to anything unless and until we or our parents can earn it for us.
The instinct of liberals
is to defend the rights
of their opponents to differ.
The instinct of conservatives
is to suppress dissent & oppose
"right to know" policies.
Liberals see the world in a multitude of colors, recognize, invite and welcome diversity,
recognize complexity and subtlety, etc., etc..
Conservatives tend to view situations as either black or white, good or evil, guilty or innocent, for or against us, right or wrong, communist vs. capitalist, patriotic or treasonous, simple rather than complex, etc., etc.,
Elevate the powerless Exploit the powerless
Liberals think that what causes many people to be poor is injustice in the principal transactions of life, i.e. unfair wages for the labor they provide, unfair prices for the goods and services they have to purchase, unfair policies regarding health care, law enforcement, working conditions, discrimination, etc., Conservatives think that "successful people" become prosperous by working hard and they need to be defended from the injustice of politicians stealing from the rich to support the lazy.
Promotion of progressive
taxation (in order to
finance public services).
Opposition to most forms
of taxation (and to the public
services they make possible).
as much equality as possible
(e.g. support for taxation
of the super-wealthy)
Unlimited INequality
(opposition to taxation
of the super-wealthy)
When liberals are in control, the laws passed and/or enforced tend to fall on the rich and the powerful, rather than on "little people" When conservatives are in control, the laws passed and enforced tend to fall on "little people", rather than on the rich and the powerful.
Affirmative Action
on behalf of minorities
Negative INaction which
benefits the majority
O K with paying taxes,
if money is used to care
for the needs of others,
i.e. the young, old, sick,
handicapped, minorities, etc., etc.
O K with paying taxes,
if money is used for
their own security, i.e.
law-enforcement, prisons,
and national "defense".
Creativity & New ideas:
Liberals respect the ability of all men to think for themselves and welcome and respect new and different insights and discoveries by thinkers in every field. (Reason is supreme).
Tradition & Orthodoxy :
Conservatives are insecure in their own ability to find the truth and need to have "orthodox" doctrine handed down to them from supernatural and / or political authority figures. ( Faith and blind obedience are supreme.)

Abe Lincoln once said : "We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name, liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names: liberty and tyranny. The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty."

The contrast between
"liberals" & "conservatives"
in the area of national policy :

believe large scale problems are best solved with public non-profit social programs believe large scale problems are best solved with private profit-making individual solutions
Liberals would rather admit the country needs to make progress in order to make progress. Conservatives would rather the country not make progress if it means admitting that the country is not number one.
Trust power in the hands of
large (public) government over
large (private) corporations
Trust power in the hands
of large (private) corporations
over large (public) government
Distribution of wealth
and power to
as many as possible
Concentration of wealth
and power in the hands
of the elite few who have earned them
Promotion of Unions
& Collective Bargaining
Promotion of
individualistic private enterprise
& "Freedom to Work"
Union of States
and belief in federal government
Independence of States
belief in "states' rights" and distrust of federal government
History of opposition to slavery History of defense of slavery
promotion of higher
minimum wage and
even "a liveable wage"
keep wages as
"minimum" as possible
( whatever "the market"
allows or even "dictates")
The public should
insure just wages
for all its citizens, by law
Nothing but "market forces"
should determine what employers
have to pay employees
promotion of Health Care
for all who need it :
(Universal public plan).
Health Care Insurance
only for those who can afford it.
(for–profit private plans).
Both sides view themselves as champions fighting for liberty, freedom and justice;
but they have very different ideas as to whom to protect and from whom :
Freedom for ALL : (requiring
restraint of the rich and powerful)
Freedom for the rich and
powerful : ( with as much
"deregulation" as possible)
Oppose the proliferation of guns, because
they end up killing so many innocent people.
Embrace guns, because they enable even weak people the ability to threaten and overpower large numbers of other people.


Here's the text version for the above.
[ from the outstanding www.ConservativeMyths.com ]



The contrast between
"liberals" & "conservatives"
in the area of international policy :

Believe in United Nations
& the World Court
Distrust United Nations
& of World Court
Do everything possible to achieve Peace, and settle for War only as a last resort View waging War as proof of patriotism, manhood, etc., and pursuing Peace as proof of cowardice
After the allies had defeated the Germans and Japanese in the 2nd World War, they took a liberal, i.e. a kind and generous approach toward them, and turned them into some of our best friends and allies. After the allies had defeated the Germans in the 1st World War, they took a conservative, i.e. a vindictive and punishing approach toward them, and turned them into even more vicious enemies who would eventually start still another even worse world war!

The contrast between
"liberals" & "conservatives"
where "Christianity" is concerned :

"Liberals" "Conservatives"
Tend to follow and promote
the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth,
rather than that of Paul of Tarsus.
Compare and contrast
Tend to follow and promote
the teaching of Paul of Tarsus,
rather than that of Jesus of Nazareth.
Compare and contrast
WhatWouldJesusThink. info/BadNewsPaul

Is the BIBLE an authoritative source for you?

Did you know that until the rich the powerful succeeded in turning "liberal" into a "four letter word", that word meant "generous", "righteous" or "noble", as you can still read in the King James version of the Bible :

"The liberal (i.e. generous) soul shall be made fat ( i.e. "prosperous"}: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.  He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.  He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.  He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.  { Proverbs 11: 25-28}

"The vile person shall be no more called liberal ( i.e. "noble" in the NRSV ), nor the churl said to be bountiful.  For the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.  The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.  But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand."  { Isaiah 32: 5-8 }

"they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men" ( which the NSRV renders as "; the generosity of your sharing with them")  { 2 Corinthians 9:13 }

You won't find the word "conservative" used in a good way in the Bible, because it's not there.  What you will find, however, in the writings of "Christian conservatives" is the twisting of Bible verses to justify their beliefs.  To give you but a few examples,

How do YOU view them ?

There's a tremendous difference between the way that non-Christians are viewed by conservatives vs. liberal Christians. And consider the paradox that on the one hand, the vast majority of mankind are either unaware of Jesus, undecided about him or indifferent, and on the other the vast majority of Americans profess to be Christians, that contrast is both interesting and consequential. Interestingly enough, if you go to the Gospels to find out "What would Jesus do?", you'll get two very different answers (below).   While Matthew has Jesus saying that the vast majority of mankind are "against him" (which is the answer conservatives can relate to, Mark and Luke has Jesus saying the very opposite (which liberals prefer), that the vast majority of mankind are "for him".

conservative version:
"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.   ( Matthew 12:30)
The more liberal version of
Mark & Luke :
According to Mark 9:40, Jesus said that "whoever is not against us is for us",  and
& according to Luke 9:49-50,   (When John reported to Jesus), "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us." (Jesus reprimanded John, saying:) "Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you."

Don't take our word for it !

It's rather foolish to imagine that you can really find out what liberals believe, by going only to conservative sources;  just as it would be foolish to go only to liberal sources, to find out what conservatives believe.
        That is why we were so pleased to discover a web site where a Southern conservative Christian does an outstanding job of laying out the very defective theology of conservative Christianity in America's bible belt, from which many of the beliefs of Christian conservatives in America's south are derived.

In contrast to these pages of ours, which strive to be fair to those with whom we disagree, check out what right-wingers view as "an honest examination of Democrats vs Republicans" at www.toberight.com/2011/05/democrats-vs-republicans/   This stuff is hilarious !

The Federal Programs that Conservatives
have been striving to eliminate for decades,
whenever they were given the chance :

On March 5, 2004, the ultra-conservative magazine, Human Events, published its ("top ten") list of U. S. Federal Programs that conservatives dislike the most, listed in order of level of conservative contempt from 100% down, (along with the life span of the program).

  • 83% = Medicare Prescription Drug Program (2003 –200?).
  • 78% = Planned Parenthood Funding ( 1970 – 200? ).
  • 61% = United Nations Funding ( 1945- 200? ).
  • 60% = Farm Subsidies ( 1929 – 200? ).
  • 54% = National Endowment for the Arts ( 1965 – 200? ).
  • 41% = Amtrak ( 1971 – 200? ).
  • 39% = U.S. Postal Service ( 1775 – 200? ).
  • 38% = Endangered Species Act ( 19 – 200? ).
  • 36% = Title IX (1972 – 200? ).
  • 35% = No Child Left Behind (2002 – 200? ).
  • 35% = Social Security (1935 – 200? ).
  • 34% = Comprehensive sex education grants.
  • 34% = Sugar price supports.
  • 30% = Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • 30% = CAFE Standards.
  • 27% = Bilingual education grants.
  • 25% = Dairy subsidies.
  • 24% = Federal Election Commission.
  • 24% = Pentagon's "Don't ask, Don't tell"
  • 24% = International Monetary Fund funding.
  • 20% = NAFTA.
  • 20% = Immigration laws administration.
  • 18% = Advanced technology program.
  • 17% = U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • 16% = Corp. for National Service/AmeriCorps.

Other than "Obamacare", "Common Core" and "The Dream Act" taking over the top spots, most of the above will remain top G.O.P. targets until they are knocked off.

Conservative self-expression (from "www.thoseshirts.com") :

ATF.gif ConservativeDiversity

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The REAL differences between
"Liberal"  vs.  "Conservative"

Take it from Stephen;
there is much more where
this came from, at my
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