Liberal or Conservative? How About Neither or Both?

October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

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Liberal or Conservative? How About Neither or Both?

Are you a liberal or a conservative?    Let’s rephrase the question: Are you a fan of Rush Limbaugh or a fan of Keith Oberman?   If you don’t know who they are, perhaps that’s a good thing.

Maybe it’s time to reexamine the terms “liberal and conservative.”  What do they mean?  Or more importantly what should they mean?

Consider that the terms carry significantly different meanings historically.  Conservatives in Great Britain in the 1700’s were those who generally were loyal to the crown.  Liberals were those who espoused more freedom, especially economic freedom.  In the latter 1700’s the most radical liberals from England’s point of view were the rebels who founded the United States.  These were the men and women who believed in free enterprise, low taxes, minimal government, individual responsibility, freedom of speech (even if they disagreed with the speech) and the sanctity of property and a person’s privacy.  But wait.  That sounds a lot like “conservative” words today, doesn’t it?

In the present-day USA the words have become polarizing political terms that often are more harmful than helpful to intelligent discourse.  Republicans tend to be labeled “conservative” while Democrats are labeled “liberal.”

It would seem that liberals consider conservatives close-minded, anti-freedom, anti-government, pro big business and cold-hearted.  Conservatives seem to consider liberals as anti-free markets, for freedom only if you agree with them, and big government advocates who want to insinuate themselves into and regulate every aspect of our lives.

Both ideological liberals and ideological conservatives have a tendency to think the other dishonest, greedy for power and corrupt.  They will point to each other’s inconstancies and cry “Hypocrite!”

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