Overview of modern liberal and conservative perspectivesSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas

American Politics

Overview of modern liberal and conservative perspectives

27 March 2010 at 2:04:27 PM


"Liberal" and "Conservative" are two words used to describe two political philosophies and platforms that may not be so easy to view and comprehend.  It seems that humans maintain a need and desire to label everything and everyone in their lives and certainly this is recognized in Politics, perhaps more so than in other areas of our daily existence.

Immediately, several such labels come to mind, e.g., liberal, conservative, socialist, fascist, to name a few.  The terms “Liberal” and “Conservative” are frequently used in politics and within our modern society; however, the context may vary in actual use and definition at any given time.  Furthermore, the terms have changed over time periods and/or have been manipulated to promote special interest concerns, desires and legislation.

There is no specific date attributed to the founding of either the liberal and conservative concepts, yet one could consider that even among primitive humans there must have been some organic, free-thinking cavemen and women who may have been the actual “inventors” of liberal thought and process in its more infantile phase of evolution.  Naturally, there would have been a counter primitive conservative influence that wanted to keep life and the things within it as they had been before.

Wikipedia defines Liberalism as:

Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis, "of freedom"[1]) is the belief in the importance of [3]

It defines Conservatism as:

Conservatism (Latin: conservare, "to preserve") is a political and social philosophy that holds that traditional institutions work best and that society should avoid radical change.

It is safe to consider that throughout human history there were individuals and groups who wanted to institute changes in daily living, while others preferred and desired to keep things as they were and had been.  Such thinking evolved into modern times as evidenced by such quaint quotes as, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In essence, the origins and definitions of “Liberal” and “Conservative” are not as easily determined as one would think.

In some history texts John Locke is given credit as “the father of liberalism” whereby he believed that Liberalism “employed the concept of property">property.”

With sound reason, many believe that Liberalism emerged from historical and social developments that led up to the American and French Revolutions.  History shows that the people were liberated from kingly control over their lives.  Over time, freedom and maintaining a constitution was associated with the term “Liberal”.

In concept, Conservatism prefers to keep things as they were, more middle-grounded, The origins of the term underscore in reaction to change.  In the wake of the Anglican theologian Richard Hooker called for moderation and a balance of interests for the sake of social harmony and common good.

In modern times, it is not often easy to be a Liberal or a Conservative or to recognize one.  In addition, the definition of each continues to change.  For example, if we compare the Conservative Dwight D. Eisenhower administration of the 1950’s with the Conservative George W. Bush administration that began in 2000, we may not be able to find level comparisons of these Republican terms.

In other words, President Eisenhower and President Bush may not have agreed on many issues, philosophies and actions; however, each person and his respective administration were deemed Conservative and Republican politically and in concept.  In fact, the two administrations were very different.

It appears that our lives and our politics have become extreme.  A person is either Liberal or Conservative, left or right of center as in the past, but more so.  These days a Conservative bay be nearing Fascist, while a Liberal may seem Radical.  In truth, Liberal and Conservative traditions are currently extremist philosophies, and yet they may often overlap each other because of their extremist views on various issues – as in Liberal is so far left that it is coming around to the right; while Conservative is so far right that it is coming around to the left.

In a crazy and hectic modern world, it is fitting to have a more unbalanced and often chaotic political system with unstable philosophies and platforms.  Moderates or middle-grounded philosophies and platforms are rare, but in my opinion, are urgently needed.

Liberal may no longer be used to describe a person who wants positive change or freedom.  For example, today’s Liberals and Conservatives are looking for socialistic bail-outs.  At the same time, they both want and don’t want government interference into our daily lives, but they want everything on their terms, which seems to change from moment to moment.   Conservatives say they don’t want new taxes but they desire toll roadways, which are a form of new taxes.  Liberals want to change to a more socialized health care system, but they still accept wealthy campaign contributions from the privatized health care providers, which seems to impede growth and striving for the community good.  Conservatives say they prefer middle ground; however, many seem to push for more religion in public education and are anti-abortionists.  Both Liberals and Conservatives seem to push towards war to resolve issues, to gain profits for businesses and to uplift the economy.

In this topsy-turvy world, even our political system is in constant chaos and prone to extremism at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

It all can get very confusing.  Who really is Liberal and who is Conservative? 

So, welcome to the 21st Century and make up your own mind, but do so intelligently in recognition that to walk a road with some degree of success, it is better to be centered on it.  If you walk too far over towards the left or the right, there is the greater potential of falling off --- and where would that leave us?  It leads us where we seem to be today.


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1 - salon   27 Mar 2010 @ 4:58:33 PM 

Wish we could entirely shed the labels. So many people seem to stop and quit listening as soon as they decide someone is of a particular persuasion. I'm not convinced that people who describe themselves as either liberal or conservative can be put into a box, at least aside from some politicians. For example, I have come across plenty of people of all political stripes who are against toll roads; I don' think it's liberal versus conservative. Now WHY they may be against them varies. I do agree about war-when did that become a given? I saw a great article in Harper's Magazine this month (Have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing, well worth it)  about the vanishing liberal. In general, though, while I hope there are lots of centrists, I think we need different vocal sides of any argument, even if some view it as extreme, if only to clarify our own opinions.

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2 - humanbeing   27 Mar 2010 @ 9:41:19 PM 

In this era of advertising and branding, people are programmed to have knee-jerk reactions to specific words so they can be manipulated by those who have a particular agenda. This programming is aimed at destroying an individual's ability to think critically. Pretty soon, language ceases to exist with respect to a certain historical context and becomes meaningless or acquires a different meaning than it had originally. Karl Rove, who excelled at mass marketing using direct mail before he went into politics, is a perfect example. Thanks to him, the word liberal, for many at least, now suggests something dirty, hateful and un-American.  Although this technique has probably been used for power and control for centuries, our present culture seems to be particularly seduced by this mass marketing approach. It's disturbing, to say the least.

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3 - pstern   27 Mar 2010 @ 11:28:58 PM 

I truly believe that the majority of our focus on most, if not all, issues should be centered or balanced.  Yes, we need more left and right thinking and actions, but we need to find intelligent middle of the road foundations for a nation of almost 300 million people of varied backgrounds.

Naturally, some issues need to be more to the left or to the right; however, on the average we need to be centered.


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