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Liberal vs. Conservative Values

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Liberal and conservative values in conflict

If you listen to liberal or conservative commentators exclusively, you may think there’s only one correct point of view, and the other end of the political spectrum is populated by wackos, evil schemers, and fools. It’s comfortable to think that truth resides exclusively on your side of the divide—but let’s try a mental experiment. Let’s assume that most people, whatever their politics, sincerely believe in their ideals, and that those ideals aren’t all misguided. Let’s look across the chasm and try to see what those other people are thinking.

[Note: Not all liberals and conservatives would agree with every tenet listed here—but these are the beliefs that generally define the two groups.]

On the social safety net

The liberal view

• There are people in this world who need help. They struggle to put food on the table, or can’t afford medical care—and many of them live in the United States. A civilized society would try to help them, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves. (Someday, the one who needs a helping hand may be you, or someone you love. All it takes is a serious illness, an injury, a lay-off, or a death in the family.)

The conservative view

• People are responsible for themselves—and, given the chance, they’re capable of supporting themselves and their families. If the government makes a practice of providing for people (with welfare, for example), they become weak and dependent, and lose their will to work. Nothing could be more destructive to the health of our society.

On wealth, taxes, and the role of government

The conservative view

• Government should serve the people—not the other way around.

• “That government is best which governs least.” In business, this means letting the free market (the most efficient economic system ever devised) generate wealth without a heavy hand trying to direct it.

• Governments tend to grow like snowballs rolling downhill. We must work to reverse this trend, or the government will expand and intrude on our lives even more than it does now.

• “A rising tide lifts all boats.” When we allow the most dynamic, successful members of society to do what they do best, they create jobs and general prosperity. In other words, lowering taxes benefits everyone. The best way to improve America’s standard of living is to let people pursue their own goals, and reduce the bureaucratic obstacles that stand in their way.

• The legitimate functions of our national government are to provide security through a strong defense and to protect freedom for the individual, so that people can pursue their own goals.

• Private property means that what belongs to you is yours; if the government confiscates your property, that’s tyranny. Our most productive citizens—the top 10% of earners—already pay 68% of the tax revenues collected. These rates should be cut, not raised.

• No one has an obligation to help a stranger involuntarily. Charity should be a personal decision. Encouraging voluntary giving would be better for America’s soul than seizing our money against our will, for purposes we don’t approve of.

The liberal view

• The proper function of government is to solve problems: to reduce poverty, protect civil rights and civil liberties, keep us safe from preventable harm, and, as much as possible, ensure that all Americans have an equal chance to succeed.

• We aren’t isolated individuals, struggling for survival: we live together, in a society. Ignoring the problems around us is a narrow-minded way to live. A society in which everyone has enough is better than a society where some are rich and others starve.

• There isn’t enough charity to take care of everyone who needs it; therefore, government has an important role to play. The alternative is letting people go hungry, homeless, or without medical care, and that’s not acceptable in a country with as much wealth as ours.

• The vast difference in income and lifestyle between the wealthiest and the poorest in our society is damaging the social fabric. We wouldn’t tolerate an America where 1% lived in luxury while 99% couldn’t feed their families; but America today comes closer to that than we’ve ever come before. (Today, the richest 1% earn 24% of the income in the U.S., and the top 20% own 85% of the wealth.) Membership in a society that makes wealth possible comes with obligations. Those who benefit most from our freedoms must contribute their fair share to help those who haven’t been as fortunate.

• The rising tide analogy is misleading. While poorer Americans have made very modest gains since the 1970s, income inequality has surged. The richest fifth’s income has grown at a rate eleven times greater than the poorest fifth’s, and the proportion of families living below the official poverty line has stayed in the 12-15% range.

• Large corporations, if unregulated, will do whatever they think will maximize profits, even if that wreaks havoc on the environment or on the welfare of ordinary citizens. Even the most courageous individual can’t prevent or stop corporate abuses; only the government has the power to do that.

• If the government can help create job opportunities during a time of high unemployment (as it did during the Great Depression), that’s a perfect use of tax dollars.

On war and defense

The liberal view

• War means violence against innocent people, death and injury to young soldiers, and more pain and suffering than the news ever shows. We’re too quick to use our armed forces.

The conservative view

• There are violent people in this world, who hate this country and mean us harm. We have a right and a responsibility to defend ourselves. This is true on the national level, and on the personal level. If someone wants to keep a gun in the house to defend against intruders, that’s his or her right, and it’s guaranteed by our Constitution.

On families

The conservative view

• The family is the primary unit of society, and a sacred institution. People don’t have the right to define the word family any way they please, and to demand legal recognition for their personal preference.

• Officially recognizing a same-sex relationship as a marriage violates the moral and religious beliefs of millions of Americans.

The liberal view

• Not every family resembles the traditional model. Many include only one parent; others have two parents of the same gender. These are families, too, and deserve the same respect and recognition that traditional families receive.

• Sexual orientation is inborn, not a sinful choice. When heterosexual people get to know gay coworkers and neighbors, they usually learn to accept this, and move beyond anti-gay prejudice.

• Many families are under stress as never before, due to divorce, unemployment, financial strains, and disabilities. Instead of paying lip service to family values, our society needs to help families that are struggling.

On immigration

The liberal view

• Unless you’re a Native American, your ancestors came from somewhere else. As much as possible, we should welcome immigrants, who come here to escape poverty and oppression, instead of treating them like criminals.

The conservative view

• Past generations of immigrants came here legally; most present immigrants broke the law by entering the U.S., and therefore don’t have the right to be here, let alone to use social services that the rest of us have to pay for.

• There aren’t enough jobs in the U.S. for our legal citizens. Much as we might like to welcome newcomers, we have to draw the line somewhere. We must secure our borders.

On the environment

The conservative view

• The earth is ours to use responsibly. Some people make a religion out of preserving wild lands, but they don’t realize how much of the earth remains untouched. We’re nowhere near using it up.

• When clean energy can compete with fossil fuels in the marketplace—i.e., when it becomes affordable—then it may be widely adopted. Forcing people to pay a premium for “environmentally correct” energy is the wrong way to go.

The liberal view

• Our health, and our children’s, depends on the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. The environment is infinitely precious—and it’s not infinitely capable of healing itself. We need to protect our air and water from pollution, and to preserve unspoiled wilderness from thoughtless development.

• The challenge of global warming presents us with an opportunity: by investing in clean energy technology (as China already has done), we can prevent the worst consequences of climate change and reinvigorate our economy.

On overcoming racism

The liberal view

• The difference in income between white people and African-Americans is still significant, and directly linked to centuries of oppression. We haven’t overcome the legacy of slavery yet. Even if we can point to successful individuals, there’s still a long way to go.

The conservative view

• Past injustices are in the past. Current law protects equal rights for all races, and it’s up to individuals to work hard and succeed according to their abilities. There is no longer a need to tip the balance in minorities’ favor to make up for what happened long ago. To do so is reverse discrimination, and creates new injustices.

On women

The conservative view

• Women are biologically different from men. To pretend otherwise is a mistake. Of course women should be free to pursue careers if they wish—but they should also be respected for choosing to take on the traditional roles of wife, mother, and homemaker.

The liberal view

• Women deserve the same rights and opportunities that society grants to men. We’ve made progress, but when it comes to income and representation in elected offices, equality is still far off.

On prayer in schools

The liberal view

• Not everyone in every classroom has the same religious beliefs. Forcing every child to say the same prayer, or any prayer at all, amounts to coercion. Our Founding Fathers were careful to protect the religious freedom of minorities by making religion a private matter, separate from government.

The conservative view

• The Founding Fathers were not atheists. To forbid as innocent and commendable an act as praying in school for fear of offending a small number of people goes beyond separation of church and state, into the realm of suppressing religion.

On abortion

The conservative view

• Life begins at conception. No matter how inconvenient the pregnancy is for the mother, killing the unborn child is murder. If she can’t raise the child herself, adoption is the ethical alternative.

• Young people need to understand that sex is how people reproduce, and if they’re not ready to have babies, they shouldn’t have sex. Those who seek pleasure irresponsibly will eventually have to face the consequences.

The liberal view

• What begins at conception is not a human life but a process of development that culminates in the birth of a person. If a young girl or a woman becomes pregnant but isn’t prepared to be a mother, or to go through the process of bearing a child, she has the right to end the pregnancy. A fetus is not a baby.

• If you outlaw abortion, women will still abort unwanted pregnancies, as they have for centuries—and many of them will be injured in the process, for lack of qualified medical care.

• You can lecture teenagers forever about abstinence, but biology is stronger than lectures. Most people have sex by age 18, long before they want children. No sermons can change that. But we can reduce the number of abortions performed in the U.S. by teaching teens about birth control and making it easily available. That’s the ethical alternative.

On human nature and justice

The conservative view

• We have the power to choose between right and wrong, and are responsible for our choices. Those who violate the law must pay the penalties. Too much leniency results in a culture of disrespect for the law, and social disorder.

The liberal view

• Human beings are capable of both selflessness and brutality. Even the best of us is far from perfect. Knowing this, we rely on the rule of law—and ask that justice be tempered with mercy.

On America’s future

The liberal view

• Most of the world’s most successful, prosperous nations are liberal democracies that provide their citizens with a strong safety net. This represents the natural progress of civilization. It’s time for us to catch up.

The conservative view

• What made America great—what makes this the country so many people around the world yearn to live in—is the vastness of opportunity here. Freedom of opportunity requires freedom from government interference. We are not Europe, and would be wrong to follow in Europe’s footsteps. We can do better by going our own way.

The values we cherish

Conservatives

• Duty, honesty, hard work, self-sacrifice, love of country, loyalty, and self-restraint.

Liberals

• Justice, compassion, equality of opportunity, and honesty about what’s great in our country, and what could be better.

Favorite president

Of conservatives

• Ronald Reagan, who inspired America with optimism, called for a reduction in the size of government, and presided over the triumph of democratic capitalism over Communism.

Of liberals

• Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who used the government’s power to alleviate poverty during the Great Depression, and led the U.S. to victory over fascism in World War Two.

Why are some people liberals and others conservatives?

Where do political attitudes come from in the first place? Here are a few informal observations.

• Family: Though many people reject their parents’ political beliefs, most of us end up on the same side where we began.

• Geography: If you grow up surrounded by people who think a certain way, there’s a good chance you’ll think that way, too. Some states are heavily populated by liberals, others by conservatives. New England and the northern Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin) have a heritage of liberalism; the rest of the Midwest leans toward conservatism. People in big cities are more likely to vote for Democrats; rural Americans tend to be more conservative.

• Self-interest: Low-income people tend to vote for Democrats, who support expanded social programs for those in need; among the wealthy, more vote for Republicans, who want to lower taxes. But self-interest is a factor that’s often outweighed by other values.

• Ethnicity and religion: Ethnicity and religion don’t determine political preferences, but there’s a good chance you vote for Democrats if you’re African-American or Jewish, and for Republicans if you’re a white Evangelical Protestant.

• Self-image: Which do you value more, compassion or personal responsibility? That’s a good predictor of your politics.

Note: The terms liberal and conservative have meant different things at different times. For an account of the historical meanings attached to these labels, see Wikipedia on Liberalism and Conservatism.

Jonathan Haidt on the moral values of liberals and conservatives

In his new book, The Righteous Mind, psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes his research into the origins of political values. He has identified six major moral values—compassion for others, fairness, liberty, loyalty, respect for authority, and piety—and he finds that, while liberals focus mainly on compassion (with additional concern for fairness and liberty), conservatives embrace all six values. The three values that are less important to liberals, in Haidt’s view, account for the cultural divide between the two groups. To read an interview that summarizes Haidt’s insights, go here.

Rancor everywhere you look

Google the terms liberal values and conservative values and you’ll find a bottomless well of acid commentary, most of it criticizing the stupidity and irrationality of the opposition. Here are links to some of the more eloquent explorations of liberal and conservative ideals:

• An impassioned proclamation, “Why I’m a Liberal,” on Salon.com.

• A description of conservative values, on Conservapedia.com.

• A side-by side comparison of beliefs, including positions on specific issues, from Student News Daily.

For a fascinating survey of American political attitudes…

…including subcategories that go beyond “Liberal” and “Conservative” (for example, “Social Conservatives,” “Upbeats,” “Disaffecteds”), see the Pew Research Center’s Survey Report, “Beyond Red vs. Blue.”

For a brief, informal quiz

“How Liberal or Conservative Are You?”

Opinion

David Brooks, “The Conservative Mind,” New York Times, 9/25/12: Brooks says there used to be two sorts of conservatives. Economic conservatives now dominate the Republican Party; but there are few remaining “traditional conservatives”: “This sort of conservative didn’t see society as a battleground between government and the private sector. Instead, the traditionalist wanted to preserve a society that functioned as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government… It’s not so much that today’s Republican politicians reject traditional, one-nation conservatism. They don’t even know it exists.”

Books

What do you think?

Send us your thoughts on liberal vs. conservative values. We’ll post our favorites below. Click here to send an email.

Last updated 9/25/12

You may also be interested in the following News-Basics overviews: Abortion; Health Care Reform; The Tea Party.

Comments

A shortened version of this article appeared as an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor. Below are excerpts from the comments posted on that page, and other comments received by News-Basics.

• There is much to be said for considering the merits of both sides of the ideological split in our country. Good ideas have come from conservatives, as well as liberals. But we are not dealing with sophisticated and intellectually honest thinkers such as William F. Buckley on the right anymore. We are dealing with a hardened partisan effort to defeat anyone identified as a Democrat, and we are not engaged so much in a struggle of ideas, as in an attempt by the Republican leadership to smash anyone on the opposing side. I reference the reports yesterday of Texas Rep. Joe Barton’s PowerPoint plan to annihilate the Democrats as if they were our Nazi enemies of WWII. Of course, he suggested himself as the ideal stand-in for Gen. George Patton. It almost seems irrelevant to discuss ideology anymore, because the Republicans, in their bloodlust to finish off the Democrats, are willing to flip-flop in whatever way necessary (e.g., attacking Obamacare, even though it incorporates concepts previously generated by Republicans, not to mention their sudden conversion to fiscal responsibility after one of their own in the White House had doubled the federal debt during his two terms in office) in order for their colors to prevail. Anyone who saw the satirical 1990′s film Mars Attacks might understand my cynicism at attempts to “understand” Republicans’ points of view. —Bobg2

• It’s not cool for liberals to hear their kids parrot their beliefs. We pride ourselves on being independent critical thinkers. Contrary to the beliefs of so many Glenn Beck & Rush Limbaugh fans, liberal parents are also conscientious, responsible, and want the best for their children. ¶What I do wonder when I look at the venom & vilification of “liberals” is do conservative parents ever have the same fear of indoctrinating their children? I don’t get that sense. I most often hear a pride in their voice when their children parrot their slogans, prejudices, beliefs. Conservatives, am I wrong? Do you ever remind your children that liberals are good people, too, and that they have some valid points? — Lt. Uhura

• I don’t know that the top 10% of wage earners are the most productive members of society. Some careers command high salaries and some don’t. For example, a nurse’s aide is extremely productive and hard-working, but earns very little. Some actors are not very productive and earn a fortune. — Sherry Milke

• I would disagree with your assessment that northern Europe’s social model can be considered successful or prosperous (in the long term).  They’re crumbling under the weight of their social model.  Plus, I have had conversations with several Europeans regarding their systems (mostly the French and in the relatively prosperous mid-1990s), and I was shocked to see the hopelessness that many felt in regards to their personal ambitions.  I believe their countries’ liberal social models cost so much (in high taxes) that many of their citizens just stop trying to better their lives, because they feel hopeless. Savings are near-impossible.  There’s no real incentive. The American model isn’t perfect either, but you are correct about that “vastness of opportunity”. I believe the price of a large social safety net is the very opportunity that the USA offers.  That opportunity fuels innovation, and I think that too-large of a safety net kills that innovations that keep nations thriving. I don’t see that innovation in Europe right now. — R. Cairns

• As a proud lefty, it pains me to see the liberal approach to the social safety net reduced to the idea that we, as a society, have a responsibility to take care of those who are down on their luck. Sure, we hold this ideal a little more strongly than our conservative brethren, but some of us actually also believe this is good economics, too – especially right now, when the fundamental problem limiting the economy is the dearth of aggregate demand. Faced with the proposition of renewing tax cuts for the wealthiest or extending jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, it simply makes more practical sense right now to re-extend jobless benefits… Put money in the hands of the poor, and they are much more likely to spend it, fueling demand, and putting us on the path to recovery.—Greg_tx

• There are a few points I want to make from the conservative view point to correct errors that I believe you have made. Most of these are common errors and even some conservatives are known to make them. ¶On the social safety net, you stated the first half of the conservative view point correctly. What was missing is that we believe that each of us are personally responsible for helping those that we know that need help, either directly or by supporting charities. ¶We believe that when the government takes over this responsibility two things happen, and both are related. First you lose the ability to make the determination between those that truly need help and are trying to get back on their feet, and those that are just looking for a hand out. When you lose that ability you then tend to encourage the, and increase the number of, people that are looking for just a handout, which I expect you would agree is not the ideal solution to this problem. ¶On taxes, again you are partially correct about the conservative view, except again you miss a very important point. We do believe that those who are the most successful do have a duty to provide more to help those in the society that are less fortunate. We just believe that it is the responsibility of each individual to live up to that duty. When the government steps in and takes over that responsibility, it tends to lead towards a hardening of the heart of its citizens and a desire to protect what they were allowed to keep by the government, even more. ¶I believe that you have stated the conservative views on government pretty much correctly. I will just make two points that you may not have considered. To the statement that it is the government’s job to solve problems that private institutions cannot solve, a conservative would respond that if the problem really needed to be solved, there would be a private solution if the government got out the way. ¶What your section on America’s future touches on is the difference between positive and negative rights. Most conservatives support the idea of negative rights, or the view that your rights come from your creator or at least are inherent in the fact you are human. The other side of the coin is positive rights, or things that the government must do for you. ¶That is the real difference between the USA and other countries in the world. Our country was founded on negative rights, because our Founders realized the danger of positive rights. They understood that whatever you rely on another to provide for you, they can take away from you, whenever they decide to. Since negative rights do not come from the government or any other person they can not be taken away from you. Basically the belief of the conservative movement is that you can remove the bill of rights, and that does not make those rights go away. ¶When I take what you have written and include what I have added, I reach the conclusion that there is one main difference in belief between conservatives and liberals or what I prefer to call progressives. Conservatives believe that each of us are only personally responsible for our actions, but not the action of others. We also believe, we have a personal duty to help those around us to the best of our ability. We believe that even if the government does take on some of that responsibility it does not excuse us from the duty to help others or from the consequence of our actions. ¶From my prospective it seems that Progressives believe that not only they are responsible for their own action, but that of their fellow man. Because of that they believe they have the duty to make sure each of us live up to our duty to help those around us and they need to protect us from the bad choices that we might make. Of course the only way to do that is to use the force of government to achieve this. —Freddy Leonidas Boisseau

Yes, we all should strive to take care of and be responsible for ourselves. But in a crowded society, we must also be responsible to that society. ¶It is a noble ideal to try live amongst others without any law and order that restricts you or compels you to do things. This nostalgia reminds me of the Old West… a time full of God-fearing settlers making their way West, living free from government and taxes and law. And the vast majority of them died from vicious outlaw gangs, Indian raids, hunger, disease, or natural disasters. ¶Inevitably, the remaining starry eyed survivors gave up the freedom of the prairie for the safety of the town. With a Sheriff. And deputies. And water. And food. And good company. And greater opportunities for business. But most importantly, law and order. ¶The same was true with our founders. Contrary to the common perception, they were not protesting taxation. They were protesting being taxed without having a say in how to be taxed. They fought to create a new state so far removed from the tyranny of a king that they may have gone a little too far. The Confederate States was a dismal failure. So weak was this government that they couldn’t compel states to even use the same currency for trade. So a stronger, yet balanced government was created. A Republic. ¶Although in the 1860′s some folks still wanted near zero government. They wanted to restore the Confederacy (and some still do). They reasoned that the government should not have any power to compel people to behave a certain way. “What right does the government have to interfere in my business and say that I can’t keep slaves?” ¶Ah… “Free to lead our lives as we please, so long as we do not infringe on the same freedom of others.” Slavery infringes on the rights of those who are enslaved… The concept of positive rights vs negative rights is too often a matter of perspective. Is the government imposing a positive right on you by compelling you to have a license and wear a seat belt if you want to drive? Or is it a negative when viewed from the perspective of the millions of people who pay for these roads and want to be safe from bad drivers? Or the doctors, insurance companies, EMTs, or families that don’t want to work on, pay for, scrape up, or bury you when you die because you were too proud to strap yourself in? ¶Unless you are writing this post from a mountain top using a satellite you launched and an Internet that you run, you are benefiting from some measure of shared responsibility. ¶It is noble to want to live in a world free from any force that would compel us to do something or restrict us (ie – law). I hope someday humans are mature enough to handle it. But as Madison put it so well when explaining the need for America to abandon the near anarchy of a Confederacy for the balance and stability of a Republic, “If all men were angels, no government would be necessary.” ¶I hope we get there. I hope people like you keep that dream alive. But in the meantime, we still have murderers, thieves, laziness, greedy people, and a number of other irresponsible types. We need to live and work together and that means sharing some responsibility for the sake of us all. — jimjonesblog

• You make a very good point that is in the right direction. Deep down, most of us Americans have very similar values. We want liberty, freedom, and fair opportunity. How we go about that is the center for debate. ¶However, this article is too generalized. You make no mention of statist or libertarian values behind the views. There are statist-leaning conservatives (Dick Cheney) as well as liberals (Hillary Clinton) that do not think people are responsible for their actions in some situations. ¶The group, “Advocates for Self-Government” describes this left-right politics well:

Fifteen years ago the standard view of politics — the mental “map” almost everyone used when thinking of political positions — was the old “left-right” line. It is still widely used today.

You’ve probably seen it in textbooks and newspapers. It looks something like this:

<————– left ———— center ————- right ————–>

Or, when expanded a bit:

<— crazies — communist/socialist — far left — liberal — centrist — conservative — far right — fascist — crazies —>

This model is misleading and fatally flawed. It doesn’t have a place for many millions of people who don’t fit neatly into some variant of liberal or conservative. In effect, it disenfranchises the millions of Americans who don’t feel that “left,” “right,” “liberal,” “conservative” etc. accurately describe their views. Thomas Jefferson, for example, wouldn’t fit comfortably on that chart under any of those labels. Neither would Jesse Ventura or Huey Long or Pat Buchanan. America’s real political spectrum is more complex than this simplistic Crossfire model allows. —borateen

• If conservatives believe the top 10 percent of earners are “[o]ur most productive citizens,” how about the other 90 percent who provide the labor for our shelter, food, transportation, defense, and the conveniences we enjoy? Instead of productivity, what we are really seeing from the top 10 percent of earners is their widening influence on politics through massive campaign contributions. —Ronald B. Blackburn

• [This article] missed a key tenet of the true conservative standpoint. Conservatives demand obedience to the rule of law according to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. While the author correctly cites the conservative view that people who become dependent on the government for welfare lose their will to work, he misses the basis of conservatives’ larger objection to welfare: The government cannot do anything that hasn’t been specifically enumerated for it to do in the Constitution. —Brian Shiffman

10 Responses “Liberal vs. Conservative Values”

  1. The article fails to recognize one major factor of American society, the Christian. Not the go to church on Sunday only after I dust my Bible off once a week, but the sincere Christ-like person that Loves the Lord, and is looking forward to the day He will appear in the sky, and take them all to a new home in Heaven where they will live for eternity.

  2. Eric says:

    Thank you for this calm, even-handed article.

    I often find conservatives’ reluctance to engage with government difficult to understand. I know, for example, that conservatives are often very generous with charity. As Freddy Leonidas Boisseu wrote above, conservatives “believe that each of us is personally responsible for helping those that we know that need help, either directly or by supporting charities.” As on the left, then, people on the right agree we all have an obligation to help those less fortunate. But given that those in need are often very numerous and geographically isolated from those who can give, giving directly or through charities is not a practical way to reach everyone. The obvious organization to turn to which can achieve the end conservatives have said they want to achieve is then government, but when that solution is proposed an aversion to government trumps their charitiable tendencies, and the result is that no or insufficient help is received.

  3. Some people are Conservatives and others are Liberals because they have their own beliefs towars our society. Conservatives live their lives in the “old days”, always wanting people to abide by their rules and to obey the govt. I believe that the Conservatives are going to eventually terminate the people’s say in anything. Liberals like myself care about the lives of our people. To be honest, without the peoples vote in anything, the govt. wouldn’t know what to do in order to keep this country toghther.If it were up to me everyone would become Liberals.:) Like Martin Luther King JR once said “Let Freedom Ring” for every individual.

    • Eric in NJ says:

      Liberals live their lives in a state of delusion divorced from reality- they are eager to disavow God yet have a nearly religious adherence to the cult of Global Warming and have made the current occupier of the White House a Messiah figure. They feel that good intentions and big government programs are the solution. Yet with each new program or regulation a little more of our freedom is siphoned off. The regulations and bloated and inefficient programs are certainly unaffordable yet Liberals believe that these programs and regulations can never, ever be reduced in any manner and simply taking more from people who earn more money will somehow cancel out the shortcomings demonstrated by basic arithmetic. Conservatives do care but do not simply vote in politicians who claim they will fix everything and then wash their hands of their responsibility to mankind. Charity is a creature largely sustained by the right, government is the solution to the left. Neither is perfect but one is a more genuinely benevolent act as it is not mandated by law under penalty for non-compliance.

  4. David says:

    Many studies have shown that when the government is in charge of “doing things”, i.e. creating better equality, more justice and giving people an equal chance of creating a successful life, there results in much waste of resources. It is easy to see that when you look at the news stories of waste in local/state/national governments when it comes to construction projects (millions over budget, late to finish), educational budgets, etc. Some studies say that about 20% of all monies used by the government is wasted. Then, of course, one reads the stories of crooked politicians who steal money from the government (just like the crooked business men who steal money from companies). So, the bottome line is that, for me, I would be willing to be taxed higher if the government worked hard and cutting out wastes and stealing. But I see very few liberal politicians doing that.

  5. Lee says:

    It is the conversation between liberals and conservatives that has kept this nation successful for over 200 years. Our government is no better of worse, on balance, than other forms of organization. For example, corporations waste huge sums of money and have had catastrophic failures. And we can cite the Agricultural Extension Service (a government program) helping give us low priced food, the inter-state highway system stimulating commerce and tourism, the rural electrification programs bringing electricity to farms and rural communities, the safe food we enjoy, safe drinking water and many many other government programs like Head Start, and Social Security which have increased student performance and reduced poverty in a measurable way as government successes. We also owe many programs to government-private cooperation like our military which is the best in the world. So lets continue the conversation and take the best from both sides of the argument. We, as a nation, all benefit when each side conservative or liberal goes back to the drawing board to build a better mousetrap, and sell it to the American people every 4 years.

  6. Kelli Hall says:

    This article is refreshing. It’s not mean spirited on either side, just a clear, calm, way of explaining the beliefs of both sides.
    So many times we just simply want to get a better idea of why the other side thinks they way it does, without that side calling us idiots, M.R., dense, stupid, etc.
    I once made the mistake of asking “the other side” to explain their view on a very important topic of that time.
    I found that the very side who claimed to be understanding and willing to hear all sides, only stuck with that belief until someone dared to ask them to explain.
    I was met with such hostility, scarcasm, and hate, that I can’t imagine how that party would ever expect anyone to see them any differently.

  7. Rosie Imaijit says:

    It is truly hard in this day and age, to be living the “middle road”, financially, struggling ourselves, to make ends meet, having money taken from us, to take care of others, when we can barely make it ourselves.
    We could easily throw in the towel, and say here, you all just take care of us now.
    But that isn’t the way we were raised. We were raised to believe that we are still responsible for ourselves at this point, when we are still capable.
    It may not be easy going for us these days, but I would never walk up to my rich neighbor and tell them they owe me their paycheck because they have it better than me.
    This country has become a land of the GIMME’s!

  8. Watkins Glen says:

    I was worried that this would be a biased article, but I think it gives a very fair and accurate overview of both mindsets. As a conservative myself, I think it should be stressed a bit more that we believe in charity as much as the left, but we believe it is one’s personal responsibility to help the poor and protect the weak. Overall though, this article is excellent and I think every American should read it before they decide what ideas they align most with. The comments on the other hand, should probably be avoided.

  9. Matt says:

    This is an excellent article. Because both sides of the argument are presented in reasonable language, adherents to each side can at least understand the other point of view, even if they do not agree with it.

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