Liberal Versus Conservative II

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After writing a blog about how labels can be needlessly divisive and/or polarizing and thus destructive to robust political debate; let me now proceed to pontificate about “liberals” versus “conservatives”.

First off, please know that I would label myself as a fiscal conservative with Judeo/Christian underpinnings and as such, I’m pretty well right of the political center if you believe there is one. Yet I have more than a few friends who are left of the center and healthy debate sometimes springs up between us. Unfortunately, unhealthy spitting at my opinions does sometimes occur from some left of the center, with generally some completely baseless attack on one moral lacking or another they feel must be the center of my motivations.

As I’ve gotten older, I watched several classmates or cohorts migrate from being very liberal in their politics while in undergraduate college, only then to become more conservative as they deal with the issues of marriage, business, parenting, death, and other aspects of (dare I say it) maturation. Similarly, I’ve noticed how few former conservatives migrate to become devout liberals. With obvious and sometimes bold exceptions, I still anecdotally observe how “liberalism” seems to speak most effectively to those who are young, and/or who have come into a large fortune suddenly and with little effort on their part to “earn” it. Sports celebrities, overnight Hollywood celebrities, or a Nouveau riche trust fund kid, all seem to help deal with their inner guilt at “unfairly” having something many deserving people want by embracing a liberal political agenda. It seems to be an emotional thing to them, as opposed to their conservative counterparts who often base their political beliefs more in an intellectual scrutiny of history’s examples.

I do not imply that there is a differing degree of intelligence involved in separating the two camps, rather the motivations draw majorly from emotion on the one hand and from history and experience on the other. Yet I’ve met many absolutely brilliant liberal defenders, and many brilliant conservative ones. Likewise, I’ve encountered more than a few painfully stupid ones in either camp as well. The difference between them is most certainly NOT one of intelligence, or even the desire to do a greater good in one versus the other. The main difference I can observe, once the name calling and attacks on character have died down, is a difference in the belief as to which will bring more prosperity for more people: government edict or freedom.

The balance between too much government and anarchy demands that both liberals and conservatives do their job, yet the balance is best when they are about equally unhappy and find compromise.


Liberal Versus Conservative Part I

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Election season is here again and it seems like the whole nation is abuzz with an entire buffet of opinions from the mild to the wild. And much like classic football rivalries, there are basically two types of fans: 1) the ones who root for their team to win and be the best while still holding the foe in their world of respect, care, and concern, and 2) the ones who root for their team to win and be the best while wishing all manner of hatred, humiliation, and zealous disrespect toward the foe.

Inside the world of political debate, where the stakes are arguably more important, the media and the world of entertainment (sounds redundant a bit doesn’t it?) have long found that generating and retaining eyeballs on the screen to sell them beer or pharmaceuticals from their sponsors seems to work “better” if the sensational things take the stage. And thus, honest and robust debate on issues falls below personal attacks, outrageous behavior, and the like from any candidate. It has become a sad farce.

And the divide between “liberals” and “conservatives” gets drawn with bolder and wider black markers. The truth is, even when we disagree vehemently, we still have more in common than any ideology that separates us. When I witness the harshness of opinions that begins to call into question an opponent’s motives, I am saddened. Yes, it is important to have correct policies win out over those that are proven failures, and yes some previous failed ideas might succeed in an altered future, but those who fight for their position gain nothing by impugning the motives of their political foes.

Labels like “liberal” or “conservative” distract from the true aim of trying to discern character and intellectual honesty in a potential candidate or ballot amendment, etc. And to disagree with each other on politics is not something to build walls over.  The quote, ‘Somebody who agrees with me 80 percent of the time is a friend and ally, not a 20 percent traitor.’” has been attributed to President Ronald Reagan and is a good reminder to us all.