What is a liberal?

I would really like to know. Please spare me the dictionary definition. Connotations have changed. Maybe some example of degree of liberalness will help. For example, Lawrence Summers seems okay. He is not liberal enough for Harvard, but is he liberal enough for blue Watchblog? How about Joe Lieberman?

There are some decent Dem schemes. They seem well thought out and pro-business. Are these liberal enough?

Please define yourselves so that we may see how we differ and how we agree.

Posted by Jack at June 18, 2007 11:23 PM
Comments
Comment #223425

Jack,

Just look in the mirror. The basic ideals of liberalism are ones most of us share: individual liberty, power invested in the people, rule of law, transparent government, etc. We’ve wrestled these from the kings and oligarchs of the past.

However, I know that you want an answer that addresses the exceedingly minor differences between “liberals” and “conservatives” in America today. One, I guess, is the belief that government can be used as tool by the people instead of the belief that government is the enemy. Another is that a liberal may view as intolerable the existence of poverty in a very rich nation. But I don’t want to cite the standard laundry list.

Here’s my best answer. A liberal believes we have not yet ended the progressive march to a better society. A conservative wants to hold onto what seems to have worked in the past. The danger of liberalism is that it may jettison what is worthy of the past, and the danger of conservatism is that it fears the new.

But that’s too simplistic. The truth is, in the broadest sense most of us are liberals and conservatives at the same time. For example, like most of us, I value family greatly, but like some of us, I don’t see alternative forms of family as a threat. Our present two-party system serves to cause us to identify with one or the other, and sometimes to take on positions we don’t really believe in order for our party to win.

I don’t know; that’s my shot at it. I have a feeling this article will inspire some truly eloquent definitions of liberalism.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 19, 2007 12:44 AM
Comment #223430

Labels must fall far short of their mark when describing large populations of people. Politicians love labels, because they preempt having to try to explain complex issues and definitions to an audience falling asleep as the politician speaks.

What is a liberal? Today it means an opponent of conservatives. What is a conservative, the most useful common answer is an opponent of the liberals. Beyond this, the labels are of little use, except under one circumstance which I will attend in a moment.

We just witnessed the conservative party of America act more liberal than the liberals on fiscal and financial matters, and more liberal than liberals on adherence to law and Constitution.

So, really, these labels are for the most part, irrelevant to any dialogue of substance. The Republicans have liberals within their midst; see John McCain on campaign finance reform, or Duncan Hunter advocating Jack Murtha’s plan for Iraq.

On the other side we have Lieberman viewed as mostly liberal calling for the bombing of Iran last week and protracting the war in Iraq. And Guiliani advocating gay rights and legal abortion.

Gerrold touched on something of importance, when he mentioned the word ‘progressive’. A large group of so called liberals have redefined themselves and their agenda as Progressive. It may prove to have staying power, we shall have to wait and see.

But, there are the traditional definitions of liberal and conservative which can be, and are still useful, if the parties to the dialogue and debate agree to use them. If the parties to a dialogue or debate don’t agree to use those traditional definitions, then, the use of those words is relatively meaningless, and counter-productive, as any two persons speaking different languages the other does not understand will demonstrate.

Jack raises an important question. What is a liberal. But, it’s not quite the right question. The right question is, what should the word liberal mean, and for that matter, what should the word conservative mean? If those definitions can be consented to between persons engaging in a dialogue on politics, then the words will have meaning, and act as a measuring stick as to what policies, persons, and views are in fact, liberal or conservative and under which circumstances one perspective or the other would provide the best solution.

But, when the words are used as name calling, as cuss words, the words have no meaning whatsoever, save to reflect intolerance and hate of a fellow American and, whatever is to come out of their minds and mouths. It is a sign of our times that these labels have come to be used so commonly as this.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2007 2:20 AM
Comment #223431

Jack,

The labels “liberal” and “conservative” are both becoming pretty outmoded and hazy in meaning. They have enough meaning for invective and argument (as we use), but neither are really a coherent philosophy that can be defended systematically.

Twenty years you might have been able to argue that liberals stood for big government and conservatives stood for small government, but that has really gone out the window by now. Even conservative pundits (much less politicians) tend to argue that what they really believe is something like “national greatness”. On the flip side, you won’t hear a lot of liberals defending No Child Left Behind or Medicare Part D, both of which are big government programs.

My dream is that we leave this labels behind and look at the best solution to the problem at hand. I strongly believe, for example, that a single-payer universal healthcare system would be the best. Does that make me a liberal or leftwing? Most people would probably say so. But I’m not against the free market in general. That is just one case where it doesn’t work well. A lot of times I read something written by a so-called conservative and wonder they won’t let the free market alone.

Posted by: Woody Mena at June 19, 2007 6:00 AM
Comment #223440

There is a book called “Don’t Think of an Elephant” by George Lakoff that, among other things, attempts to find a modern definition of “liberal” and “conservative”. The author’s result is quite Freudian, but he makes a good point. He casts the entire argument in a government-as-parental-figure light.

Conservatives are Strong Father Figure types. They equate goodness with strict moral standards, because they believe that human nature is inherently selfish and bad and must be curbed through discipline and fear of punishment. Thus they believe that anything that coddles someone, such as welfare, to be bad because it undermines the strict discipline that is necessary for a moral life. They are drawn to evangelical Christianity because it casts God as the perfect Strong Father Figure. They tend to be proponents of laisse-faire capitalism because competition allows the most disciplined, and by their logic the most moral, to excel, and government interference disrupts this.

Liberals are Nuturing Parent types. They equate morality with empathy. They believe that humans are basically good, and that this goodness is best brought out through understanding. They believe that punishment is not always a good thing, because it enforces good behavior through fear rather than allowing a person’s better nature to come to the fore. Thus they believe that government programs that help people out financially are very important, since they see such people as being victims of circumstance in need of assistance. They are drawn to more relaxed versions of Christianity, especially ones that emphasise the teachings of Jesus and working with the needy, or to alternative religions, especially Eastern ones. They tend to be against big business because they see such structures as allowing the few to take advantage of the many, which is unfair and thus immoral.

I don’t think that this definition is perfect, but it does explain the restructuring of the political parties that has happened over the last 40 years or so.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at June 19, 2007 8:11 AM
Comment #223449

Jack, I find your post somewhat ironic as you have been “defining” us liberals for some time now in your posts - always telling us how we think, how we react and what we believe…and now you are asking us to define ourselves. Interesting. I smell a trap. :)

But, in the spirit of openness…I will take a shot.

First I think the definition of Liberal has changed a lot over the years. Originally, the term Liberal(ism) was a doctrine that favored individual rights, freedom of thought and limitation on government power. Liberals favored a free flow of thought and ideas in a market economy. Liberals favored an open and honest government, where ideas could be exchanged freely in a market economy. I believe this version of Liberalism existed through the 1960s, and into the 1970s to some extent.

However, over time, this definition has changed in many ways, as Liberals have looked more to the government to protect individual rights and freedom of thought. Most now believe the government should help address problems of general welfare of the country, provide better education, fairness of taxation, etc. Liberals believe that the benefits of living in such a great and bountiful country should apply to all citizens, not just those with the most money. I think this shift has occurred because of the growing discrepancy between the rich and poor in the US, and to some extent across the globe as well. Liberals have the idea that there is enough money and riches to go around to take care of everyone, that if only the wealth was shared more equitably, those in need would be much better off. Unfortunately, while that basic tenet is true, there IS enough for all of us, it has not worked out that way in real life. Due to the inherent human nature in all of us, the idea of sharing freely, and giving up what you have, accepting what you are given has not worked out. It seems that the basic trait of selfishness trumps all else. Add to that the idea that if you are given something, it is not as valuable as if you earned it. Hence the ideas of socialism have proved to be a failure. And for the record liberalism is NOT socialism.

As to myself, I would come down about 75% on the more traditional definition of liberalism (is that an oxymoron?). I think the original tenets of liberalism about free thinking, individual rights, less government interference are my guiding factors in the political process. At the same time I believe the government should do what it can to address the problems of society, but not at the expense of individual rights and freedoms. So the government should work to address poverty and hunger, intervene in disasters, take the lead in an energy policy and health care, but not to the extent that government owns and runs these things.

Finally, I believe that in general I divide the liberal view into Cultural and Economical. On the cultural side I am more strongly liberal - I am Pro Choice, believe gays should have the same rights as any citizen, etc. On the economic side, I favor a more conservative approach of not spending more than you have, working hard to keep the marketplace as free as possible, etc.

Posted by: Steve K at June 19, 2007 9:46 AM
Comment #223459

Really, when you stop and think about it, in goals to be attained, there is no difference between liberals and conservatives.

The difference comes in the modus operandi.

How do we make life better for our people?
How do we promote world peace?
How do we make Social Security solvent?
How do we provide for a better education?
Etc., etc.

The difference is not in the “what”. Both ideologies agree 100% on the “what”.

It’s the “how” that seperates liberals and conservatives.

We’re a lot more like each other than different.

Posted by: Jim T at June 19, 2007 2:21 PM
Comment #223460

Jack, honestly, I would have to say that a liberal is anyone who is anti-Bush/War; at least today’s liberals are. Also, anyone that believes in the “consensus” scientists that accusse “humans” for causing global warming without hard, scientific proof.

In fact, I would say “yesterday’s” liberals are today’s Republicans; a perfect example is GWB, he would definitely be a Democrat prior to the LBJ libs.

Posted by: rahdigly at June 19, 2007 2:26 PM
Comment #223462

anyone that believes in the ‘consensus’ scientists that accuse ‘humans’ for causing global warming without hard, scientific proof.

rahdigly,
You’ve been shown, on this board many times in the past, the hard, scientific proof that humans are causing global warming, but you have repeatedly refused to address it.

Instead, you’ve invented your own pseudo-science to replace the established scientific process.

So perhaps what you are really saying here is that you think a liberal is someone who accepts the established scientific process.

Posted by: bobo at June 19, 2007 2:47 PM
Comment #223473

Jim, conservatives and liberals have many different goals. Some goals of conservatives are banning baby murder (abortion), reducing gun retrctions, decreasing tax rates, and deporting illegal aliens. Some goals of liberals are encouraging abortions, increasing gun restrctions, increasing tax rates, and encouraging more illegal aliens to come to the U.S. The goals are opposites.

Posted by: PhilCollins at June 19, 2007 4:27 PM
Comment #223479

PhilCollins, you have completely reversed goals with solutions. What you cite are solutions to other problems not mentioned, not goals with intrinsic value in and of themselves.

Jim T is quite right, there are few differences in goals, many differences in methods toward reaching those goals.

Libs and Cons both desire a moral and ethical society. On the issue of abortion, they see different sides of the morality issues. Cons see life in the womb as sacrosanct. Libs see personal freedom from the dictates of government in their personal lives as sacrosanct. Both seek a moral and ethical society as the goal, but, each sees the other’s compromise as unjustifiable. Cons believe it is acceptable for government to make the most personal and intimate decisions in a person’s life if the government believes the wrong decision may be made. Liberals believe a fetus is not yet a human being, while in an ideal world, every fetus would be desired and born to live a full and rewarding and satisfying life, the fact remains the suffering of a lifetime in poverty being raised in a one parent family in poverty where love is a rare commodity, is a greater infliction than being aborted.

The goal is the same. The means to reaching that goal are decidedly different by justifiable and rational arguments by both sides.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2007 5:04 PM
Comment #223482

David:

Both of your posts are spot on. I appreciate someone who can convey truth and do it without vitriol. I know what I know, and I know what I think I know, but will rarely be able to convey it as well as you have. Well done.

Posted by: Chi Chi at June 19, 2007 5:32 PM
Comment #223484

PhilCollins wrote:

“Some goals of liberals are encouraging abortions”.

Really? Name a mainstream, serious liberal who has stated they “encourage abortions”. Please. Virtually every liberal I know, have heard speak, or read about all agree we need to REDUCE abortions. Liberals tend to take the approach that aims to reduce unwanted pregnancies, and the reasons women seek abortions. While I am Pro-Choice, I do not like abortions, and in fact I personally oppose getting one. However, I feel strongly that this is not my decision to make for others, nor the government’s decision to make for others. Everyone must make their won decision on this issue.

Please stick to defining what conservatives think, and stop defining how liberals think. You really have no idea how we think, you are just spouting ideology you picked up on some conservative blab-o-crat show.

Posted by: Steve K at June 19, 2007 5:48 PM
Comment #223488

Jack,

Ok…I’ll bite.
Let’s go historical for a brief moment:
AT the beginning of our national experiment, it was considered ‘liberal’ to espouse the virtue of building a nation based on the social contract ideal of Rouseu or on the notion the people’s voice at all. Great social philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, Rouseu (sp?) and Emanuel Kant were all considered “Liberal” Thinkers. There were also the core and foundation of what went into the founding of our own country. The writings of Kant are VERY close to the ideals of our Founding Fathers which went into the Constitution. These are all historically LIBERAL ideals.

The Conservatives at that time were the royalists who still espoused the divine right of Kings and defended hierarchies of nobility and social rank.

In the modern era:
There are liberals such as myself, who believe in the ideals of the Constitution and the rule of law in a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. There are also social Liberals who espouse expanding individual rights and economic Liberals who believe there should be greater equity of wealth (Communism is the ad absurdum extension of this thinking). We even have religious liberals, like the Quakers, who see the absurdity of the religious right wingers in this country who read the bible and somehow come up with a code of conduct and system of belief that must surely DISGUST Jesus himself!
We have Civil Rights Liberals who still advocate for equal status of all of our citizens, Black, Asian, Hispanic or even Homosexual. We have Human Rights Liberals who advocate for the fair treatment of people all over the world and want to see our nation take responsibility for its prior bad acts as well as play a larger and more effective role in human rights advocacy and advancement around the globe.

The Conservatives tend to be either evangelical or fiscal. Both appear deluded to me. Evangelicals imagine they are advocating for Christian ideals…never mind that all that they do and all that is done by those they throw their vote to, works toward VERY un-christian and even immoral and perhaps even EVIL ends - Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, the Iraq war, the vulture fund thefts of aid by those in bed, politically, with the evangelical right, etc. etc.

Fiscal conservatism, on the other hand, began in this country with the poltical rise of Barry Goldwater at the 1964 republican convention. Goldwater didn’t make it, but he put true fiscal conservatism on the map. This ideal reached its apex with Ronald Reagan who advocated for smaller and less regulatory central government, less taxation and regulation on markets, a balanced budget and reduced national debt.

What we have now is the betrayal of both camps. We have an ostensibly christian president, whose administration has lied to the UN, lied to the US Congress, advocated for, and defended, torture, led us into an illegal war, comitted acts of treason, lost American lives, spent us into the worst deficeit and debt of all our previous history combined, spied on its own citizens, demanded confidential informatin from private companies, manipulated oil markets and manipulated the American people.

These are royalists of a different kind. They espouse a course of action that is TAKING power from the people and replacing it with lies in order to empower a small number of themselves on the inside of the power equation.

Posted by: RGF at June 19, 2007 6:20 PM
Comment #223493

Jack
You dismiss the dictionary definition out of hand. The political context is accurate although favoring the gold standard is somewhat archiac.
Gerrold put it pretty well.

To the “mis-trust of business” you might add a mis-trust of the MIC , a belief in peaceful solutions to international conflicts and a disdain for imperialist ventures, preference for labor rights over business and an abhorance of dynastic wealth.
Another difference betwix cons and libs has less to do with identifying problems as it has to do with asigning importance to the problems. Healthcare for an example. Fixing the system just does not have the same priority with the Rep presidential candidates as it does with the Dems for example. Outside of private accounts,which does nothing to control cost,the policy is pretty much the status quo. Don’t get sick if you can’t afford it.Poverty is another area. There is much difference between,”Oh,well. Some people will fall through the cracks.” and “This is inexcuseable in the richest country on earth.” Sure the EIC is a great program. When was the last expansion or increase? It is just not a priority.

Jim T

FYI Social Security is solvent. The problem lies with their only creditor,the federal government, and the political faction that can not stand the idea of paying their bills to a program they loathe for idealogical reasons.

Posted by: Bills at June 19, 2007 7:11 PM
Comment #223496

There is an oft used working partial definition of liberal and conservative. Liberal being those who sanction government more egalitarian, in which the people have voice and power in the decisions made by government, equal to that of any other special or wealthy interest groups.

Then there is the conservative on this continuum which sanctions more emphasis on republic, meaning government decisions made by those with superior ability to the people, to make those decisions. This latter version of conservativism is very active as a working aspiration amongst many Republican supporters.

In this context, liberals are champions of democracy, government of by and for the people. Whereas, conservatives seek less democracy and more government along the lines of Plato’s Republic, in which those judged most capable by education and philosophical orientation should decide for the people who are inferior in making such judgments for all to live by.

Many Republicans say we should not question a President in time of war, threat, or danger. We should not question the actions of our political leaders as it damages the image and reputation of our nation in the eyes of our adversaries, which means granting trust and carte blanche to government to know and do what is in the best interest of the people.

Many conservatives say the people don’t know what our politicians know, and therefore, should not question their judgment. This view and its consequences were excoriated by writers like Aldous Huxley and George Orwell in the mid part of the last century, and are still criticized by non-conservatives today.

Under these definitions, their are undertoned defintions. Conservatives fear the wanting masses taking what they want in a democracy of majority, compromising and threatening the concept of private property. Thus, to no small degree, conservatives want to conserve their private property from wanting masses. Liberals fear the elite making government decisions to enhance and enrich their already elite status using the power of government, while funding their enrichment on the backs of the labor force, longer work hours, and less wages.

I think most self-styled liberals and conservatives would identify with much of the import of these definitions, if they were truthful with themselves. Because in the end, while philosophers and intellects contemplate government from the mechanics of points of logic and rational critique and theory, politics can never be removed from the covets and fears of the common people; only guarded against as best can be accomplished, which introduces the principle called the “rule of law” to protect people from the passions, fears, and individual desires of other people.

But, the rule of law is only as good and valid as those who make the laws. Which takes us full circle back to the definitions at the beginning of this comment. Should the elites or, the common people, be in control of the lawmaking? How one answers that in part defines whether one is a liberal or conservative.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2007 7:20 PM
Comment #223497

Gerrold,

Well said. But too wishy-washy for black-and-white thinkers.

Posted by: chris2x at June 19, 2007 7:25 PM
Comment #223501

Jack:

A conservative believes in rugged individualism and self-reliance. Since most rich people believe they are self-made they are conservatives. The net result is that conservatives promote legislation favoring successful people.

A liberal belives in community and the common good. He feels we are all in this together. So he tends to favor legislation that would help those who are not so successful - the poor, minorities and the dispossessed.

It is not true that liberals always favor government action and conservatives always favor free markets. What’s more important is who wins and who loses.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at June 19, 2007 7:49 PM
Comment #223507

Jack,

By the light of recent posts I figure you might already be working on the next one “What is a conservative?” but it looks like defining one without the other is unavoidable.

I think Gerrold, Steve K, have touched on the themes I most agree with regarding liberals, especially the notion that most thoughtful people are a mixture. I would add that modern liberalism has tried to balance the excesses of capitalism since the Great Depression. This means transferring wealth for the common good in one form or another. Most Conservatives believe in wealth transference to some degree (for roads, national defense, public education) for benefits shared by all. Modern liberals believe society and capitalism do better when the wealthy are not allowed to become aristorcrats and the poor are helped, however modestly, to a more level playing field.

Since Ronald Reagan brilliantly (rhetorically) called it the “L” word, political debate between liberals and conservatives has gone in the toilet. Clinton tried the democrat with a small ‘d’ idea in response and as a result discourse is no longer about ideas but posturing and marketing.

I still like the political science diagram showing the range of political idealogy on a line from one extreme on the right (reactionary) to the other extreme on the left (radical). That same line was then turned into a near circle where the fascists (far right) nearly occupied the same position as the communists (far left) in their totalitarian ambitions.

Posted by: chris2x at June 19, 2007 8:15 PM
Comment #223508

In the not too distant past conservatives suported segregation on the basis of property rights over civil rights. This is illustrative.

Posted by: BillS at June 19, 2007 8:40 PM
Comment #223512

All

Thanks. I will not make specific comments, since I was only gathering information.

I would just add a couple of points.

I do not believe the concepts liberal and conservative have meaning outside their specific time and place. In Europe, liberals are what in the U.S. are conservatives. In America, we do not have conservatives of the sort they often have in Europe or elsewhere.

We suffer from the illusion that we can project today’s concepts back in time and make modern sense of what makes no modern sense.

Posted by: Jack at June 19, 2007 9:32 PM
Comment #223515

Jack,

Definition of liberal? Hmmmmm…………

Throughout my lifetime Republicans have defined us as “baby killers”, “queer lovers”, and I’d be negligent not to mention “n****r lovers”! Oh and then there’s “commie lover”, hippy…………sheesh the list is endless as defined by Republicans.

Now, mind you, I’m not saying that the Republican party used those terms but certainly those defining themselves as “conservatives” did!

Your question itself is disingenuous. You say not to include the dictionary definition. To me liberalism is quite simple: LIVE AND LET LIVE!

Of course the Neo-Cons try to translate that into DIE TO LET LIVE!

There are many more simplistic examples. I’m a liberal and I believe that anyone should be able to do anything as long as it harms no one else.

I’m NOT a socialist. I do believe however that a strong society requires a safety net to provide for every individuals basic needs.

Please, explain to me what a conservative is? Why must someone precede that term with such term as “compassionate”?

Posted by: KansasDem at June 19, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #223521

“Liberals believe a fetus is not yet a human being, while in an ideal world, every fetus would be desired and born to live a full and rewarding and satisfying life, the fact remains the suffering of a lifetime in poverty being raised in a one parent family in poverty where love is a rare commodity, is a greater infliction than being aborted.”
Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2007 05:04 PM

David,

Are you actually supporting death over life in poverty where love is a rare commodity, and also calling this view justifiable and rational?
Surely you jest!

JD

Posted by: JD at June 19, 2007 10:23 PM
Comment #223526

Jack,

How can one so astute not know the width and depth of the chasm between conservatives and liberals? Anyway here is a few definitive differences most would certainly recognize.

ABORTION:

Liberal- Abortion on demand, with no governmental oversight, women’s rights issue.

Conservative- Limited to no abortion. Sanctity of and Right to Life supercedes woman’s choice.


IMMIGRATION:

Liberal- Open borders, amnesty, racial issue

Conservative- Closed controlled borders, National Security issue


TAXATION:

Liberal- High taxation on the rich, no taxation on the poor, use taxation for income redistribution to create a fair playing field with increased governmental social programs

Conservative- Fair taxation, all pay as little as possible for only absolutely necessary governmental expenses, limit taxation and limit spending


CORPORATIONS AND BUSINESS:

Liberal- Corporations are corrupt and evil, execs have no concern for employees, unions desperately needed, strict governmental enforcement and intervention

Conservative- Corporations partner with government to create jobs with limited governmental intervention but with increased incentive for research and development


FAMILY MODEL:

Liberal- No absolute family model, family is relative to one’s communal group arrangement

Conservative- Father, mother, and children


MARRIAGE:

Liberal- Definition is relative to one’s sexual preference and choice

Conservative- Traditional one man / one woman definition until death do part, spiritual and procreative in nature


GOVERNMENT ETHICS:

Liberal- morality is relative to “the end justifies the means”, very little accountability, with no punishment or removal from office

Conservative- high moral and ethical expectation and standard, abusers are removed and punished promptly


CRIME:

Liberal- High concern for rights of the accused, law enforcement is viewed with guarded suspicion, focus on prison crowding and prisoner treatment, rehab favored with absolutely no death penalty

Conservative- High concern for victim’s rights, focus on criminal prosecution and incarceration, favor the death penalty for heinous crimes


ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY:

Liberal- Global warming legislation is imperative to our survival, strict enforcement of and increased regulation of environmental policy, focus on new technology

Conservative- Overzealous enforcement and regulation hurts the economy, Global warming is not a present, near future, or perhaps even distant future danger, focus on new technology and increase in exploration and energy production


EDUCATION:

Liberal- Continual increased spending, big union ties, increase in teacher’s salaries, relax teacher and administrative accountability, no funding of private or non-secular education

Conservative- Reduced or frozen spending, increased accountability, increased parental /local control and involvement, fundng of private and non-secular education, school vouchers


GUN RIGHTS:

Liberal- Government enforced strict control on most guns, very strict regulation of gun purchasing, “guns kill people”

Conservative- Restrict government regulation, strict adherence to Bill of Rights, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”


These are just a few issues where liberals and conservatives are in huge disagreement not only in ways, but also in means. There is very little like-mindedness between true liberals and conservatives in these areas. These issues have been debated for the last forty years or more with very little change on either side. Though many would like to water down the messages of both sides for whatever purpose, (mainly to seem moderate or centrist during an election year), you only have to watch what people do rather than what they say to tell their true ideology. Perhaps these typical views will help? Though I don’t think you really needed them. The truth is that many people are all over the place on many of these issues, but if one finds himself believing in eight or so of the twelve on one particular side, I think these issues can certainly define one’s political leanings.

JD

Posted by: JD at June 20, 2007 12:45 AM
Comment #223543

JD

I asked re liberal and conservative to find what people thought. I have what I consider working defintions, but I have found that the definitions are loose. Of coures, they are also very fluid. Somebody like Harry Truman would probalby be called a conservative today. Some liberals like to say Teddy Roosevelt was one of them. Of course both men were creatures of their times and beyond our current definitions.

The best rule of thumb on the liberal conservative issue was “liberty or justice?”

The two are in some conflict. Everybody wants some of each because both are good and necessary. A liberal will lean more to the justice (especially the equality) side. Conservatives value liberty more. Neither side is really consistent because they each want some of both.

Posted by: Jack at June 20, 2007 7:55 AM
Comment #223556
“You’ve been shown, on this board many times in the past, the hard, scientific proof that humans are causing global warming, but you have repeatedly refused to address it.”


No I have not! I have been shown facts that CO2 emmissions are up from the past 100 years and that a “consensus” and a hack-politician (Gore) have “politicized” this issue. Also, I seen nothing but (constant) attacks on the (prominent) scientists who disagree; by bloggers that think they know everything and who cannot even stand up to these scientists when it comes to education and scientific experience. It has not been proven what exactly is causing it and, evidently, the G-8 Summit went down with NO Kyoto agreement. Awwwh, that is going to tick off the religious fanatics a bit.** :-(

Posted by: rahdigly at June 20, 2007 10:50 AM
Comment #223565

JD, I think you have the labels turned around on the gun issue. Liberals usually put an individual’s rights above that of the community as is seen when we defend the accused’s rights. The second amendment issue causes most people to adopt a stance that does not mesh with their own. People conservative on other personal rights issues like unwarranted government surveillance, unwarranted searches where everyone is presumed guilty until innocent reverse their position when it comes to gun rights and take a liberal stance. Likewise, people who are liberal in other areas tend to take a conservative stance when it comes to gun rights by assuming people obtaining a gun are guilty and must be proven innocent though background checks to buy a gun.

I also think your representation of the Liberal family model is erroneous. I think the liberal model is that you should either be celibate all your life or you pick someone and stay with them until death do you part. The difference is that Liberals realize that not everyone is able to conform to the expectation and should not be punished by the government for doing so.

Lastly, From my experience since my birth in 1989 has been that conservatives want little or no taxes (not “fair taxation”), but still want to spend vast amounts of money on pork, especially in the defense department creating weapons that are unnecessary, unusable or impossible to create; resulting in large deficits.

Posted by: Warren P at June 20, 2007 12:47 PM
Comment #223586

A Liberal is not necessarily against even half of everything a so-called “conservative” believes, even though that’s what is drummed into your heads every day by everyone in the media that that can be bought. What a Liberal is depends on who the Liberal is, just like it should be with the conservatives. Everyone is looking at the parties in office and that’s where everyone is going wrong! The true so-called Republican and Democratic parties are the American people that still love, and care about this country. The ones with their heads on straight. Not the ones on either side that let themselves be brainwashed by the media into believing that because we might be on two different sides of some situations, that we have any less feeling about this country, or the American people that may feel differently about some things then we do. Never before, did it mean that we couldn’t work things out, and never before were people trying to brainwash Americans to mistrust and hate each other. Yo know, it wasn’t that long ago that shortly after an election was over, we would all forget about it and get on with our lives, and with our friends, no matter what party. We could all live with whoever was elected President, but since Clinton was elected, and then Bush, things have changed. If you look at everything that has gone on in the last fifteen years , you can see that they are all in it together, and we do not count anymore, any of us! We have to stop letting them tear us apart, and start working together to straighten out our government and our country, before it’s to late. We only have, maybe another year and a half before we loose our sovereignty, if this government has anything to say about it. Both sides have to be in on it, have you seen either side trying to stop the North American Treaty from happening. If anyone has , let me know, because I sure as hell haven’t! The big date was 2010 but if the amnesty bill goes through they plan to advance that date to at least 2009. So make your choice, either keep believing all the garbage they are filling your head with and do nothing, or start getting together and lets figure out how we are going to save our country.

Posted by: Deborah L Fucci at June 20, 2007 8:04 PM
Comment #223589

JD, I don’t consider a blastocyst human life, nor a fetus without a functional nervous system a human life: only potential human life like the sperm or eggs within all of us which we discard daily. And I believe only a parents have the right to decide whether that potentiality is to be realized or not.

To give the state the power to decide is what they did in China with the one child policy. That is not a power our government should exercise here in the U.S. Not yet, anyway, if we can stop the illegal immigration from turning us into a vastly overpopulated nation like China.

Poverty and absence of quality, loving, parenting is a cruel and unusual punishment for government to insist a blastocyst be forced to endure. In my value system, if the parent believes that is the potential for their egg or undeveloped fetus, that parent has a moral obligation to abort. To consciously decide to poverty, hostility, impatience, and lack of attention and nurturing upon an impregnated egg is a sin. To consciously abort such a life in the womb is a mercy.

That at least was the value system of mercy and sin I was taught in Methodist Sunday School. We euthanize Kentucky Derby winning horses which can no longer race and call it merciful. Should we do less for an unborn fetus destined by the calculation of the parent to suffering and hardship and likely never reaching their potential in life as a result of the parent’s circumstances, of income, state of mind, or disability to provide for a child?

So many Christians willing to force innocent blastocysts into lives of suffering and failure in the name of religion and authoritarian rule, is part of what converted me to Buddhism. I was old enough to know about the blood drenched abandoned house abortion services in our neighborhood before Roe v. Wade was enacted. I was convinced legal, safe, hospital abortions provided by medically trained personnel was a Christian and Moral act.

No amount of debate will change my mind to choose a system of illegal abortion by hacks, over legal ones in hospital conditions, or the discrimination favoring legal abortions by those who can afford to travel to another country for weekend and barring abortions for those who can’t afford it. That system only breeds ever greater numbers of people born into poverty and the lower economic class lifestyles.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 20, 2007 8:46 PM
Comment #223590

So, David, by your definition the value of a human life is only worth as much as the social class it is born into? Quite an eye-opener for someone who seems to be quite liberal in his views. Perhaps, this is why many conservatives think liberals are such hypocritical elitists!

JD

Posted by: JD at June 20, 2007 9:03 PM
Comment #223597

David R.,

That calculation is pretty frightening. Who is to say what lives may or may not be valueless? Who is to say that a human, given the chance to live, might overcome poverty? Who is to say that a rich life cannot be lived without material advantages? Your calculation completely disregards human potential.

I am pro-choice, essentially, though I think abortion should be uniformly banned during the third trimester except for certain exceptions. But it disturbs me to hear unborn children compared to horses. It is a small step from such thinking to eugenics.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 20, 2007 9:44 PM
Comment #223601

“Who is to say what lives may or may not be valueless? Who is to say that a human, given the chance to live, might overcome poverty? Who is to say that a rich life cannot be lived without material advantages? Your calculation completely disregards human potential.”
Posted by: Gerrold at June 20, 2007 09:44 PM

Gerrold,

Your point is well-taken, and it is a great one. Now, apply your argument to millions of moms-to-be!
What is the difference between David’s attitude and the millions of moms-to-be who consider an abortion just for the economics of it? Just something to chew on for a bit! Gerrold, I suspect you are not far from being Pro-Life.

JD

Posted by: JD at June 20, 2007 10:23 PM
Comment #223602

JD,

I am pro-choice up to a certain point because I take seriously the conflicting interests (or rights) of the mother and fetus. I don’t disagree with David when he says that the development of a few cells after conception do not have rights that overcome the mother’s though I suspect I would give the infant rights, if it were my choice, sooner than David would.

What I was objecting to was the idea that some lives might not be worth living. Perhaps that is true, but given that the infant has no say and given that some people can find richness anywhere, I don’t see how we can give that argument much force. I prefer to stick with the tension between two conflicting sets of rights.

This is a tough moral issue. Some people would outlaw morning after pills because they are a form of abortion; some would allow for abortion on demand throughout the entire pregnancy. I’m in the wishy-washy middle, I’m afraid.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 20, 2007 10:36 PM
Comment #223626

Gerrold asked: “Who is to say what lives may or may not be valueless? Who is to say that a human, given the chance to live, might overcome poverty?”

CERTAINLY NOT the government, which is removed strangers from the situation and circumstances.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2007 8:49 AM
Comment #223630

JD said: “So, David, by your definition the value of a human life is only worth as much as the social class it is born into?”

No, you are twisting my words. I very clearly stated that a blastocyst or fetus without a well developed, connected nervous system, is NOT yet a human life, in any Constitutional or moral sense as I see it.

But, to your point of social class, evidence abounds everywhere that our society assigns value to humans based on social class. If OJ Simpson had been poor, would he have been acquitted? Did the head of Enron serve time in prison? Does a young black male with an ounce of pot serve time? Did the sons of wealthy families get drafted during the Viet Nam War? It should not be so, but, it is.

One cannot underestimate the value of freedom which means provides. Remember the American saying during the Cold War with Russia: “I’d rather be DEAD than Red!” Death is preferable to life in poverty or, without the choices means provide, for a great many people, as evidenced by America’s high suicide rate, and the evidence of suicide in nearly every society on Earth.

Why does America take in immigrants from our South instead of from Darfur who are by far the more needy? Socio-Econmic status is a major factor. Those in Darfur have less education, less means, less health, and less to offer as immigrants. So, we leave those in Darfur and take those from South and Central America and Mexico. Evidence abounds that we value human life differently depending upon socio-economic status. How many upper middle class families would permit their daughter to date a poor illegal immigrant living on the South Side of LA? Very, very few. We make decisions along these lines every day, which act as obstacles to those in low socio-economic classes from rising above.

But, that is not the issue. The issue is quality of life vs. no life. A fetus has no conscious awareness of life, and therefore has no experience of being alive as a human. And if aborted, has lost nothing but potential which it never knew it had in the first place.

A great many of the abortions requested by women in this country are a result of the woman not yet being prepared to provide all she can in the way of love, financial support, energy, effort, patience, and experience with life herself to pass on. Should an egg be forced by the government to be brought to term before the mother is prepared to provide an optimal life experience and opportunity for it? I think not. That is the real issue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2007 9:14 AM
Comment #223668

Briefly, one issue where conservatives and liberals differ is inclusiveness. Liberals tend towards including more people within rights: gay marriage, immigrants, etc. Conservatives tend to want to restrict rights of others: close the borders, war not peace, gays are abominations, etc.

The exclusivity of conservatives seems to stem from those with the stronger religious beliefs. It’s one of the reasons people fear a mixing of religion and government.

Posted by: Thomas R at June 21, 2007 5:27 PM
Comment #223672

Thomas R


“Briefly, one issue where conservatives and liberals differ is inclusiveness. Liberals tend towards including more people within rights: gay marriage, immigrants, etc. Conservatives tend to want to restrict rights of others: close the borders, war not peace, gays are abominations, etc.”

conservatives don’t exclude immigrants. they just believe they should enter this country legally, and those not here legally don’t deserve to be rewarded for it. pretty simple. closing the borders means stopping people from entering illegally, not no more immigrants allowed.


most people i know don’t have a problem with gays having rights, the type that married men and women have, just don’t call it marriage. that term reffers to the union of a man and a woman. have the same rights, just call it a civil union or something else. i’m personally not opposed to that. i don’t think they should be treated as a minority group and afforded special protections no one else gets though.


wars are sometimes nessesary, and i’m not here to argue about iraq. conservatives don’t like wars, but are willing to fight them when nessesary. not everything can be negotiated, or talked out, and to believe you can reason with someone who has no other interest but to wipe you of the face of the earth is foolish. in other parts of the world giving concessions is seen as a weakness to be exploited, and will only make things worse.

Posted by: dbs at June 21, 2007 6:01 PM
Comment #223682

“But, to your point of social class, evidence abounds everywhere that our society assigns value to humans based on social class.”
Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2007 09:14 AM

No, David, your point was very clear that it would be merciful for those in certain classes to be put to death. Your idea that you were talking about a blastocyte does not diminish the frightening concept of your argument. And just when does a fetus become a fetus, and not a blastocyte? Just when, then, is abortion not OK? Liberals talk about being for as few abortions as possible, however, they never discuss when abortions are absolutely unacceptable. If abortions are to be as few as possible, there must be an underlying feeling that abortion is wrong. So, where is the common ground on your side, David? Nowhere to be seen. Therefore, they continue their policies of unlimited abortion on demand.

“One cannot underestimate the value of freedom which means provides. Remember the American saying during the Cold War with Russia: “I’d rather be DEAD than Red!” Death is preferable to life in poverty or, without the choices means provide, for a great many people, as evidenced by America’s high suicide rate, and the evidence of suicide in nearly every society on Earth.”
AND….
“Should an egg be forced by the government to be brought to term before the mother is prepared to provide an optimal life experience and opportunity for it? I think not. That is the real issue.”
Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2007 09:14 AM


At least those who would have rather been “Dead than Red” received the rights and freedom of expression of their opinions. Is it your thoughts that the children being aborted are willfully marching to the execution in agreement because they neither wish the parents who desire to abort them? Are they actually choosing to die rather than live under the anarchy of their mothers?Brilliant analogy, David. So, now the government is forcing the child to live against its will. I guess life is just so bad these days we need to take the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” away from all Americans. I mean who really wants to live in this mess? We, meaning the government, of course, certainly shouldn’t force people to live!!!!!!


“But, that is not the issue. The issue is quality of life vs. no life. A fetus has no conscious awareness of life, and therefore has no experience of being alive as a human. And if aborted, has lost nothing but potential which it never knew it had in the first place.”
Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2007 09:14 AM


Then all those GYN doctors and psychologists out there that encourage mothers to read to their children within their wombs, and to play music, and to talk with their unborn child, and all of the other accepted prenatal care is nothing but hogwash? You may have more than a few moms and physicians who would vehemently disagree with you that the fetus has no awareness of its surroundings.
Yet, this post was not particularly about abortion, so I will let it go at that. Just hope you will reconsider your particularly scary views!

JD

Posted by: JD at June 21, 2007 7:23 PM
Comment #223686

gerrold wrote: But that’s too simplistic. The truth is, in the broadest sense most of us are liberals and conservatives at the same time. For example, like most of us, I value family greatly, but like some of us, I don’t see alternative forms of family as a threat.

Same view held by the Roman Empire and Sodom and Gomorrah!

Never ask if a person is a Liberal, if he isn’t you will only make him made and if he is he will tell you right up front. They only want what is the best you have to redistribute! Like cells of unborn embryo, your money and property!

they will be all warm and touchy feely and won’t have a clue what the score is.

Posted by: im at June 21, 2007 8:09 PM
Comment #223689

JD said: “No, David, your point was very clear that it would be merciful for those in certain classes to be put to death.”

NO, JD. Now you are projecting what you wanted to read instead of what was written. I said ONLY the woman can know and decide whether she can provide a quality life for her egg or fetus. Big difference from what you THINK I said. No one but the potential mother can accurately assess her future as a mother and the resources she can or can’t bring to the child’s life. The Government CERTAINLY cannot make that determination.

I never said Human Beings of ANY class should be put to death. I said blastocysts and undeveloped fetuses are NOT Human Beings, yet, ONLY potential.

So, you may say that you believe a blastocyst IS a human being, but, don’t ascribe YOUR beliefs as mine and try to say I subscribed to your belief, as your words quoted above do.

Since, you can’t seem to keep a logical debate going, there seems to be little point to trying to dissuade you from Government deciding who should and shouldn’t be a mother.

And we are off the topic of this article. Best we both return to the topic of who is a liberal. I am on most social issues, except legal ownership under the 2nd Amendment and defending and protecting our sovereign borders from illegal intruders, which a majority of liberals today aren’t.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2007 8:17 PM
Comment #223696

im,

The Roman Empire had alternative views about family? I suppose so, in the sense that many marriages were arranged and we don’t do that now.

Why don’t you tell us what the score is?

Posted by: Gerrold at June 21, 2007 8:41 PM
Comment #223704

“Why don’t you tell us what the score is?”

Christians 5
Lions 0

Posted by: Rocky at June 21, 2007 9:30 PM
Comment #223906

I know a great many pro-life Liberals.
I also know many, very many, pro second ammendment liberals.

I know a great many gun-control conservatives.

I know conservatives who support universal health care.

I know Liberals who are anti-immigration - legal or otherwise.

I know conservatives who are PRO illegal immigration and think this bill being proposed is a foolish waste of time and effort.

I know Liberals who are anti drug, and conservatives who smoke LOTS of pot.

I know rich Liberals who EARNED their fortunes …and poor conservatives who have not earned it and will not inherit it either.

I know religious Liberals and atheist conservatives.

The point is, there are no hard and fast rules. Making generalizations only demonstrates the shallow thinking of the generalizer.

The only commonality I can find so far, is that conservatives tend to be more insular and sheltered in their backgrounds and thinking. Liberals tend to be well educated and well travelled. I’m not sure what that is about, yet. I have only observed it to be an independently standing fact.

The philosophical differences and origins I have already discussed generally, above.

Posted by: RGF at June 23, 2007 3:21 PM
Comment #223962

You don’t see many real liberals on left wing blogs and internet boards. Mostly radicalized individuals pushing a radical left wing agenda using hate language to smear all who disagree with them.

Posted by: Stephenl at June 24, 2007 5:00 AM
Comment #223963

True liberalism is not party specific. Hate mongers flaming and smearing others on the internet ARE NOT LIBERAL.

I just read an article by a “liberal” who smeared those who do not agree with his pro illegal immigration stance as HATERS of Immigrants. He may be some sort of POLITICAL liberal….but he is NOT LIBERAL, not at all. Intolerant, of others who disagree with him to the point of lying about them, smearing, deceiving…that’s not liberal.

Today our young people seem to be taught that you must be a liberal or be smeared and attacked. And that they are good liberals if they do the attacking.

People are always prone to this hyper political manipulation. How do you think Hitler did it? Killed millions upon millions and got normal people to eagerly help him do it.

Just replace the Jews with the “neocons” and I think that he could do it here too. People are the same the world over. It’s a shame to see so called liberals sell themselves so cheaply to a religion of radicalism, hate, and propaganda.

Posted by: Stephenl at June 24, 2007 5:55 AM
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