Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Difference Between Conservative and Liberal

A while back I did a two part series on Why I'll Never Vote for a Democrat (because big government has done more horrible things than big business) and Why I'll Never Vote for a Republican (because most change in American history has been good). Though I'll probably eventually vote for both parties (if I vote at all), I have very little patience for the talking points of each (and so do about 30% of Americans). But I talk a lot about political parties and especially political ideology, so I think it's important to put down specifically what I mean when I use the words conservative and liberal (full disclosure I claim to be a libertarian, but most see me as a conservative) .

As I've mentioned before, the two words are used so much and so differently that they have almost lost meaning. At the heart of each word is their definition. Conservatives literally want to conserve. They want to keep things the way they are (or if they're lucky bring them back to where they were). Traditional is praised. Change is pessimistically feared. Liberals literally want liberty. But by liberty they mean freedom to live the life one desires (freedom from harmful controlling forces). The future is praisedChange is optimistically pursued.

But this all gets confused when looked at within a nation (especially one as unique as the United States). Our Founding Fathers were a mix of Conservatives (like the architect of our central banking system Alexander Hamilton) and Liberals (like the ardent freedom fighter Thomas Jefferson). But even these men would not fit into our modern usages of the words. I doubt Alexander Hamilton would consistently support (or could even imagine) the amount of government regulation we have today. And I doubt Thomas Jefferson would consistently support (or could even imagine) the level of personal freedom we each have with the internet, automatic machine guns, and international connectivity. And if you look back in time and support either of these two, it is by its nature Conservative.

So how can we accurately measure relative terms that change based on time, geographies, and issue? I suggest looking to at how we order from menus. A Conservative, who by nature expects future uncertainty to be worse than past certainty, will order what they always order. In my case, bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries. A Liberal, who by nature expects future uncertainty to be an improvement on past certainty, will order something new. In my case, bacon cheeseburger with a side of seasoned fries. Well, I guess by my example you know where my heart is. I don't do well with change.


  1. Anonymous12:29 AM

    the trouble lies in finding a true-to-its-convictions bacon cheeseburger with a side a fries. Even if it is opposite of what I want, it needs to stay true to what makes it a bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries for the sake of the restaurant and the standard that it portrays.

  2. Anonymous3:16 PM

    this is will burris,

    Anonymous lost me too. i like libertarianism until they start talking about state currency lol. i would like to see more people look into "third parties". its not like religion, you don't have to feel like there's a right answer just the best one for you.

  3. What do you mean by state currency?

    As for a third party I'm not convinced that is the solution. I'll explain in a future post.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.