Saturday, December 24, 2005

Political Labels: An Exercise in Subjectivity

Over at the Abercrombie View, the blog's host is trying to generate a discussion on what people believe are the differences between conservatives and liberals. Mr. Abercrombie, a staunch conservative Christian, draws the following distinction:
"I believe that a lot of people misunderstand the labels of “liberal” or “conservative.”...My understanding of a conservative is one who is cautious about change. Not that he or she is opposed to change, but cautious. Perhaps the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” could be the motto of a conservative...Conversely, my view of a liberal is one who is not cautious about change. That person may want to change things just to be changing things. In many ways change is good, but to just want to change to be changing can, in my estimation, be dangerous." (Go here to read the entirety of his essay.)
Well, I can certainly tell you that I don't agree with his definitions at all. Here is a portion of my response to him in the comments section.
"My defintions are as follows: Conservatives seem to favor laws and policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many and the planet. In the conservative world view, everything boils down to the profit motive. If a particular law or policy maximizes short-term profits (even at the expense of long-term profits), conservatives favor it.

To the right of conservatives are the fundamentalists. They favor everything the conservatives do BUT they try to couch all laws and policies into religious terms. If any person doesn't happen to believe precisely as they do, then such people become person non grata.

Liberals accept the same base system that the conservatives do, but want to have the edges smoothed a bit. They support a broader picture which takes both short and long-term profits into account, plus they favor some remedial efforts to be made for the poor and the planet. Liberals tend to not back wholesale changes because many secretly hope they will one day join the top 10% and they will then profit from conservative efforts.

To the left of the liberals (my vantage point) are the humanists, Greens, Socialists and anarchists. We think the whole system stinks and should be thrown out. Most folks in this category do not favor a system that creates inequalities and destruction of our environment as a matter of course. In general, we favor community rights over individual rights, long-term stewardship over short-term profits, and the genuine respect for diversity over laws and policies that breed bigotry and mistrust."
Quite a bit of difference, don't you think?

How do YOU define the terms conservative and liberal? Please visit the Ambercrombie View and make your perspective known.

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