Conservatism v. Liberalism: A Riddle and Hope for the New Year
How do two intelligent people study the same facts and arrive at opposite conclusions?
I submit that each person begins with a set of core values which comprise a particular world view. Therefore my conclusion may differ from yours because we each start with, and build upon, a different premise. Politically, Conservatives and Liberals have polar opposite world views and each must subjectively distort facts to fit into that world view. Both world views cannot be correct, although some combination may be possible. How are Conservative and Liberal world views different?
Conservatives are optimists who see the glass as half full. They are amazed at the prosperity and accomplishments of their civilization. They are like the new immigrant who can hardly believe his good fortune at living in a western country like America. They are like the star-crossed lover who sees only the good in his beloved amour, and overlooks her faults. They are like the loving mother who only sees the goodness in her child. Conservatives see each day as a wonderful blessing; for them life is a sacred gift from the Creator.
Liberals are pessimists who see the same glass as half empty. They see nothing but society’s faults and want to reform it into their own unrealistic utopia controlled by self-anointed Liberal elites. They have only contempt for their ancestors who sacrificed and innovated to bring about the freedom and wonder we see all around us. They are envious of others who have more than they have; they see each day as something to endure; many seek to escape life through television and drug addiction. They are unmoved at the spectacle of immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, and elsewhere, desperately risking their very lives to experience the same prosperity we take for granted in America. Liberals are like the spoiled child who sees only his parent’s faults.
Conservatives believe in the basic goodness of the average person; they trust most people to behave decently and honorably. But they feel betrayed if someone violates that trust; they view criminal behavior as the exception which must be dealt with harshly. Conservatives identify with achievers and winners. Conservatives view people as individuals, each with virtually unlimited potential.
Liberals believe that they alone are wise and good, but that most people are fundamentally bad. Therefore a strong government must allow elite rulers like themselves to pass laws to micro-manage the behavior of benighted common folks. Liberals identify with victims and losers; they believe social problems are created by "society"; rarely is a crime the fault of the actual perpetrator. This is why they find creative excuses for criminal behavior. Liberals do not trust average folks to do the right thing. They do not trust private citizens to responsibly own firearms; they don't trust parents to responsibly raise their own children. Liberals see people less as individuals with free will, and more as members indistinct from their “group”; the potential of each member is limited to the inherent characteristics of the group; the “good” groups deserve preferential government treatment over the “bad” groups. So “Affirmative Action” is the Liberal solution to the “racism and bigotry” inherent in the “bad” groups. For Liberals, hypocritically discriminating on the basis of such superficial characteristics as race and gender, is fine as long as it favors the “good” groups. Liberals see themselves as puppeteers who must orchestrate the behavior of villains and victims as in a children’s melodrama.
Many Conservatives see themselves as warriors in a battle between folks with traditional Judeo-Christian values, and those with a secular humanist agenda. For Conservatives perhaps the most important human trait is “individual responsibility”—meaning that each sane adult is personally responsible for choosing his own happiness. Pursuit of truth and freedom are also extremely important to Conservatives. They are vital because the capacity for free-will is the primary characteristic which separates humanity from the rest of Creation. Exercising free-will, only possible in an environment of personal and economic freedom, is essential to achieving human happiness. Similarly, only based upon truth, will a person make wise choices. Only based upon truth is it possible to establish justice. A social environment characterized by justice and freedom allows individuals to dare to take risks, unleash their creativity, build prosperity and achieve greatness as a people.
Liberals seek to unravel the fabric of traditional Judeo-Christian society. At best, they see western culture as equal to all other cultures; at worst, they hold it in utter contempt. Liberal anti-war demonstrations, like those at Berzerkely, are like an asylum which opens its gates releasing a parade of assorted eyebrow-piercing loonies, self-loathing America-haters, insane scrotum inflators, drug addled criminals, pathetic prostitutes, transvestites, socialists, communists, and wahhabi sympathizing “Zionist”-haters—in other words, the Democrat party base. For Liberals the most important human trait is “tolerance”—meaning "open-minded" acceptance of any bonehead idea as long as it is not a Conservative one. While Liberals give lip service to “tolerance”, they hypocritically strive to silence all “hate speech"--which means any ideas which challenge their own. Liberals are quick to embrace any specious statement or goofy conspiracy theory as long as it reinforces their world view. The concept of “truth” is troublesome and somewhat confusing to Liberals; consistent scrutiny of facts has a way of interfering with their world view.
Most Conservatives have a pretty realistic view of humanity. While they understand that a person will consistently do what is in his own self-interest, a person whose life is founded upon Christ’s Golden Rule will not steal from others. As optimists, Conservatives view poverty as a temporary condition which will improve as a person embraces individual responsibility and to the extent that a country implements Free Enterprise. Conservatives believe that charity towards poor folks should be the choice of generous individuals, not the mandated role of government. By embracing Free Enterprise, which encourages the free exchange of goods and services for others of like kind, countries such as the U.S. and Hong Kong have released an economic juggernaut which is producing great prosperity for all citizens who choose to participate.
Liberals are very concerned about the “gap between the haves and the have-nots”. They believe that some people are poor because they have been purposely “oppressed” by successful people. They believe that economic success has little to do with creativity and hard work, but just magically happens as a result of chance—“life’s lottery”. Liberals have a child-like ignorance of the economics of supply and demand; they see wealth as a static pie to be distributed equally among everyone by government bureaucrats. They want to remove any incentives for productive people to create wealth, so everyone can be equally destitute. While Liberals are very concerned that everyone has a job, they do everything in their power to punish and shackle employers and corporations, which they regard as inherently evil. Ignoring the dismal failures of socialist experiments from Cuba to the Soviet Union, they want to use government force to ensure that everyone has equal economic outcomes. Although they cannot point to a single example of a country in which socialism has actually worked, Liberals still want to force their socialist “utopia” upon their unwilling subjects.
Liberals consider folks with traditional values to be evil schemers or ignorant hicks. Most Liberals do not like to admit that they are indeed Liberals. They tend to say things like labels are meaningless while freely branding their opponents as wing-nuts, neo-cons, fascists, and racists. Liberals favor the label “Progressive”, as if a slow decline into anarchy, poverty and decadence were “progress”. I have asserted that, to be a Liberal, one must be dishonest, insane, intellectually lazy, or some combination. Perhaps it is the twisted Liberal philosophy itself, rather than the vast “right-wing conspiracy” which has made “Liberal” into such a dirty word.
The frustrating problem for Liberals is that most people are optimistic and therefore tend to be Conservative. Also, Liberals tend to become Conservative as they become older and wiser. I am optimistic that you Liberals will eventually become Conservative. I am also optimistic about 2006 and beyond. Happy New Year everyone!