Nonsequitur: Is There A Difference Between Liberal and Conservative?

December 11, 2015



I know why this question is so hard to answer. There used to be clear party differences between liberals and conservatives. One was Democrat and the other Republican. But now it’s hard to know the difference. Is Trump conservative? Is Clinton (Hillary) liberal? They both like big business. They both like big government. They both are rich. And neither one will give us specifics on their policy proposals. George W. Bush and Barak Obama certainly sounded different when they gave speeches, but their policies and programs are in practice very similar.

My own definitions go something like this.


A liberal believes the only solutions to our big problems (poverty, crime, terrorism, etc.) are big government programs. These big government programs are paid for by high taxes paid by everyone and centrally coordinated. Liberals recognize the value of individual effort, but only as a way to support the larger effort of the government.

President Johnson was a true liberal. His big government programs increased our tax burden and reduced local control. But his programs largely delivered what he promised.

A conservative believes the only solutions to our big problems (poverty, crime, terrorism, etc.) are local solutions, either individuals work to solve their own issues or small groups of individuals work to solve shared issues. These small groups may take the form of government, but should be as “local” as possible. Taxes should be as small as possible to pay for these “local” solutions.

President Reagan was a true conservative. His small government programs cut centralized services, but reduced our tax burden and increased local control. His programs largely delivered what he promised.

Both groups acknowledge the need for some national resources (e.g. the military) and the need for some local resources (e.g. small businesses). Also, both groups acknowledge the value of individual rights under the law.

Can the description above be applied to our recent leaders of either party? Can it be applied to any of the candidates for the 2016 presidential election?

The birth of the “Neo-Cons” and “Progressives” was a sea change in political direction. Both of these groups believe (and put into practice) the idea of big government. But they also don’t want to openly tax citizens or businesses. Really, this means borrowing on a large scale to pay for government spending.

Both groups believe in big business, as long as those corporations support their programs. Really, this means government control of business through tax incentives and enforced, or unenforced, regulation.

Also, both “Neo-Cons” and “Progressives” believe that individual rights and freedoms should be limited and controlled in order to further government programs. This may take the form of limited privacy for national security reasons or mandatory participation in health care commerce.

Our current political parties and leaders are neither liberal nor conservative. They are something else. Their policies have increased our public and private debt, restricted our personal liberties, and violated our Constitutional rights. Ironically, they have also failed to deliver the results we were promised. We have bad programs, administered poorly, at great cost, with little or no benefit to citizens.

What we need is a return to true liberalism and true conservatism.  We need real choices.


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