What's the difference between a Conservative and Liberal?

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What's the difference between a Conservative and Liberal?

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Jerry Wesner

Who's "We believe that we're all in this together, so we need to look out not just for ourselves, but for everybody."

Is there a "We?."

Coming up on Radio Specials:

If one isn't able to listen to KQED radio at the time of broadcast - hopefully it will be available later.

Fri, Dec 15, 2017 -- 2:00 AM

Do conservative or liberal philosophies lead to more just outcomes? Opposing moral philosophies have long fueled debate about Americas policy goals and national identity. For conservatives, morality is grounded in ideals such as patriotism, including a respect for order and authority; fairness and liberty in the sense that an individuals actions yield just rewards, or consequences; and reverence for the sanctity of religious and moral tradition. Liberals place moral emphasis on caring: for the poor, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized; on fairness in the sense of redressing both historic wrongs and current inequalities of outcome; and on generosity extending beyond the bounds of nations or cultures. In todays divisive political arena, which side best embodies the nations most cherished virtues? Morally speaking, is the left right?

You appear to give "fairness" to conservatives.  I'd say yes, but it's their own brand.  It includes "I earned that money and you can't have it," "I'm in charge here; why would I let workers vote?" and "Fairness demands that we pay the same percent in taxes."  To me as a liberal, none of that is truly fair.

Chris, can you identify the KQED program, so I can look for it?

I like its analysis though it’s not complete. The closing six-word question, “Morally speaking”, has variants.

The first word, besides morally, can be politically, economically, pragmatically and a few more.

The second word can be speaking or voting and a few more. Voting is an important variant.

If we add Bernie Sanders to the picture, two sides are not enough. Besides a conservative side and a liberal side, there is a progressive side.

I say that because I’ve heard liberals say “Not in my back yard.”

What are the options for progressives?

A different way to vote and fund candidates running for office.


I'm not sure if this posted.

I'll try agaan.

I2 debate: Do liberals hold the moral high ground?

Try this.


Moral issues for the moment aside, I think that a well-functioning society needs a balance of liberal and conservative values and some intelligent means of mixing them.  Think of a race car careening around a track, it's liberal engine moving it ever faster.  Then a turn comes up and you either hit the conservative brakes or fly off into the weeds.  Of course that's a gross simplification -- it's not either/or.  To continue this silly analogy, you can feather the throttle and the brakes and you have steering (which we might call Congress or others could call Church).  Point is, to get around the track efficiently you need all of these things applied judiciously, in proportion and at the right times.  If you impeach the brakes you're going to have to back off the throttle early and steer your ass off, and if the driver behind you makes good use of theirs they'll pass you at the end of the straight every time.

Each is a component, neither inherently good nor bad, in a dance that requires balance to become art.  At least that's how I justify not cussing-out my conservative brother at Thanksgiving.


It's partly about economic theory isn't it?

For what it's worth.

A Classical Liberal believes in individual rights, like what we see in the Bill of Rights, and a world where states (countries) possess borders, where the people determine their own outcome and not some inherited lordship, that the state is sovereign within its borders. It should be very easy to talk to the leaders you elect to represent you. All power derives from the people.

A Classical Conservative believes in the type of heirarchy that existed during feudalism. If you wanted access to a King you probably couldn't get it. There were specific castes in society and little social mobility. A person could join a guild, that guild leader could talk to a lord or someone with power, it would go up the chain within that society but probably not all the way up. Because the world was feudal, there were no borders. Instead, there were areas of influence. The closer to the area of influence the greater protection you had. However, there were cultures where, if you were born into that culture, you were under the yoke of that lord for the entirety of your life.

It is probable the feudal world fell apart because the world increased in population, necessitating borders. Advances in technology led to better fed populations who also possessed relatively better access to education. Over time people became less willing to follow the old ways and throw themselves into battle on behalf of a traditional ideology. World War One (The Great War), I think, was a major catalyst in changing from the dying feudal society to a world of states (countries).

Both American Liberals and American Conservatives believe in much the same things as Classical Liberals. Further, to the outside world, American liberals and conservatives don't look much different. And I'm told when people look at our politics they sometimes laugh at us Americans for thinking Americans exist on polar opposites of the political spectrum.

A liberal in the modern American sense trends toward a state that possesses more power and influence over the lives of the people. They tend to support a strong central federal government. This ends up creating more institutions and more bureaucracy through social safety nets and other supportive channels. Liberal governments tend to get expensive and create enormous taxes. Liberal governments seem also to question rights like those enshrined in the Bill of Rights, like the Freedom of Speech. In other liberal states (countries) they do not possess the same rights regarding Freedom of Speech, despite descending from Classical Liberalism.

A conservative in the modern American sense trends toward more state power, where the federal government has less power. Conservatives try to get rid of taxes and federal power so that states may define their own destinies. They believe in the liberty of the individual. This ends up lessening the power of supportive institutions in place of private and non-profit entities. This can also create a large divide in society between the haves and have-nots.

The beliefs that Conservatives are all religious and racist, and that Liberals are all Atheists and have sex with abandon are just socially constructed demonizations. This new claim of fascism is also a modern layer of demonization.

All learned in Political Science 101. I may be off on a few things, but I earned a 3.9 GPA for the class! Not bad when all your exam questions were essay questions.

Thanks, Easton, for pointing out how classical liberalism and today’s American liberalism differ.

Did your PS 101 tell of the 1950-60s when far right Repubs expelled moderates, and Nixon’s Southern Strategy recruited Dems who had opposed civil rights for Black Americans?

Those Southerners brought their racism into the GOP, and in the 1980s xians brought their need for big government into what had been a small government Libertarian GOP.

I was moving frequently then and registering to vote with the party that usually won in November so I could vote in more meaningful primary elections.

I studied math, economics and science and later became active in politics and studied them.

Political Science 101 dealt mainly dealt with comparative politics. As an introductory class, it discussed (with meaningful but not comprehensive depth) Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Neitsche, Hobbes, Locke, and so on. (Those with the greatest influence on Western Politics) It discussed the views of the State of Nature and Rationalism. It discussed political philosophies, such as Democracy, Polities, Socialism, Communism, Realism, and so forth. It also discussed the political structures and origins of different countries, including the USA, UK, Germany, France, China. It was a surprisingly tough and robust class given it was a 101 class. But I learned a lot and I am happy I took it.

It did not go into depth about American Politics, which my Professor stated is a branch of Political Science, at least in the USA. If I had taken a class on American Politics then it is likely I would have learned more about those things you mention.

However, I am familiar with the schism between the Democrat-Republicans during the Civil War, and how a certain aspect of the Democrats would also be considered the bad guys in the middle of the 1900s (regarding racism) by today's standards. A lot has changed since that period.

However, I do remember watching an old video on YouTube where both Southern Democrats and Southern Republicans state they would never agree to legislation where Whites and Blacks would be treated as equals. I wanted to link it here but I've spent a good half-hour trying to find it. I wanted to ask you about it since you were around and active during that period. To me, it seems like it was the South, and not solely either Democrats or Republicans, that provided the greatest resistance to Civil Rights during that period. Are there any insights or experiences you could share about that period?

I'm not familiar with the Christian influnce on the GOP, at least regarding what you share. Knowing my professor, he probably would have talked about that if it was a class in American Politics. Anyhow, I had always understood both parties to be religious up until relatively recently. Would you be up to briefly explaining how they influenced the GOP during that period?

If you would like to include links to some of what you are discussing I'd be happy to check them out. The Political Science class that I took has sparked an interest in me where I proactively research things now.




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