Liberals and Conservatives
The word "liberal" means free-thinking, generous, tolerant, open-minded, innovative, progressive. The word "conservative" means restrained, cautious, moderate, conventional, respectful, traditional. The younger mind tends to be more liberal, reckless, open to adventure; and the older mind tends to be more conservative, cautious and safety-minded. Heaven forbid that we had a political system that honored one stage of life and slighted the other.
In the American political sense, Conservatives have stood for Faith, Divine and natural law; Liberals for Reason and secular law. Conservatives have stood for a natural hierarchy among men, Liberals for a philosophical equality of men and women. Conservatives have stood for collective values, Liberals for individualism (this has changed hasn’t it?). Liberals look toward an untried tomorrow, Conservatives to a safer simpler yesterday.
Liberals have championed Democracy’s promise that the little guy may better himself and is entitled to equality before the law; while Conservatives have stood for Law and Order, property rights, and an aristocracy based on wealth and merit.
The Conservative spirit is best imagined as the House of Lords, a body of polite feudal Aristocrats; the Liberal spirit as the House of Commons, an arena of rowdy Jacksonians.
A society that is pure Conservative stagnates from unquestioned values; one that is pure Liberal falls apart from a lack of definition.
Liberalism without Conservatism has no heart; Conservatism without Liberalism has no brain. Or the other way around.
My political philosophy is really an amalgam of these two great impulses. There are times that demand change; there are times that call for caution. These times demand change (cautious change!) because the status quo is unconscionably unfair and because it is recklessly headed to disaster. Not a resolution anyone wants, Liberal or Conservative.
The liberal spirit says “full speed ahead.” The conservative spirit says “first, do no harm.” When the FDA steps in and makes sure a drug is safe before allowing it to be sold to tens of millions of Americans, that is conservative in spirit. Anti-trust laws that break up companies that have become too big and too non-competitive are conservative in spirit. Indeed, all regulation – regulation for the sake of public safety not the regulation that mega companies write into law – is conservative in spirit. Yes, I understand that this flies in the face of our understanding of today’s political labels. But today’s parties have degenerated into tents of special interests, often at war with each other; they surely do not represent consistent political philosophies.