You would think, reading some online discussions like this, that “Conservative” and “Liberal” were two mutually exclusive and irreconcilable religions or eternally opposed tribes. Most people, left to think for themselves, will naturally be “liberal” on some issues, “conservative” on others, and apathetic on still others. Some stands have been called conservative in one generation and liberal in another. All the name-calling, all the “libs are …” and “cons are …” rhetoric, though it may be fun, is stupid and misses the point. (I’ve been guilty of this, too.) What do you think if the man who says he want to go back to the system that prevailed in the 19th century, when taxes and social services were both kept to a minimum but all persons who did not have a criminal records or communicable diseases were permitted to come and live in this country with an easy road to citizenship if he/she behaved once here? Is this a liberal or a conservative view? Or the one who believes that the government ought not to be able to tell you who you can marry, what you do with your own body, when you can or cannot terminate a pregnancy, what chemicals you can or cannot ingest for your amusement, what weapons you can or cannot own, or what risks you can or cannot take? Is that viewpoint conservative or liberal? I know people who believe in universal single-payer health insurance because it would cost less, liberate businesses and individuals to pursue their goals without risk of medical bankruptcy, and would eliminate vast swathes of government regulation and red tape. How about the man who wants to eliminate the IRS and our Byzantine tax code, and replace it with a simpler code focused on revenue only and not social engineering, as long as the new code is more progressive than the present one? Or who want taxes rates cut, and the military greatly scaled back at the same time? Liberal or conservative? Libertarian is neither Con nor Lib as they are commonly defined. And neither cons nor libs are easily defined. A friend just did her dissertation on the experience of self-defined conservatives in a certain profession: though all the participants called themselves conservative, there was not a single issue on which they ALL agreed other than that they all called themselves conservatives. It is thinking in simple binary us-them categories that does the real harm. United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
May 3, 2017