Social Question

6rant6's avatar

What does it mean to be conservative or liberal?

Asked by 6rant6 (13692points) June 1st, 2010

I’ve heard some pretty stupid statements made in political discussions. Like the rube who defined socialism as the government restricting choice.

I have my own political stance (Guess!) but it occurred to me, I don’t really understand what people of the opposite view are after. So if you could state your political philosophy in one line, what would it be.

Here, I’ll give an example: “I’m a Green because I think the present generation is morally bound to make the world a better place for succeeding generations.” (No, I’m not a Green.)

Anyway, I’m not looking for textbook definitions and I don’t want you to tell me what the other folks are after. Just what is it you see as the overriding theme that dominates your viewpoint?

And especially for my Canadian friends, so they don’t feel left out, what’s your favorite hockey team, eh?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

Conservatism is the belief that economic prosperity and freedom is furthered by making sure that the populace has as much economic independance as possible free from interference.

Liberalsm is the belief that economic properity and freedom is furthered by making sure that the populace is as educated and healthy as possible, usually by governmental intervention.

marinelife's avatar

I’m a moderate. I believe in social justice, aided by government intervention when necessary. I believe in fiscal moderation including lowering the deficit.

6rant6's avatar

Did you not read the question? I specifically said I didn’t want definitions, I wanted personal view points!!!! Sheesh.

6rant6's avatar


Everyone who isn’t in favor of little children being healthy, clean air, and lowering the deficit please raise your hand.

nebule's avatar

John Locke is a pretty cool dude as far as political sh*t goes

Berserker's avatar

I’m all for Kung Fu the Legend Continues.

And fuck hockey.

majorrich's avatar

Probably the easiest way to explain it would be that liberal means more, and alludes to more government intervention into peoples lives. Conservative alludes to less Intervention.
of course there are exceptions and caveats, but it hits the basic ideas.

Rarebear's avatar

@6rant6 The definition I wrote is my personal viewpoint. Sheesh.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

To me, liberal means that one is open to new ways of solving old problems and conservative means just that, you’re interested in conserving assets and resources. I realize that most will say that liberal means one wants bigger government at any cost and conservative means sticking with the worn out and highly-divisive god, country and fiscally-mindedness routine, but that’s not the case with every conservative. I consider myself a moderate, liberal on some issues and conservative on others.

YARNLADY's avatar

To me conservative means to keep doing things the way we always have, and let the have’s have and leave the don’t have’s alone.

Liberal means to find new and innovative ways to solve the issues.

6rant6's avatar


Still not getting it! WHO ARE YOU is the question. Not WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS MEANS. The key is “Your Viewpoint” as opposed to THEIR VIEWPOINTS.


Rarebear's avatar

@6rant6 Why are you being so rude to me? Your question asks, “What does it mean to be conservative or liberal?” Then you go on to say, “Just what is it you see as the overriding theme that dominates your viewpoint?” What I wrote is the overriding theme that dominates my viewpoint. That’s how I see the difference between conservatism and liberalism.

6rant6's avatar


The whole point in asking the question (which I explained at the outset) was not to get someone’s – anyone’s! – opinion what categorizes the divide. I want to know what people who identify themselves with one side or the other cite as their reason for doing so.

If I am being rude to someone who can truly not understand the distinction, then you have my apology. If you think you’re answering the question, you are wrong.

Rarebear's avatar

@6rant6 Well, you’re still being rude. I’m outta here.

SmashTheState's avatar

The most important thing to realize is that Amerika has the labels entirely backwards. Liberalism is an individualist ideology born out of 18th century materialism, in which it is held that the greatest good is served when the sovereign natural rights of each individual are protected, often at the expense of the community as a whole. All change is regarded as good, since the accumulation of knowledge is held to have intrinsic value. Conservatism, on the other hand, is a collectivist ideology which holds that the community’s needs outweight the rights of any single individual, and that individual sacrifices must be made for the good of the whole. New problems are held to be soluble through the application of old solutions which have proven to work in the past, and that all change must be tempered by the ability of the community to absorb it without unduly disrupting traditional forms.

As you can see, both major parties in the US are in fact liberal.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’m neither liberal nor conservative although my political leanings tend to a liberal slant. I think both our federal parties are more alike than they are different and I don’t think that is going to change. I believe that we should support those who are on the fringes of society and have a difficult or impossible time supporting themselves. I believe in universal health care, social security, unemployment benefits and a fair taxation system for all and not just the ones who have the power to sway government decisions. Thank god I live in Canada where many of these things are the norm.

Favourite hockey team? Vancouver Canucks.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m a moderate liberate.

In general, liberals do have a somewhat stronger focus on solidarity and they reject radical individualism.

majorrich's avatar

I confess I am somewhat more conservative that Ghangis Khan. Ronald Reagan was my hero and should be the 5th face on Mt. Rushmore.

6rant6's avatar

@majorrich What is it that causes you to support a conservative viewpoint? Can you articulate it? Can you say what you expect out of a conservative government? What is the outcome you want?

6rant6's avatar

@mattbrowne What you hope a “moderate liberate” government would achieve?

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m a moderate liberal. Sorry for the rush ;-)

majorrich's avatar

I have always (untill I became ill) worked very hard for everything I have. I put myself through College. Built my own home and business. It pains me that I have to shell over more and more of everything I own so that our government can give it away. Redistribution of wealth was and is the mantra of the liberal mentality. I just want the Government to leave me alone and why I support a conservative (almost libertarian) point of view.
A Moderate Liberate government will always have their hands in my pockets and new rules on what I can and can’t do despite the fact that criminals will not follow any of their rules, effectively making me a criminal.
The Ultra Liberal government we have now hopes to ‘Change the World’ by throwing all my and everybody’s money and property at it. I fear many won’t want to wait until this regime is over.

6rant6's avatar

@majorrich Very clear statement, thanks.

How do you feel about helping people who are disabled, or mentally ill? How do you think we should treat children whose parents cannot afford medical care for their kids, or private schools? How do you react to this; “You can judge a society by how they treat their weakest members.”

Does your libertarian leaning mean that you think the government should stay away from making decisions of a non-monetary nature for it’s citizenry? For example, do you think the government has a right to say who can marry whom, or what people can ingest, or what they can do or say in public?

majorrich's avatar

I have no problems with paying taxes to help Americans who NEED help. People who can work should work. Be it in Public or Private enterprise. Public service, Military. something to contribute. Everyone should help to help those who cannot.. But it’s not a gimmee. There will always be poor people, but they are trying and deserve help. Second and Third generations shouldn’t need help. Illegal aliens who never paid into the system should go home or become citizens, get jobs and help themselves before requesting help. Sure some will fail utterly. I presume those will turn to crime and that opens a whole other twisted part of my philosophy on life. I am disabled, but put in 18 years in the military and worked two jobs to put my wife through college. My pension is less than a third of what I made before, but its what I get. I cringe at the idea of people who never washed a dish, or touched a pc or did a single honest days work getting even better benefits than I am getting.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther