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The definition of Liberal and Conservative

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The dictionary defines Liberal as

adjective 1. favoring political reform and progressive government 2. tolerant 3. generous 4. not strict

The dictionary defines Conservative as

adjective 1. in favor of preserving existing conditions 2. cautious 3. traditional

Reflecting on the two definitions there isn't anything to be offended by. But once you apply other notions to the Liberal label and the Conservative label, suddenly there's a line drawn between "us" and "them". How do you define a Liberal person versus a Conservative person. What are you? A Liberal or a Conservative? What stigmas are placed on you because of this line of thinking? What would a middle-ground person be defined as, sharing both Liberal and Conservative views on various issues.

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The dictionary defines Liberal as

adjective 1. favoring political reform and progressive government 2. tolerant 3. generous 4. not strict

The dictionary defines Conservative as

adjective 1. in favor of preserving existing conditions 2. cautious 3. traditional

Reflecting on the two definitions there isn't anything to be offended by. But once you apply other notions to the Liberal label and the Conservative label, suddenly there's a line drawn between "us" and "them". How do you define a Liberal person versus a Conservative person. What are you? A Liberal or a Conservative? What stigmas are placed on you because of this line of thinking? What would a middle-ground person be defined as, sharing both Liberal and Conservative views on various issues.

A democrat is someone that in running for office will say the wrong things and when elected will do the wrong things. A republican is someone that in running for office will say the right things and when elected will do the wrong things. In essence liberals and conservatives are just opposite sides of the same over inflated coin.

The Traveler

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The way I explained it to my kids is thus:

Liberals: I want lots of changes NOW!!!

Conservative: Slow down, TRADITION!!!

Middle: Let's discuss and come to a mutual agreement, CONSENSUS!!!

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For at least a full generation in America, probably two, the term "liberal" as a political appellation has not followed the dictionary definition, nor the term "conservative". In fact, the so-called "liberals" are often among the most pig-headed and hidebound people in the country, while so-called "conservatives" are often those looking for innovative solutions.

A better definition of an American political liberal would be one who supports the establishment and practice of a welfare state and who (generally speaking) decries any influence of religion in government, viewing religion as a primitive superstition. A better definition of an American political conservative would be one who favors private, non-governmental solutions to social problems and who (generally speaking) supports and celebrates the inclusion of religious values in government, viewing religion as a societal good.

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I really should not speak on this and I am sure the thread will be closed very quickly. There is no way to discuss this without people getting angry.

Right now I am disgusted with both sides but my idea of them is this:

A Liberal believes in caring for the poor and the widows. He gives what is necessary to take care of his brother and sister and believes everyone is his brothers and sisters.

A Conservative is someone who is generally a constitutionalist even if it says only landowning white males can vote.

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Reflecting on the two definitions there isn't anything to be offended by. But once you apply other notions to the Liberal label and the Conservative label, suddenly there's a line drawn between "us" and "them".

Connotative definitions tend to be applied by various groups. Look at it this way, calling someone a negro is the just calling them a black in a different language but you'll get a much different reaction. In this particular case, as you note, they are being used as labels not adjectives so a simple dictionary meaning doesn't suffice to capture meaning. Much like looking up "Red" to know what someone in 1980 meant when they called someone a Red.

How do you define a Liberal person versus a Conservative person.

I assume you are still using labels because you are keeping them capitalized. In the US Liberal versus Conservative falls along the axis of Democrat versus Republican. In other countries the axis is different. I suppose one can get involved in a liberal versus conservative continuum (note the lower case) based on political theory.

What are you?

Are you asking this to differ from the question below? Or as an emphasis to the below question? Presuming lower case the issue is it's an adjective and it's a relative thing. I may be liberal to someone from Alabama but conservative from someone from New York City. To give you an answer that makes sense I'd need it to be relative to something.

It's like asking me if I'm slow or fast.

A Liberal or a Conservative?

Shoe-horned into one party or another (in the US system) I'd probably fit best with Republicans.

What stigmas are placed on you because of this line of thinking?

Working with capital Liberal or Conservative the general adjective tossed (limiting it to one) around as invective is heartless. Liberals have their own adjectives thrown at them.

What would a middle-ground person be defined as, sharing both Liberal and Conservative views on various issues.

A moderate.

Edited by Dravin

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For at least a full generation in America, probably two, the term "liberal" as a political appellation has not followed the dictionary definition, nor the term "conservative". In fact, the so-called "liberals" are often among the most pig-headed and hidebound people in the country, while so-called "conservatives" are often those looking for innovative solutions.

A better definition of an American political liberal would be one who supports the establishment and practice of a welfare state and who (generally speaking) decries any influence of religion in government, viewing religion as a primitive superstition. A better definition of an American political conservative would be one who favors private, non-governmental solutions to social problems and who (generally speaking) supports and celebrates the inclusion of religious values in government, viewing religion as a societal good.

Spoken by a "true" conservative.

I'm pretty sure Harry Reid doesn't view religion as a primitive superstition, nor do most of the "liberals" that I know. Obama isn't a real christian either, huh?

The problem here is that both sides are full of ignorant people with a very loose grasp on reality. The majority of the population is moderate, as it should be.

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There's no reason this thread should be closed based on what my OP asks. I'm asking people how THEY define Liberal and Conservative. So if we can stay away from mud slinging, the discussion can be insightful. PS, I don't want this thread to turn into a political debate! To reiterate, I'm asking how others define Libs and Conserves. Tactfulness appreciated!

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The terms mean different things in different countries. If you're talking US politics, here is the quickest, funniest way to understand the difference. This guy bills himself as "the world's only Stand Up Economist". Left and right seem to appreciate this clip equally.

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There's no reason this thread should be closed based on what my OP asks. I'm asking people how THEY define Liberal and Conservative. So if we can stay away from mud slinging, the discussion can be insightful. PS, I don't want this thread to turn into a political debate! To reiterate, I'm asking how others define Libs and Conserves. Tactfulness appreciated!

On a meta-level (i.e. above mere politics), I differentiate the two based on the response to change. Somebody who is conservative (again, I'm not using the political definition) is resistant to change, and generally wants to do things the way that they've always been done. Somebody who is liberal may look at things and actively try to seek ways that such things can be changed for the better (according to that person, of course). Such a person may not be phased at all by the concept of change, unlike the conservative person. A middle of the road person, then, has a philosophy somewhere between those two extremes.

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The mods are watching this thread very closely. Please remember the rules of not discussing current US political candidates. If you cannot control yourself, it may be best if you just skip this thread altogether.

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I really should not speak on this and I am sure the thread will be closed very quickly. There is no way to discuss this without people getting angry.

Right now I am disgusted with both sides but my idea of them is this:

A Liberal believes in caring for the poor and the widows. He gives what is necessary to take care of his brother and sister and believes everyone is his brothers and sisters.

A Conservative is someone who is generally a constitutionalist even if it says only landowning white males can vote.

As a person who considers himself a political conservative, I will just say that your definitions of both sides could not be more wrong.

I believe that conservatives are just as concerned about caring for the poor and widows among us as the liberals are. The points of contention between the groups are how we carry out those goals of caring for the downtrodden in our society, and at what point personal responsibility to care for yourself and become self-reliant comes into play. And how much of a role government should play in caring for you, and how much private groups, churches, and individuals should be involved and encouraged by government in helping to lift up their fellow man.

I cannot think of any mainstream US political conservative voice that believes that only white male landowners should be able to vote. Even Rush, as disgusting as he has been lately, has not been down that road as far as I know.

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On the other hand the OP asked how we defined them and that is how I define them. :) It is what I see and feel. Liberals, as seen on say fox, means something along the line of antichrists, for gay marriage, free abortions for all occasions, and lets burn at the stake the rich. On the other hand on msnbc the conservatives are blind bigots who will let a woman bleed to death before allowing her an abortion and all think they are gods.

Neither of these is accurate in my mind. None of the liberals I know feel like that and neither do most of the conservatives.

What we see now are stereotypes that do none of us justice.

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On the other hand the OP asked how we defined them and that is how I define them. :) It is what I see and feel. Liberals, as seen on say fox, means something along the line of antichrists, for gay marriage, free abortions for all occasions, and lets burn at the stake the rich. On the other hand on msnbc the conservatives are blind bigots who will let a woman bleed to death before allowing her an abortion and all think they are gods.

Neither of these is accurate in my mind. None of the liberals I know feel like that and neither do most of the conservatives.

What we see now are stereotypes that do none of us justice.

I think you're confused. You started out by saying that your definition is what you see and feel. And then you end up saying you don't know anyone like that. I suggest we stop listening to the talking heads and start listening to what the actual people are saying and think for ourselves. Listening to what the commentators say only confuses the matter because they are putting their own biased spin on things.

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I think you're confused. You started out by saying that your definition is what you see and feel. And then you end up saying you don't know anyone like that. I suggest we stop listening to the talking heads and start listening to what the actual people are saying and think for ourselves. Listening to what the commentators say only confuses the matter because they are putting their own biased spin on things.

Maybe you should read my posts again. :) I do not know any one who is liberal that is an antichrist, that thinks that abortions should be done whenever, etc., and neither do I know many conservatives that think they are god or that would let a woman die before allowing her an abortion. Those were not my ideas of what liberal and conservative are.

My idea of lberal goes more along with the idea of caring about our fellowman and doing our best for them. My idea of conservative is that they are people who are more strict constitutionalists, sometimes even to the point of thinking, as the constitution states, that only free white male landowners should be allowed to vote.

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The dictionary defines Liberal as

adjective 1. favoring political reform and progressive government 2. tolerant 3. generous 4. not strict

The dictionary defines Conservative as

adjective 1. in favor of preserving existing conditions 2. cautious 3. traditional

Reflecting on the two definitions there isn't anything to be offended by. But once you apply other notions to the Liberal label and the Conservative label, suddenly there's a line drawn between "us" and "them". How do you define a Liberal person versus a Conservative person. What are you? A Liberal or a Conservative? What stigmas are placed on you because of this line of thinking? What would a middle-ground person be defined as, sharing both Liberal and Conservative views on various issues.

I am both liberal and conservative. The trick lies in deciding what is worthy of preservation as-is, and what needs to be improved upon.

To use an example that is (hopefully) less controversial than politics, I like a lot of classical music, more so than seems to be common. However, I also like innovation in music, and enjoy a lot of rock and roll, jazz, and numbers from other genres of music. But there is good music and bad music, in all genres, and I'd just as soon leave the bad behind and focus on producing more good music. So I am both conservative and liberal.

Same general idea applies to politics, but I don't want to use specific examples, so as not to upset too many people! (Maybe another time... :lol:) ;)

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No really folks - this video really is hillarious, worth your time, has something good to say about both sides, and is a great way of telling the difference.

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Guest xforeverxmetalx

I think it's important to differentiate between fiscally conservative/liberal vs socially conservative/liberal.

A fiscally conservative person would generally want the government to spend less, and a fiscally liberal person wants the government to spend more. A fiscally conservative believes that the government's high spending causes people to be less responsible (for example, people are less likely to actively pursue employment if they get checks from the government). And a fiscally liberal person thinks that the government has a duty to provide healthcare, free education, and other public goods.

Then a socially conservative person wants the government to intervene on behalf of moral/religious issues, believing that the government should protect the right to life, marriage, ban drugs and prostitution, and so on. A socially liberal person, conversely, believes that the government should be less involved or not involved in those things.

Often, fiscally liberal people are also socially liberal, and fiscally conservative people are often socially conservative, and so you have two major parties in the US (Democrats and Republicans, respectively). Overall, I lean libertarian - fiscally conservative, socially liberal.

The terms mean different things in different countries. If you're talking US politics, here is the quickest, funniest way to understand the difference. This guy bills himself as "the world's only Stand Up Economist". Left and right seem to appreciate this clip equally.

This guy is awesome, thanks for sharing. Going through his other videos now. :D

Edited by xforeverxmetalx

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I really should not speak on this and I am sure the thread will be closed very quickly. There is no way to discuss this without people getting angry.

Right now I am disgusted with both sides but my idea of them is this:

A Liberal believes in caring for the poor and the widows. He gives what is necessary to take care of his brother and sister and believes everyone is his brothers and sisters.

A Conservative is someone who is generally a constitutionalist even if it says only landowning white males can vote.

Yet conservatives contribute significantly more of their income to charitable causes. How do you explain that, given your beliefs about liberals?

I'd say liberals are people who are very generous with other folks' money, while conservatives want the government to stay out of their finances as much as possible.

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On the other hand the OP asked how we defined them and that is how I define them. :)

So then, you concede that your personal definitions don't really have anything to do with how actual American liberals and conservatives really are?

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So then, you concede that your personal definitions don't really have anything to do with how actual American liberals and conservatives really are?

I concede I know how to follow instructions. No one really knows how anyone else is. We can listen to them, study them, and make reasonable guesses but we have no way of knowing for sure what any other person is thinking or feeling inside, especially since what we hear and see are colored by our own biases.

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How I view the terms Liberal and Conservative.

I believe, as Vort mentioned, they don't really fit. I think Left and Right are probably more accurate terms to describe someones political beliefs.

But since the OP asked about Liberal and Conservative, here are my thoughts.

Liberals value feelings over logic and reason. Liberals do not believe in personal accountability or responsibility. They do not believe in consequences. They believe the answer to most problems is government. They do not believe in freedom of speech (political correctness). They do not believe in choice or diversity of thought and mock and drown out those who think different them they do. They do not believe in concience. They believe charity means forcing (at the point of a gun, ie government) those that have to give to those that don't. They define people by their race. They believe religion is for the weak minded and unenlightened. They believe in freedom FROM religion. They believe in moral relevancy and do not value self restraint. They value nature over humanity.

Conservatives value logic and reason over feelings. They believe in personal accountabilty and responsibility. They believe in consequences and the right to fail. They believe in hard work. They do not believe the government is the answer to every problem. They believe in freedom of speech. They also value choice and diversity of thought. They believe in conscience. They believe charity means giving of oneself and it's an undisputed fact that conservatives give far more to charity than liberals. They define people by their character. They believe in freedom OF religion. They believe in morality and character and self restraint. They value humanity over nature and believe in preserving nature for humanity.

Interesting thought, recent studies sugest that conservatives have sex more often and more fulfilling sex.:bananarockon:

Edited by Windseeker

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I will try to adhere to the OP's request, and only mention how I believe Liberal and Conservative are defined. Heaven knows I can take issue with almost everyone's definitions, but again, I will abide by the OP's request to merely give my own opinion.

Liberal: open to change, if such change provides better access to a desired result.

Conservative: does not see the value of change if the current way already provides access to a desired result.

*goes away to get ice for her bit tongue and cheek :P*

Edit: Sorry, I forgot the rest of the OP. That's what happens when I don't use 'quote' lol

What are you? A Liberal or a Conservative? I define myself as an anarchist who believes corporations run this country, not the gov't.

What stigmas are placed on you because of this line of thinking? hahahaha I live in Idaho, you wouldn't believe some of the things I am told. You've already seen what happened to Anne, right?

What would a middle-ground person be defined as, sharing both Liberal and Conservative views on various issues. I think there isn't anyone who is strictly liberal or conservative. For instance, I'm liberal on some issues like contraception but very conservative on abortion. I believe someone's actions are more important that their words.

Edited by talisyn

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I define "conservative" as one who believes in personal responsibility and freedom for personal opportunity and that these terms apply to everyone.

I define "liberal" as one who believes responsibility and freedom should apply to people as a group with responsibility being shared by all.

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