What is conservative? What is liberal? I ask this question because these words get thrown around all the time with no real clear understanding of what they mean. To some people I am viewed as a Liberal. Me, Mr. Wannabe-Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy-Member, a Liberal.
Of course to others I am Neo-Conservative, or Neo-Con as John Edwards likes to say. Me, Mr. I-Can-See-All-Sides-and-Want-to-Promote-Understand, a Neo-Con. Of course none of the labels are true of me and to be fair, they are probably not true of anyone. The words Conservative and Liberal do not even have meaning, they are labels that we apply and depending on our point of view one is a good word and the other is a nasty word.
A long time ago in a political universe far far away these words did have meaning. Conservative meant you agree with the status quo and liberal meant you wanted to change it. CS Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity” brings up the example of the word gentleman, a gentleman was simply someone who owned land, therefore if you heard that someone was a gentleman you knew that they owned land.
This gentleman may be a liar, a scoundrel or a cheat, or a man of grace and dignity; none of this was know by the word gentleman except that he owned land. The other attributes would have to be explained. Over time the word began to take on a different meaning, it meant someone who is honest, someone who is charming, someone who acts as a land owner should. Now the word gentleman simply means a nice guy and we have no proof that he is a nice guy other then the label that we have attached to him.
Therefore, I have a test, before you do this test I want you to think about what label you think best fits you. Are you a Conservative, Liberal, or Moderate? Use whatever definition of the word you want and write down what you are. Next, I will ask some questions about issues of the day and I want you to write down conservative or liberal using the definition as it was meant to be. Conservative for the status quo, liberal against the status quo.
Status quo is education is paid for by tax dollars based on land values into the system, the system then pays for education based on where you live and controls the process. If you agree with the current system you are conservative, if you want to change it, liberal.
Status quo is that the death penalty is legal in the USA, it is up to the States to choose if they want to adopt it or not. If you agree that the individual State has the right to execute criminals if they feel it is appropriate, then you are conservative, if you want to change it, liberal.
Status quo is that abortion is legal in the USA and individual States can not choose if they want to restrict it or not. If you agree that the individual State should not be able to limit abortion then you are conservative, if you want to change it, liberal.
Status quo is that taxes are based on earned income and investment income, some want higher taxes or lower taxes but the system is still the same. If you agree that income should be used for taxes then you are conservative, if you want to change it, liberal.
The War in Iraq:
Status quo is we have a large presence of troops in Iraq and for the time being it looks like that will for a the time being. If you agree that USA must stay in Iraq then you are conservative, if you want to change it, liberal.
Religion in Public Schools:
Status quo is that Church and State are separate, because of this religion is restricted in public schools. If you feel that religion should be restricted in public schools then you are conservative, if you want to change it, liberal.
Now, if you were able to say that you were conservative for all six issues or liberal on all six issues then you can say that you are indeed a Conservative or a Liberal. Short of that, you are a person with different ideas about what parts of the status quo need to be changed and what parts need to stay the same.
© 2008, Michael Callaway. All rights reserved.