Some Perspective On Conservatives and Liberals

Written by: Matt Seyer

I get an instant headache whenever President Obama makes yet another attempt to appeal to Americans’ sense of unity and common purpose.  His strategy of bipartisanship and compromise has been around nearly since day one, and in my opinion it hasn’t served him that well.  In fact, Congressional Republicans have used this strategy against him on numerous occasions in order to engineer policies that give the appearance of universal benefits, but that in reality are largely keeping the status quo.  This process has repeated itself so many times over the years that we’ve lost sight of what ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ really mean.  Nowadays, ‘conservatives’ are anyone who stubbornly refuses to cede any ground whatsoever in policy negotiations and strictly adheres to worn-out standards and ideals.  ‘Liberals’ are anyone who eagerly sprints to the center in order to cooperate and to get something done, even at the expense of their principles, and are constantly unsatisfied with any leader they manage to put in power.

I think this picture of conservatives and liberals is somewhat accurate (at least on the popular stage).  However, I also think that it’s time for some self-evaluation.  Oddly enough, I’m going to make the same kind of appeal that the President has been making since day one.  We should learn more about each other and we should be willing to hear about our own flaws.  Real self-awareness is an incredibly valuable thing; tolerance even moreso.  Going into the 2012 elections, I think it’s time for a good hard look in the mirror.  The following are videos, podcasts, and articles on conservatives and liberals: their similarities, their differences, their common goals, and their disparate foundations.

“When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?”

“Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing. The various theories of disconsolate liberals all suffer from a failure to compare Obama with any plausible baseline. Instead they compare Obama with an imaginary president—either an imaginary Obama or a fantasy version of a past president.”

“When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?”

“I’ve been a Republican all my adult life. I have worked on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, at Forbes magazine, at the Manhattan and American Enterprise Institutes, as a speechwriter in the George W. Bush administration. I believe in free markets, low taxes, reasonable regulation, and limited government. I voted for John ­McCain in 2008, and I have strongly criticized the major policy decisions of the Obama administration. But as I contemplate my party and my movement in 2011, I see things I simply cannot support.”

“Reality Bites”

“Emanuel is a proud, lifelong Republican. Or at least, he was until recently, when he voted for Barack Obama, the first time he’s ever backed a Democrat. In 2008, Emanuel says, he was a “single issue” voter concerned about science and climate change. “I don’t like it when ideology trumps reason, and I see that the Republicans are guilty of that in spades at the moment,” he says.”

“How do Conservatives and Liberals See the World?”

‘Our country is more politically polarized than ever. Is it possible to agree to disagree and still move on to solve our massive problems?  Or are the blind leading the blind — over the cliff?..Bill and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talk about the psychological underpinnings of our contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries…“When it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but… the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it’s very difficult to compromise,” Haidt tells Moyers. “Compromise becomes a dirty word.”’

“The Great Ideological Asymmetry Debate”

‘In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Chris Mooney brought back a popular guest from last year, Yale’s Dan Kahan, to discuss this very question-one that they’ve been emailing about pretty much continually ever since Kahan appeared on the show.  In the episode, Kahan and Mooney not only review but debate the evidence on whether “motivated” ideological biases are the same on both sides of the political aisle—or alternatively, whether they’re actually “asymmetrical.”’

“I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay”

[This essay, the last of the ones I’m providing, has a disquieting title.  However, I promise you that it attacks no specific religion and no specific ideology.  Indeed, it probably seems very out of place in a ‘Conservatives and Liberals’ post.  But it is absolutely worth the read, and its applications to the political climate of today are highly useful.  It is a resounding call for tolerance, acceptance, and respect.  Its message lacks an easy partisan brand.  It’s a message we all need to be reminded of every once and a while.]

“Almost every person of nearly every religion has no problem loathing and condemning the Westboro Baptist Church and its members, and perhaps with reason. They take freedom of speech far beyond what our founding fathers intended when they fought to give us that right, and they laugh at the rest of the world while they do…But today I don’t want to talk about those idiots. I want to talk about you. And me.”

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