WASHINGTON, September 24, 2014 — Politicians have lost touch with what the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ actually mean. Instead, they use the terms to discredit and insult rivals.
The use of terms like ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ has become a means to manipulate voters instead of serving as informative descriptions. Virtually no one can truly be a conservative or liberal on every issue. What is liberal today will be conservative tomorrow, while conservative views of yesteryears tend to die away unless they are resurrected as liberal reforms.
‘Conservative’ often shows up on one end of any given ideological spectrum. As a relative term, it helps describe the orientation of a particular person or idea, but it has different uses and meanings that are often poorly understood by the majority of people.
Even within the context of politics, conservative and liberal often mean contradictory things, depending upon the subject at hand. Social conservatives, for example, may hold views that are incompatible with the views of economic, legal, judicial, and political conservatives. The same is true of liberals. Consequently, no one can be strictly conservative or liberal.
Terms like liberal and conservative are simply reference points. Here are two meaningful definitions, which can help people more consistently and accurately use the generic terms “conservative” and “liberal.”
A conservative is something, or someone that defers to the current longstanding practices and views of the era when addressing issues. A liberal seeks to use novel or unconventional practices and views of the era when addressing issues.
More often than not, conservative and liberal views will contradict each other. It is, however, possible for self-proclaimed conservative and liberal ideologues to find middle ground on particular issues because their views are not solidly conservative or liberal on every front of a given issue.
While these definitions provide a broad starting point, people should think and embrace their own beliefs instead of following the ideologies of others simply because they are labeled ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative.’
When voting, people must seek to understand what politicians actually stand for, rather than simply supporting – or opposing – them based on labels.
The powerful like to subtly transform language to fit their views of the world and change the meanings of words to meet their own needs. ‘Conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are just two terms that the political elite have narrowly defined in order to polarize the electorate while forcing voters to choose sides.