My paternal grandfather is a wonderful man. I don’t call him enough, or tell him often enough how much I appreciate him and how much I will miss him when I can’t call him and tell him those things. Frank and I have been together for a little over a year and he has never met my Iowa family (except a quick visit with my folks when they were out here last year). Even so, when I checked the mail this afternoon, I had a card from Grandpa and inside was a money envelope for each of us. It may seem like a small thing, but it was really special to see that my granddad thought of my fiance when he thought of me.
The extra funds led to a date night, which in turn inspired this post. Frank asked me to list the differences between a Liberal and a Conservative. In light of all of the Occupy-yours’ mine and our cities, political debates and accusations of scandalous behavior amongst some of the prospective candidates, (I’m looking at you Herman Cain) my definition of both have become rather distorted.
Here is my basic breakdown:
Liberal = you believe it is the government’s responsibility to preserve individual human rights. That the government is accountable for ensuring that citizens do not go without their basic needs being met (housing, medical care, food, etc.). Long story short, the government should fix the people’s problems and protect their civil liberties through peaceful and socialism-based methods.
Conservative = You believe in personal responsibility. Limited government ensures free markets, individual liberties and the opportunity to pursue your own goals, free of the burden of social responsibility. You favor the success of the individual over the success of the group and emphasize personal empowerment. This group also puts high value on national defense and the protection of the country by all means necessary.
A few years ago, I touted myself as a die-hard liberal…and wore the badge proudly.
Along with the basic beliefs mentioned above, the left and right wings also often have very different views about the “big issues” which is why there is so much bickering going on between the two groups. Abortion, capital punishment, the economy, education, gun control, healthcare… just to name a few. However, the underlying questions for all of these issues is “but what if it were happening to me?” People’s opinions seem to change pretty quickly when it’s their own rights at stake.
My opinions have definitely fluctuated over the years and continue to do so. I’m pro-choice, but don’t mind if you aren’t. I see the other side and understand that stance as well. Likewise, while I am anti-capital punishment, I could never look at the family of a murder victim and not empathize with their need to see justice. If it were my loved one taken from me? “Off with his head!” is probably what I’d be chanting.
I’m anti-war, but I’m pro-military. Unfortunately, I think it is necessary at this point for the U.S. We’ve made a lot of enemies over the years and while I wish we didn’t have the overwhelming presence that we do across the world, we would be F-ed without it. I feel that healthcare and education are rights not privileges and without either one, the future of our nation is bleak. Finally, I don’t want a gun and I wish you didn’t feel like you needed one either… but I realize I’m in the minority here and accept that its one of those pain-in-the-ass rights that was built into our society long before me and will not likely be taken away anytime soon.
Bottom line: (and Frank and I agreed on this) It is not Liberal versus Conservative, but self-interest versus self-interest. What is going to benefit me? “Me-me” and the figurative “you-me” because I know we’re not the only ones thinking this way. I no longer have stars in my eyes when I think of the future of my country and all of its possibilities. Instead, I have come to terms with the fact that some people will just never agree, to keep my mouth shut when it is conducive to keeping the peace and appreciating that I’m still allowed to have my own opinion… at least for now.
Are you liberal or conservative? What do you think separates the two?