Conservative Liberal – Why is One a Dirty Word?

The word liberal is used in a derogatory manner in many political campaigns. Many times a candidate can paint a negative image of an opponent just by labeling them a “liberal”

On the other hand, conservative does not have the same connotation. If a politician tried to persuade his or her constituents to not vote for their opponent, labeling them “conservative” the opponent would more than likely embrace that label.

Being in New York City, I never thought liberal was a dirty word, a word that you don’t want to be associated with. In comparing the definitions of the two words, I think I am justified in feeling that way.

Note that I am talking about the use of the word liberal or conservative when it comes to social issues.

Let’s look up the definition of liberal and conservative and see what we get.

Conservative first.

I searched for “define conservative” and “definition conservative” in Google.

I got back some results such as “having social or political views favoring conservatism” and “a member of a Conservative Party”.

Although that’s fine, I was only interested in the definitions of the word. I knew conservative or liberal are both ways to lean politically.

Other results did define the word, such as:

* Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

* One favoring traditional views and values.

* Traditional or restrained in style

* tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions


This tells a lot. Conservative, especially in a social sense, is about maintaining the status quo. Conservatives don’t like change.

Now, it’s time to look up the word “Liberal.”

* broad: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness;

* having political or social views favoring reform and progress

* tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition

OK, so there is the contrasting side of conservative.

Think about this. If a friend or someone you respect could describe you with either definition, which would you rather have said about you?

That you are broad minded or narrow minded?

That you don’t like change or that you are tolerant of change?

That you favor progress or you don’t favor progress?

That you favor institutions or you are not bound by the past?

Change is good. Progress has given us things like – knowledge that earth goes around the sun, doing away with burning people at the stake, modern science, electricity, airplanes, computers, the right of women to vote, and the abolishment of slavery.

Tradition is good too, but not when it stops progress or hurts another individual or interferes with their liberties or right to pursue happiness.

If you just take the last 100 years or so, the conservative has been on the wrong side of history. As an example, you don’t think the Dixiecrats were liberal do you?

When George Wallace, was campaigning to keep racial segregation, was he running as a liberal or a conservative?

And when groups of people band together to uphold things like “traditional values” and “family values” and they endorse and promote policies that are based on exclusion instead of inclusion this is dangerous for freedom and humanity.

Conservatives will say things like “people who oppose their conservative values hate America and oppose everything that made us great.” The exact opposite is true. If you don’t strive to constantly make it better and embrace progress then you stay in the past and stop learning which is something that should never be done.

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