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What's a conservative? What's a liberal? What does it matter?

By Robert Owens
web posted May 18, 2009

For the first two of these questions change the words conservative and liberal into Republican and Democrat and the average voter would immediately chase the cheese through the mental template the media wants us to use as a substitution for thought.  However, there are Blue-Dog Democrats (conservatives) and Republicans in Name Only (liberals). In reality both parties are led by interchangeable Big-Government Tax-and-Spend what-ever-you-want-to-call-them political hacks. 

According to the template the two Big-Box parties are separated by their relative location on a straight line having a Right a Left and presumably a Center. This is taught using charts and graphs in every American Government class and by endless repetition in what passes for journalism in America today.  However the fact is we have an over homogenized political establishment with boring elections between Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumber.  What relevance does this artificial construct have in the post-Christian, post-Constitution America we find ourselves in today?

As America careens toward a centrally-planned economy, a videotaped public life, and a wire-tapped sense of security we the people sit silently as perpetual incumbents debate adding more taxes to gasoline while giving thousand dollar-a-plate speeches about the "obscene" profits of the oil companies.  They tell us there is virtually "No inflation" forgetting to mention they have removed food and fuel from the mix when figuring the inflation rate while pumping trillions of new made-from-thin-air dollars into the economy.  Does someone need to explain what inflation is to our money managers?

The sons of the Pioneers drive to MegloMartt to buy the latest Chinese-made necessity. We watch the latest ad for a Mexican-made car on our Korean television.  Collectively we charge our Visa to our MasterCard because Discover is over the limit and wonder what happened.

I once called myself a conservative but there is precious little left to conserve.  I have called myself a classical liberal because I seek as the liberals of the 1790s liberty and opportunity for all.  I have called myself a revolutionary because I advocate a return to Constitutional government something which I am more and more convinced would take a revolution to accomplish.  What I don't want to do is call myself a victim as I watch Rome fall and realize that just as Khrushchev predicted the barbarians are us.

Recently I sat and listened to 40 young people explain why the Obama administration makes them optimistic about the future.  It left me very pessimistic.  I look to the youth to save us from the rapid decline the Boomer generation has purchased with the national charge card.  All I heard was 40 young people repeating the campaign slogans of 2008 and pointing proudly either to things that haven't happened or to things that are actually the opposite of what they think they are.  I ended up feeling like I was in Denver hearing the chants of "Yes, We Can!" reverberating between the imposing looking Styrofoam columns and the ever-present teleprompters.

The Republicans are traveling the country with a listening tour as if they need to learn what Republican stands for so they can lead their dwindling tribe out of the wilderness.  From the looks of things they will jettison the conservative brand for something more up-to-date.  Meanwhile the Democrats have decided they're not liberals anymore they're "progressives."

This is how the story looks on the nightly news as reported by the mainstream media.  Yet when we look at more than one source of data we get a wider view and a different picture.  A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll tells us only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, 35 percent as Democrats, and 38 percent as Independents.  The subtext is usually about the death of the GOP and the efforts of party leaders to get away from the repudiated conservative label.  This is usually as far as the reports go in their balanced and objective effort to shape the mind of America.   However there's a significant difference between what party people identify with and what ideology they claim as their own. 

In August of 2008 the Battleground Poll found that 60 percent of Americans identify themselves as conservative and only 36 percent as liberal.  Forget about Right or Left and choose instead Right or Wrong.  If somehow those who want a return to Constitutional government, those who want a return to traditional values, those who want their children and grand children to live in the USA not the USSA could rise above their inherited party loyalties and coalesce into one group we could stand against the tide, reverse the slide and return America to the Constitutional government which is their heritage.  What's a conservative?  What's a liberal?  What does it matter?  In the end it might matter quite a bit. ESR

Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, Religion, and Leadership for Southside Virginia Community CollegeContact Dr. Owens. © 2009 Robert R. Owens. Dr. Owens is available for speaking engagements.


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