Liberal and Conservative Mistakes

In my experience, here are a few common mistakes made by both liberals and conservatives.

An easy liberal mistake: Never checking one’s own ideas against the wisdom of tradition; and often wanting to impose those ideas on the rest of us (usually through higher taxes and the increase of government programs).   Don’t schools always need more money?  Aren’t some people always in need of medical care?   There is a difference between doing something because it makes you feel good (acting in service to your own desires) and doing something out of a sense of moral duty, which you may not desire (helping a guy out of burning car, at great risk to yourself, this is a Kantian analysis).   Just because you are compassionate does not mean that you are wise. 

An easy conservative mistake:  Thinking that there is a moral code, and wanting to impose it on the rest of us.  The conservative mistakes his own ideas for transcendent ideas.  The Ten Commandments, an oath of honor…etc will always fail in light of life’s complexities.   Such ideas can be good guides, but not absolutes.  Individual liberty is under great threat from such arguments.  

Does this make me a centrist?  a libertarian?   

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7 thoughts on “Liberal and Conservative Mistakes

  1. i would say you are right on when it comes to the liberal mistakes listed. You are wrong about what you said about the conservatives though. It is the liberals who are trying to take away our liberty.

  2. Kyle, thanks for reading.

    What I mean to say is about conservatives is that many people who are conservative, and vote republican, are not interested in your or my liberty if it doesn’t align with their ideas. They do this because they confuse their ideas with TRUE ideas, thus there’s no room for argument.

    Right now, they’re the more successful party, and more organized. The liberals and democrats are disorganized, and make an easy target.

  3. Pingback: Am I A Libertarian? « Chris Navin

  4. Would you please elaborate a bit more on what you mean by “transcendent ideas”? Do you mean this as it it is usually used in theology, or do you assign a different, secular meaning to its use here?

  5. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    I mean transcendent in mostly the philosophical sense, but also religious. As for religious, it might mean that one must follow the teachings of the bible, because they are the word of God, and God is a transcendent being which cannot be accounted for by experience nor our senses, nor proved by our reason, yet exists outside of us. As for leading a decent life as a politician, working for the people and avoiding the temptations and hubris of power, it’s important. But absolutely true?

    FOr example, I do think that Platonic idealism has epistemological problems and is a matter of deep debate, yet when I am forced to defend my idea of justice, or honor (the kind of which as a good politician I might defend, or as a citizen pursue in defense of my country) I become less sure.

    At best, I’m tracing a line of difference between philosophy and politics and matters of law and the state, but more likely confusing the two in retrospect.

    I’m politically conservative and think that the burden of proof should be upon those (endlessly) thrust change upon our institutions. Yet, when I think about the ideas which underlie my defense of tradition, I become more ‘radical’ and deeply in doubt and questioning…

  6. I was a Republican in a non-religious sense from 1952-1990. My family was Democratic because my father was a labor union member. There was no good reason for me to choose to be a Republican at the age of 7 in 1952; I just picked a different guy–Eisenhower–than my parents. During that time, it could be said that I was a “conservative” Republican. If a supporter of Nixon-Agnew could be described as anything along the spectrum, “conservative” would have to be it. Yet there was never a religious element to my political views, which is why I saw the error of my preferences when Pat Buchanan came to town in his bid for the Republican nomination in 1990. I stood not eight feet from him as he spoke. I saw the spit fly from his lip during his rant. Something clicked in my head—this guy is not for “people”, he’s for something else, something ugly and I wanted no part of it. And so I changed over to a Clinton supporter and became a Democrat and have not regretted it. What I regret is my support of Republicans. When I was a child, the Republicans were the party of “business” and the Democrats represented “labor”. That distinction is mostly lost now, or subsumed under baggage such as the religious points you raise. By that I mean that somewhere along the line, the Republicans as a minority party sold their soul for votes of religious conservatives. These were mostly people of the lower to middle economic classes who had no valid economic interest to be Republicans; they weren’t business owners, for the most part. But they went over to the Republicans to help them get elected (else we would see precious few Republicans in the White House). So the religious people sold their souls to the politicians. It was a mutually beneficial exchange. Only the country was harmed; political expediency went forward. Later, heavyweight religious charlatans moved in to hijack the religious vote for their own purposes, which involved mere power, not religion. There was no transcendence to it, and their isn’t now, except among a deluded few.
    I hope I have not taken up too much space on your board.
    Cheers,
    Dick M.

  7. Dick,

    Not a problem at all. Thanks for sharing.

    This topic has come a few times on the blog; about how some churches or religious organizations tell their congregations how to vote (usually republican). This does justice to neither politics nor religion as you point out. I get repulsed when I see it, like you did with Buchanan.

    I just want fiscal responsibility, someone to keep the books, and keeping government out of the lives of citizens as much as possible (like big government poking around in the arts, or people on the left confusing what I think may be our moral responsibilites with government intervention and programs), though I try and be flexible.

    Appreciate the response.

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