Monday, July 21, 2008

The Difference Between Conservatives and Liberals

I heard an interesting comment on the way to work this morning, and it made me think. I generally listen to WMAL, a talk-radio station, mostly for the traffic and weather, but I do enjoy the interplay between Andy Parks and Fred Grandy on the "Andy & Grandy in the Morning Show." This morning, former-Congressman Grandy described conservatives as being optimistic about domestic policy and pessimistic about foreign policy; while liberals were the opposite, pessimistic about domestic policy and optimistic about foreign policy. When I heard the comment, I thought his generalization was right on the money. After additional reflection, I think Congressman Grandy is more right than he knew.

Think about it. Most conservatives, as foreign policy pessimists, take the “trust, but verify” approach of President Regan when it comes to foreign policy. Liberals, on the other hand, as foreign policy optimists want to be “engaged” in the international community, and see acceptance and trust from other countries as necessary aspects of our foreign policy. Conservatives want a strong national defense, to deter those who may want to harm us and to enable us to respond, in force, to those who try. Liberals want to cut back on defense spending and limit military actions. Pessimistic conservatives see a need for a strong foreign policy, a “speak softly and carry a big stick” approach, while optimistic Liberals see a need for international approval and take a “dialogue will solve everything” approach.

On the domestic front most conservatives, as domestic optimists, believe that anyone can rise above the circumstances of their birth through hard-work and perseverance. Liberals, as domestic pessimists, believe that the Government must step in to help those less fortunate and that we all must pay (through larger taxes) to be fair and even the playing field. Optimistic conservatives emphasize the individual, while pessimistic Liberals emphasize the collective-whole. Conservatives want less government and are optimistic that less regulation and less tax will be an incentive for growth. Liberals want more government, more regulation and more taxes to fund them; because they’re pessimistic about our ability to govern our actions without someone telling us how to do it.

Now I’ve known for some time that there is a word of difference between Conservatives and Liberals (even though sometimes the lines become blurred), but former-Congressman Grandy’s comment this morning sure brought the blurry picture into focus for me.

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