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A difference between conservatives and liberals

Posted by Chance on January 24, 2008

I was having a conversation with my wife yesterday about political issues and such I had this thought. Now, I am not a liberal so I cannot say for sure what liberals are thinking, but I will venture my best guess, in an effort to understand those with different opinions. Any liberal who reads this should feel free to chime in and correct me where I’m wrong.

I think the goal of many liberal policies is to change the circumstances surrounding a person. They want to make sure that someone is given the resources to ensure that they will succeed. I think resources is the key word here. They want to make sure that the public schools are given enough funding, that they have the financial resources towards college, that housing projects are in place, etc… Liberals put emphasis on community in making sure that people are not disadvantaged with respect to other people.

Conservatives see things somewhat differently. Their focus is on opportunity, and they focus less on the resources aspect. Conservatives don’t focus on making sure everyone starts out equally, but they want a society in which someone has all the opportunity for upward mobility. Conservatives have a high belief in the power of the individual, even in tough circumstances.

Keep in mind, this is not an either/or. I’m not saying liberals have no faith in the individual and conservatives believe there is no role for the community. It is really a question of extent. The

These two philosophies seem to butt heads in the area of government programs and in the economy/business. The individual and community are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they can be competing entities.

Liberals believe that government programs are needed to help the individual be successful, whereas conservatives believe that too many government programs can actually hinder someone’s success.

In the area of business, security and opportunity struggle against each other. Liberals believe that business must be more regulated in order to provide security for the average worker. Conservatives believe that less regulated business leads to more upward mobility for the average worker.

Liberals believe in providing resources to the average individual in order to help them succeed. They want to shape the person’s environment. The conservative is less concerned with resources. They aren’t concerned so much with providing things; rather they want to remove things standing in the person’s way. Their goal is to provide an environment of freedom where more things are possible.


3 Responses to “A difference between conservatives and liberals”

  1. Josh said

    Great post. A funny thing happened at our church small group last night. Someone mentioned the government “GIVING” us back $1200 in the next few months, and someone else said, “Did you say the government was giving that money to us? No they’re not. It’s a pay it forward type thing.”

    It’s funny how we look at things, but we must understand that the government has no money except for the peoples’ money.

  2. David said


    I think your post clearly demonstrates another key difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives often see the government as intrusive, inefficient, and largely unnecessary. In contrast, liberals see the government as apart of the “people”. It is there not to provide for people’s needs, but to ensure a level playing field and compensate for the damage done by the free market.

    Conservatives have faith that the market solves many, if not most, social and economic problems. Liberals see tremendous value in the free market but also acknowledge that its value is not given out equally, nor fairly. People who put in more labor than others often get back less in return. Conservatives are willing to accept stark class differences as unavoidable. Liberals see class differences as remnants of our past, where fairness and justice were in short supply.

    Conservatives believe that traditional cultural institutions, such as the church, should “fill in the gaps” where the market fails. Those that are unable to participate in the market (elderly, disabled, blind, children, etc.) should be cared for by their families or private charities. Liberals believe that there will always be a segment of society that is unable to care for itself that needs substantial assistance. Liberals also recognize that private charities often fall short in this regard as their funding is entirely too inconsistent. For this reason, liberals believe in a social welfare system and conservatives largely do not.

  3. Chance said

    Thanks david,
    I think your description is pretty much spot on.

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