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Conservative? Liberal? Moderate? Or Just Don't Care?

Updated on December 27, 2012

What's Your Label?

Do you consider yourself a liberal, conservative, or moderate? Do you know the difference between these political terms? For most of my life, not only did I not know the definition of these words, but I didn't really care to. And I hate to admit this publicly, but for many years I didn't even vote. Why? My excuses were many. I was too busy with everyday life, didn't know anything about politics, and mostly, I was too embarrassed because I had never voted and didn't know how it was done. I would have to show up at the polls in my 30's and ASK someone how to vote- then EVERYONE would know what a political slacker I was. How mortifying!

My husband didn't vote either. His excuse? He didn't believe it would make any difference who was elected because he believed all politicians were crooks and wanted the same thing-power.

I still don't understand everything about politics. But bit by bit I am learning. My husband is learning much faster than I. And we both vote. First we had to determine what we believed. The following is a very short, simple explanation of what it means to be conservative, liberal, or moderate.

Labels, Labels...We All Love Labels

How would you label yourself?

See results

Great Books to Read

My political education began one year at a homeschooling convention when I came across the Uncle Eric Series written by Richard Maybury. I believe these books explain politics, economics, and law in a way that anyone can understand. The books are short, easy reading and written so that middle school to high school age kids can make sense of them. You will also find information in them that you can use to teach important life lessons to your younger children. All in all, the best civics and political science program I have ever read. After reading this inexpensive series, you will have the basic information that you need to choose and vote for political candidates that support what you believe in.

Are You Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused? (An Uncle Eric Book)
Are You Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused? (An Uncle Eric Book)
One of the best books I've ever read on this subject. Told in a simple and fascinating way so that anyone can understand. I loved all of the Uncle Eric books!


Just What Does That Mean? defines the word Liberal in ways that I find confusing. It says that liberals "are favorable to progress or reform, favorable to concepts of maximum individual freedom possible."

Wikipedia states, "The main focus of modern liberalism in the United States includes issues such as voting rights for all adult citizens,equal rights, protection of the environment, and the provision by the government of social services, such as: equal education opportunities, access to health care, transportation infrastructure, basic food for the hungry and basic shelter for the homeless."

Hhmmm. These all sound like good things. And maximum individual freedom? That really sounds good.

But Mr. Maybury, in his book, Are You Liberal? Conservative? or Confused?, has a different definition of Liberalism. He defines a liberalist as "A person on the left side of the left-right political spectrum." He says that Liberals believe in less government control in social issues such as drug use, illegal aliens and homosexual rights, but more government control in economic issues ( how we spend our money), which includes such things as taxes, socialized medicine, education, and gun control.

That doesn't sound like maximum individual freedom to me.

Conservative - Another confusing label defines the word conservative as "disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change."

Wikipedia says this about Conservatives: "conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were."

These definitions both sound on the negative side to me, as if conservatives want to live in the past and are resistant to any change.

Mr. Maybury defines a conservative as " a person on the right side of the left-right political spectrum." He says that Conservatives want no government intrusion in economic issues such as taxes, socialized medicine, education and gun control; but support government control in social issues such as pornography, abortion, homosexual rights, and illegal aliens.

What Do I Believe?

Then and Now

I always believed LIBERAL meant a belief in rapid change from the status quo and high government involvement in every aspect of our lives. And I thought CONSERVATIVES believed in less government intrusion in our lives in all areas and in slower and carefully thought out changes in government when needed. So I considered myself a MODERATE, which I thought meant some point in between the two - change when needed and less government control in all areas.

After reading Mr. Maybury's books, I found that both Conservatives and Liberals both want government control, just in different areas. And that Moderates want government control in all areas, not less. No wonder we are all confused! The word "moderate" sounds like it means the middle ground and I think that's what many people believe when they use that term.

Here's a great example Mr. Maybury gave, of the difference in these two belief systems: During the Vietnam war, the Liberal's objective was peace; the Conservative's objective was victory. Neither one wanted war, they just disagreed on how to get there. A current example would be Obama's Healthcare Reform. All Americans know that we desperately need a better healthcare system; both liberals and conservatives can agree on that point. But the way to solve the problem - that is a different story and one that is causing extreme controversy between liberals and conservatives today.

Have the definitions of these political terms changed over time? I would venture that most people don't really know the true meaning of these political words. We just see the "other side" as bad. Maybe the real issue we need to think about is how much do we want the federal government to intrude in our lives?

Mr. Maybury coined a new label, "juris naturalis" which is the belief that government should be limited in all areas, the exact opposite of moderate. I believe that describes my belief. I think a more well-known term is "Libertarian." I don't like this word because it sounds too much like the term "liberal" and seems to be somewhat associated with bunches of people holed up in the woods building their own arsenal to protect themselves.

The Question Should Be:

Just how much DO we want the Federal government to intrude in our lives?

The Debate Is On! - Is Our Constitution Outdated?

There has been recent debate over the past few years on whether our national constitution is in need of change. Liberals say it is outdated and needs to be changed to reflect the changes in our society over the past 200 + years. Conservatives say it is perfect the way the founding fathers wrote it is and it would be disastrous to make any changes in it. What do you say?

Should we change the United States Constitution ?

Let's Take Another Look - Did you change your mind?

Now that we've looked at the real meaning of the political terms: liberal, conservative, moderate, and juris naturalis, have you changed your mind in how you would classify yourself? Let's redo the poll and see.

What political label would you call yourself now?

See results

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