In an admittedly, intentional and deliberate reversal of logical procedure, we opt make the radical choice of stating our conclusion at the outset, and thereafter, setting forth the recital of our argument. We do this in the felt expectation that our unusual theme will be clear.
Conclusion: The use of the labels, “liberal” and “conservative” in the political lexicon, should be retired, permanently.
For as long as we have been aware, the more educated and informed citizen has frowned upon, often with contempt, the low information, unsophisticated (“flat earth”) person, who he has criticized for reductive thinking and baseless decision making (perhaps with some justification). Judgments and decisions are made by such people based on scant knowledge of the issue in question, and an insufficient apprehension of the effect of their vote. Often, as in the last election, they vote against their own vital interest (government assistance). Such inclination towards reductive (impulsive, non-factual) thinking, seems to permeate and direct the course of their lives, and their choices.
There appears to be a number of well educated and literate members of society who have (admirably) expressed a desire to bring further education and enlightenment to such people, enabling them to enjoy a fuller life and, perhaps better equipping them to make more empirically rational judgments. We would share in such salutary goal, however, with the express caveat, that reductive thinking is not confined (solely) to the inadequately educated citizen. While we applaud the charitable sentiment, we are, also tempted to employ the old metaphoric admonition,” Physician heal thyself.
People are generally aware of the political etymology of the words, “Liberal” and “Conservative.” In the era of Adam Smith, (as we have observed in past writings) the mainstream “Liberal” was a staunch advocate of complete freedom from government participation in commerce (“laissez faire”). The supposedly self-sufficient entrepreneur himself, as well as all business and financial affairs, were properly, he felt, left to the free market, to be regulated by the natural law. The “Conservative,” reflective of his loyalty to the Crown, believed that the State (the King and the Parliament) should have supervisory authority over matters of business and finance.
Thereafter, the parties switched team uniforms; the Liberal now believed that the government has the right to referee business, and, as well, the obligation to protect the common man from onerous working conditions, and from hunger and privation. The Conservative, conversely, now fully subscribed to the historic, liberal philosophy of laissez faire independence.
As can easily be deduced, the subject designations were not imprinted on the two proverbial stone tablets delivered to Moses, but easily morphed with the changing times. It is our position that, in the present era, the two words, when used as political adjectives are at best, outmoded, and at worst, misleading and useless. The use of these tiresome designations, in fact, is every bit as reductionist, as the trait of that description, for which the low-information population has eternally been castigated.
Any rational citizen may find himself for, or against, any of the designated “liberal” causes, such as, gun control, women’s right to choose, affirmative action, guaranteed minimum wage, regulations to protect life and health, or climate control legislation; or, for or against, any of the traditional conservative preferences, such as, free trade, diminished regulations, strict immigration policy, or increasing the federal stockpile of weapons. It would be an unrealistic, and insincere, for a person who would self-identify as a liberal or as a conservative, solely out of some sense of tribal loyalty, to favor every one of the diverse causes in a party’s platform. The many disparate issues ought to be functionally addressed in the same manner as a metaphoric dinner “menu,” and the individual, like a dinner-patron, free to select his own nuanced preferences. Making a stereotypic choice based upon one’s avowed, or perceived, identification as a “liberal “ or “conservative”, would be as reductionist, as any other non-thinking citizen, whether he be deemed part of the well- informed, or lesser informed population. These two misleading words should not be permitted to affect individual choices and judgments; and, since they have the likelihood of affecting the spontaneous exercise of freedom of opinion, they should be relegated to that famously full, dustbin of history. In voting the citizen would consult his perception of the nation’s and his own priorities, and make a considered choice; a more rational and democratic practice, than a reductive selection upon traditional tribal loyalties.
Such two words, obviously, have utility, in the non-political context, such as: “Jules was liberal with the apple pie, but Judy, unfortunately, was too conservative with the ice cream,” “She made liberal use of metaphoric references” or: “He wore a conservative suit, but a psychedelic tie.”
The reader is now enabled, as desired, to return the beginning of this note, for the stated “Conclusion.”