I take issue with writeups in nodes regarding conservative, liberal and libertarian; they seem to regard those words, as they apply to political positions in the United States, as amorphous terms like "postmodern" that actually in the end have no real meaning.

Misconceptions about these words, I believe, stem only from their misuse. Here is a simple and I think concise differentiation between liberal, conservative, and libertarian that cuts through all the bullshit and leaves room for moderate and hardcore believers in various philosophies:

  • Liberal: Believes in governmental regulation of the economy and is against legislation of morals. (Think welfare, progressive taxing.)

  • Conservative: Is against government regulating the economy but supports the government taking a role in encouraging morals. (Think laissez-faire economics, family values.)

  • Liberatrian: Believes the government should not legislate either morals or the economy.

Keep in mind there are as many degrees of belief in these philosophies as there are political thinkers.

Also keep in mind that "Republican" does not necessarily equal "Conservative" and "Democrat" does not necessarily equal "Liberal."

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