II.1: Conservatives and Liberals

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conservatives and liberals

Liberals and conservatives are tearing our society apart.

Have you been involved in or agreed with either the Tea Party Movement or the Occupy Movement? Have you supported either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump? These obviously describe opposite views, yet these opposites describe people fed up with business as usual in America’s government. They describe people, either conservatives or liberals, who see neither of the major political parties as the answer to America’s needs. If any of these statements describe you, please hear me out.

America is suffocating under the pressure of left-wing and right-wing special interest groups. And for what do we suffer? There is no hope for either side to ever get what it wants. If your party gains control they will wipe out the other party’s advances. Then that other party will eventually come back in power and undo everything your party has done. So, what has anybody gained by such foolishness? Aren’t you tired of that game?

Maybe it’s time we asked ourselves if left and right are talking past each other without listening. Maybe we haven’t stopped arguing long enough to consider what the argument is really about. When you talk to someone of the opposite political persuasion, have you ever discussed what you both want to get in the end? Or do you always end up arguing only about how you want to get there?

I contend that liberals and conservatives have never fought about their end goals.

The fight has always been about how each side wants to get to the end goal they seek.

Put simply, conservatives want liberty and liberals want equality. And the paradox is that liberals are not against liberty within reason and conservatives are not against equality within reason. But liberals want to obtain equality by increasing government controls over powerful individuals. And conservatives oppose liberals because they want to obtain liberty by reducing those government controls over all individuals.

So there’s the hang-up. Conservatives rebel at the thought of government-forced equality. And liberals angrily oppose giving liberty to rich and powerful people that they might use to mistreat employees, consumers, or neighbors.

So who can we blame for this hang-up? You can choose to blame right-wing or left-wing extremists, your own or someone else’s ignorance, the media, supporters of the status quo, alien abductions, or even a vast international conspiracy!

But the fact is that somebody has fed us a lie. We have been led to believe that we have only two choices: the tyranny of government or the tyranny of rich and powerful individuals.

Why do we believe our choices are so limited when in fact we have infinite choices?

There are ways to increase liberty while protecting people from the whims of the rich and powerful. And there are ways to increase equality while protecting people from the whims of politicians and lobbyists. In the win-win spirit of Alternative Dispute Resolution, I contend that both of these goals are possible. And we don’t have to settle for compromise, where everybody loses.

Why not listen to the British philosopher, John Stuart Mill. I believe his views on 19th century British political attitudes apply to America today:

[B]oth Conservatives and Liberals … have lost confidence in the political creeds which they nominally profess, while neither side appears to have made any progress in providing itself with a better. Yet such a better doctrine must be possible; not a mere compromise, by splitting the difference between the two, but something wider than either…. (Mill 1861, Preface)

Would you believe me if I say that a win-win solution is possible, one that is wider than either liberalism or conservatism alone?

Would you believe that liberals and conservatives can be happy at the same time, that we don’t have to settle for a compromise where nobody gets what they really want?

This site is for discussing how to improve our political system. It is NOT for discussing party politics or political figures. So if you have a non-partisan question or comment, feel free to leave it below.

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Mill, John Stuart. 1861. Considerations on Representative Government. London: Parker, Son, & Bourn.

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