When the so-called hipsters are pitted against the so-called gunslingers, ensuing fireworks are sure to send you off in a blinding haze. Even so, this OpinionFront write-up will rake it up and make a fine match of Liberals vs. Conservatives.
Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.
As sad as it is true, ideologies always get slotted into black and white the very moment they begin to catch on. It’s almost as if they get defined by their followers, rather than being self-defining. You see, even Mr. Churchill took the liberty of judging an ideology on the basis of its followers, not by its principles. But then, is it possible to separate the teachings from its followers? Mighty tough, for sure.
It is often said that “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” People can be quite vociferous when it comes to attaching themselves to an ideology, no matter how “liberal” they are. Which is why it is rather difficult to keep a discussion such as this completely streamlined.
With that in mind, we’re trying to present the differences between liberal and conservative values in a manner that is as non-judgmental as possible. Any bias observed would be strictly incidental.
Liberal Vs. Conservative―What’s with all the bickering?
Liberals and Conservatives have been agreeing to disagree since time immemorial. To understand where they come from, we’ve brought you a summation of what makes each one up, in the words of their most renowned personalities.
If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people―their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties―someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal”.
―John F. Kennedy
I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad.
I seek to preserve property and to respect order, and I equally decry the appeal to the passions of the many or the prejudices of the few.
In the United States, the term ‘liberals’ or left-wing ideology is more or less associated with the Democratic Party. Conservatives or right-wingers are those in favor of Republican ideals. Needless to say, these two schools of thought are as different as chalk and cheese, but in their own complicated ways, have the country’s best interests at heart.
Pro-life or Pro-choice
Liberals believe that the woman has a right to decide what needs to be done with her body. The fetus is not considered to be a form of life, and thus, it cannot have rights separate from the mother. Further, they also believe that government (taxpayers’) funds should be able to finance abortions for women who cannot afford them. The woman needs to be given a choice when it comes to making decisions regarding her own body.
Conservatives opine that conception is the beginning of life, and therefore, it needs to be protected at all costs. The unborn baby, being a form of life, has the same rights as the mother does. Life, be at any stage of being, warrants protection. They oppose government funds being used to finance abortions.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The liberal interpretation of the Second Amendment is limited to allowing the state to keep a (well-regulated) militia. The responsibility of ensuring the safety of the citizens rests with the government, law enforcement, and the military. The Second Amendment makes no provision for the citizens to bear arms. In fact, liberals see gun control laws as necessary, since it will be instrumental in curbing gun violence across the nation.
Individuals have every right to safeguard themselves in life-threatening situations, and the ‘right to bear arms’ permits them to do that. Current gun control laws have little to no bearing on the current state of lawlessness in the nation, and creating more laws will not make much difference. If incidents of crime and gun-related violence are to be lowered, law-abiding citizens must have free access to arms.
Any marriage, at its root, is a union of two people who wish to cohabit. This ideal should be applicable to all couples, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Doing so would ensure that each individual has the civil right to get married to the person of his or her choice. Restricting the definition of marriage as a union between a woman and a man would amount to denying the LGBT community of their basic civil right.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, affirms the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states. The act draws support among conservatives, since it adheres to the beliefs of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Forcing the followers of these religions to sanction same-sex unions would amount to a violation of their moral beliefs, seeing as they believe that a marriage is a union solely between a woman and a man.
Embryonic stem cell research
Research conducted on embryonic stem cells is both necessary and ethical. This is because an embryo is not human; therefore, conducting experiments on the same does not amount to murder. Research conducted on these cells shows great promise in terms of curing chronic and degenerative diseases, especially those that are currently incurable.
Stem cell research should only be conducted on cells derived from adults and the umbilical cord. The destruction of embryonic cells amounts to murder, since human life begins at conception. Adult stem cells derived from umbilical cords, placentas, amniotic fluid, skin and organ tissues, on the other hand, have shown great promise in treating Parkinson’s and leukemia.
Liberals vehemently oppose the death penalty on the grounds that it is an inhumane form of punishment. Imprisonment (for life) is deemed as an appropriate punishment instead. Also, there is always the possibility that an innocent person convicted for murder may have to face the death penalty.
The death penalty is justified, considering the heinous nature of the crime committed. If an innocent life has been taken, execution can be the only fair punishment for the perpetrator of the crime.
America has had a history of not treating their minorities well. The federal affirmative action law prescribes that minorities be given certain privileges in order to make up for the opportunities that were denied to them in the past. This includes education and employment opportunities.
Individuals must be rated solely on the basis of their abilities, and favoring a person on the basis of their race can be regarded as preferential treatment, which kind of borders on racism. While racism does exist in America, the affirmative action law propagates inequality among the people.
Economy and taxes
The economy calls for government regulation at all stages so that the dominance of the private sector can be kept under control. Since the government has the nation’s best interests at heart, the issue of economic disparity must be addressed. This can be done by levying higher rates of taxes on the richer section of the public, so as to lessen the economic burden on low income groups, thereby, bringing about a semblance of equality. Taxes collected can be used to fund various welfare programs for the underprivileged.
Free markets create a multitude of job opportunities, thus, promoting economic growth. Government regulations are a hindrance in the functioning of competitive capitalism, which strives to raise the bar on quality of goods and promoting a higher standard of living. Lowering taxes for a certain economic group will only make them dependent on government aid, a problem that can be addressed by lowering taxes for all.
Euthanasia and Assisted suicide
Euthanasia allows a terminally ill patient to die a dignified death than be kept alive at the cost of his own pain and suffering. Legalizing euthanasia gives a choice to the sufferer whether he chooses to endure his pain, or wishes to end it. The government should not be cruel enough to force a person to endure the trauma against his will.
It is unethical to end a life of an individual, since suicides and euthanasia are not permitted by several religions. Instead, the focus should be shifted to humane options like providing compassionate care for the elderly or terminally ill patients.
Legal immigration garners support from the Liberals. Arresting illegal immigrants is not considered appropriate since they too have a right to live a dignified life, especially if their existence is threatened in their country of origin.
Legal immigrants find favor with the conservatives as well, but illegals do not find themselves as lucky. Conservatism boycotts amnesty for illegal immigrants, since they are breaking the law by entering the country illegally. They also call for stricter border controls.
Passenger profiling on the basis of religion, race, or country of origin should not be done at ports of entry. If persons are to be selected for screenings, it should be conducted in a random manner, rather than hand-picking a select few on the basis of the points mentioned earlier. Identifying terrorists cannot and should not be done on the basis of a person’s appearance or name.
Profiling follows a system of logic, and if a few individuals are inconvenienced by it, they should understand that it is in the greater interests of the nation. Homeland security is a top priority, which should not be compromised in order to avoid hurting the sentiments of a community or religion. Therefore, those who do not fit into the criteria for screening should not be bothered; going for the typical suspect makes more sense.
Religion and governance
The church and the government are two separate entities, and are better off kept that way. The Bill of Rights also alludes to the fact that religion has no place in governance. Any reference to religion should be removed from government/public offices.
Conservatives also believe that the government should not interfere in matters pertaining to religion, in the sense that it does not have the right to wash off Christian presence from government offices and public places. The Constitution does not give the government the right to establish a national church, but it has nothing against religious paraphernalia being displayed in public places.
Waging wars is not the only way to combat terrorism. Opening diplomatic channels and indulging in dialog will provide a long-term solution to the problem. Violence spreads discord, encourages animosity, and provides further fuel for terrorism.
The only appropriate way to nip terrorism in the bud is by uprooting it entirely. Islamic fundamentalists have relentlessly attacked America and its overseas territories, and the only means to stop them is by responding to their attacks in equal measure.
The issues that these two schools of thought differ on certainly don’t end here―take the legalizing recreational and medical marijuana, for instance. But as we mentioned before, both these ideals have a common aim―that of safeguarding American interests.